Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 150; Notable People Part 22; Sergeant John R. Rice

In August 1951 Sioux City became embroiled in a bitter controversy that erupted when officials at Memorial Park Cemetery refused to bury Sergeant John R. Rice, a decorated World War II veteran and Korean War casualty, because of his Native American ancestry. The event provoked public outrage both locally and nationally and eventually required the personal intervention of President Harry Truman. The treatment of Rice tarnished Sioux City's reputation with the stigma of racism and left a wound between the city and local Native American groups for the next fifty years. However, it also created the opportunity for reconciliation between the two sides five decades later and the long overdue redemption of Sergeant Rice and his family.

Rice's story had its beginnings on the battlefields of Korea where he was killed on September 6, 1950 while leading a squad of riflemen against an enemy assault near the village of Tabu-Dong . Nearly a year passed before his body was shipped home to Winnebago, Nebraska in August 1951. Thereafter, Evelyn, who was white, purchased a lot for her husband at Memorial Park Cemetery in Sioux City without incident. During the funeral on August 28 a cemetery official noticed the large number of Native Americans at the service and was subsequently informed that Rice was himself part Native American. At the conclusion of the service Evelyn and the rest of the Rice family were informed of the cemetery's "Caucasians only" policy and were forced to take his body back to Winnebago. Cemetery officials later defended their actions saying, "Private cemeteries have always had a right to be operated for a particular group such as Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran, Negro, Chinese, etc., not because of any prejudice against any race, but because people, like animals, prefer to be with their own kind." They continued to assert that they had a legal obligation to deny Rice's burial or face prosecution from lot owners for breech of contract.

When the local media received word of what had transpired at Memorial Park, the news was quickly put out over the newswire and began making national headlines. Across the country people responded with a combination of disbelief and outrage that an American war hero and his family could be treated in such a fashion. Oliver LaFarge, spokesman for the Association of American Indian Affairs said, "This is horrible. The manifestation of such an inhuman and anti-American attitude brings disgrace upon our country." When President Harry Truman learned about the incident during a press conference the following day he rebuked both the cemetery officials and Sioux City's leaders. He also authorized his military aid Major General Harry Vaughn to send a telegram to Rice's family offering to bury him in Arlington National Cemetery .

In Sioux City the reaction was every bit as negative as it had been on the national level. The Sioux City metropolitan council of the United Packinghouse Workers of America adopted a resolution condemning the actions of the cemetery and declared that the flag should not be flown "in such an un-American place." Though the city council passed a resolution expressing regret for the incident and Mayor Dan Conley traveled to Winnebago and personally apologized at an American Legion meeting there, Evelyn Rice and her family rejected all offers to bury Sergeant Rice locally. He was finally laid to rest with full military honors on September 5, 1951 in Arlington National Cemetery .

The legacy of the Sergeant Rice affair is one of injustice, betrayal, and bitterness, but it is also one of redemption and hope. The event scarred Evelyn Rice and her family permanently and it severely damaged Sioux City's reputation. Yet, despite the damage it caused, Sergeant Rice"s ordeal also laid the groundwork for future progress. Memorial Park eventually abolished its race restriction and has been open to all races for years. The incident was a pivotal moment for the Native American civil rights movement because it illuminated the prejudice and injustice faced by Native Americans while emphasizing their positive roll in American society. It also began a process by which the people of Sioux City began to confront the less savory aspects of their past. At a memorial ceremony held in honor of Sergeant Rice and his family in August 2001, Native American rights activist Frank Lamere's read statement spoke poignantly of the Rice affair. He was quoted to have said "We have come far at the expense of Sergeant John Rice and the Gold Star family he left behind. Our respect for one another this day is their legacy and speaks to the possibilities. The bridges we can build tomorrow will be strong if we do not forget that the foundation was laid on a battlefield in Korea."

Sioux City History web site link;
Sergeant John R. Rice

There you have it. Some of the people who helped make Sioux City what it is today. If it was not for these pioneers in Sioux City's early history this community would not be what it is today. For this we owe them our thanks and gratitude

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 149; Notable People Part 21; Leo Kucinski

"Lets make music together." Leo Kucinski (1904-1998), long time Sioux City conductor, educator and musician often spoke those words in his efforts to bring the best possible music to the people of Sioux City. In his long career, he exposed thousands of school children to the finest music, nurtured a little orchestra into a superb symphony and brought extraordinary music to the community of Sioux City.

Leo Kucinski was born in Warsaw Poland on June 28, 1904. He was the oldest of eight children and the son of a pattern maker for steel companies. He started to study the violin at the Warsaw Conservatory of Music at the age of six. He studied with Edward Idzikowsk until his father decided there would be greater opportunities in the United States for his talented son.

