American History and Genealogy Project

Iowa Territory

Iowa Territory is bounded on the n. by the British Territory of the Hudson Bay Company, E. by Wisconsin Territory and Illinois, from which it is separated by the Mississippi river, and a line due north from its source in Itasca lake to the British Possessions; s. by the state of Missouri; and w. by the Missouri river to the entrance of White-earth river, and following this n. to the British Possessions. It lies between 40° 30' and 49° n. lat., and between 90° and 102° w. Ion., and between 14° and 26° w. Ion. from W. It is about 600 miles long, and, at a medium, 250 miles broad, containing about 150,000 square miles, or 96,000,000 acres. To a considerable portion of this territory the Indian title has not yet been extinguished. The population in 1840 was 43,111. Employed in agriculture, 10,469; in commerce, 355; in manufactures and trades, 1,629; in mining, 217; navigating the ocean, rivers, and canals, 91; learned professions, 365.

This territory is divided into 18 counties, which, with their population in 1840, and their capitals, were as follows:

County, Population, Capital

Cedar, 1,253, Tipton Johnson, 1,491, Iowa City
Clayton, 1,101, Prairie la Porte Jones, 471, Edinburg
Clinton, 821. Comanche Lee, 6,093, Ft. Madison
Delaware, 168, Delaware C. H. Linn, 1,373, Marion
Desmoines, 5,577, Burlington Louisa, 1,927, Wappello
Du Buque, 3,059, Du Buque Muscatine, 1,942, Bloomington
Henry, 3,772, Mt. Pleasant Scott, 2,140, Davenport
Jackson, 1,411, Bellevue Van Buren, 6,146, Keosagua
Jefferson, 2,773, Fairfield Washington, 1,594, Washington

Iowa City, on Iowa river, 33 miles w. n. w. of Bloomington, is the capital.

The face of the country is moderately uneven, without any mountains or high hills. There is a tract of considerably elevated table land, which extends through a considerable part of the territory, dividing the waters which fall into the Mississippi from those which fall into the Missouri. The margins of the rivers and creeks, extending back from 1 to 10 miles, are generally covered with timber, and back of this the country is an open prairie, without trees; and by the frequent alternations of these two descriptions of land, the country is greatly diversified. The prairies cover nearly three fourths of the surface of the territory, and, although they are destitute of trees, present a great variety in other respects. Some have a level and others a rolling surface: some are covered with a rich coat of grass, well suited for grazing; in others, this is interspersed with hazel thickets and sassafras shrubs, and, in the proper season, superbly decorated with beautiful flowers The soil, both on the bottom and prairie land, is generally good, consisting of a deep black mold, intermingled in the prairies with sandy loam, and sometimes with a red clay and gravel. The agricultural productions are Indian corn, wheat, rye, oats, buckwheat, potatoes, pumpkins, melons, and all kinds of garden vegetables. The soil and climate are favorable to the cultivation of fruit; and crabapples, wild plums, strawberries, and grapes, are indigenous and abundant.

The agricultural statistics of this recently settled territory in 1840, give a favorable view of its capabilities. There were 10,794 horses and mules; 38,049 neat cattle; 15,354 sheep; 104,899 swine; poultry to the value of $16,529. There were produced 154,693 bushels of wheat; 728 of barley'; 216,335 of oats; 3,792 of rye; 6,212 of buckwheat; 1,406,241 of Indian corn; 23,039 lbs. of wool; 2,132 of wax; 234,063 bushels of potatoes; 17,953 tons of hay; 313 of hemp and flax; 8,076 pounds of tobacco; 41,450 of sugar. The products of the dairy were valued at $23,609; of the orchard, $50; of lumber, $50,280. Value of skins and furs, $33,594.

The climate, excepting some low bottom lands on the rivers and streams, is salubrious; the streams are not sluggish, and, therefore, their borders are more healthy than in some portions of the western country. Winter commences in December, and ends in March; the weather is variable, and sometimes severe, but less so than is common in the same latitude. Summer is not oppressively hot, and is refreshed by frequent showers.

