In the back of his 1836 publication, Notes on the Wisconsin Territory Particularly with Reference to The Iowa District or Black Hawk Purchase, Lieutenant Albert M. Lea included a large fold-out map of the Iowa District, as he called it. This map is invaluable in giving us a look at Iowa as it was unfolding in 1835, two years after the Black Hawk Purchase opened up to settlers. For more info about Lea’s 1835 exploration, click here.
Our map comes from the 1935 reprint, The Book That Gave Iowa Its Name, edited by Benjamin F. Shambaugh. As we discussed in an earlier post, Albert Lea’s original book (1836) was the promotional tool needed to prompt both Easterners and those living in the land itself to begin identifying this beautiful land as IOWA. Here’s Benjamin F. Shambaugh’s thoughts on the matter…
So, allow me here to post a few closeups on Albert Lea’s 1835 map, along with some quotes from his book…
Here’s how Lea described the existing roads in Iowa District at the time (1835)…
Above is the northern region of Iowa District – Dubuque County. Note the city of Dubuque (1833) with Catfish Creek – where Julien Dubuque first settled – and the large mining area called Lead Mines – including Galena, Illinois. Click here to read more.
Above is the southern Iowa District – Des Moines County, with Burlington, Madison (Ft.), Keokuk, and Ft. Des Moines all located on the Mississippi River.
Settled in the same year as Dubuque (1833), Burlington was the major city in Des Moines County – the southern section of Iowa District. Read more here.
On the left (above), you can see the area of land that would become Johnson County – the Iowa River – also called the Bison River – and Linn County – the Cedar River – also called the Red Cedar – in east central Iowa. On the right (above), Lea shows John Gilbert’s first trading post on the Iowa River in Napoleon and identifies Chief Powesheik’s villages in that same area. Lea’s is the first map of Iowa (1836) that clearly indicates the earliest settlements of what would become, in December 1837, Johnson County.
Here (above and below) is Albert Lea’s fascinating commentary on the Iowa River valley. Note how Lea believes that lighter steamboats could travel up the Iowa River to Poweshiek’s villages three or four months of the year.
As we close this tribute to Lt. Albert Lea, it’s intriguing to note how, in 1836, three years before it actually happened, Lea’s writings, on page 38, envision how this beautiful Iowa River valley – the site of what would eventually become Johnson County – needed to be the “seat of Government of the future State of Iowa.”
In fact, on May 4, 1839, Lea’s prophetic vision will find fulfillment as Chauncey Swan and John Reynolds drive a surveyor’s stake into a piece of ground located on these “points of beauty and fertility.” In his book, The Old Stone Capitol Remembers, historian Benjamin Shambugh, says it well…
At the close of the Civil War, Albert Lea settled in Galveston, Texas, later moving to Corsicana, where he lived until his death, January 10, 1892. The city of Albert Lea, Minnesota is named for him.
Here’s a tip of the old hat to Albert M. Lea. Thank you for your work of diligence. The Hawkeye State salutes you!
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.
The Book That Gave Iowa Its Name, editor Benjamin F. Shambaugh, 1935 reprint of Albert Lea’s 1836 book “Notes on the Wisconsin Territory Particularly with Reference to The Iowa District or Black Hawk Purchase,” State Historical Society of Iowa