The Kucinski family moved to Lorain, Ohio, where Leo began his study of music at the nearby Oberlin Conservatory of Music. When Kucinski was just fifteen years old, he conducted a festival grade school orchestra in Lorain. He later organized and played first violin in the Lorain String Quartet.

While at Oberlin, he studied with internationally known artist Charlotte Demuth Williams. Kucinski continued his studies at the Cleveland Institute under the guidance of the great Swiss violinist Andre de Ribeaupierre. He also received a fellowship in conducting at Juilliard Graduate School of Music. He later received a degree in music education from Morningside College in 1936, and he was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree from Morningside in 1958.

However, it was Kucinski's connection with Charlotte Williams that led him to Sioux City. While Williams was visiting Sioux City as a guest artist with the Civic Concert Course, she mentioned Kucinski to her host, Professor Paul MacCollin of the Morningside Conservatory. She praised Kucinski's abilities, and soon he had a job offer to teach violin at Morningside College.

When Leo Kucinski came to Sioux City in 1923, not long after graduating from Lorain High School, he immediately began to impact the music community, an influence that is still evident today. His incredible abilities and passion for good music inspired his students and others around him. He played his violin for concerts and recitals, and he established an excellent reputation as a gifted violinist.

In 1925, he took over leadership of the Morningside Orchestra. The small orchestra was originally organized to give students the opportunity for orchestra experience, but under his direction, the orchestra began to include musicians from the community and surrounding area. By 1929 the orchestra had grown to fifty members and was called the Sioux City Community Orchestra. That growth continued until the organization became the Sioux City Symphony orchestra in 1946. Kucinski conducted the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra until 1977. While director, he brought a national reputation to the orchestra, conducting many famous performers including Van Cliburn, Benny Goodman, and Meredith Wilson.

Kucinski was a perfectionist who demanded the best from those working under him. He was never satisfied until the results were as perfect as possible. Whether the piece was a light-hearted polka or difficult symphony, he treated each with respect. "All music worth playing at all is worth playing to the best of our abilities," he said.

Kucinski took on additional duties when in 1929 he became the director of the world famous Monahan Post American Legion Band. The band won many awards, including seven first place prizes at international competitions from San Francisco to Paris.

Kucinski was a leader in the effort to erect a band shell in Grandview Park. He felt the award-winning Monahan Post Band deserved a respectable place to play.

"At first we were crestfallen," Kucinski said in a 1936 Sioux City Journal interview, "when the opponents of the project obtained an injunction against the building of the band shell, saying that such an edifice would be an eyesore. We were downhearted then. But our sorrow soon turned to joy, and now, in place of a $15,000 band shell, we have a $60,000 pavilion that is famous nationally and even internationally."

Despite the fact that Kucinski rehearsed, trained and conducted the Monahan Post Band, he could never lead it during the competitions because he was not a member of the American Legion. The situation was remedied when at the age of thirty-eight Kucinski joined the United States Army in 1942. Members of the Monahan Post Band paraded from their headquarters to the Milwaukee railroad station, where Kucinski lead them in four selections before boarding his train.

He served as bandmaster in the Army Air Corps, spending time in the South Pacific during World War II. When he returned to the Monahan Post Band podium, Kucinski was an official card-carrying member of the American Legion.

The Monahan Post Band eventually became the Sioux City Municipal Band, and Kucinski remained its leader until 1980.

Leo Kucinski was convinced that good music was an important part of any community, and he worked tirelessly to develop the finest music programs for Sioux City. He also worked with Sioux City School Superintendent M.G. Clark to bring violin and orchestra instrumental classes to the music curriculum in the public schools.

As early as 1946, Kucinski introduced "pops concerts" designed to appeal to the young people of the city. "We want to expose these young people to good music presented briefly and in an attractive way," Kucinski said.

In his long and distinguished career, he also conducted the Lincoln, Nebraska Symphony for eight years and the Sioux Falls Symphony for fourteen years.

Sioux City History web site link;
Leo Kucinski

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 148; Notable People Part 20; Stella Sanford

Stella Sanford was born Stella Wolf in New York on November 10, 1900. She was educated in the Ethical Cultural Schools, experimental institutions based on Felix Adler's philosophy of "deed not creed". The schools began with a free kindergarten for children of the New York City slums and then grew to include high school and teacher training. The students all received scholarships from the sponsoring organization. When the schools enlarged to include the children of the sponsoring group, of which the Sanford family was a part, Stella attended. "Always, however, 40 percent of the pupils must be on scholarships," Sanford recalled.

Sanford went on to business college for a semester and then to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T) to join a cousin who had enrolled there. There were only 50 women out of a total enrollment of 3000. She majored in biology and public health. Her family's involvement with the Hudson Guild settlement house in New York encouraged a sense of community service, and Stella developed an interest in social work.

