As we mentioned earlier, Iowa City’s population exploded between 1850 and 1860 – from 1,250 souls to 5,241! But with the Civil War slowing down the economy, and the westward expansion taking Iowa’s capital to Des Moines (1857), for most of the 60’s, growth in Johnson County slowed to a snail’s pace and by the time we arrive at 1870 – Iowa City’s population had only increased to 5,914. Ten years later – in 1880 – with a 20% increase in population, Iowa City had grown to 7,123.
Here’s an ad (above) from The Iowa City Daily Republican – September 22, 1881 – for the Rock Island Railroad – the primary way to travel in and out of Iowa City. Read more here.
The State University of Iowa was growing as well and during the 1880’s, and as the student population was growing, so was the number of buildings on the SUI campus.
Two new red-brick facilities were added to the SUI campus during the 1880’s. The Medical Building (above left) – built in 1882, and Science Hall (Calvin Hall) – built in 1884 (above right). Both were constructed on University Square, with the Medical Building located immediately south of South Hall, and Science Hall located immediately north of North Hall.
(C-0038) State University of Iowa cacheted envelope from mid-1880’s This cacheted envelope is postmarked in Iowa City in the late 1880’s. It’s a letter written on SUI stationary and includes a beautiful cachet etching of the University campus. Read more here.
(C-0053) (C-0055) Here’s two amazing personal letters, written in 1880 from Charles B. Elliott – Librarian – to Oscar L. Watkins in Fultonham, Ohio. One letter is written on State University of Iowa Law Department letterhead and stationary and is mailed in a beautiful envelope that shows the school’s upcoming calendar for 1881. Read more here.
(C-0289) This clever postal cover and colorful 2-page letter – dated December 11, 1887 – came from a SUI student from Clinton, Iowa and seems to be written to his girl friend, also from Clinton – Marci Potter – who is most likely going to school at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
(C-0043) This 1884 postal cover is from Thomas B. Wales and features the Holstein Breeders Association of America logo. For a period of 13 years, 1881 to 1894, Iowa City was home to one of the leaders of the Holstein breeders of the United States. Wales was a dairy stock breeder who is associated with the history of the Holstein breed of cattle in the United States and moved to Iowa City in the 1880’s. Read more here.
(C-0283) This 1886 postal cover is addressed to Robert S. Wieneke, age 7, c/o Henry J. Wieneke. Frederick T. Lueth was listed as a “manufacturer’s agent” in the Kansas City area. Obviously little Robert Wieneke is already showing signs of being a retailer like his dad and older siblings! Read more here.
Sueppel was also one of the founders of the Roman Catholic Mutual Protective Society (RCMPS) of Iowa – serving as Secretary/Treasurer for ten years (1881-1891), and was a national board member at the time of his death in 1905. The RCMPS was first organized at Iowa City in 1873, and expanded when others outside the city joined in 1879. The organization provided “mutual assistance to the members and families and aid in the support of widows or heirs of deceased members.” By 1899, the state organization had 3,447 members and a reserve fund of $26,734.85, and during the twenty years of its existence, the RCMPS of Iowa paid $600,000 to the families of deceased members. The national Catholic Mutual Group has now grown to be the largest provider to Catholic dioceses, religious orders and other Catholic institutions, including schools, retirement facilities, counseling centers and human service programs, in North America.
(C-0045) With Iowa City being the home to some of the largest breeders of Holstein cattle in the US, here’s an interesting postal cover (1888) from L. F. Ross featuring a beautiful cachet for his cattle breeding business – Red Polled Cattle – in Iowa City on the Mount Prospect Farm – located 1 mile southeast of Iowa City. Click here for more.
(P-0251) We close this salute to the 1880’s in Iowa City with a delightful postcard from 1889 – postmarked in Chicago on May 15 and addressed to M. H. Bailey – living at 214 Davenport Street in Iowa City. Montgomery Ward is writing to say there will be a slight delay in their furniture order. Read more here.
(M-0006) Notice (above) that the State of Iowa Flag looked nothing like it does today. In the late 1880s, Allen & Ginter began to produce cigarette card sets as promotional items for its cigarette and cigar brands. Topics varied from birds and wild animals to American Indian chiefs or flags of the world. Click here to read more about the history of the Iowa State flag. (M-0146) Below – from the same era comes this colorful Iowa History card produced by the Arbuckle Brothers Coffee Company of New York City.
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.
University Square painting-1882, Frank Bond, Facing East and Facing West – Iowa’s Old Capitol Museum, Linzie Kull McCray & Thomas Langdon (2007) University of Iowa Press, p viii