marci's blog

The Accidental Revelations of Sanborn Maps - A Great Introduction

Des Moines, 1884 Sanborn Map from Library of Congress

Have you used the library's collection of Sanborn maps for family history research? They are a great resource for a family historian attempting to identify property owned by ancestors. Sanborn maps can also show the evolution of a city, including residences, businesses, schools, churches, and mining companies (a surprisingly popular topic)...

Skull in the Ashes: Murder, A Gold Rush Manhunt, & the Birth of Circumstantial Evidence in America

Skull in the ashes - cover

On a February night in 1897, the general store in Walford, Iowa, burned down. The next morning, townspeople discovered a charred corpse in the ashes. Everyone knew that the store’s owner, Frank Novak, had been sleeping in the store as a safeguard against burglars. Now all that remained were a few of his personal items scattered under the body.

Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye...

Gentlemen Bootleggers cover

During Prohibition, while Al Capone was rising to worldwide prominence as Public Enemy Number One, the townspeople of rural Templeton, Iowa--population just 418--were busy with a bootlegging empire of their own. Led by Joe Irlbeck, the whip-smart and gregarious son of a Bavarian immigrant, the outfit of farmers, small merchants, and even the church Monsignor worked together to create a whiskey so excellent it was ordered by name: Templeton Rye.

Sherman Block - Historic Tour #8

F.M. Hubbell

On the northeast corner of 3rd and Court was the Sherman Block, built in 1855 by Hoyt Sherman.  B.F. Allen was a banker here and it was also the first home of Equitable of Iowa. Equitable was founded by F.M. Hubbell who arrived in Des Moines on May 7, 1855, with $3 in his pocket.  His father demanded he give the money back to him so he could buy land in Dallas County. Young Hubbell walked the streets until he found a job as a clerk in the land office with Phineas Casady.

The Iowa Honey War

honey pot and bees

In 1839, a boundary dispute erupted between Iowa and Missouri.  Missouri claimed the boundary was further north and Iowa claimed it was further south.  The original boundary was based on the Sullivan line.  In 1817, J.C. Sullivan surveyed Iowa to mark boundaries for Osage Indian lands.  As northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa were settled, confusion set in on where exactly this line was.

Tour Historic Des Moines from Home

Sketch of Old Central Library

There are a lot historic places worth visiting in Des Moines, but after lots of snow (who’s counting anymore?) and sub-zero temperatures you might prefer visiting some Des Moines landmarks from the cozy comfort of your home.  All you have to do is visit the Places page of our virtual library's local history section.  There you will find historic tour maps that incorporate images, a map and list of places on the National Register of Historic Places, and a number of links to other his

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - marci's blog