It was her marriage to Arthur Sanford that brought Stella to Iowa, and she and her husband arrived in Sioux City in 1921. She was lonely at first, until one day she was stopped on a street corner and asked to give a donation to the Community House. That peaked her curiosity and she decided to investigate. She immediately became involved with the Community House as a volunteer teacher and counselor for a child who could not speak. Before long, she taught a women's class in English and became a member of the board of directors. When the time came to erect the new Community House building on Morgan Street, she was the chairman of the building committee.

At the same time, Sanford became involved in the efforts of Elzona Trosper as she worked with the Booker T. Washington Center on the city's west side. The Booker T. Washington Center was founded in 1933 for Sioux City's black population, though both black and white people in the neighborhood used it.

As the programs of the Booker T. Washington Center continued to grow, Mrs. Sanford saw the need for expanded facilities. She and her husband decided to make a gift from their Stellart Charitable Foundation for the benefit of the Booker T. Washington Center. Stellart Foundation was a fund started by Arthur and Stella Sanford for civic projects of a welfare nature. Their $100,000 gift made the new community center a reality and the Booker T. Washington Center's board of directors unanimously voted to name the new building "The Sanford Center" in honor of the donors. The Sanford Center, constructed at 1700 Geneva Street, was dedicated on June 17, 1951.

The plaque near the entrance of the building is inscribed:
"Given to the people of Sioux City by Stella and Arthur Sanford to further interracial understanding and better community living. The building was inspired by the ideals and work of Mary J. Treglia, administrator, and Elzona B. Trosper, director."

Sanford remained active in the programs for the Community House and the Sanford Center. When the Community House honored Stella for serving 50 years on the board, the director Mabel Hoyt said: "Her intelligence, her compassion, her concern for people, her quiet and gracious personality, have done much for this agency. She has devoted many years of service to the Community House and has been a friend to everyone with whom she worked."

Sanford served for six years on the Sioux City Board of Education. Her husband, Arthur, was a builder who built the Sioux Apartment, the Orpheum Electric Building, Warrior Hotel, Bellevue Apartments, Frances Building, Davidson Building and Insurance Exchange Building.

Sanford and her husband also donated $25,000 to the Mary Treglia Community Center in 1965 to expand the center and create a playground area. Their foundation also donated the funds to create the Stella Sanford Day Care Center and gave the Eppley Auditorium organ to Morningside College.

Sioux City History web site link;
Stella Sanford

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 147; Notable People Part 19; M. G. Clark

One of the most respected and popular educators in Sioux City throughout the years has been M. G. Clark. Doctor Clark served as superintendent of Sioux City Schools for twenty years.

Mel Clark was born in Belleville, NY, in March of 1868. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1898. He served as superintendent of schools in several towns in Illinois before accepting the job in Sioux City. When he took over the schools, the district was in very bad shape. The buildings were old and rundown. Over the years he was able to build new schools and improve the ones the district already had.

His most important contribution to education was in the field of instruction. Doctor Clark had very specific ideas in regard to textbooks. When he could not find textbooks available that he felt met his standards, he wrote his own. He wrote MOTIVATED LANGUAGE and HABITUATED ARITHMETIC in 1919. APPLIED ENGLISH was published in 1924 and LANGUAGE IN USE, books I, II, III, in 1926. He also wrote a book based on his idea of a "spiritualized citizenship", that children should learn from the study of our history. He called this book PROGRESS AND PATRIOTISM. Many districts throughout the country used the books he wrote
Clark was also very active in the community and educational organizations as well. He served as the first President of the Iowa State Education Association and served on both state and national committees. He served as a leader of the Men's Bible Class at First Presbyterian Church, was a leader in the Rotary Club and was president of the Sons of the American Revolution.

When Doctor Clark had a heart attack and died while still working as superintendent, the whole school district was closed down in mourning. Praise for this great educator arrived from all over the United States. The faculty of Sioux City Schools wrote the following:

"Two decades ago, the school system of Sioux City had disintegrated to such a degree that the term "system", as applied to it was a misnomer. A crisis in the educational development of the city had come, and someone to meet the challenge was called, a man forceful, dynamic, of tireless energy, of indefatigable industry. Gifted with unusual constructive ability and extraordinary foresight, he soon succeeded in reducing to order the educational chaos which existed when he came. This man had in him something of the spirit of the adventurer, yet he Comprehend his trust and to the same Kept faithful with a singleness of aim."

An elementary school on the north side of Sioux City is named in his honor.

Sioux City History web site link;
M. G. Clark

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 146; Notable People Part 18; Mary Treglia and the Mary Treglia Community House

A devoted friend to Sioux City immigrants and their families, Mary Treglia (1897-1959) dedicated her life to helping those in need. For over 33 years, she served the immigrant population of Sioux City as director of the Community House.

