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Cosmological History

Big Bang - 13.8 billion years ago

Formation of Milky Way Galaxy - 12.6 billion years ago

Formation of the Sun - 4.6 billion years ago

Formation of Earth - 4.5 billion years ago

Formation of the Moon - 4.5 billion years ago

Geological History

Bedrock Map of Iowa

Oldest Surviving Rocks on Earth - 4.4 billion years ago

Earliest Life on Earth - 3.8 billion years ago

  • Formation of a greenstone belt of the Isua complex of the western Greenland region, whose rocks show an isotope frequency suggestive of the presence of life.

Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) - 3.5 billion years ago

Photosynthesizing cyanobacteria evolved - 3 billion years ago

  • Developed a form of photosynthesis that produced oxygen as a waste product. The oxygen concentration in the atmosphere slowly rose, acting as a poison for many bacteria, eventually triggering the Great Oxygenation Event. The Moon, still very close to Earth, caused tides 1,000 feet (305 m) high.

Reddish outcrops of Sioux Quartzite, a rock of durable quartz grains, are found in the extreme far northwest corner of Iowa. This is the oldest bedrock seen anywhere in Iowa at about 1.6 billion years.

"A small amount of Precambrian rock is exposed in the northwest corner of Iowa in Gitchie Manitou State Preserve. These reddish-colored rocks are the1.6-billion-year-old Sioux Quartzite, a metamorphic rock formed from nearly pure quartz sandstone. Other Precambrian-age rocks elsewhere across the state lie deeply buried beneath thousands of feet of sedimentary rocks. No fossils are known from these Precambrian rocks." The Precambrian in Iowa

Paleozoic Era - 540-240 million years ago

  • Includes the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian periods

The bedrock of Iowa is most easily observed in northeast part of the state. Here sedimentary rocks of Paleozoic age, the Paleozoic Plateau, dominate a scenic region called the Driftless Area. Intriguing caves, springs, and sinkholes, known as “karst” features, result from the flow of underground water through natural vertical and horizontal fractures in the shallow limestone and dolomite.

Cambrian - 541-485 million years ago

  • Most modern phyla of animals appear in the fossil record in the Cambrian Explosion, 535 million years ago
  • Earliest known footprints on land - 530 million years ago
  • the supercontinent Pannotia begins to break up, most of which later became the supercontinent Gondwana

"A shallow sea flooded what is now Iowa during Late Cambrian time. The layers of sedimentary rock of this age represent deposition along shoreline, shallow marine shelf, and offshore shelf environments. Cambrian rocks are exposed best in far northeastern Iowa, in a topographic region called the Paleozoic Plateau. Although not abundant, fossils of inarticulate brachiopods, trilobites, algae, and burrows of wormlike organisms have been found in some of the state’s Cambrian rocks." The Cambrian in Iowa

Ordovician -485-443 million years ago

  • The most common forms of life were trilobites, snails and shellfish.
  • The first arthropods went ashore to colonize the empty continent of Gondwana.
  • By the end of the Ordovician, Gondwana was at the south pole, and early North America had collided with Europe, closing the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Glaciation may have caused the Ordovician–Silurian extinction event, in which 60% of marine invertebrates and 25% of families became extinct.

"During Early Ordovician time, Iowa stood at the edge of a warm, shallow sea. Interplay between this sea and its coastline resulted in alternating deposits of carbonates and sandstones. Algal remains are common fossils from this time interval. The sea retreated briefly, and then advanced to the north, well past Iowa. Hence, depositional environments in Iowa became successively deeper. The limy sediments deposited in this sea became the limestones and carbonates now exposed in the northeastern part of the state. The sea hosted a diverse and luxuriant marine fauna, including algae, clams, snails, nautiloid cephalopods, corals, trilobites, and bryozoans. The rock units also contain thin, but widespread, bentonites (altered volcanic ash beds), indicating volcanic activity somewhere in the region. By the end of Ordovician time, the seas had retreated from Iowa." The Ordovician in Iowa

Silurian - 443-416 million years ago

  • Fully terrestrial life evolved, including early arachnids, fungi, and centipedes.
  • The evolution of vascular plants (Cooksonia) allowed plants to gain a foothold on land. These early plants were the forerunners of all plant life on land.
  • During this time, there were four continents: Gondwana (Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, Siberia), Laurentia (North America), Baltica (Northern Europe), and Avalonia (Western Europe).

"Shallow seas covered Iowa during the Silurian, and the rocks of this time interval are predominately dolostones, found today in the eastern part of the state. These rocks formed from limy muds that accumulated on the ancient sea floor. The first large-scale reefs formed during the Silurian, although these structures were more like muddy “mounds” than the reefs growing in the tropics today. The preserved remnants of some of these reefs can be seen in eastern Iowa, where fossils include distinctive "chain corals," numerous species of brachiopods, snails, and other marine invertebrates." The Silurian in Iowa

Devonian - 416-359 million years ago

  • Also known as "The Age of the Fish", the Devonian featured a huge diversification of fish, including lobe-finned fish which eventually evolved into the first tetrapods.
  • On land, plant groups diversified incredibly in an event known as the Devonian Explosion when plants made lignin allowing taller growth and vascular tissue: the first trees evolved, as well as seeds.
  • The first amphibians also evolved, and the fish were now at the top of the food chain.
  • Near the end of the Devonian, 70% of all species became extinct in an event known as the Late Devonian extinction

The Fossil & Prairie Park by Rockford features Devonian fossils. In addition, the bedrock under the Longnecker House is also Devonian.

"Warm, shallow seas covered Iowa during Devonian time. These waters were home to numerous marine invertebrates including abundant brachiopods, trilobites, rugose and tabulate corals, and echinoderms, and, for the first time, a variety of fish. Reefs flourished in the state; stromatoporoids (extinct organisms related to sponges) formed variously shaped colonies that resembled layered mats, branches, and rounded masses. Large colonial and solitary corals joined these sponges to form extensive reefs, some of which can be traced for over 100 miles in eastern Iowa. Many of these fossils can be seen at Devonian Fossil Gorge, several miles upstream from Iowa City along the Iowa River." The Devonian in Iowa

Carboniferous - 359-299 million years ago

Carboniferous Period Rocks
  • During this time, average global temperatures were exceedingly high; the early Carboniferous averaged at about 20 degrees Celsius (but cooled to 10 °C during the Middle Carboniferous).
  • Tropical swamps dominated the Earth, and the lignin stiffened trees grew to greater heights and number.
  • As the bacteria and fungi capable of eating the lignin had not yet evolved, their remains were left buried, which created much of the carbon that became the coal deposits of today (hence the name "Carboniferous").
  • Perhaps the most important evolutionary development of the time was the evolution of amniotic eggs, which allowed amphibians to move farther inland and remain the dominant vertebrates for the duration of this period.
  • Also, the first reptiles evolved in the swamps.

"Warm, shallow seas covered Iowa during the Early Carboniferous (Mississippian). Spectacular fossils of crinoids and asteroids (“starfish”) have been collected from rock layers of this time, and lacy bryozoans, cephalopods, and other marine animals are common in the limestones and shales. As the sea retreated from Iowa at the close of the Mississippian, a sequence of river and lake sediments was deposited. Some of the world’s oldest amphibian fossils have been recovered from these layers of rock in east-central and southwestern Iowa.

Late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) rocks are quite extensively exposed in southwestern Iowa. Multiple cyclothems, repeating patterns of marine and non-marine sediments, indicate numerous advances and retreats of a shallow sea over this part of the state during this time. Seed ferns and scale trees were common in the coastal swamps adjacent to the sea. Their fossils can be found in abundance in some of these rocks. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, coal resulting from the rich plant life was mined extensively. Iowa’s Pennsylvanian rocks contain large reserves of coal, but its high sulfur content has discouraged continued extraction." The Carboniferous in Iowa

Permian - 299-252 million years ago

  • At the beginning of this period, all continents joined together to form the supercontinent Pangaea, which was encircled by one ocean called Panthalassa.
  • The land mass was very dry during this time, with harsh seasons, as the climate of the interior of Pangaea was not regulated by large bodies of water.
  • Diapsids and synapsids flourished in the new dry climate. Creatures such as Dimetrodon and Edaphosaurus ruled the new continent.
  • The first conifers evolved, and dominated the terrestrial landscape.
  • Near the end of the Permian, however, Pangaea grew drier. The interior was desert, and new species such as Scutosaurus and Gorgonopsids filled it.

The Permian–Triassic extinction event, aka "The Great Dying - 251 million years ago

  • Eliminates over 90-95% of marine species. Terrestrial organisms were not as seriously affected as the marine biota, but still take 30 million years to recover.

"The seas had retreated from the state by the Permian. The surface of the future state of Iowa was exposed and undergoing extensive erosion, thus there are no Permian rocks or fossils found anywhere in the state." The Permian in Iowa

Mesozoic Era - 251.4 Ma to 66 Ma

  • Contains the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods - dinosaurs!

Triassic (251.902 to 201.3 million years ago)


"The seas had retreated from the state by the Triassic. The surface of the future state of Iowa was exposed and undergoing extensive erosion, thus there are no Triassic rocks or fossils found anywhere in the state." The Triassic in Iowa

  • Triadobatrachus massinoti is the earliest known frog - 250 million years ago
  • Sturgeon and paddlefish (Acipenseridae) first appear. - 248 million years ago. Examples of these types of fish still swim in the Mississippi River, and larger connected rivers.
  • Earliest dinosaurs (prosauropods), first mammals (Adelobasileus) - 225 million years ago

The Triassic/Jurassic Extinction - 205 million years ago

  • wiped out most of the group of pseudosuchians and gave the opportunity of dinosaurs including the Apatosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Perrotasaurus, and Stegosaurus to enter their golden age.

Jurassic (201.3 to 145 million years ago)


"By Late Jurassic time, the Western Interior and Great Plains regions were flooded by the Sundance Sea. The edge of this sea extended into central Iowa, resulting in the deposition of sediments associated with embayments and lagoons of the coast. Most of these were subsequently eroded, leaving only a small area of the Ft. Dodge Gypsum in the north-central part of the state to represent Jurassic surface rocks. This deposit formed when water from the shallow Sundance Sea evaporated, producing an extremely salty solution (a brine). When the solution became sufficiently concentrated, gypsum crystals formed and accumulated on the sea floor." The Jurassic in Iowa

Earliest salamanders, newts - 170 million years ago

First pine trees - 153 million years ago

Cretaceous (145 to 66 million years ago)


Also notable on the Bedrock Geology Map of Iowa is a prominent circular feature, the Manson Meteor Impact Crater (Cretaceous). It is invisible at the land surface because it is buried beneath glacial-age deposits.

