The 1890’s in Iowa City. It’s the last decade of the nineteenth century and Iowa City is transitioning from being a farming center to a sophisticated community known for its growing educational opportunities. The Chicago World’s Fair (1893) drew many Iowans’ attention and that exhibition actually influenced the architecture of SUI for decades to come. Take a look at some of the people & postal covers from the 1890’s and enjoy the interesting stories that accompany them.
The Streets Of Iowa City – From Mud To Bricks. Prior to the late summer of 1895, Iowa Citians, very often, found themselves stuck in the mud as they attempted to travel the streets of our fair community. But, all that began to change with the eight-city-block brick-paving project of 1895 – beginning with Clinton Street across from Old Capitol.
Iowa City’s Photographic James Family. In 1860, the Englishman pioneer – John James – came to Iowa City and started moonlighting with photography. Before long, his two sons – Thomas & William – caught the bug and made photography into their careers – Tom in Des Moines (1870), and William and his wife, Nancy, here in Iowa City (1874). Over the next 35 years, James Studio on Clinton Street became the turn-of-the-century place to go in Iowa City for any photographic needs.
George Washington Carver – Iowa’s Mr. Peanut. Carver was an agricultural scientist and inventor who developed hundreds of products using peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans. Born into slavery a year before it was outlawed, George left home at a young age to pursue education and continued that training in Iowa – Simpson College in Indianola (1890-1891), agricultural science (Iowa State University -1894) and was the first black faculty member at ISU (1894-1896) earning a master’s degree. He would go on to teach and conduct research at Tuskegee University (1896-1943).
Frank “Kinney” Holbrook – Tipton’s Iron Man. In 1895, the son of a runaway slave overcame many obstacles, fighting the good fight for racial equality, as he embarked on one amazing journey, becoming the first African American college football player in the state of Iowa. This Tipton, Iowa native attended SUI for two school years (1895-1897), leading the Hawkeyes to their first-ever conference championship while blazing a trail for others to follow.
Meet The Good People Of Block 98. Beginning in the 1840’s – and continuing right up to the turn-of-the-century – an eclectic group of Iowa City newcomers gathered together to make up a small but widely-diverse neighborhood living on less-desirable, flood-prone land near the Iowa River. Here are some of the stories of these lesser-known Iowa City residents who lived and labored in shadow of Old Capitol right up until 1920.
C. C. Nutting – Hidden Gem Of The Great SUI Triumvirate. Most U of I folks know about Thomas Macbride (Macbride Hall) and Samuel Calvin (Calvin Hall), but there was a third person in what was called “The Great SUI Triumvirate” of the State University of Iowa. Charles Cleveland Nutting, served as professor of natural science and curator of the Natural History Museum from 1886 -1927.
H.F. Wickham – SUI’s Bug Man. In 1871, the George & Sarah Wickham family made their way from England to Iowa City. And twenty years later – in 1891 – their oldest son – Henry Fredrick – had graduated from SUI with an offer to join Professor C.C. Nutting in the Zoology Department. Over the next 40 years, H.F. Wickman – a professor in entomology specializing in fossilized beetles – made a national name for himself, and was known by his appreciative SUI students as Bugs.
Dr. Otto Kuntze & His Iowa Mineral Office. It was the late 1890’s and SUI’s Natural Science department led by Professors C.C. Nutting, Thomas McBride, and Samuel Calvin was gaining international attention. A German-born geologist – Dr. Otto Kuntze – came to Iowa City and, over the next decade, became known as America’s finest mineralogist.
Welcome To East Iowa City & Rundell. At the turn of the century, entrepreneurs are starting new businesses across Iowa City. Two men choose choice locations just east of the Iowa City city limits for their manufacturing plants, and over the next decade, two new communities spring up around them – Rundell and East Iowa City.
Daniel J. Boller & Barbara Miller. My great grandfather, D.J. Boller, was the first person in my family to be born in Iowa (1856). He grew up in the Deer Creek area of Johnson County, married a sweet Mennonite girl from the Miller family, and by 1896 had moved his family to Wayland, Iowa in Henry County to start a new family business.
Boller Furniture Company – Wayland’s Finest For 45 Years – Generation One. In 1896, D.J. Boller moved his family to Wayland, Iowa, opening Boller Furniture Company. Over the next 45 years (1896-1941), two generations of Bollers served Henry County, Iowa, offering Home Furnishings and Furniture Your Children Will Treasure. Oh, and by the way, a furniture dealer back in the day often served their community by offering mortician services as well. From cradle to grave, Boller Furniture Company is there for you and your family!
The Boller Children & Johnson County Schools. During the second half of the nineteenth century, most schools in Iowa were one-room schoolhouses. Here’s a turn-of-the-century Boller story that’s connected to School #7 (Prairie Dale) in Johnson County, Iowa.
Let’s Meet Some More Bollers. At the turn-of-the-century, some of my distant Boller relatives back East were making a big name for themselves, and down in Kansas City, a couple of Boller brothers were about to make it in the movie business. Come meet this entertaining group of Bollers – from a roller coaster company – to a popular beverage distributor – to a couple of well-known movie theater architects!
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