Mary Treglia was born in Sioux City on October 7, 1897, the only child of Italian immigrants Rose and Anthony Treglia. Her parents left Italy in the 1880's and came to Sioux City where they opened a fruit stand at 415 Pierce. The family lived upstairs. Sadly, Mary's father died when she was just 22 months old, leaving Rose as the only provider for her little girl. Rose supported herself and her daughter with a confectionary and fruit store located at Sixth and Douglas. She sold candy, fruits, canned goods and her famous boiled ham.

As Mary grew up, she attended public schools in Sioux City and graduated from Central High School. She developed an incredible ability to play baseball and soon discovered that she could throw a baseball farther than most boys in her neighborhood. Sometimes she worked as an umpire for men's baseball games. Occasionally, she accompanied well-known umpire Bobbie Blank as he traveled across the district where he officiated. Mary gave pre-game exhibitions and amazed the crowds with her ability to catch high balls and throw the ball farther than most men.

In 1919, Mary's mother's health began to fail and she longed for the sunny warmth of her native Italy. Mary used her baseball earning to take her mother to the warmer climate of California. There, Mary was asked to play with the "Bloomer Girls" women's baseball team. While playing baseball in California, Mary also had a chance to act in several silent movies. At first she worked as an extra for $3 a day. Eventually, she even received a few bit parts. Later in her life, she recalled that while she enjoyed acting, she liked the technical aspects of movie-making the best.

In 1921, Mary's mother wanted to go home to Sioux City. Soon after their return, Mary attended the opening of the Community House, located on the second floor of a building at 1604 East Fourth Street. She volunteered to organize a club there that she called Alpha Sigma, for working girls of many nationalities. "I saw so much maladjustment," she would later say. "So many square pegs in round holes." Mary volunteered for a while, and then she was hired as an assistant to the Community House director, Dorothy Anderson.

Mary Treglia was sensitive to the needs and traditional values of the immigrant population. At a time when most settlement house workers were well-educated, middle class women, Mary brought a unique perspective to her job. She intimately understood the poverty, troubles and problems of the immigrant population. Her knowledge didn't come from books. She lived it every day.

In the 1920's, settlement house workers were expected to be educated professionals and Mary realized that she lacked the necessary education. She began to resolve that situation by taking special courses at the University of Minnesota. She also completed fieldwork at the New York School of Social Work and received experience at Ellis Island. She worked for a year at United Charities in Chicago and started classes at Morningside College in 1925.

Mary's studies at Morningside were interrupted when she was named executive director of the Community House in 1925. Faced with ever-increasing duties there, she still managed to finish her degree in 1933.

The Community House opened in 1921, sponsored by the YWCA. At that time, people of over 20 nationalities lived on the city's east side, sometimes referred to as "the bottoms". A survey conducted by the YWCA found that immigrant families lived in isolated little groups with others of their own nationality. Also, their children did not have the opportunity to learn English before they started school. A community house would provide a gathering place for immigrants where they could find help, companionship and education. The original purpose was to bring immigrants together, "Americanize" them, and prepare them for citizenship.

Community houses often used clubs to bring people together. The clubs gathered people of similar ages or interests in a comfortable informal setting. Sometimes the clubs lasted only a season, and sometimes they lasted for years. The "Women of All Nations Club" lasted for decades, serving the mothers of the neighborhood. Rose Treglia, Mary's mother, showed great interest in the club and spent many hours visiting homes in the neighborhood, encouraging mothers to participate.

Under Mary's direction, the Community House offered "Americanization classes". The classes, held day and night, taught English reading, writing, conversation, current events and citizenship. Workers helped immigrants complete their naturalization papers. They helped fill out forms and assisted with interpreting.

The services of the Community House Interpreting Bureau reflected the diversity of the immigrant population. They offered services for the following languages, free of charge: Armenian, Bohemian, Chinese, Danish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Jewish, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Spanish, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Russian, Romanian, Syrian and Swedish.

Mary Treglia counseled troubled children and helped those involved with the courts. She helped neighbors solve disputes, mediated quarrels, distributed clothing, helped with medical problems, made funeral arrangements, and encouraged pre-natal care. The Sioux City Journal in 1931 noted, "It has not been unusual to have mothers come to the house with problems of the husbands or their children or a father, a foreigner who was unable to adjust himself to the new world." Because of the language barrier, many immigrants made the Community House their first stop when they had a problem. Workers tried to solve the difficulty or refer them to the needed agencies.

Mary served immigrants in need in many other ways. In the aftermath of the Swift Explosion in 1949, the Journal reported, "Miss Mary Treglia, director of the Community House, helped identify the bodies. Many of the Swift employees were those with whom she worked at the Community House, she explained."

She also helped immigrants find jobs. In 1931, she began a campaign to find jobs for the unemployed workers in the neighborhood. Her "Help Fight Hard Luck" campaign received the cooperation of industrial plants and businesses. Treglia started files that detailed workers' needs and skills. She convinced the newspaper to publish the case histories and advertise the workers' abilities. The plan was successful, and from August 1931 to April 1932, 782 unemployed workers found jobs though the Community House effort.

