The 1880’s in Iowa City. A city is more than just buildings. Here you’ll find some personal letters that offer a glimpse of what it was like to live in Iowa City at the end of the 19th century.
H.S. Fairall – Iowa City’s Newspaper Man Of The 1880’s. In 1881, Herbert S. Fairall took over the reins of The Iowa City Daily Republican newspaper, and over the next 13 years, became one of the city’s most influential leaders. Writing a best-seller on the subject of Iowa politics, Fairall was chosen to oversee the State of Iowa’s participation with the 1884/1885 World’s Fair held in New Orleans – The World’s Industrial & Cotton Centennial Exposition.
Cyrus Sanders – Setting Johnson County History Straight. Cyrus Sanders came to Johnson County in 1839, just as Iowa City was being formed. He not only wrote a daily journal about his earliest days here, but in the 1880’s, The Iowa City Daily Republican invited him to write a regular column on Johnson County history. In 1882, a bit of under-handed shannanigans literally stole away Cyrus Sanders’ material, publishing it under other people’s names! But today, we’re giving honor to where honor is due.
Iowa City’s Commercial Colleges – Taking Care Of Business. Did you know that for most of Iowa City’s first century, there were many other schools in town – besides SUI – that were competing for students? Between the 1840’s and 1890’s, there were numerous private business colleges formed in Iowa City – The Athens of Iowa – all designed to train up hundreds of young men and women in the highly-marketable skills of short-hand, typing, and business administration.
Iowa City – The Hub For Holsteins. You might be surprised to learn that during the 1880’s, Iowa City became the home to the nation’s top Holstein cattle breeder. Thomas Beale Wales III came to Iowa City from Boston in 1880 and was considered one of the top dairy-stock breeders in the United States and the inventor of the first recording system for tracking animal pedigree. From 1881 to 1891, Iowa City was considered “the center of the largest and best fine stock district in the world.”
Iowa City Breweries – The Beers That Made Milwaukee Jealous. In the 1850’s, Iowa City was growing rapidly and provided a fruitful marketplace for creative entrepreneurs. Three German-American craftsmen took their passion for making great beer and by 1880 had built three large breweries employing hundreds of workers. City Brewery, Union Brewery, and Great Western Brewery – all located within two blocks of each other and connected via an expansive underground beer-storage system.
Iowa City Breweries – 1880’s: In Heaven There Is No Beer. In 1882, the Republican-led Iowa State Legislature passed Amendment 1 – a prohibition act that declared Iowa a dry state. Iowa’s Supreme Court shot the amendment down in 1883, but by the following year, the Legislature had countered. Everything came to a head in Iowa City during the summer of 1884 – resulting in what historians call the Iowa City Beer Riots – where the German-Democrat beer-makers literally came to blows with Republican-led tea-totalers.
The Baileys & The Montgomery Ward Wish Book. In the 1880’s, a 28-year old traveling salesman ran with the idea of a mail-order business that would eliminate intermediaries, cut costs, and make a wide variety of goods available to rural customers who could buy via the mail and pick up their orders at the nearest train station. At its zenith (1880s – 1940s), Montgomery Ward, like its cross-town Chicago rival, Sears, sold virtually everything the average American could think of or desire – and all the shopper had to do was lick a stamp. But on occasion (1889), a small delay might happen. Just ask M.H. Bailey of Iowa City.
The Wonderful World of SUI Colors – Black & Golden. In 1887, a handful of SUI students started asking some tough questions like ‘why do we not have any school colors?’ or ‘why do other colleges have a school song and we’re just singing about corn?’ Good questions, don’t you think? Join us for the colorful story about how SUI answered these burning questions.
Tipton’s Farm Boy – Judge Emlin McClain. In 1881, a young scholar from Tipton, Iowa with three degrees from SUI, became the first graduate of the SUI School of Law (1873) to be asked to return to Iowa City as a law professor. Over the next twenty years, Emlin McClain helped expand the SUI Law Department, before being selected as a Justice on the Iowa Supreme Court. Not bad for a farm boy from Cedar County, don’t you think?
Two Ohio Friends – One SUI Law Library Letter. Charles B. Elliott and Oscar L. Watkins: two young men – born in eastern Ohio in 1861 – who took two different life paths but remained true friends for nearly 70 years. Elliott became a law student at SUI – serving as the school’s librarian before becoming a successful lawyer in Minneapolis. Oscar went into education – eventually becoming a traveling textbook salesman. Follow Charles’ correspondence with Oscar through seven personal letters written throughout the 1880’s.
Charles B. Elliott: Romancing the Forest City Meteorite. Read this entertaining side-story about SUI Law School graduate – Judge Charles B. Elliott – and his meteorite adventure from Minnesota into Iowa.