The 1870’s in Iowa City. The glorious 70’s was a unique time for Iowa City. The Civil War had ended, and the city and University were growing rapidly. Here are a few postal covers from that exciting era.
Iowa City – The Hospitals. Outside of the Mayo Clinic, there is no larger or more prestigious medical center in the Midwest than the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. See how it all started with three dedicated men and four compassionate nuns.
SUI’s Wise Choice – Picking Dr. Peck. In 1864, a young 23-year-old doctor, fresh from serving as an army surgeon in the Civil War, came to Davenport, Iowa to open a medical practice in the expanding West. Over the next twenty-seven years, he helped start two hospitals – Mercy Hospital in Davenport & Iowa City, a home for orphans in Davenport, and maybe most importantly, became the founder and first director of the State University of Iowa School of Medicine.
1870 – Meet Iowa City’s Shrader Family. In 1865, following his three years of service as an army surgeon during the Civil War, Dr. J.C. Shrader moved to Iowa City. Over the next 65 years, he and his family would make a major impact on our city. Shrader was instrumental in getting the SUI Medical Department established in 1870, a few years later, his son William successfully opened Shrader Drugs which served Iowa Citians well into the 1930’s, and his other son, Charles, became Iowa City’s postmaster during the 1920’s!
When The Circus Came To Iowa City. If you’ve seen the musical movie, The Greatest Showman, you’ll better understand the impact Barnum & Bailey and others had on the entertainment business at the turn of the 20th century. For most Americans living in rural settings around the Midwest, when the circus came to town, setting up their tent for a few days, life came to a standstill. Such was the case on September 9, 1872 when P. T. Barnum brought his Greatest Show on Earth to Iowa City.
The Great Iowa City Circus Poster Mystery. In the 1870’s, P. T. Barnum brought his Greatest Show on Earth to Iowa City three times. The first visit – September of 1872, the second – August of 75. But it’s the third visit – September 8, 1877 that started a mystery which eventually involved the well-known Englert family. A mystery of circus posters that didn’t get solved until just recently. Or did it?
Coger + Beck + Miller = Liberty & Justice For All. Did you know that these three heroes struck a huge blow for civil rights in 1873, when the Iowa Supreme Court wrote the decision for Emma Coger v. The North Western Union Packet Company? After Coger’s attorney, Daniel F. Miller, defended her case, Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, Joseph M. Beck ruled that a black woman who bought an unrestricted meal ticket on a Mississippi River steamboat must be served equally. Sadly, the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t see it that way until 1964.
Boerner & Sons – Iowa City’s Prussian Poppa of Pharmacy. It’s 1876 and the Boerner family, who moved here from Prussia in 1867, opens one of Iowa City’s first drug stores. In 1883, Boerner’s Pharmacy moves into a shop on Washington Street, and from that location, services our city for 63 years! And BTW, in his spare time, Emil Boerner single-handedly starts SUI’s College of Pharmacy, serving as its dean and only faculty member in 1885.
Meet Rose – Old Capitol’s 1876 Grand Steinway. In 1878, Frederick & Matilda Schmieg purchased a beautiful Steinway Concert Grand Piano built in 1876 for their home in Burlington, Iowa. 130 years later, Rose, as this rosewood grand piano is affectionately called, found a new home making beautiful music in the Senate Chamber of Old Capitol in Iowa City.
Johnson County’s Own – The Wandering Doc Comes Home To Solon. Dr. Otto Heinsius came to New York City from Prussia in 1845. Over the next 18 years, the good doctor and his growing family had short stints in Albany, NY, Scranton, PA, and Tuscarawas, OH. But in 1863, the Heinsius finally found a place they loved – Iowa. After eight years in Iowa City, the booming village of Solon needed a doctor and a druggist – so it was one last move for Dr. Otto – The Wanderer who finally found a home!
Kalona – Iowa’s Bulltown. In 1879, the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railroad decided to expand westward, but rather than connecting with Johnson County’s Amish, they built five miles further south, opening the door for a new community in Washington County – Kalona, Iowa. Bulltown, as it’s nicknamed, became the hub for the Boller family and remains so today for some of my Boller relatives.