Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick
CALENDAR OF IOWA EVENTS DURING 1838
New Year’s Day: A warm rain fell in eastern Iowa stripping the earth of snow and clearing the Mississippi of ice.
Friday, Jan. 19: The legislature authorized the establishment of Philandrian College in Denmark, with seminaries in Ft. Madison, West Point, Burlington, Mt. Pleasant, Augusta and Farmington.
Tuesday, Jan. 30: A cold wave struck Dubuque. Two inches of snow fell and the Mississippi froze solid.
Thursday, Feb. 1: The mercury fell to -16 degrees at Dubuque.
Tuesday, Feb. 13: It was 25 below zero in Dubuque and in Burlington thermometers were “too short to measure the cold and everything was ‘friz’ up.”
Monday, Feb. 19: Votes in Scott County showed Davenport gaining the county seat over Rockingham.
Tuesday, Feb. 20: Citizens gathered over Webber & Remey’s store in Burlington to petition Congress for a land grant to build a penitentiary west of the Mississippi.
Wednesday, Feb. 28: A storm produced rain, hail, thunder, lightning and the deepest snow of the season.
Sunday, March 18: The ice began going out of the river at Burlington.
Thursday, March 22: Black Hawk and his son Nasheaskuk attended a ball in Ft. Madison and Black Hawk wore his full “court dress.”
Saturday, March 24: “If a division of the territory takes place, we propose that Iowans take on the cognomen of Hawk-eyes,” wrote the Ft. Madison Patriot as a tribute to the old chief.
Tuesday, March 27: The handsome new steamboat “Demoine” landed in Fort Madison with a large number of Ohio farmers.
Sunday, April 1: Trailing along a road in Illinois were seen at least 150 families “on their way to the Black Hawk Purchase.”
Monday, April 2: Sheldon’s school opened in Burlington. Judge David Irvin opened district court at Ft. Madison.
Tuesday, April 3: Sauk and Fox warriors were reported assembling dressed out in warlike preparation against the Sioux.
Wednesday, April 11: Black Hawk visited Burlington attracting some attention, and he seemed gratified at it.
Monday, April 16: Judge Irvin opened district court at Farmington.
Saturday, April 28: The river was higher at Burlington than the oldest residents had ever seen, and waves washed away 75 cords of wood at Ft. Madison.
Thursday, May 31: Frost destroyed corn and garden vegetables.
Friday, June 1: The bill to create the Territory of Iowa passed the US Senate.
Monday, June 4: Instruction began at Stewart’s Academy of Science and Literature in Burlington.
Wednesday, June 6: In a vote of 118 to 51, the US House of Representatives approved the establishment of the Territory of Iowa.
Tuesday, June 12: President Van Buren signed the bill creating the Territory of Iowa.
Wednesday, June 27: A bad storm in southern Iowa damaged crops. Hail ten inches in circumference fell in Montrose.
Wednesday, July 4: The birth of the new territory of Iowa was celebrated with patriotic ceremonies statewide. At Ft. Madison, old Chief Black Hawk participated in the festivities.
Friday, July 6: All squatters were ordered to prove their preemption to claims in certain Iowa townships that would be sold in November.
Saturday, July 7: Robert Lucas was appointed Governor of the Territory of Iowa by President Van Buren. Governor Dodge remained Governor of Wisconsin Territory.
Tuesday, July 17: It was 100 degrees in Dubuque. Robert Lucas accepted the governorship of Iowa.
Wednesday, Aug. 1: Stiles and Reno opened a high school in Burlington for “ladies and gentlemen of all ages.”
Monday, August 6: Bentonsport and Van Buren led several rival places for the seat of justice in Van Buren County.
Monday, August 13: Corn was $1 bushel; flour $10 per barrel; wages ranged from $20 per month for farm laborers to $3 per day for mechanics.
Tuesday, August 14: Secretary Conway wrote to Albert M. Lea of St. Louis asking him to delay the survey of the Missouri-Iowa line until an Iowa commissioner could be appointed.
Thursday, Aug. 16: The opening of the Burlington land office was delayed because the plats had not yet been received. Settlers formed an association at Rock Springs to protect their claims against speculators at the land sale.
Tuesday, August 21: The Arena Circus starring a clown named Jack May performed at Farmington.
Thursday, August 30: The Governor’s tour of the territory ended early in the morning at Burlington.
Saturday, Sept. 1: Governor Lucas ordered $5000 worth of books from Cincinnati for the Territorial Library.
Monday, Sept. 10: Township plats were received at Burlington. Voting was light in the first Territorial election. Van Buren was the county-seat contest winner in Van Buren County.
Sunday, Sept. 16: Two or three steamships were reported stuck on the Des Moines Rapids. None have reached Burlington for a week.
Saturday, Sept. 22: James Clarke proposed forming a Historical Society of Iowa to preserve the knowledge of the pioneers.
Sunday, Sept. 23: Frost whitened fence tops as far south as Davenport.
Monday, October 1: The Burlington land office opened for business.
Wed., October 3: Old Chief Black Hawk died of “a violent bilious attack” in his lodge on the Des Moines River above Iowaville.
Friday, October 5: A post office was established at Bentonsport with Seth Richards as postmaster.
Monday, October 8: Quakers at Salem held a monthly meeting, the first business meeting of the Society of Friends held west of the Mississippi River.
Wednesday, Oct. 24: Farmers were very much interested in a variety of corn developed by Thomas N. Baden of Maryland. Baden corn in Muscatine County was 14 feet tall and capable of yielding 150 bushels to the acre!
Monday, November 5: The first public land sales began at Dubuque.
Wednesday, Nov. 7: Snow was 5 inches deep in Dubuque with bitter cold.
Thursday, Nov. 8: Ice began to form in the river at Dubuque.
Wednesday, Nov. 14: Mail from the east failed to reach Burlington, but a letter arrived from Van Buren County mailed four weeks ago.
Tuesday, November 20: Exchange banks charged squatters a 20% premium for $20 bills necessary to meet land office requirements.
Sunday, November 25: Mormons were driven out of Missouri and citizens in southern counties were nervous that they would settle in Iowa.
Friday, November 30. The House petitioned Congress to give two townships of land for the erection of a penitentiary.
Saturday, Dec. 1: Public land sales ended for the year at Burlington and will resume at 9 o’clock on January 2, 1839.
Thursday, Dec. 6: The river at Burlington was covered with ice.
Tuesday, Dec. 11: Published retail prices in Dubuque were: salt, $5/barrel; fresh pork, $9/100 lbs.; beef $6/100 lbs.; country flour $12/barrel; corn and oats 75 cents/bushel; potatoes 72 cents/bushel; butter 50 cents/lb.; coffee 25 cents/lb.
Wednesday, Dec. 19: It was zero degrees in Burlington.
Sunday, Dec. 23: The temperature was 5 degrees below zero at Burlington.
Tuesday, Dec. 25: Governor Lucas signed into law a bill to prevent gambling.
(Palimpsest, State Historical Society of Iowa, 1938 Vol. 19)
Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick