Our Iowa Heritage Index: SUI – In The Beginning.

As you can see, our growing website Our Iowa Heritage covers a lot of time (pre-1800 to the present) and a lot of people. We’ve written about famous people and the not-so-famous ones as well. Yet, despite a person’s prominence (or lack of it), everybody has a story. And as you read our posts, you’ll hopefully discover that everyone’s story is a good one. So, in order to better find these good stories and details surrounding them, we’ve added this INDEX of HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS to help you along the way. Enjoy your journey.

Our Iowa Heritage: An Introduction. We might suggest you start here! Here’s how & why I got started collecting stamps, coins, and other Iowa memorabilia.

February 25, 1847 – SUI Begins With A Bang. Was it just a coincidence? Or was it a heavenly sign of holy confirmation? We report. You decide. On February 25, 1847, the Iowa Legislature, meeting in Iowa City, proclaimed that our state, only 59 days old at the time, would develop a university of higher learning, a place where doctors, lawyers, and other professionals would be trained for service to our state. Within a few hours of that proclamation, the heavens opened and the Marion Meteorite passed over Iowa City before striking the ground with a mighty boom. Let it be. S.U.I. Amen.

SUI – The Early Days 1847-1860.  On February 25, 1847 the State Legislature, meeting in the Old Stone Capitol in Iowa City, approved the recommendation that the State of Iowa sponsor a new University. While the idea might have sounded very lofty, making the dream into a reality was quite another story. Here’s some of the details behind those first 13 years when the State University of Iowa barely survived!

1855-1860 – Everything’s ‘Normal’ in Iowa City.  In February 1847 the State Legislature approved the recommendation that the State of Iowa sponsor a new University. Yet, nothing much happened in Iowa City until 1855 – and even then, only the Normal School was finding any success at all. From 1855 to 1860, it was the SUI Normal Department that literally kept this fledgling university alive. Come find out what ‘normal’ was at SUI.

D.F. Wells – It Is Well With SUI. When SUI began classes in 1855, it was only the Normal School that kept the university afloat. Behind this success story was one young man – D. Franklin Wells – who literally gave his life for the advancement of state-supported public education across Iowa. Come meet Professor Wells – the teacher from Muscatine who started the Iowa State Teacher’s Association and so much more.

1857 – A Capitol Moving Day. From day one of statehood in 1846, there were those who wanted to see Iowa’s capital moved westward. Finally, in 1857, a deal was cut. The capitol would go to Des Moines while the university was exclusively secured for Iowa City. As one newspaper writer quipped, “Des Moines can have the politicians, we’ll take the professors!” Come read this “moving” story.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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