"The oldest Cretaceous rocks form the bedrock of northwestern Iowa and originated from sediments deposited in ancient river systems that drained westward to an interior seaway. Floodplains and coastal lowlands were covered with lush subtropical vegetation. Later in the Cretaceous, a vast shallow sea flooded eastward across the state, depositing layers of mud and limy sediments in western Iowa. Bones of large marine reptiles known as plesiosaurs have been found in these rocks. In southwestern Iowa, a fragment of fossil bone recovered from Cretaceous river deposits revealed a microscopic structure very similar to that seen in many dinosaur bones and may represent the first fossil dinosaur material found in the state." The Cretaceous in Iowa

Orb-weaver spiders - 140 million years ago

Earliest bees - 100 million years ago

First ants - 80 million years ago

At the end of the Cretaceous, the Deccan traps and other volcanic eruptions were poisoning the atmosphere. As this continued, it is thought that a large meteor smashed into earth 66 million years ago, creating the Chicxulub Crater in an event known as the K-Pg Extinction (formerly K-T), in which 75% of life became extinct.

Cenozoic Era - 66 Ma – present

"The Age of Mammals" consists of the Paleogene, Neogene and Quaternary Periods.

Paleogene - 66-23.03 million years ago

It features three epochs: the Paleocene, Eocene and Oligocene.

Paleocene epoch lasted from 66 million to 56 million years ago.

Modern placental mammals originated during this time. The Paleocene is a transitional point between the devastation that is the K-T extinction, and the rich jungle environment that is the Early Eocene. The Early Paleocene saw the recovery of the earth. The continents began to take their modern shape, but all the continents and the subcontinent of India were separated from each other. Afro-Eurasia was separated by the Tethys Sea, and the Americas were separated by the strait of Panama, as the isthmus had not yet formed. This epoch featured a general warming trend, with jungles eventually reaching the poles. The oceans were dominated by sharks

Eocene Epoch ranged from 56 million years to 33.9 million years ago.

In the Early-Eocene, species living in dense forest were unable to evolve into larger forms, as in the Paleocene. All known mammals were under 10 kilograms.[13] Among them were early primates, whales and horses along with many other early forms of mammals. At the top of the food chains were huge birds, such as Paracrax. The temperature was 30 degrees Celsius with little temperature gradient from pole to pole. In the Mid-Eocene, the Circumpolar-Antarctic current between Australia and Antarctica formed. This disrupted ocean currents worldwide and as a result caused a global cooling effect, shrinking the jungles. This allowed mammals to grow to mammoth proportions, such as whales which, by that time, had become almost fully aquatic. Mammals like Andrewsarchus were at the top of the food-chain. The Late Eocene saw the rebirth of seasons, which caused the expansion of savanna-like areas, along with the evolution of grass.[14][15] The end of the Eocene was marked by the Eocene-Oligocene extinction event,

  • Modern bird groups diversify (first song birds, parrots, loons, swifts, woodpeckers) - 55 million years ago
  • First bats appear (Onychonycteris) - 52 million years ago
  • Modern-type butterflies and moths appear. - 40 million years ago

Oligocene Epoch spans from 33.9 million to 23.03 million years ago.

The Oligocene featured the expansion of grass which had led to many new species to evolve, including the first elephants, cats, dogs, marsupials and many other species still prevalent today. Many other species of plants evolved in this period too. A cooling period featuring seasonal rains was still in effect.

  • Earliest pigs and cats - 30 million years ago
  • First deer - 25 million years ago
  • Trees representative of most major groups of oaks have appeared - 23 million years ago

Neogene - 23.03-2.58 million years ago

It features 2 epochs: the Miocene, and the Pliocene.

Miocene epoch spans from 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago

Grass spread further, dominating a large portion of the world, at the expense of forests. Kelp forests evolved, encouraging the evolution of new species, such as sea otters. During this time, perissodactyla thrived, and evolved into many different varieties. Apes evolved into 30 species. The Tethys Sea finally closed with the creation of the Arabian Peninsula, leaving only remnants as the Black, Red, Mediterranean and Caspian Seas. This increased aridity. Many new plants evolved: 95% of modern seed plants evolved in the mid-Miocene.

Pliocene epoch lasted from 5.333 to 2.58 million years ago.

The Pliocene featured dramatic climactic changes, which ultimately led to modern species of flora and fauna.

  • The Mediterranean Sea dried up for several million years (because the ice ages reduced sea levels, disconnecting the Atlantic from the Mediterranean, and evaporation rates exceeded inflow from rivers).
  • The isthmus of Panama formed, and animals migrated between North and South America during the great American interchange, wreaking havoc on local ecologies.
  • Climatic changes brought: savannas that are still continuing to spread across the world; Indian monsoons; deserts in central Asia; and the beginnings of the Sahara desert. The world map has not changed much since, save for changes brought about by the glaciations of the Quaternary, such as the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and the Baltic sea.

The Great American Interchange

  • where various land and freshwater faunas migrated between North and South America.
  • Armadillos, opossums, hummingbirds Phorusrhacids, Ground Sloths, Glyptodonts, and Meridiungulates traveled to North America
  • Horses, tapirs, saber-toothed cats, Jaguars, Bears, Coaties, Ferrets, Otters, Skunks and deer entered South America.

Mammoths appear in the fossil record - 4.8 million years ago

Glaciation (2.5 million-12,000 years ago)

Quaternary spans from 2.58 million years ago to present day

It is divided into two epochs: the Pleistocene and the Holocene

Pleistocene lasted from 2.58 million to 11,700 years ago.

This epoch was marked by ice ages as a result of the cooling trend that started in the Mid-Eocene. There were at least four separate glaciation periods marked by the advance of ice caps as far south as 40° N in mountainous areas. Many animals evolved including mammoths, giant ground sloths, dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, and most famously Homo sapiens. 100,000 years ago marked the end of one of the worst droughts in Africa, and led to the expansion of primitive humans. As the Pleistocene drew to a close, a major extinction wiped out much of the world's megafauna.

First coyotes - 1 million years ago

Over Iowa's ancient bedrock lies much younger sediments left by glacial ice, and by the strong winds and swift meltwaters that accompanied the glaciersy. These deposits consist of loose pebbly clay (known as “glacial drift”), silt, sand and gravel.

Landforms of Iowa Map

Glaciers originated in the Canadian arctic and advanced over all or parts of Iowa numerous times between 2.6 million and 10,000 years ago. Iowa’s oldest glacial deposits are more than 500,000 years old and are seen across the Southern Iowa Drift Plain that covers the southern third of the state with rolling hills and well drained landscapes showing the long-term effects of stream erosion.

Between about 30,000 and 14,000 years ago, Iowa was free of ice, but the glaciers lay close by to the north. Summer melting carried glacial debris down meltwater rivers, especially the Missouri. During winter periods of low flow, strong westerly winds carried silt from the broad floodplain, and draped a gritty blanket of “loess” across most of Iowa. These deposits are especially thick along the eastern margins of the Missouri Valley. Later erosion of this silt gave rise to the unique, sharply ridged topography of western Iowa’s Loess Hills region.

During an especially intense period of glacial cold, between 21,000 and 16,000 years ago, the ice-free landscapes across northern Iowa were exposed to tundra-like conditions, with seasonal freezing and thawing of permafrost in the ground. These erosion cycles leveled out the once hilly terrain creating the more gently rolling landscapes of both the Iowan Surface (north-central to northeast Iowa) and Northwest Iowa Plains regions. The Iowan Surface in particular displays an unusual number of glacial boulders - called “erratics” - left concentrated at the land surface.

Then came a final surge of glacial ice into north-central Iowa, even as the overall climate was moderating. This ice advance is known as the Des Moines Lobe, named for the city that now sits at the southernmost reach of the glacier. These are Iowa’s freshest glacial deposits (only 15,000 to 12,000 years old), and they contrast sharply with the rest of the state. This distinctive landscape still shows the imprints of a slowly stagnating glacier – poorly drained, with numerous wetlands, lakes, and ridges called “moraines.”

Cerro Gordo county is divided between the Des Moines Lobe on the west, and the Iowan Surface on the East. Pilot Knob State Park is located on a morraine or glacial ridge of the Des Moines Lobe.

The Des Moines Lobe The Iowan Surface

Fascinating fossils from Ice Age deposits in Iowa range from mammoths, mastodons, giant sloths, musk-ox and caribou; to smaller Arctic fox, shrews and lemmings; to tiny snails, insects and fossil pollen grains.



Holocene Era began 11,700 years ago and lasts to the present day.

All recorded history and "the history of the world" lies within the Holocene epoch


The Paleoindian period in North America dates to about 11,500-7,500 B.C. Paleoindians in Iowa encountered vastly different environments than those of the recent past. The climate was cooler and wetter than present averages. In north central Iowa, Paleoindians lived in recently deglaciated landscapes covered by boreal and conifer-hardwood forests, shifting through time to elm- and oak- dominated woodlands. Woodlands predominated in most of the state as well, and prairie, if present, was very limited.

During this same time period, glaciers also retreated from Europe. The land which is now Great Britain had been almost completely covered and, thus, uninhabitable until this time. Scandinavia was also covered to include most of Denmark and the Baltic coast of northern Europe.

The Clovis complex is the earliest well defined archaeological culture currently known in North America. Clovis and other fluted projectile point styles (Folsom) were made during the first two-thirds of the Paleoindian period, and Dalton and unfluted point forms date to the latter one-third of the period. Aside from these lanceolate (lance-shaped) points, defining characteristics of the Paleo-Indian period include distinctive butchering tools, extensive use of exotic chert types, and specialized lithic technologies. Fluted and unfluted point forms have been recovered as surface finds from upland and valley locations throughout Iowa.

No Paleoindian base camps have yet been documented in Iowa. To date, the best documented fluted point site in Iowa is a plow-disturbed cache of Clovis points known as the Rummells-Maske site in Cedar County.

Occurrences of fluted points made of exotic raw materials far from their source area suggest that Early Paleoindians groups were highly mobile and had large territories or range sizes. Their mobility characterized by frequent and long distance movements. A number of different types of Clovis and Folsom sites have been identified, including brief camps or habitation sites, quarry workhops, storage caches, burials, kills, camp/kill, and possibly, aggregation sites. In Iowa, Early Paleoindian sites tend to be found near streams or rivers, and are particularly abundant in confluence areas and in areas of high quality chert or flint. To date, over 200 Clovis and Folsom points have been recorded as part of a regional fluted point survey (Morrow and Morrow 1994). A map of these finds indicates fluted point concentrations in eastern and southwestern Iowa.

Early Paleoindians have been referred to as "big game hunters" because of the widespread co- occurrence of fluted points and extinct animals on the Plains. But evidence from a number of Clovis kill and camp sites such as Kimmswick in eastern Missouri, Aubrey in Texas, Hiscock in New York, and Shawnee-Minnisink in Pennsylvania, shows that the diet of Clovis peoples also may have included deer, fish, berries, and small mammals as well. Despite this evidence for a more generalized diet, many archaeologists maintain that the Early Paleoindian subsistence economy emphasized large game such as mammoth, mastodon, caribou, and extinct forms of bison. An extinct form of bison seems to have been the main dish in Folsom times.

A Brief Cultural History of Iowa

Early Paleoindian Period

The period between 10,500 and 8,000 in Iowa is characterized by two different regional traditions. This span of time includes what has traditionally been defined as Late Paleoindian on the Great Plains and Early Archaic in the Eastern Woodlands. Rather than representing two separate sequential time periods, in Iowa Late Paleoindian and Early Archaic were contemporary. There is some geographic variation in the distribution of these two traditions across the state. Unstemmed lanceolate (elongated, leaf-shaped) and stemmed lanceolate point styles attributed to Late Paleoindian traditions tend to dominate in the western half of Iowa while the lanceolate, stemmed, and notched points characterizing the Early Archaic traditions are more prevalent in the eastern part of the state.

