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Obscure Iowa History

By Staff | Jul 12, 2016

I was reminiscing about my grade school days a while back, and Iowa History came to mind. We studied some of the historical aspects of our state, including the Spirit Lake Massacre, the Cardiff Giant and the Mines of Spain and Julien Dubuque, among others. I?found that very interesting, and when I ran across this piece last week, I?felt the need to share it.

Here are a few goodies they don’t teach about Iowa in school anymore.

Iowa isn’t called the Hawkeye state because of the University of Iowa. Actually, Iowa is called “The Hawkeye State” to honor Indian Chief Black Hawk, who was the leader of the Sauk Indians.

Abraham Lincoln owned land in Iowa. Abraham Lincoln owned two parcels of land in Iowa, which he received from the U.S. government for his service in the Black Hawk War of 1832. Lincoln could have accepted land from any U.S. land office, but instead of choosing sites in his home state of Illinois, he selected Iowa farmland in Tama and Crawford Counties. Lincoln owned the land until his death in 1865, but never visited it.

Much of Iowa was mapped by Zebulon Pike The Pike’s Peak guy. Zebulon Pike was a famous American general and explorer, who was sent by Thomas Jefferson to explore and document the Louisiana Territory. He charted much of Iowa, including Pikes Peak in McGregor, which is only 12,980 feet shorter than the Pikes Peak he charted in Colorado.

Iowa and Missouri once went to war with each other. The Honey War was a bloodless dispute over territory which led to the militias facing each other, one Missouri sheriff being arrested for collecting taxes in Iowa, and three trees containing bee hives being cut down.

When the civil war broke out, no other state had a higher percentage of their population serve. When the Civil War broke out, Iowa had only been a state for 15 years and had a population of just 600,000. Though the 76,534 Iowan men who served in the Union may seem like small potatoes compared to contributions from other states, no other state had a higher percentage of its male population serve. Iowa even had a regiment called the “Greybeards” because the men were all considered elderly – there was even one octogenarian.

For a while, scientists thought the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs landed in Iowa. The Manson Crater near Manson was originally thought to have been the asteroid impact that caused the dinosaur extinction. The crater was later found to have hit 74 million years ago, so before the extinction. The crater is the largest in the country.

One time, Estherville got hit with 500 pound space rock. Estherville wasn’t technically hit, but on May 10, 1879, the 455 lb. meteorite landed just five miles from the area, and left a 15 ft. hole in the ground. Apparently the impact was enough to break windows and shatter china cabinets. Parts of the meteorite are now on display at the Smithsonian.

The first female lawyer was from Iowa. In 1869, Iowa became the first state to allow women to join the bar, which led to Iowa having the first female attorney in the U.S.: Arabella Mansfield.

The Red Delicious apple originated in Peru, Iowa.

The Red Delicious apple originated at an orchard in 1880 and was known as “a round, blushed yellow fruit of surpassing sweetness.” The modern day Red Delicious apple is far different from the original apple.

The first automatic electronic digital computer was created in Iowa. The Atanasoff-Berry computer, created at Iowa State University in 1937, was the first automatic electronic digital computer.

Here in Iowa, hogs outnumber people 4 to 1. With 3 million people in the state, that means Iowa is home to around 12 million hogs.

And most importantly, Iowa is still the best state in the land.