A portion of Iowa is exceedingly rich as a mineral region. The great lead country of the northern part of Illinois, and the southern part of Wisconsin, crosses the Mississippi, and in Iowa comprehends about 80 townships, containing 2,880 square miles. It borders upon the Little Makoqueta River, about 12 miles from e. to w., and extends a considerable distance s., and still further n. along the Mississippi. Zinc and iron ore also abound in this region; some of the latter is magnetic. Limestone is abundant, and there is some beautiful marble.

The Mississippi borders this territory for its whole length on the E., and is navigable in time of high water for steamboats to the mouth of St. Peter's. St. Peter's River rises near the sources of Red River, and, after a course of 230 miles, enters the Mississippi 9 miles below the falls of St. Anthony. The Des Moines River runs in the southern part of the territory, and, forming a part of its s. w. boundary, enters the Mississippi. In high water it is navigable for steamboats 100 miles, and for keelboats at all times. Checauque, or Skunk River, after a course of 150 miles, enters the Mississippi. Iowa River is 300 miles long, and is navigable for steamboats 12 miles from its entrance into the Mississippi, and for keelboats to Iowa City. Red Cedar, the main branch of the Iowa, is navigable for keelboats, in high water, 100 miles above its junction. The Wapsipinecon has a winding and rapid course 200 miles to its entrance into the Mississippi, and affords much good water power. The Makoqueta bounds the mineral region on the s., and enters the Mississippi, furnishing in its course the best water power in the territory. Turkey River, after a course of 150 miles, enters the Mississippi. It is not navigable. James and Sioux rivers enter into the Missouri. Red River, which rises near the head waters of the Mississippi, runs northwardly into Lake Winnipeg, and finally into Hudson's bay.

Burlington, on the Mississippi, 1,429 miles above New Orleans, is a place of much trade. Du Buque is the metropolis of the mineral region. Fort Madison, and Bloomington, and Davenport, on the Mississippi, are places of considerable business; and Iowa City, in the interior, the seat of government, is a growing place.

There were in 1840, 14 commission houses engaged in foreign trade, with a capital of $92,300; 157 retail drygoods and other stores, with a capital of $437,550; 29 persons were employed in the lumber trade, with a capital of $16,250; homemade, or family manufactures, were produced to the amount of $25,966; 3 tanneries, with a capital of $4,400; 2 distilleries, cap. $1,500; 6 flouring m., 37 grist m., 75 saw m., the whole employing a capital of $166,650; 14 brick and stone, and 483 wooden houses, were built at an expense of $135,987; 4 printing offices, and 4 weekly newspapers, employed a capital of $5,700. Total capital in manufactures, $199,645.

The University of Iowa, at Mt. Pleasant, in Henry County, has been chartered by the territorial legislature, under the direction of 21 trustees. 7 academies have been incorporated. In 1840, 1 academy was in operation, with 25 students. There were 63 common and primary schools, with 1,500 scholars.

The Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, are the most numerous religious denominations. There are some Episcopalians, Friends, and Roman Catholics, and a few others.

The chief Indian tribes of this region are the Sacs and Foxes, the Chippewas, Ottawas, and Pottawatomies. The Sioux also inhabit the n. part of the territory.

In 1838 Iowa was separated from Wisconsin, and has since had a distinct territorial government. The governor and secretary of the territory, the judges, U. S. attorney and marshal, are appointed by the president of the U. S., with the advice and consent of the senate. The governor, who is also superintendent of Indian affairs, is appointed for 3 years. A council, or senate, of 13 members, and a house of representatives, of 26 members, are elected by the people; the former once in 2 years, the latter annually. All citizens of the U. S. t over 21 years of age, who have resided in the territory 6 months immediately preceding the election, have the right of suffrage. Every 2 years the people elect a delegate to the U. S. congress.

In 1832 this country was purchased of the Indians, and in 1833 the territory began to be settled by white emigrants. Since that time the population has greatly increased, towns have been built, and improvement has rapidly progressed.

Table of Contents

Source: A Complete Descriptive And Statistical Gazetteer Of The United States Of America, By Daniel Haskel, A. M and J. Calvin Smith, Published By Sherman & Smith, 1843

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