Direct evidence for this period of time from excavated contexts is sparse, so most of our knowledge of this period is derived from neighboring regions and the artifact chronologies established elsewhere. Only two sites dating to this interval of time have been excavated in Iowa, both of them in the northwest part of the state. Horizon III of the Cherokee Sewer site was dated to 8400 B.P. This zone produced an assemblage of unstemmed and weakly stemmed lanceolate points characteristic of the later Late Paleoindian traditions. The single radiocarbon date of 8430 B.P. from the Simonsen site suggests rough contemporaneity with Horizon III at Cherokee. At Simonsen, however, side-notched points more characteristic of what is known as Early Plains Archaic (not to be confused with Early Archaic in the Eastern Woodlands) were recovered. Bison hunting appears to have been a major subsistence pursuit at both Cherokee and Simonsen. These two sites cannot be taken as representative of the entire state and they only relate the later part of the period discussed here. It is very unlikely that bison hunting was a common practice among Early Archaic groups living in eastern Iowa because bison do not appear to have been present in great numbers in this part of the state at this time. A more diversified subsistence economy relying on deer, small mammals, birds, fish, fruits, and nuts was probably typical for eastern Iowa as it was in adjacent Illinois and Missouri.

Late Paleoindian/Early Archaic Period

A Brief Cultural History of Iowa


The Early Archaic period (7,500-5,500 B.C.) is viewed as a somewhat transitional period between cultures relying on big game for subsistence and those with a more rounded forager adaptation. Environments changed relatively quickly, as deciduous woodlands, mixed with prairies in western areas, became established over most of the state. Populations probably depended on bison in western Iowa and on deer and elk in eastern Iowa. These large mammals were supplemented by smaller game and by increasing use of plant foods. Settlement types included somewhat permanent base camps and seasonally occupied resource procurement camps. Excavated sites, such as the Cherokee Sewer site, suggest local populations were small and that they were tied to a seasonal round of resource exploitation. Representative artifacts include medium to large spear points, often with serrated and beveled blade edges.

The Middle Archaic period (5,500-2,500 B.C.) is so poorly known in Iowa that it has normally been lumped with the Early Archaic. Cultural adaptations may have been similar, but environmental conditions became increasingly arid throughout the period. The Middle Archaic period corresponds to the warmest and driest postglacial period, commonly referred to as the Atlantic episode, or the Hypsithermal. Human populations throughout the Midwest gravitated to the wetter river valleys, and because of this, Middle Archaic sites are often deeply buried and difficult to locate. During the Hypsithermal, great masses of silt filled river valleys, and alluvial fan development was rapid. Many Middle Archaic sites are buried in these alluvial sediments.

The Middle Archaic period in Iowa dates from about 8,000 to 4,500 B.P. It is characterized by a wide range of medium-sized (averaging between 30 and 60 mm in length) stemmed and notched projectile point forms. Stemmed point styles including the Jakie type and corner-notched forms are characteristic of the early part of the Middle Archaic period in the eastern part of the state, roughly 8,000 to 6,500 B.P. By about 6,500 B.P., side-notched point forms known by a variety of type names (e.g. Brannan, Godar, Matanzas, Raddatz, Robinson, and Tama) become dominant and these carry through to the end of the Middle Archaic period. Side-notched point styles seem to be characteristic of the entire range of the Middle Archaic period in western Iowa. The Middle Archaic period of Iowa is essentially contemporary with the Early Plains Archaic period defined further west on the Great Plains.

Overall, Middle Archaic lithic assemblages are less refined and less distinctive than those associated with preceding periods. Middle Archaic projectile points are generally smaller and more poorly made than those of the Late Paleoindian/Early Archaic period. Middle Archaic chipped-stone tool technology relied upon a variety of local cherts and heat-treatment was commonly applied to all chert varieties regardless of their initial quality. As a general rule, Middle Archaic flake tools are smaller and less formally patterned than those characteristic of Early Archaic assemblages. These changes in chipped-stone technology may be related to decreased mobility and territory size which could have diminished overall access to good-quality lithic raw materials.

In contrast to the marked decline in the size and quality of chipped-stone tools, Middle Archaic assemblages are also characterized by the widespread appearance and proliferation of pecked and ground stone artifacts. Grooved axes appear early in the Middle Archaic period. Full-grooved axes are the earliest form and by the middle of the Middle Archaic period, rounded-bottom three-quarter grooved axes are also represented. Flat-bottomed three-quarter grooved axes appear to have been in use by the end of the Middle Archaic period. Bannerstones, used as weights on atlatls, also appear early in the Middle Archaic period and various forms were used through the Middle Archaic period into the following Late Archaic period.

Middle Archaic subsistence is poorly known from eastern Iowa. Contemporary Archaic populations in western Iowa relied heavily on bison procurement. Evidence from sites in adjacent Illinois suggests that early Middle Archaic floral and faunal use was not substantially different from the preceding Early Archaic. By the latter part of the Middle Archaic period, defined as the Helton phase at the Koster site, west-central Illinois, more intensive means of procuring various plant and animal food resources are suggested. Increased exploitation of aquatic resources and nuts is indicated by the floral and faunal remains from these sites as well as by the presence of specialized equipment for procuring and processing these foods such as bone fishhooks, net weights, nutting stones, and manos and metates.

Middle Archaic Period

By the Late Archaic period (2,500-500 B.C.) the Midwest was becoming a fairly crowded place with the incidence of intergroup encounter rising sharply. This situation resulted in similar subsistence strategies over broad areas, but also in increased territoriality, local differentiation in artifact styles, and development of intergroup trading networks. The end of the dry Hypsithermal resulted in increased stability of the resource base and made many previously unsuitable areas attractive for settlement. Population levels appear to have increased substantially, and a somewhat sedentary lifeway as well as construction of large ossuaries (multiple-interment cemeteries) are documented for this period. The use of communal cemeteries reinforces the interpretation that populations were becoming more sedentary.

The Edgewater Park Site (13JH1132) Coralville, Johnson County, Iowa

Note: You can view additional photos in Flikr

In Coralville, just north of the Marriott Hotel along the Iowa River, the OSA excavated a Late Archaic site, occupied ca. 3,800 years ago. This small site had organic preservation, and included a central hearth and activity areas, including deer processing, lithic reduction, and discard areas. The excavated soils, associated with a buried A horizon, were wet-screened.

The people at the Edgewater Park site 3,800 years ago were mobile hunters and gatherers. Their site was a temporary camp along the Iowa River where the inhabitants chipped stone tools including hunting weapons, sat around at least two hearths, and fished and hunted. The types of stone used for tools suggested they had just come down river from central or northern Iowa, and plants found at the site indicated camping in late summer or early fall. It is reasonable to assume that they were probably headed south, and the site offered a good spot to rest and resupply before continuing their trip toward the Mississippi River valley for winter.

The site was found about 4 ft below surface. Excavation proved very slow, since the site rested below the water table and had to be continuously pumped. Archaeologists used this water to wash excavated soil through fine mesh, which resulted in the collection of very small artifacts. Although little could be seen in the muddy clay during excavation, the residue of burned earth and charcoal, small stone flakes, and butchered animal bone made it possible to determine the location of hearths, flintknapping (stone-tool making) areas, and butchering spots. Soil samples from the site contained seeds of little barley, a plant that is not native to the area and barnyard grass, a local plant similar to millet.

These seeds suggested the people at Edgewater were involved in the earliest stages of domestication, the movement of plants to new areas. The Edgewater site is younger than eastern U.S. sites where there is confirmed evidence of domestication, but older than sites in Iowa with evidence of domestic plants. More than 4,000 years ago domesticated plants appear in the southeast U.S., with the oldest confirmed horticulture in Iowa ca. 3,000 years ago at the Gast Spring and Sand Run sites.

Other people were beginning to grow domesticated plants in the southern Mississippi River region at this time, and it is likely that the people at the Edgewater Park Site were directly or indirectly in contact with them. While the occupants did not grow crops, they were changing the way they produced food, shifting towards plants that would later be domesticated, a necessary step towards becoming farmers. This continued transition to agriculture can be seen at other sites in Iowa. The 2800-year-old Gast Spring Site in Louisa County has the earliest unambiguous evidence of domesticated plants in the state, including squash, goosefoot, and little barley.

Edgewater Park (13JH1132): A Late Archaic Site

A Brief Cultural History of Iowa


The Woodland tradition (500 B.C.-A.D. 1000) was characterized by improved technologies, such as ceramic production and horticulture, leading to an overall increase in productive efficiency, and by the construction of burial mounds. Although these characteristics originated during the Archaic, only after 500 B.C. did they come together and become adopted over a wide area.

Woodland peoples refined their hunter-gatherer adaptations, making heavy use of fish and clams in majorriver valleys, and continuing to exploit deer and bison. Dependence on cultivated plants increased. Native plants often thought of as weeds today were grown for their nutritious seeds. Woodland farmers developed domesticated varieties of some of these native grain crops long before corn or beans became important. Climatic conditions approached modern averages, landform development stabilized in most places except in flood plains and stream channels, and vegetation patterns were much like the forest-prairie mix documented by nineteenth-century land surveys.

The technological and subsistence practices developed during the Archaic period continued to be used by later populations. But a number of major social, technological, and economic developments are evident in the archaeological record of the Woodland period (500 B.C.- A.D. 1000). These developments include bow and arrow hunting, pottery production, plant domestication and cultivation, and burial mound construction.

During the Woodland period, climatic conditions approached modern averages, landform development stabilized in most places except in flood plains and stream channels, and vegetation patterns were much like the forest-prairie mix documented by nineteenth- century land surveys. Woodland peoples refined their hunter-gatherer adaptations, making heavy use of fish and clams in major river valleys, and continuing to exploit deer and bison. Woodland farmers developed domesticated varieties of some native plants long before corn or beans became important. The principal early cultivated plants included gourds, sumpweed, goosefoot, sunflower, knotweed, little barley, and maygrass.

Early Woodland

Early Woodland settlements (500-100 B.C.) in the Midwest were small and seasonally occupied. Early Woodland subsistence patterns in Iowa are not well known, but they probably involved broad-based procurement of mammals, birds, and aquatic species. Early Woodland peoples built large burial mounds similar to some in Ohio, and they interacted with groups throughout the Midwest, as evidenced by artifacts made of exotic raw materials. The typical Early Woodland spear point was a straight stemmed or contracting stemmed point, and pottery of the period includes both a thick, flat- bottomed type (500-300 B.C.) and a thinner, bag-shaped type often decorated with incised lines in geometric patterns (300-100 B.C.). Early Woodland sites are relatively common in the Mississippi Valley but are difficult to identify in central and western Iowa. Perhaps groups on the eastern Great Plains retained an Archaic lifestyle during this period.

Early Woodland settlements (500-100 B.C.) in the Midwest were small and seasonally occupied. Early Woodland subsistence patterns in Iowa are not well known, but they probably involved broad-based procurement of mammals, birds, and aquatic species. Early Woodland peoples built large burial mounds similar to some in Ohio, and they interacted with groups throughout the Midwest, as evidenced by artifacts made of exotic raw materials. The typical Early Woodland spear point was a straight stemmed or contracting stemmed point, and pottery of the period includes both a thick, flat-bottomed type (500-300 B.C.) and a thinner, bag-shaped type often decorated with incised lines in geometric patterns (300-100 B.C.). Early Woodland sites are relatively common in the Mississippi Valley but are difficult to identify in central and western Iowa. Perhaps groups on the eastern Great Plains retained an Archaic lifestyle during this period, making remains of their settlements difficult to distinguish from older occupations. Sites from this period may also have become deeply buried and can not be found using common survey methods.

Middle Woodland

The Middle Woodland period (100 B.C.-A.D. 300) is noted for its refined artworks, complex mortuary program, and extensive trade networks. Middle Woodland communities throughout the Midwest were linked by a network archaeologists refer to as the Hopewell Interaction Sphere. Trading involved materials such as Knife River flint from North Dakota and obsidian from the Yellowstone Park area. Also exchanged through the Hopewell network were artifacts of marine shell, copper, mica, and several pipestones, as well as high quality ceramic vessels and possibly perishable materials which have not survived archaeologically. Elaboration of the mortuary program and social stratification indicate increased levels of social and political complexity. However, most Middle Woodland peoples probably lived in small communities or farmsteads, focusing their subsistence economy on food resources in large river valleys and tending gardens of squash, tobacco, and native grain crops such as marshelder and goosefoot. Typical Middle Woodland tools included broad, corner-notched spear points and finely made, thin blades.

The Middle Woodland period (100 B.C.-A.D. 300) is noted for its refined artworks, complex mortuary program, and extensive trade networks. Middle Woodland communities throughout the Midwest were linked by a network archaeologists refer to as the Hopewell Interaction Sphere. The Hopewell Interaction Sphere involved the dissemination of ideas about social organization and relationships, technology, and economic activities from centers of Hopewellian culture in Illinois and Ohio. Hopewell network participants exchanged exotic raw materials such as Knife River flint from North Dakota and obsidian from the Yellowstone Park area. Also traded were artifacts of Gulf coast marine shell, Great Lakes copper, mica from Appalachia, galena from the Dubuque and Galena localities, and several pipestones derived from Minnesota, Illinois, and Ohio. High quality ceramic vessels with elaborate decoration were produced for trade, utilitarian, and mortuary purposes. Perishable materials which have not survived archaeologically also may have been traded. Hopewell-related populations spread into Iowa from settlements along the Mississippi River, establishing small outposts at points along the major rivers in eastern Iowa, and may have ventured into southwestern Iowa from a Hopewellian center near Kansas City.

Elaboration of the mortuary program to include more extensive mound construction is one of the more visible signs of increased levels of social and political complexity. Toolesboro Mounds State Preserve, located near Wapello in southeastern Iowa, is an excellent example of a Hopewell mound group. Individuals who were buried in mounds may have occupied positions of high status among Middle Woodland societies, since mound excavations frequently encountered skeletal remains associated with the finely pottery, stone tools, pipes, and other items produced from exotic raw materials that characterize Hopewell culture. If variation in burial treatment reflects status differentiation, a class of social or religious leaders developed among Hopewell-related populations.

Trading and ceremonial activities aside, most Middle Woodland peoples probably lived in small communities or farmsteads, focusing their subsistence economy on food resources in large river valleys and tending gardens of squash, tobacco, marshelder, and goosefoot. Typical Middle Woodland tools included broad, corner-notched spear points and finely made, thin blades. Middle Woodland pottery was characterized by rather thick-walled, conoidal or bag-shaped vessels decorated with combinations of bosses, incised lines, and stamping with a toothed or cord-wrapped stick, usually in a zone around the upper part of the pot. The influence of Hopewell culture in Iowa diminished abruptly after about A.D. 200. The changes in social relationships brought about by the end of Hopewell are paralleled by changes in pottery styles and other artifacts.

Middle Woodland pottery in western Iowa consisted of thick-walled conoidal vessels that were often heavily cord-roughened on the exterior surface. The pots were not as elaborately decorated as the Middle Woodland pottery found in the Mississippi valley, but similar decorative elements were employed. Projectile point styles were also similar to those found in eastern Iowa, with broad-bladed, corner-notched knives and straight or contracting stemmed points. Middle Woodland people in central and western Iowa retained the pattern of small, temporary settlements that had developed during the Archaic period. In north-central Iowa, settlements were placed near the shores of natural lakes, where native plants such as wild rice and arrowhead could be exploited. Fish and waterfowl also were exploited from lake shore settlements. In contrast to the commonly found Middle Woodland sites of eastern Iowa, sites of this period are difficult to locate in western Iowa. Artifacts dating to this period in western Iowaare usually found in the channels of streams and rivers, where erosion or channel straightening have cut through buried occupational horizons. Such horizons may occasionally be found in the walls of deep gullies and stream banks.

Late Woodland

By Late Woodland times (A.D. 300-1000) the continent-wide exchange of exotic goods declined but interaction between communities and tribes continued. Population levels apparently increased rapidly. In some parts of Iowa, Late Woodland peoples aggregated into large, planned villages, but in most of the state settlements continued to be small and generally became more dispersed across the landscape. Uplands and small interior valleys became settled or more heavily utilized. Late Woodland peoples introduced the bow and arrow into the Midwest. Continued native crop horticulture and diversified hunting and gathering provided the subsistence base through most of the period. Corn was introduced to many groups after around A.D. 800 but did not form a staple crop until the Late Prehistoric period.

Mound construction was generally simpler than in the Middle Woodland period, but regular aggregations for ritual and other purposes are probably reflected in the Late Woodland mound groups found throughout the state. Groups of linear, effigy, and conical mounds in northeastern Iowa form a distinctive element of the Effigy Mound Culture (A.D. 650-1000). The living sites of Effigy Mound peoples show a seasonal settlement pattern involving fish and shellfish collection during warm seasons in the main river valleys, nut harvesting in uplands in the fall, and winter use of rockshelters. Effigy Mound populations may have lived in dispersed groups in the interior of northeast Iowa during much of the year, coalescing regularly in the Mississippi valley to exploit the vast array of seasonally available resources. The effigy mound groups along the Mississippi bluff line may have signified the territories of loosely related nuclear or extended family units which met seasonally and merged into a larger social unit.

The Late Woodland period (A.D. 300-1000) was one of remarkable change. The continent-wide exchange of exotic goods declined but interaction between communities and regions continued. Population levels apparently increased rapidly. In some parts of Iowa, Late Woodland peoples aggregated into large, planned villages, but in most of the state settlements continued to be small and generally became more dispersed across the landscape. Uplands and small interior valleys became settled or more heavily utilized. Late Woodland peoples introduced the bow and arrow into the Midwest. Continued native crop horticulture and diversified hunting and gathering provided the subsistence base through most of the period. Corn was introduced to many groups around A.D. 800 but did not form a staple crop until the Late Prehistoric period.

Pottery technology changed greatly during the Late Woodland period, resulting in the production of much thinner-walled cooking vessels. Between A.D. 300 and 600, pottery decoration was simple, using a fingertip or stamping with a plain or cord wrapped stick. By about A.D.600 the use of stamping in pottery decoration was replaced by cord impressing, in which a twisted cord was pressed into the moist clay of the completed but unfired pot. A similar technique involved the use of a woven fabric of twisted cords to produce a complex design around the rim of a pot.

Mound construction was generally simpler than in the Middle Woodland period, but regular aggregations for ritual and other purposes are reflected in hundreds of Late Woodland mound groups found throughout the state. Groups of linear, effigy, and conical mounds in northeastern Iowa form a distinctive element of the Effigy Mound Culture (A.D. 650-1000). Effigy Mounds National Monument, near Marquette, Iowa, contains mounds in the shapes of birds, bears, and other forms. Effigy Mound populations may have lived in dispersed groups in the interior of northeast Iowa during much of the year, coalescing regularly in the Mississippi valley to exploit the vast array of seasonally available resources. The dwelling sites of Effigy Mound peoples show such a seasonal settlement pattern involving fish and shellfish collection during warm seasons in the main river valleys, nut harvesting in uplands in the fall, and winter use of rockshelters. The effigy mound groups along the Mississippi bluff line may have signified the territories of loosely related nuclear or extended family units which met seasonally and merged into larger social units.

A Brief Cultural History of Iowa

Woodland Period

Late Prehistoric

The Plains Village pattern appeared in Late Prehistoric times (A.D. 1000-1650) marking the beginning of a distinctive adaptation to the tall grass prairie/short grass plains ecotone of South Dakota, Nebraska, western Iowa, and southern Minnesota. Improved corn varieties, garden surpluses, new storage methods, earthlodge houses, and a complex social organization were common to these Late Prehistoric villagers. Bison meat was a common item in the diet, and hides were processed for clothing, robes, and coverings for tipis and lodges. Bison bones were modified into a variety of tools such as scapula hoes, used in gardening and digging.

Great Oasis Culture

One of the earliest of the Plains Village cultures was Great Oasis. Great Oasis culture developed from the local Late Woodland culture around A.D. 1000. Great Oasis sites are found over a wide area in the eastern Great Plains. Villages were situated on low terraces above the flood plains of rivers and streams, and on lake shores. Large, permanent villages may have been occupied by the entire population throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Smaller, temporary campsites were used for seasonal procurement of resources. During the summer a communal bison hunt or the establishment of small campsites for horticultural purposes may have led to temporary abandonment of the large settlements.

The name Great Oasis is derived from Joseph Nicollet's description (1837) of a large wooded area of southwest Minnesota that was protected from prairie fires by a complex of adjoining shallow lakes. One of the largest lakes in this region is named Great Oasis Lake and it is on the north shore of this lake that the Low Village site exists. The Great Oasis culture extended across a broad region of the eastern Plains periphery including southwestern Minnesota, northeastern Nebraska, southeast and central South Dakota and northwest and central Iowa. Many Great Oasis sites in central Iowa are located in the valleys of the Des Moines and the Raccoon rivers, suggesting that an extensive population of Great Oasis people once inhabited that region. Based on recent excavations, the "Maxwell phase" was defined to include the Great Oasis of Central Iowa.

Great Oasis

Mill Creek Culture

Mill Creek, a northwest Iowa culture of this period, is part of what prehistorians refer to as the Initial variant of the Middle Missouri tradition. Mill Creek villages appear as deep midden deposits on terraces above the Big and Little Sioux rivers and their tributaries. Many of the well planned, compact villages were fortified with log palisades, and encircling ditches. Within the villages were individual earthlodges with large internal storage pits. Mill Creek people were semisedentary horticulturalists who grew a large amount of corn along with the native crops, possibly using ridged-field agriculture. It is likely that, as with other Plains Village groups, a communal bison hunt was conducted on one or more occasions during the year. Mill Creek people maintained connections, possibly through trade, with major prehistoric centers in the Mississippi valley, such as the famous site of Cahokia near St. Louis.

Mill Creek

Central Plains Culture

The Central Plains tradition consisted of cultures in Kansas, Nebraska, western Missouri, and southwestern Iowa. Many Central Plains sites were settled farming communities whose residents built substantial earthlodge houses. The archaeological remains of communities along the Missouri River in eastern Nebraska, southwestern Iowa, northwestern Missouri, and northeastern Kansas are grouped into what is called the Nebraska phase. Any relationships between the prehistoric Nebraska phase and historic tribes are unclear, although the historic Pawnee may have roots in the Central Plains tradition. Over 80 Central Plains earthlodges have been recorded in the Glenwood locality, Mills County. They represent a fully-developed expansion of Nebraska phase people into southwestern Iowa around A.D. 1050-1250. Glenwood settlements were individual farmsteads or small clusters of earthlodges dispersed along ridge summits, low terraces, and valley wall slopes in the Loess Hills and adjacent landforms.


Oneota Culture

During the Late Prehistoric period the Oneota culture dominated much of eastern Iowa as well as extensive parts of central and northwestern Iowa. Oneota peoples lived throughout the Midwest between around A.D. 1050 and 1700. Oneota villages were large and permanent or semipermanent. Houses varied in form from small, square or oval single-family dwellings to longhouses with many families. The subsistence economy was based on fishing, hunting, plant collecting, and agriculture. Distinct Oneota groups occupied widely separated regions of Iowa. Each group, or phase, occupied a core locality where villages were densely packed on the landscape. These core areas are surrounded by huge territories that were probably used for hunting, gathering, and other resource procurement. Although the various phases appear to have been generally autonomous, there was probably a great deal of interaction and socio-political cohesion among them. Oneota complexes are ancestral to several midwestern tribes such as the Iowa, Oto, Missouri, and Winnebago.

The archaeological term "Oneota can be traced back to the early 1900s when Charles Keyes referred to ceramics found by Ellison Orr in northeastern Iowa along the Upper Iowa River, formerly called the Oneota River, as Oneota. Most archaeologists now use Oneota to refer to several post-Woodland groups living on the Prairie Peninsula that appeared about A.D. 1000 and continued there until the Historic period (ca. A.D. 1650). Traits determined to be Oneota are found throughout the Upper Midwest of the United States and extend into Canada. The most diagnostic trait of an Oneota population is probably the shell-tempered globular jar with a constricted orifice and a rounded bottom. Shoulder decoration often includes geometric patterns comprised of trailed lines, which are sometimes bordered by punctates. Chevrons and variations of the chevron theme appear to have been a common ceramic decorative motif during some time periods. Other artifacts common to Oneota, not all of which are unique to the culture, include: bone tools, most noticeably the bison scapula hoe and deer mandible sickle; small, unnotched triangular arrow points; end scrapers; sandstone abraders; mauls; catlinite disc and elbow pipes; and village areas marked by an abundance of storage pits. Houses were quite variable in shape, and include ovals, squares, and long rectangles.

No one knows for sure just where the Oneota people came from. Some researchers have suggested that the Oneota resulted from a migration of people from the largest Native American city north of Mexico, Cahokia, which is located near present day East St. Louis, Illinois. Others have suggested that Late Woodland groups already living in the Upper Mississippi Valley evolved into the Oneota. Only more research will answer this puzzling question.

In Iowa, the Oneota culture complex has been broken down into four phases based upon the area of the state in which they are found: (1) the Orr phase in the northeast and possibly northwest Iowa, (2) the Correctionville phase in northwest Iowa, (3) the Moingona phase in central Iowa, and (4) the Burlington phase in southeast Iowa. Some of the larger Oneota sites in Iowa that have had recent excavations on them include the Blood Run site in Lyon County, the Dixon site in Woodbury County, the Christenson site in Polk County, and the Wever site in Lee County.

The Oneota practiced a mixed economy, relying on agriculture, plant gathering, and hunting for their subsistence. While maize (corn) was heavily relied upon, squash, beans, and some plants now considered as weeds, such as amaranth (pigweed) and chenopodium (goosefoot), were also important dietary items. The two main sources of meat include bison and deer, with elk, many varieties of birds and fish, and sometimes even dogs, also being eaten. Evidence suggests that some villages were abandoned for seasonal bison hunts which may have taken place once or twice a year.

The Oneota stored their perishable food items, as well as some personal items, in large bell-shaped pits dug into the ground. These storage pits were often lined with grass and covered with wooden logs and deer or bison hides. Dirt was then piled on top of the wood and skins to hide the location of each pit and to keep dogs and other scavenging animals from digging into them. These bell-shaped pits, when found by an archaeologist, can provide a wealth of information regarding the lifestyle of the Oneota.

Whatever became of the Oneota? In Iowa, evidence suggests that the Oneota became the Historic tribes of the Otoe, Ioway, and Missouria Indians. As can be seen from this listing of tribes, the state of Iowa takes its name from an Indian tribe whose ancestors are Oneota Indians. These later sites are marked by the presence of such European trade items as glass beads and brass and silver jewelry.


A Brief Cultural History of Iowa

Historic Indians and Euro-Americans

Several Oneota sites in northeastern and northwestern Iowa bridge the prehistoric and historic eras (A.D. 1640-1700). Early French trade goods such as glass beads, finger rings, and gunflints are found at sites dominated by native-made material. In Iowa the term "protohistoric denotes this period, when European goods were arriving and other influences were felt but before European peoples started to make extensive written records of the area.

Northeast Iowa Oneota

Indian groups residing in or using portions of Iowa seasonally in protohistoric times included the Iowa, Oto, Omaha, perhaps the Missouri, and the Middle and Eastern Dakota. These groups were essentially sedentary, but elements of their populations made wide-ranging seasonal forays for hunting and warfare.

Ancient Trails Project

European Incursions

The historic period began in Iowa with the European exploration of the midcontinent, as evidenced by their written records and artifacts. Many Indians possessed and traded European manufactured goods long before they ever set eyes on a French explorer, and the historic period for them began before actual contact. The presence of western Siouan and Algonquian Indians and fur-bearing animals, lead, and other natural resources was reported for the Upper Mississippi Valley as early as 1634 by Jean Nicolet, and confirmed by other western Great Lakes explorers in the decades that followed. The first recorded Europeans to venture into Iowa were Louis Joliet, Father Jacques Marquette, and the voyageurs who exited the Wisconsin River and paddled down the great Mississippi River in June of 1673. They traveled for eight days camping along the Iowa shoreline before visiting the Illiniwek (Illinois) Indians at the Illiniwek Village State Historic Site near the mouth of the Des Moines River, on the Missouri side. Jolliet-Marquette expedition journals indicated this summer village had nearly 300 lodges, laid out with streets. Archaeologists have recently begun excavations at this important early historic site.

Iowa 1718 Map Iowa 1798 Map

Chemin de Voyageurs:

The Chemin Des Voyageurs is the oldest named road in Iowa, appearing on maps in the first decade of the 1700s. This trading highway connected the western Plains with the Wisconsin River fur trade route, shipping Indian-trapped pelts to the Great Lakes and ultimately Europe.

Ancient Trails Tours 1, 2, 5, and 7 approximate this route.

The first-mapped Chemin trail began at the headwaters of the Upper Iowa and extended west towards Ioway and Otoe villages near Spirit Lake.

The earliest mapped Chemin depictions began along the Upper Iowa River north of Lansing where numerous huge fortified villages lined the bluffs and terraces along the river. The ancestors of the Ioway and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) lived here at the time of European contact (43 in the Archaeological Guide to Iowa). The huge, castle-like cliffs suggest why this area was chosen for defensive positions. As the Ioway dispersed west and Ho-Chunk east, the region became the center of Dakota villages, visited by numerous European explorers and traders; by the 1830s the Ho-Chunk returned to the valley.

Later (?) the long valley out of the Mississippi bottom which runs through McGregor was the easiest way to access the interior of Iowa from the mouth of the Wisconsin River, making it the starting point of the Chemin des Voyageurs. The valley was called Coulee de Sioux in the early 1800s. The overland route west from McGregor is arguably the oldest trail mapped in Iowa. Parts of this route later served as the main supply route for the U.S. Army in Iowa, connecting Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien with Fort Atkinson.

Although Marquette was opposite Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien this river crossing to Iowa was blocked by large slough islands. A clear path across the river extended from southern Prairie du Chien to McGregor. By 1850 a commercial ferry plied this route, bringing American immigrants to northern Iowa. The original route did not follow U.S. Highway 18 out of town, rather it likely followed the Center Street valley up to Eagle Drive on the ridge northwest of town. The overland route to Fort Crawford was known as the Military Road.

West of McGregor the Chemin likely followed the same route as modern U.S. 18 to Monona. This was part of a trail system that connected Dubuque to Decorah and St. Paul, and was well known to early settlers as an Indian trail. These upland trails would have been fast — comparatively straight with few obstacles, but travelers would have been exposed to the elements and enemies, and away from the water and game found in the valleys.

Follow W. Franklin St./115th Street west and you will be on the exact route taken by the Military Road. A fork in the GLO trails occurs in Luana, now a tiny hamlet, but once a major stopping point, with two hotels in the mid 1800s. Luana was also home to two nefarious whiskey holes called Sodom and Gomorrah, serving both soldiers and Indians, before the Army shut them down in the 1840s. At the crossroads, one trail headed north towards Decorah and ultimately St. Paul, the other west towards Fort Atkinson.

Postville was the site of the Army’s Half-Way House, where troops marching between Forts Atkinson and Crawford could rest and camp. It was run by Joel Post, the town founder.

Ancient Trails Tour 2

Although the exact route of the Chemin des Voyageurs will probably never be known, the GLO mapped several ancient trails in Decorah and heading west that approximate the Chemin. Water Street to College Drive to Pole Line Road will take you through Decorah, along the beautiful Upper Iowa River bottoms, and ascend to the uplands. From there you will travel quickly to Cresco on Highway 9.

From Cresco head due west on 2nd Avenue/Highway 9. The meandering GLO trails which may have followed the old Chemin trail actually ran farther north, near the Minnesota border, but there are few clear remnants left of these old trails to follow. Highway 9 gives a good sample of the landscape the Chemin crossed, from the steep Driftless area to the rolling hills of the Iowan Surface, to the drained wetlands of the Des Moines Lobe. Historically, this area was occupied by Dakota Indians, who often fought against the Ho-Chunk and Sauk. You will pass through Riceville, Osage, Manly, Hanlontown, and Fertile. In 1854 a huge encampment of 500 Dakota camped near Fertile.

Ancient Trails Tour 5

The Chemin des Voyageurs extended from the Ioway and Otoe villages along the Spirit Lakes west to the largest village complex in the state. Early explorer maps show this segment of the Chemin as a straight line, and no route is straighter than Highway 9. It is fair to assume that overland travelers would have stopped off at the natural lakes that line the way, including Silver Lake and Rush Lake, these two lakes are shown conspicuously on early maps of Iowa, suggesting they were important to early travelers. Silver Lake was called “Ptanska.” As the road moves from the swampy Des Moines Lobe to the Northwest Iowa Plateau near Sibley, natural lakes disappear and rolling prairie hills begin. The Little Rock and Rock rivers would provide some relief from the exposed upland trails.

After Larchwood, take a left on 120th Street, a right on Ashley Avenue, and a left on 110th. Follow 110th to Gitchie Manitou State Preserve, in the farthest northwest corner of Iowa. Gitchie Manitou has several low Indian mounds (Archaeological Guide to Iowa 1) and is the northern-most component of the Blood Run complex (Archaeological Guide to Iowa 2). Blood Run, also called Good Earth, was the largest Indian settlement in the region in the 1700s, where numerous tribes met, including Omaha, Ponca, Ioway, and Otoe. This was the end of the line of the Chemin des Voyageurs, where furs transported by river from the Plains were gathered to be shipped east overland to the Great Lakes and Europe.

Blood Run, named for a creek which transects the property, was first occupied 6500 years ago, and probably earlier. It reached its zenith as a Midwest trading center in the 1500s and 1600s, with artifacts from the Ioway, Otoe, Arikara, Cheyenne, and Dakota cultures all present. European trade items reached the Blood Run site prior to the actual arrival of Europeans. When Europeans moved into the area in the early 1700s, though, the site was all but abandoned.

Ancient Trails Tour 7

The period from the 1760s through 1830s was a turbulent time that saw an antagonistic British and American presence challenging established French and Indian alliances in the Upper Mississippi and Missouri valleys. Regional conflicts stemming out of the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812 led to the breakdown of the French fur trade and barter economy and increased pressure from American encroachment.

The Ioway People

Prior to 1700 the Ioway and Oto, and possibly the Omaha and Ponca, occupied a large village at Blood Run National Historic Landmark in northwest Iowa along the Big Sioux River. Blue glass beads, iron knives, and brass kettles have been found in excavations there. A small Ioway village as it might have looked around 1700 can be visited at Iowa Living History Farms in Des Moines. Other Ioway villages and cemeteries from the earliest period of French contact have been excavated along the Upper Iowa River in northeast Iowa and in the lakes region of Northwest Iowa. Jesuit rings, gun parts, and glass beads show European influence while evidence of bison hunting, pottery-making, and pipestone working attest to the retention of traditional lifeways.

The Ioway Indians maintained a village in the 1750s and 60s in the Des Moines River valley near Iowaville, controlling a large horse and fur trading network. The Ioways traded with other Indians and Europeans over a large region. Numerous British gunflints and glass and ceramic artifacts have been recovered from Iowaville.

The Iowa, Missouria, and Otoe tribes were all once part of the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) people. They are all Chiwere language-speaking peoples. They left their ancestral homelands in Southern Wisconsin for Eastern Iowa, a state that bears their name.

In 1837, the Iowa were moved from Iowa to reservations in Brown County, Kansas, and Richardson County, Nebraska, having failed in their attempts to keep their claim to territory in Iowa. Bands of Iowa moved to Indian Territory in the late 19th century and settled south of Perkins, Oklahoma to become the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma.

1837 Ioway Map

1837 Ioway Map & GIS

The Iowa People


After around 1650, European competition for tribal alliances and trade, and European diseases, drastically changed the structure of and relationships among Indian groups. Tribal population declined and white dispossession of traditional territories became common. In Iowa, the tribes mentioned above gave way to Great Lakes groups including the Sauk, Mesquakie (Fox), Winnebago, and Potawatomi.

It was not until June 1, 1833, under the terms of the Treaty known as the Black Hawk Purchase, that legal non-Indian settlement in the Iowa Territory began in earnest. This opened a new chapter in Iowa history, an American land rush following a series of treaties pushing Indians westward beyond the Missouri River.

The Mesquakie

Perhaps the best known of the Great Lakes groups among Iowans is the Mesquakie. The name Mesquakie means "people of the red earth." Oral history indicates a tribal origin in the lower Great Lakes. At the time of earliest French contact, the Mesquakies had recently moved from Michigan to Wisconsin. In the early 1700s French pressure forced the tribe into Illinois. By 1750, the Mesquakies considered Iowa their homeland, and they established priority rights to the Iowa River valley by 1800. Further pressured by white incursion into Iowa, the Mesquakies ceded Iowa lands in 1804, 1832, 1836, 1837, and 1842. Most Mesquakie people continued to live in villages in the Iowa River valley, moving farther up river with each land cession. Some Mesquakies remained in Iowa even after the "official" removal of Indians from Iowa in 1845. In the 1850s, the Mesquakies residing in Iowa and those returning from western reservations purchased land in Tama County, and the Mesquakie settlement was legally founded.

Fort Atkinson & the Winnebago

In 1840, U.S. infantry and mounted dragoons escorted Winnebago Indian families from their homes in Wisconsin to new lands in the Iowa Territory. This scene, repeated throughout the eastern United States in the nineteenth century, was part of a policy designed to strip tribes of their lands and relocate them west of the Mississippi. By the 1820s, sixty percent of the U.S. Army was stationed along this western frontier to ensure native cooperation for American settlement and enterprise.

Beginning in 1832, the Winnebago (Hochungohrah), a Chiwere-Siouan-speaking tribe related to the Ioway and Otoe, were forced to relinquish their Wisconsin homeland through a series of cession treaties in exchange for territory in the Neutral Ground—a forty milewide buffer zone in the northeast Iowa Territory.

The Decorah area was populated by Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) Indians before Euro-American settlers arrived. The Ho-Chunk were forced into Iowa beginning in the 1830s, and were largely removed from the state by 1849, although many continued to visit after this date.

The U.S. Government assured the Winnebago protection in the Neutral Ground from other tribes, illegal settlers, and opportunistic traders, with the understanding that they would be relocated to “better lands” when these became available. Promised annuities—goods, services, and cash—would be paid by an official subagent whose duties also included the education and “civilizing” of the Indians.

Fort Atkinson became command-central for the Winnebago occupation of Iowa Territory over the next eight years. The name honored Brig. Gen. Henry Atkinson, commander at the 1832 Battle of Bad Axe, Wisconsin, the final Indian battle east of the Mississippi. The fort had three major goals: to monitor, protect, and maintain Winnebago bands within the Neutral Ground, to prevent pioneer settlement, and to reinforce the authority of the subagent.

Fort Atkinson 1840-49

Winnebago Creek and Winnebago County were named for the Ho-Chunk, who had a large village near Clear Lake that was attacked by Dakota in 1854. - Ancient Trails Tour 5

European Settlement

European-sponsored enterprises affecting Iowa in the early Historic period included the fur trade and, in northeastern Iowa, lead mining. In 1762, the area that is now Iowa came under Spanish rule. The Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, Dubuque County, is a portion of Julien Dubuque's original land grant which he received from the Spanish government in 1796. The Mesquakie Indians, who moved into the area in the mid-1770s, allowed Dubuque to mine for lead in what they considered their territory from 1788 to Dubuque's death in 1810. Two other Spanish land grants were given to private individuals-one to Basil Giard in what is now Clayton County and one to Louis Tesson in what is now Lee County. The United States obtained Iowa as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and soon thereafter President Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Purchase. They traveled up the Missouri River in 1804, meeting with the Oto and Missouri tribes and hunting in the Loess Hills. In 1809, Fort Madison was built, followed by Fort Armstrong at Rock Island, Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien, and Fort Atkinson in Winneshiek County.

In 1833, much of eastern Iowa was opened for non-Indian settlement and by 1850, small towns were scattered across the state. Early settlements were along rivers, especially in eastern Iowa. General Land Office surveys quickly divided up public lands for sale, and the eastern cities of Burlington, Davenport, Dubuque, and others rapidly grew. In Iowa Territory's first census of 1836, population swelled to 23,000. A new territorial capitol was established in Iowa City in 1839, and when statehood was announced in 1846 it became the first state capitol; ``Old Capitol is now a National Historic Landmark.

By 1851 all Indian lands in Iowa had been ceded to the U.S. government.

Most of Iowa's cities and towns were established by the mid-1800s. Farms covered the state, and industries such as coal mining flourished. By the time of statehood in 1846, the character of modern Iowa had been formed by events of its most recent history.

The capitol was moved to the city of Des Moines in 1857 in order to be located in the center of the state, between the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers. Des Moines quickly became a center for the insurance industry. With the completion of the railroads after the Civil War, western Iowa cities such as Council Bluffs, Fort Dodge, and Sioux City began to prosper.

By 1870 railroads had spread across the state, and river transportation declined in importance.

A Brief Cultural History of Iowa

An Overview of the Historic Period


1854 Abstract - U.S. of A. to B.B. Richards
1855-6 Abstract - U.S.A. to Benjamin B. Richards, grant
1855-6 Abstract - Benjamin B. Richards to John B. Long, convey
1856 Abstract - John B. Long & Anna wf. to Ira L. Williams, convey all that part of NW quarter of NE quarter-section 10-96-20 which lies south of the center of Willow Creek.
1857 Abstract - Ira L. Williams to Nancy E. Allen, mortgage

A band of Santee Dakota, angered by incursions into their territory, attacked a settler family living in a cabin on the Iowa frontier during a severe winter in 1857. In what became known as the Spirit Lake Massacre, a young Abbie Gardner was taken captive and was returned a few months later for a ransom. http://www.uiowacar.com/osaglotrails/ancient-trails-tours-home/tour-6

Mason City was named as county seat
The first newspaper was published, the Cerro Gordo Press


1866 Abstract - Nancy E. Allen to Ira L. Williams, release of mortgage
1866 Abstract - Nancy E. Allen to George Vermilya, warranty deed

The Mason City Cemetery Association (MCCA) organized the Mason City Cemetery in the northeast part of the City, near the present Mason City Waterworks

The first train arrived in Mason City, the McGregor and Missouri River Railway Company


Population was 1,183
Mason City was incorporated as a town
F. J. Turnure was named Mason City’s First Marshall
Mason City Fire Company #1 was authorized to act; the first volunteer hook & ladder established for fire protection

The first library was established but was not a free service – it was a subscription library, meaning only paid subscribers were allowed to borrow books

Central Park was established in the center of downtown

St. Joseph Cemetery was organized at the present location

The first ‘fire shed’ was built to house fire protection equipment

1876 Abstract - plat of subdivision, including Lot 16

The first telephone service was installed; long distance service was available to Algona


Population was 2,510

1880 Census - Lynnville, Ogle, Illinois, United States Daniel Countryman Self M 65 New York
Sally Countryman Wife F 62 New York
Jennie Countryman Daughter F 19 Illinois
Herman Wolgmuth Other M 29 New York

Name W Longenecker Event Place Rochelle, Ogle, Illinois, United States Age 25 (c. 1855 vs 1852?) Marital Status Single Race White Occupation Dry Goods Clerk

Jennie Viola Countryman b. in Illinois Born on Apr 1863 to Daniel Countryman and Sally Phillips. Jennie Viola married Wesley M Longnecker in 1883 and had a child. (Ancestry.com) http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/alvin-countryman/countryman-genealogy-nuo/page-4-countryman-genealogy-nuo.shtml

1881 Mason City map
Shows George Vermilya owning a big parcel including the “big house” and the future site of 718, and a lot of other property in the neighborhood, too. Mostly to the south.

Carrie Chapman Catt becomes a teacher in Mason City

1883 Mason City Directory
Wesley Longnecker as carriage maker living at...

March 1883 - Jennie’s father died (married Wesley in May)

1883 - Superintendent of Schools in Mason City was Carrie Chapman Catt, the Founder of the National American Woman Suffrage Association

The Civil War statue was erected in Central Park

1885 - “double” lot purchased by Jennie from Judge Vermilya per Walking Tour Guide

1885 State Census - living at Washington & 10th, daughter Grace not born yet vs. 2yo, Sally Countryman, widow, living with them (her mother)

1885 James McGhee marriage

Pumps and pipes were purchased for the City water system

The Denison Hose Company was founded. The first hose cart was purchased by O.T. Denison for use by the Company. The Water Commissioner authorized to employ personnel to care for the hose and cart.

Mason City Electric Company installed street lights

A second library in the community opened as a reading room

1888 - Stockmans come to Mason City

June 1889 - birth of Ruth McGhee Bull


1890 Federal Census partially destroyed in a fire, so reason why not finding people there.

1890 - Longneckers move into first house built on State Street, #42 in Walking Tour Guide, sold in 1895

July 1890 - birth of Harold Bull

1893 - Birth of J. Donald McGhee and death of his mother.

August 1893 - Jennie’s mother died

Dr. Stella Mason became the first female doctor to practice in Mason City

The public library moved to East State Street

The building of the Iowa Central Railroad necessitated relocating the cemetery from the northeast part of the City to the present Elmwood Cemetery site (the bodies of the persons buried were moved to Elmwood Cemetery)

1894 - Longneckers move into second house on State Street, #41 in the Walking Tour Guide.

1895 Atlas
Shows George Vermilya owning a big parcel including the “big house” and the future site of 718. Jennie V. Longnecker is shown as owner of a double parcel to the west with a couple houses on it (#42 and #4? In the Walking Tour Guide).

Cub Scout History Walk
At 718 E. State St., 10-year-old Adam Dettmer, wearing a black apron and a straw hat, portrayed early Mason City property owner Wesley E. Longnecker. “I build carriages and I sell property,” he said. “Does anyone need a property around here?” [Interesting that they talk about Wesley, when Jennie was the primary owner in the abstract.] http://globegazette.com/news/local/cub-scouts-take-history-walk/article_268f42de-0d01-11e2-9211-001a4bcf887a.html

The first horse-drawn fire engine was purchased and the first paid fire fighter (driver) occurred this year

A chapel was built on the grounds of the cemetery with a receiving vault and sitting room

1896 Abstract - subdivision of Lot 16 into two lots (1.5 acre Lot 2 to the west, larger 2.86 acre Lot 1 to the east)

The first run of the Mason City Clear Lake Railroad was made between the two communities

1898 Mason City Directory - Wesley Longnecker as mattress company manager, living at 329 E State

1898 June Abstract - George Vermilya & Helen wf. to Jennie V. Longenecker, convey eastern 5 rods of Lot 1 in Lot 16 with the understanding & agreement that no live tree on the lot shall be damaged, destroyed or removed by either party. Quit-claim from south bank of Willow Creek north.
1898 December Abstract - Jennie V. Longenecker & W.M. hus. to C.H.McNider, mortgage to secure payment of $1500 (cost to build house?)

December 1898 Cerro Gordo Republican newspaper, W Longnecker listed with delinquent taxes.

1899-1920 Mason City history - http://iagenweb.org/cerrogordo/history/MasonCity/MCCentennialEd/cg_hist_CentMCStory_1899-1920.htm


1900 Census Record
Wesley N. Longnecker - Mason City Township Mason City Ward 1, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, United States
Wesley Longnecker lived in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa in 1900. He was the head of the household, 48 years old, and identified as white. Wesley was born in Pennsylvania around 1852, and both of his parents were born in Pennsylvania as well. In 1900, Wesley listed as married to Jennie V. Longnecker. Occupation:

Wesley N Longnecker Head M 48 Pennsylvania
Jennie V Longnecker Wife F 38 Illinois
listed at 860 (!) East State Street. Where is Grace, their daughter, who would have been ~15 yo. Daughter Grace (not found in 1900 census yet)

Neighbors at 804 (!) East State Street:

George Vermilya Head M 78 New York
Grace Dilts Daughter F 34 Iowa
Guerdon M Vermilya Son M 26 Iowa
William H Dilts Roomer M 40 Illinois
Nellie Everson Servant F 18 Minnesota

Judge George Vermilya - http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~iabiog/cerrogordo/h1910/h1910-v.htm#GEORGEVERMILYA

E.R. Bogardus’ mother was a Vermilyea. (His sister married Captain Smith - http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~iabiog/cerrogordo/h1910/h1910-s.htm#Captain Henry Irving Smith ) Bogardus lived with G. Vermilya when he came to Mason City and presumably worked for him in his lumberyard as he got into the building business.

1899 March Abstract - ditto, mortgage to secure payment of $450

1900 Abstract - C.H. McNider to Jennie V. Longenecker & husb, release of mortgage.

1900 Abstract - Jennie V. Longenecker & husb to May E. Kennedy, convey

1900 Mason City Directory - Wesley Longnecker as harness maker, living at 130 East State St.

July 1900 Abstract - May E. Kennedy & Charles E. husb to J.W. Ray, sell and convey subject to mortgage of $1500

A new court house was built in the community on the corner of 1st Street NW and N. Washington Avenue (on the site of the existing parking lot west of the current City Hall location)

February 1901 Abstract - James W. Ray to Charlotte E. Ray, executrix (widow), last will and testament

1901 Mason City Directory - Wesley Longnecker in real estate, living on Madison.

1901 - At meeting of the national NAWSA organization, Eleanor Stockman was recognized as one of the most successful fundraisers through her gift of the proceeds of a carload of hogs donated by Iowa farmers.

No Longnecker in 1923 Mason City Directory, can’t find in 1910 Census either. Ended up buried in Detroit, Michigan.

Duncan Rule House National Register Application
The house was designed by E.R. Bogardus (1850-1927), a long-time resident and builder in Mason City. Bogardus came to Mason City as a child. He opened a contracting business in 1873. Although he apparently had no formal architectural training, he gradually began to design, as well as construct, houses, and after 1894 devoted all his time to architecture. During his long career, Bogardus was responsible for numerous buildings in Mason City. His works included the mission-style Calvary M.E. Church (1913); the Georgian/Federal Revival Verimlya (1894), (house next door, related to E.R. Bogardus’ mother) Markley (c. 1902), and Keerl (c. 1894) houses; the City Park Hospital (1909), and the Queen Anne Longenecker house (1898), as well as assorted commercial buildings. He designed two houses using elements of the Shingle idiom: the Duncan Rule house and its precursor, the George Wilson house (1907).... http://focus.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Text/79000886.pdf

E.R. Bogardus blueprints - http://www.mcpl.org/historyandgenealogy/archives/bogardusblueprints

Sophia and Dolly Story opened the Story Hospital, the first hospital in Mason City at 107 N. Pennsylvania Avenue

The horse-drawn ‘Hook and Ladder Truck’ was purchased

April 1902 Abstract - assessment for Oak Street (now Virginia) not yet assessed.

1902 - Robert Meredith Wilson born

1903 Abstract - Charlotte A. Ray, widow, to J. H. McGhee, warranty deed, convey for $4000

1903 - J.H. McGhee was 41, Ruth was 13, Leone was 11 and J. Donald was 10.

The first movie theater, The Bijou, was opened by J. M. Heffner, located on the corner of South Federal and 2nd Street SE (the current main entrance of Southbridge Mall to the south on the east side - mentioned in Leone’s letters to J. Donald?)

The post office was built at 19 South Delaware Avenue

1908 - J.H. McGhee was 46, Ruth was 18, Leone was 16 and J. Donald was 15.

1908 - Dr. George and Eleanor Stockman House built. Eleanor’s sister, Fannie Chaffin, was long-time secretary for Carrie Chapman Catt. The artistic Eleanor, herself, was a supporter of the National American Women Suffrage Association.

1909 - Ruth McGee marries Harold Bull

East Park was established and is considered Mason City's most popular park

The Mason City Police Department officially became an organized department

The Mason City Fire Department went from a volunteer department to a paid department

The Park Hospital was built (by Bogardus) on the northwest corner of 1st Street NW and North Washington Avenue

Photo of “Mr. and Mrs. Harold Bull, Mason City” on the porch of 718 East State Street! - https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/piiTL5W36V47WVigX0M5Dw Other photos here - https://picasaweb.google.com/103155050948115664395/1900s

Robert J Bull - born in Mason City, Cerro Gordo, Iowa, USA on 1909 to Harold V Bull and Ruth M Bull. He passed away on 18 Jan 1994 in Mason City, Cerro Gordo, Iowa, USA. http://www.ancestry.com/genealogy/records/robert-j-bull_87647337


1910 - What life was like - trivia - http://www.stockmanhouse.org/life-in-1910

1910 - marriage of Ruth Stockman (?)

1910 Census: George Vermilya (widower) is living at 804 (!) East State Street and next door are
James H Mcghee Head M 48 Iowa
Leone Mcghee Daughter F 18 Iowa
Donald Mcghee Son M 17 Iowa
at 818 (!) East State Street. James is Ruth M. Bull’s father with Leone and Donald being her siblings. See below.

H V Bull Head M 19 South Dakota
(Ruth) Bull Wife F 20 Iowa
James Robert Bull Son M 0 Iowa
are living at 118 Oak Street (renamed Virginia in 1916 ). And...

C F Bull Head M 40 New York
Sarah G Bull Wife F 39 South Dakota
Dorthy H Bull Daughter F 8 Iowa
Fred C Bull Son M 4 Iowa
Living at 797 State Street - now 697 East State Street, basically across the street from the Longnecker-Bull House, old photo in the collection of Diane Jorgensen!!!!!!

1910: James Donald McGhee, Ruth’s brother, graduated from high school in 1910. We have his diploma. (So did Leone graduate in 1909? Ruth in 1907?)

The Park Inn Hotel and City National Bank, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opened in downtown Mason City across from Central Park

Colby Car Company was in operation (buildings are still used by the Associated Milk Producers, Inc. AMPI)

The first airplane flight was made in Mason City

The former fire ‘shed’ was razed, the new fire headquarters was built on the same lot

The American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, New York, built locomotive number 457 for the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad (the locomotive is now historically retired in East Park)

1912 Map
Shows the old Vermilya block still intact, for some reason. The previous Longnecker double parcel has been divided into two unequal parcels. Ownership is not marked on this map.

McGhee Children, college years -


  • Leone pledge at Omega Delta p 333 The Bomb
  • J.D. freshman in Kappa Sigma p300-301 The Bomb


  • Leone sophomore in Pi Beta Phi p 302-3/324-5 The Bomb
  • J.D. sophomore in Kappa Sigma p298-9 The Bomb


  • Leone Pi Beta Phi junior p292/306 The Bomb
  • J.D. junior in Kappa Sigma, profile on pg 89 The Bomb



  • J.D. Kappa Sigma Junior (!) p 252 The Bomb

The City was governed under the Commission form of government

The first patrol wagon was used by the Police Department

The first motorized fire engine was purchased, a 1913 Seagrave

The first motorcycle was purchased for use by the Police Department

Mercy Hospital opened

Mason City was rated a City of the first class with a population of 17,172

The Chamber of Commerce opened

1917 Abstract - J. H. McGhee to Ruth M. Bull, warranty deed, convey for $1 and other considerations

1917: James Donald McGhee, Ruth’s brother, graduated from Iowa State College in Animal Husbandry in 1917. We have his diploma (on parchment). He was in the Kappa Sigma house and we have photos of his fraternity brothers.

1917 Abstract - Ruth M. Bull and H. V. Bull, her husband to C.H.McNider, mortgage for $4000
1917 Abstract - C. H. McNider to John W. Smith, assigns mortgage
1917 - James H. McGhee elected to first term in state legislature, ran unopposed per letters

The Mason City Fire Department became fully motorized

The first hard-surfaced interurban highway in Iowa was constructed between Mason City and Clear Lake

Mason City Junior College (MCJC) opened as the first public two year college in Iowa

1918: James Donald McGhee drafted and served in the 70th Machine Gun company. We have the unit photo.

1919 - James H. McGhee elected to second term in state legislature


1920 Census:
Harold V Bull Head M 29 South Dakota
Ruth Bull Wife F 30 Iowa
Robert Bull Son M 9 Iowa
Elizabeth R Bull Daughter F 2 Iowa
Donald Mcghee Brother-in-law M 26 Iowa
Leone Mcghee Sister-in-law F 28 Iowa
Helen Johnston Servant F 16 South Dakota
at 718 East State Street. Deckers live next door at 704. Charles, Grace and Dorothy Bull (50, 49 and 18 yo) are at 104 1st Street (vs. S. Virginia?)

The census reported Mason City’s population at 20,065 and was ranked as Iowa’s 11th largest city

The Red Ball Bus Line was started in Mason City by Helen Schulz. This line was one of the first bus lines in the country and perhaps the only one owned and operated by a woman.

1922 - James H. McGhee starts service as mayor of Mason City

1923 Mason City Directory:
Bull Harold V.

 Asst Cashr
 First National Bank
 r 718 E State


First National BAnk The, C H MacNider, Pres; W G C Bagley, C A Parker, F E Keeler and Hanford MacNider, Vice Pres; R P Smith, Cashr; H V Bull, Asst Cashr; 1 N Federal av. http://iagenweb.org/cerrogordo/Directory/1923-F.htm

1924 - James H. McGhee dies of smallpox while serving as mayor of Mason City
1924 - Retirement of Dr. Stockman and death of Eleanor Chaffin Stockman

The City re-evaluated its form of government and was changed to the Manager form

Charles Lindbergh attended the dedication of the Mason City Airport

Members of the Police Department began working 8 hour days


Newspaper February 1930
For Rent Houses-FORWENT--7 roonl house. ·mr  » r *r 1-..!l i^ Mass. H. V. Bull. https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/37194032/

Newspaper April 1930
The Klein-Wilkinson jury is made up of the following: Ruth Bull, 718 East State street; http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/37196451/

1930 Census:
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XMNL-HLZ (C. Frank and Ruth V. Bull, ages 60 and 59 at 104 S. Virginia)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XMNL-XQH (Harold V. and Ruth M., 38 and 39, with Robert J. 20 yo son, and R. Elizabeth 13 yo dau, at 718 East State Street)

Newspaper July 1931
FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF MASON C1TV…. H. V. Bull, Cashier of the above named bank, do solemnly swear that the above statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief. H. V. BULL, Cashier. http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/38182779/

Newspaper - the March 3rd 1933 Globe-Gazette:
Officers for the coming year were elected at the meeting of the History club Thursday afternoon at the home of Mrs. H. V. Bull 718 East State street. Mrs. W. 'Earl -Hal! was elected president to succeed Mrs. J. W. Irons. Mrs. Irons was elected vice president and Mrs. Frank Pearce secretary. Mrs. H. W. Conover and Mrs A. J. Feeney are the retiring vice president and secretary. Mrs. Lee P. Loomis led the ies- son on "The Economics of Fashion," by Wystrom. http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/1628655/

C. 1935 photo of construction of “new” East Park tennis courts shows east facade of house with fireplace chimney visible. Company making firebricks in business from 1929-1959.

Newspaper January 1937:
Harold Bull, former cashier of the First National bank in Mason City, has been named president of the National Citizen's bank at Mankato. iMr. Bull became cashier of the Mankato banking institution when he left Mason City in 1933. He was successively advanced to vice president and executive vine president and recently to the position of president. (Photo by Floyd IMcriclcth Wright, Kaye- rcay Engraving")

1937 Abstract - John W. Smith to Ruth M. Bull and H.V. Bull, her husband, release of mortgage


1940 census - http://www.archives.com/1940-census/charles-bull-ia-35495583
(Charles F. and Grace, 70 and 69 yo, living at 104 S. Virginia, with Dorothy Coulson, 36 yo daughter, and Robert Fren, 16 yo grandson. The Grummons are living at 718 in this census)

Harold Bull Head (bank president) M 49 South Dakota
Ruth Bull Wife F 49 Iowa
Jneo? Thorstorson Servant (household maid) F 36 Iowa
706 S. Bradford (?), Mankato, Mankato City, Blue Earth, Minnesota, United States

Robert J Bull Head (salesman) M 30 Iowa
Mary E Bull Wife F 32 Iowa
Susan E Bull Daughter F 1 Iowa
605 North Main, Austin City, Mower, Minnesota, United States since 1935

1943 Abstract - H.V. Bull, affidavit of property ownership, homestead until 1933 when moved to MN, rented by Ruth as present owner.

Newspaper December 1948:
Attorney Dated December 13, 1948 S. H. MacPEAK, Clerk District Court By EVELYN ^LOCK. Deputy NOTICE OF THE APPOINTMENT OF EXECUTOR •TATE OF IOWA. Cerro Gordo County. ss. No. 7025. Notice is hereby given, thatAhe under- «igned has been duly appointed and qualified as Executor of the estate ol Grace Bull, Deceased, late of Cerro Gordo County. All persons indebted to said estate are requested to make immediate payment: and those having claims against the same will present them, duly authenticated, , to the undersigned for allowance, and file in the office of the Clerk of the District Court. C. P. BULL RALPH S. STANBERY, Attorney http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/8144548/


Newspaper February 1959:
Officers Installed by R.N.A. Mrs.. Valborg Lum, oracle at Northwood, was installing officer at the H.N.A. meeting Thursday evening in the CIO hall. Installing marshals were Mrs. .Hector Newman and Mrs. S. A. Bemis. Those installed were Mrs. 0. A. Lund,' -oracle; Mrs. Willis Buirge, vice oracle; Mrs. V. Winchell, chancellor; Mrs. Newman, recorder; MCS. E. \V. Leiley, receiver; Mrs. Grace Bull, marshal; http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/722649/


Mrs. H.V. Bull was noted in 1960 helping host a September dinner dance at the Country Club in Mason City.

Newspaper from November 1964:
Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Bull, 412 S. Vermont, announce the approaching marriage of their daughter, Susan Elizabeth, to Dale Thomas Mericle, son of Dr. and Mrs. Robert B. Mericle of Des Moines. The wedding will take place Nov. 25. Miss Bull, a granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Bull of Sioux City, formerly of Mason City, is a graduate of the University of Iowa. http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/5849246/

Ruth M. Bull - Death Record Sioux City, Iowa
Ruth M. Bull was born on June 8, 1889 and died on January 7, 1989 at the age of 99. Ruth last resided in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa.

“My great-grandmother was Grace (Van Epps) Bull who was married to my great grandfather, Charles Francis Bull. (I was named after him, as my mother took a train trip from Sacremento, CA so I could be born in Iowa during WWII)
Both are buried in the Mason City, IA cemetary, as are my parents Robert & Mae Greene and a niece, Megan VerHelst. [A “Robert Fren” was living with mother Dorothy Coulsen and grandparents in Mason City in 1940 census]
Their son, Harold Bull was the president of Norwest bank in Sioux City,IA & their daughter Dorothy, (my paternal grandmother), remarried & is buried in Oroville, CA. Harold had a son, Bob, (buried in Mason City, IA) who had a son Jim, & a daughter, Sue.
I am thinking of relocating to the Union County area & wondered if I had any long-lost relatives there.”
Charles Greene (Charles + Grace -> Dorothy -> Robert + Mae Green) http://boards.tiscali.ancestry.co.uk/surnames.van-20-epps/12/mb.ashx

son Robert Bull (1909-1994) -> children Jim & Sue (b. in the 30s?) Granddaughter Susan E. Bull Mericle, b. 1939, married to Dale Thomas Mericle, MD, in 1964, Miss Sue Bull, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bull, 412 Vermont SE, has been appointed to the judiciary committee of the Currier Dormitory Council at the University of Iowa. Miss Bull is a junior at Iowa. November 19, 1960 Globe Gazette

Grandson James Robert Bull, b. Sept 12th 1941, cornet player in Globe Gazette 1959-1963

Daughter Ruth Elizabeth Bull…

Jennie Longnecker was 40 yo in 1903
Grace Longnecker was 40 in 1923
Ruth Bull was 40 years old in 1929
V. fictional housekeeper/servant

Mason City History:
http://www.masoncity.net/pview.aspx?id=17911&catid=477 http://www.mcpl.org/historyandgenealogy/archives/mctimeline01

Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie
Info about the Stockmans and the events surrounding the house. https://books.google.com/books?id=yJKcDQAAQBAJ&lpg=PT16&ots=yJPKCXGusx&dq=Dr.%20george%20Stockman%20mason%20city%20iowa%20physician&pg=PT18#v=onepage&q=Dr.%20george%20Stockman%20mason%20city%20iowa%20physician&f=false

Eleanor Stockman bio - http://www.prohibitionists.org/history/votes/Eleanor_Chafin_Stockman_bio.html

Physicians and Surgeons of America: (Illustrated). A Collection of ...
Biography of Dr. Stockman https://books.google.com/books/content?id=vEr9eZA8V6kC&pg=PA348&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U2ritnUmruQHgoy-6FMv12CvVeloQ&ci=543%2C270%2C400%2C1013&edge=0


Books found in the house:

Lester Dibble - books on WWI, Psych of Religion
William Lx Dibble, McPharm (?) Kansas (?) - Misc Essays & Poems Vol I-III
Pinkie Pearce, Tipton IA Feb 1909 - Frank Pearce - Wilhelm Tell T. (F?) D. Pearce, 3rd Training Co - WWI military manuals, inc Coast Artillery Regulations
Freda Dexheimer Gamma Delta ‘27 - hx of Greece, Rome, Middle Ages
Mamie Morgen Xmas 1897 - Jane Eyre - Philip Reader (?) Jr 1906
Jay D. Nichols - Natural Philosophy “bought Nov 14 1878…” Sullivan (?) Ill., Quincy Mich, St Paul Minn, Mrs. Jay D. Nichols 1905, #204 7th St N. W. Mason City - German & Russian literature anthologies
Dorothy E. Nichols, Wheeler Cottage also Grinnell Iowa - American lit. Universal lit. Christopher Marlowe,
Merle & Marvyl Potter February 10 1900, Feb 7 1907, Butt Iowa - children's readers, American History 1912 (Marvyl),