Treglia objected to the east side neighborhood being referred to as "the bottoms". "Law abiding citizens who have lived in this district for two decades or more and newcomers as well, many of whom are home owners, resent having their neighborhood referred to as "the bottoms", she stated. "It is time for home, church, school, social agencies and law enforcement groups to unite to make for good citizens in all parts of the city without discrimination."

In 1933, the building that housed the Community House was condemned and Treglia went to work raising money for a new building. Although it was during the Depression, plans for a new house were made. Treglia started a "buy-a-brick" campaign that was well received in the business community. She found funding with government agencies and asked for donations of building materials from demolished buildings. With the help of workmen who contributed their time, a new building at 513 Morgan Street was erected in 1933.

The excitement of moving into a new building was dimmed, however, when the Floyd River rose out of its channel and flooded the gymnasium. Floods were a fact of life for that neighborhood and Treglia worked to find solutions to the problem. She organized the neighborhood residents and campaigned for flood control. Over a period of 2 years, Treglia chaired 215 meetings on flood control.

"Their homes mean just as much to them as more pretentious homes in other residence districts mean to their occupants'.Yet under present conditions, every spring they have to worry about the possibility of flood."

In November of 1956, a testimonial dinner was held in honor of Mary Treglia. At the dinner, a plaque was presented, officially changing the name of the Sioux City Community House to the Mary J. Treglia Community House.

In 1959, Mary learned that the Floyd River flood control project would mean that the river would be rechanneled through the very east side neighborhoods she served. The Community House she worked so hard to build would have to be razed along with many homes in the area. She began to search for ways to preserve the neighborhood, but she died October 10, 1959.

Much of the area that Mary Treglia served so courageously is gone now. The frame homes of the immigrants were sacrificed to create space for the new Floyd River Channel. In 1963, the Mary Treglia Community House moved to 900 Jennings Street, where it remains today.

Sioux City History web site link;
Mary Treglia and the Mary Treglia Community House

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 145; Notable People Part 17; Dr. Agnes Eichelberger

Sioux City's first woman doctor, Dr. Agnes Eichelberger (1864-1923) devoted her life to the care of women, children and infants. Known for her generous heart and great kindness, the pioneering Dr. Eichelberger brought quality maternity care to all women of Sioux City, regardless of financial status.

Born in Lewiston, Illinois in 1864, Eichelberger's first job was as a clerk in her father's department store. She dreamed, however, of becoming a medical missionary, a career that her father opposed. With her mother's encouragement, she attended Hartman and Oberlin Colleges. Next, she enrolled in Northwestern University in Chicago and obtained experience in the Women's Division of Cook County Hospital. She graduated with honors in 1888 and received an internship at Cook County, where she acted as house surgeon in 1889.

While in Chicago, Dr. Eichelberger met Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Manley of Sioux City. They influenced her to locate in Sioux City and she opened her office here in 1890. For the first year, her residence was in the Manley home.

Dr. Eichelberger practiced general medicine with an emphasis in children's diseases. Her strong humanitarian spirit and love of children led her to found the Women's and Babies Home in 1898 which was located in a large home at 29th and Jones. In 1903, the Women's and Babies Home was merged into the Florence Crittenton chain of homes.

Dr. Eichelberger became the physician in charge of the Florence Crittenton home. Friends recalled, "Dr. Eichelberger gave scientific care to each unfortunate girl with no thought of recompense." Dr. Eichelberger also cared for and found good homes for orphaned children and worked to help abused and neglected children.

Dr. Eichelberger was instrumental in the decision to erect a new building for the Florence Crittenton Home. That structure was erected in 1906 at 28th and Court.

Her strong belief that woman and babies should be separated from other hospital patients led to the building of a maternity hospital next to the Florence Crittenton Home. She worked within the medical community to make sure the hospital was sustained by all of the physicians of the city, so the work would be continued beyond the life of any one of them. Dr. James F. Taylor, one her colleagues, recalled, "She was a wonderful organizer and the Maternity Hospital--founded and fostered by her--will stand as a glorious memorial." The maternity hospital, however, only operated until 1928, when other Sioux City hospitals began to provide separate wings for maternity patients. The building was sold to the Methodist Hospital for use as a nurses' residence.

Dr. Eichelberger continually worked to further her education. She spent the summers of 1899 and 1902 in studying in Europe, attending clinics in London, Paris and Berlin. She worked to bring the best medical advances to her patients in Sioux City.

After her death, a friend recalled, "She came to Sioux City at a time when but a few women had entered the medical profession, but she soon became fused with the life of the people here. Her heart was so generous and her sympathies so broad and her mind so tolerant that she belonged to no one group, but to us all."

