TFI #5 – Fur-Trader & Pioneer John Gilbert – 1836.

Fur-Trader & Pioneer John Gilbert

This fur-trader/land investor first ventured into the Iowa River valley around 1836, establishing a full-service trading post that replaced the temporary American Fur Company post that the traveling fur-trader – Sumner “Hawkeye” Phelps – started around 1832. Over the years, John Gilbert has been heralded as the first white man to set foot in Johnson County and the first to build a trading house here. Yet, there’s a dirty little secret we must tell you. Not only didn’t John Gilbert do these things, his real name was actually John W. Prentice! Yet, despite these reports, Gilbert/Prentice was, in fact, the first permanent white settler here, and was instrumental in bringing others to the area, thus becoming the “founding father” of the little community of Napoleon – Johnson County’s predecessor to Iowa City.

CHECK OUT THE COMPLETE BLOG SERIES – Iowa City’s Top 50 Influencers – Part I

Back in 1979 – The Iowa City Press Citizen ran a special seven-page section called Chronology 1841/1979 and it featured Iowa City’s famed historian – Irving Weber – and his look at 25 People Who Left Their Stamp On Iowa City. So, here we are – forty-four years later – and now, I’m offering these two posts – dedicated to those who have greatly influenced our city over the first 100 years or so. This page features the First 25, and as you can see, each of the 25 names has a brief overview with a link(s) to read more, if you like. Enjoy!

Did you know? is an Our Iowa Heritage blog series that offers you a little bit of Iowa trivia from a large selection of stories on our website. Subscribe to this FREE blog and you’ll get a new email from us every Monday – Wednesday – Friday.

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