Sioux City History web site link;
Dr. Agnes Eichelberger

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 144; Notable People Part 16; Reverend George Haddock

It was a dark and stormy night. Reverend George Haddock was returning the carriage and horses to the Jerry Merrill Livery stable at the corner of Third and Water Street when he noticed a group of men standing watching him. The time was 10:15 p.m.. Reverend Haddock and a fellow minister had been visiting Greenville, a town 2 miles east of Sioux City. They had been looking to see if the town was violating the state liquor law.

Never a person to back away from a confrontation, Rev. Haddock started across the muddy, rain soaked street. With a rope attached to an iron wheel in his hand and he walked toward the men. Two men started to walk toward him. One put his hands in front of his face and the other walked behind him. A single shot rang out and Rev. Haddock dropped to the muddy ground in the middle of the street. He got to his feet and stumbled to the sidewalk, falling again. He never got up. He died on the sidewalk that night.

How did a murder like this happen in a small Midwestern city? Sioux City had 11 public schools and 18 churches at this time (1886). It also had 75 saloons, 2 breweries, and several licensed gambling houses. The city's population was swelling from 20,00 1880 to over 38,000 in 1890. A police department was established in 1885 to deal with the increases in lawlessness affecting this frontier town.

In 1882 the voters in Iowa passed an amendment to the state constitution making liquor illegal in all of Iowa. Called the "Clark Law" for Senator Talton Clark who was the primary advocate of this law. The city of Sioux City ignored the law. With all the saloons and breweries, Sioux City officials fought to keep the liquor flowing. They passed a law requiring bars and breweries to pay a fine or fee of between $25 and $100 a month to stay in business. This raised a lot of money for the city.

In the summer of 1886 2 murders took place in gambling houses. Both these murders involved people who had been drinking. The city was in an uproar. Haddock gave strong sermons expressing his beliefs that alcohol and gambling should be eliminated in accordance with the Iowa law.

First Methodist Church sought help in the form of Reverend Haddock. The Reverend had been fighting for prohibition all over the Midwest for over ten years. He was only five feet seven inches tall, but he weighed two hundred pounds and was often referred to as a fighting preacher. Haddock gave rousing sermons and testified against saloons in court. Other ministers who agreed with him were threatened and some left town. Rev. Haddock stayed, he knew the risks but thought his cause to be that important.

After the murder, people were interviewed and several men were identified as being responsible. The man who pulled the trigger killing Rev. Haddock was identified as John Arensdorf, the foreman of a local brewing company. He and the others were tracked down and Arensdorf went to trial accused of murder. Even though the prosecutor had eyewitnesses who saw the murder take place, Arensdorf was found not guilty at his second trial. The picture below shows Arensdorf and the members of the jury that set him free out drinking in the town the day of his acquittal. Arensdorf is in the bottom row in the middle with his arms crossed.

After his death and the acquittal of his murderer, Haddock accomplished what he could not while he was alive: liquor and gambling were made illegal and forced out of Sioux City. All the saloons and gambling houses moved across the river to what is now South Sioux City, Nebraska. Five years later the law was repealed outlawing liquor.

The acquittal of Arensdorf drew the attention of newspapers all over the nation. The Logan Observer wrote: "The Arensdorf trial at Sioux City is turning out to be a regular farce. The prosecutions proved clearly by several witnesses that Arensdorf killed Haddock." The Chicago News wrote: "Even should the spirit of Dr. Haddock himself enter the room and point to Arensdorf and say 'Thou art the man,' the jury would still not convict the accused." The Dakotian newspaper asked, "Does god rule, or the devil, in Sioux City?" The Davenport Democrat stated, "If cities were punished for their wickedness in these times, a disastrous earthquake might be predicted for the vicinity of Sioux City."

Sioux City History web site link;
Reverend George Haddock

Previous posts about Reverend George Haddock;
Sioux City History & Culture by Bicycle Part 23: George C. Haddock Memorial Marker

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 143; Notable People Part 15; William Gordon

William Gordon (1857-1933) was an enthusiastic Sioux City promoter who made his fortune during the boom years of the city's growth. Nearly wiped out by the disastrous floods of 1892 and the Financial Panic of 1893, he rebuilt his business and remained a staunch Sioux City supporter until his death in 1933.

Gordon was born in Ireland in 1857. He was educated in Irish schools until he went to work for William Gregg and Son, iron merchants in Belfast, when he was fourteen years old. His next job was with a building materials company in Liverpool and London. Then, in 1882, Gordon decided to venture to Australia, by way of the United States.

Gordon landed in New York, and quickly found a job with Cambria Steel Works in Philadelphia. Before long, however, he left that job for a position with the Russell and Erwinn Hardware Company of New York City. He didn't stay there for long either, and soon Gordon was headed west to seek his fortune.

He stopped in Chicago, where he became acquainted with George Fowler, who owned a meat packing business. Fowler sent the young Gordon to Kansas City, then on to New Mexico. Then, Gordon headed back northeast across Oklahoma and Kansas, traveling by horseback. Upon his return to Chicago, the president of the Illinois Central Railroad asked Gordon to inspect rail lines in northwest Iowa and visit the little town of Sioux City. Thus, William Gordon arrived in Sioux City, Iowa on May 25, 1883, and he made the town his home for the next fifty years.

Gordon found a job with Davis and Wann, grain merchants and became active in the business community. He left the city for a short time to take the job of bookkeeper for F. H. Peavey and Company of Minneapolis, but soon returned to Sioux City. He helped establish Security National Bank and became its first bookkeeper. However, Gordon's true interest was in real estate, and he plunged into development, business and speculation.

Gordon was instrumental in bringing the Fowler Packing Company to the Stockyards. In 1888, he erected the Iowa Building at Fifth and Pierce, and in 1889 he built the Gordon Building at the corner of Fourth and Iowa. Also in 1889, Gordon formed the Boston Investment Company, which spent over a million dollars to finance the Massachusetts Building, the Plymouth Block and the Boston Block. His company built the Sioux City Engine Works, Paris Stove Works, a large shoe factory, and other industries. He began industrial development in Leeds, and he became a director in the Sioux City Northern and the Nebraska and Western railroads.

Gordon was a dreamer and an innovator. He was instrumental in the development of the Sioux City Rapid Transit Company, which built the Sioux City elevated railway. A supporter of the Sioux City Corn Palaces, he chartered a train from Boston and brought back a group of eastern investors to see the second corn palace. An article in the Sioux City Journal quotes him as saying, "It cost me $4,000, but I made $30,000 out of it."

Throughout his entire life, Gordon remained a supporter of riverfront development. After a particularly disastrous flood in 1888, Gordon was instrumental in obtaining $250,000 in federal funds to stabilize the Missouri riverfront and put the river back in its channel. In its tribute to William Gordon at the time of his death, the Sioux City Journal noted, "Downtown Sioux City owes its present existence to the work of Mr. Gordon."

The big Floyd River Flood of 1892, combined with the national Financial Panic of 1893, brought an end to the boom years of Sioux City. It also wiped out the fortunes of William Gordon and his fellow speculators. Gordon left for California for a brief while, but returned to re-establish his real estate business in Sioux City. The 1894-95 edition of R.L. Polk and Company Sioux City Directory lists William Gordon's profession as Real Estate and his home as 2719 Jackson Street. He remained a successful and respected businessman, with a special interest in riverfront and railroad development. He was instrumental in the development of major railroad yards in the suburb of Riverside. Because of his great interest in riverfront development, the road along the riverfront was named Gordon Drive in his honor. He called Sioux City his home until his death in 1933.

At the time of his death the Sioux City Journal reflected: "In the boom days Mr. Gordon was younger than other men active in development enterprises and he may not have been equipped to do business in such large figures as some of his colleagues, but he dreamed the same dreams that the Hedges and Garretsons and the Peirces dreamed, and he had the same confidence that these men had in the future greatness of Sioux City. In faith, hope and enthusiasm, he never could be outdone by any man.

"Throughout the 40 years that have passed since the collapse of the boom, Mr. Gordon kept that same faith, hope, and enthusiasm. He was an optimist when others have felt down in the mouth. Sioux City will miss him with a definiteness with which it would miss few others, because he belonged to an almost extinct type of community booster- a class of loyalists of whom Shakespeare might have said "We shall not see their like again."

Sioux City History web site link;
William Gordon

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 142; Notable People Part 14; Andrew G. Anderson

Andrew G. Anderson was born in Sweden in 1854. At the age of nineteen he immigrated to the United States and arrived in Sioux City. He was hired to work in a government warehouse. He could speak no English at this time. He soon got a job working on a ferry that carried people across the Missouri River to Nebraska. During this time, it is said that he rescued several people from the waters of the Missouri.

In 1876, at the age of 22, he served on the first steamship to make the trip up the Yellowstone River in Montana. He returned to Sioux City, and three years later married Margaret DeSmet. They lived in the Prospect Hill area and had three children, two girls and one boy. Their children all died within three weeks of each other during the diphtheria epidemic.

The Andersons moved to the Springdale area and had three more children. Andrew was a hard worker and very thrifty person. He purchased several pieces of property including two houses and two store buildings. He got a job as a stationary engineer at the Green brickyards in Springdale. While he was an experienced riverman, he would never swim in the Floyd River because of the swiftness of its current.

On May 18, 1892 one of the greatest disasters in the city's history struck. A wall of water swept through the Floyd river, destroying everything in its path. Hardest hit were the Leeds and Springdale areas of town directly bordering the river. With little or no warning, the flood struck with savage fury. Many climbed to the roofs of their houses to escape the torrent. Anderson, thirty-eight years old at the time, is credited with saving 27 people from the swirling waters before he drowned.

Three times during the day his friends forced him to leave his boat because of the great danger. Three times he fought to go out again. "How can anyone rest when people are drowning?" he asked. While trying to rescue the Frank T. Henderson family, the husband, wife and infant daughter, Andrew died when his boat was struck by a log. The family had been trapped in their attic and after three attempts, Anderson had been able to reach their house and break a hole in the roof for them to escape. He was able to get them in his boat in spite of the six foot waves ripping through the area. When the boat capsized, Henderson tried to hold his wife and daughter. A log rolled over the family and all three were drowned.

Hundred of people attended Anderson's funeral at Trinity Lutheran Church. He was buried in Logan Park Cemetery, which is located on the way to Stone State Park. Sixteen years later a monument in his honor was placed in the cemetery by the Knight of Pythias lodge. The monument was made of granite mined in Sweden, approximately forty miles from the town where he was born.

In 1921, through the efforts of August Williges, a park was established in his memory. While there were many discussions as to placing a plaque or monument, nothing was ever done. By the 1950's the park had fallen into disrepair.

Sioux City History web site link;
Andrew G. Anderson

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 141; Notable People Part 13; Arthur Garretson

Arthur Garretson was a Sioux City banker, businessman and promoter. Born in Ohio on November 7, 1851, he arrived in Sioux City in 1874 at the age of 23. In 1876, he accepted a position as teller at First National Bank. He stayed there until 1880, when he organized the Sioux National Bank and become its cashier.

Garretson was known for recognizing opportunities. He had a reputation for tireless energy, honesty and business genius. He had a keen understanding of business conditions and possibilities, and soon he became involved in many business ventures. He was one of the five men who built the Sioux City and Northern Railway. He was associated with five others who established the Union Stock Yards in 1887. He was also one of the organizers of the Boston Investment Company, which invested over two million dollars in Sioux City. He had a hand in most large ventures in the city, including the Corn Palaces, Peavey Grand Opera House and elevated railway.

Garretson assisted in the construction of the Garretson Hotel (which stood at the northeast corner of Fifth and Pierce streets). He was also a promoter of Morningside College and the City Library Building.

In 1870, Garretson married Belle Smith, daughter of O.A. Smith. Together, they had eight children.

The Garretsons built a mansion near Peters' Park in Morningside. They lived in the home until 1906, when it was purchased by Morningside College. The Sioux City Public Library bought the home in 1931, remodeled it and turned it into the Morningside Branch Library. In a storm of controversy, the Library Board voted to tear down the old mansion in 1967 and build a new branch library on the site.

Sioux City History web site link;
Arthur Garretson

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 140; Notable People Part 12; Edwin Peters

Edwin Peters (1836-1917) was an early Sioux City promoter, developer and speculator. He is perhaps best known for developing and promoting the area of the city known as Morningside.

Peters was born on a farm in Pennsylvania October 23, 1836. He graduated from the National Law School of Poughkeepsie, New York when he was just 21 years of age. After a move to Niagara Falls, he spent a year with the law office of A. P. Floyd. Then, in 1861, President Lincoln appointed Peters to the position of deputy United States Marshall. Later, he was commissioned Deputy Collector of Customs at Niagara Falls. While in Niagara Falls, Peters married Sarah Scott and also developed a growing interest in insurance and real estate.

During the spring of 1870, Peters left Niagara Falls and came to Sioux City to take a position with the bank of Weare and Allison. While at the bank, Peters continued his interest in the insurance business. Soon, he joined with George Murphy in purchasing the insurance branch of the bank and together they opened the first savings bank in Sioux City

During one of his frequent walks near the city, Peters discovered a lovely parcel of land southwest of the city limits. He became captivated by the area and recognized its potential. So, just the second year after his arrival in Sioux City, Peters bought the 300-400 acre tract at a cost of $7 to $10 an acre. With a group of others who had come with him from Niagara Falls, Peters built a house on the site and established the settlement he named Morning Side.

Peters promptly bought an additional 120 acres and built the house his family would call home until 1892. The land eventually became part of what is now Morningside College and the house served as a campus building.

Unfortunately, not long after opening his insurance business and establishing Morningside, Peters suffered a head injury, which left him unable to work for nearly four years. In 1877, he traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota, where he had an appointment as the first treasurer of Pennington County. Later, he was commissioned there as a probate judge.

Peters did not stay long in the Black Hills, however. Just one year later, in 1878, he came back to Sioux City to stay. He returned to his home in Morningside and devoted much of his time to the development of the suburb. Many prominent Sioux City families established homes in Morningside, including the Garretsons, Jacksons and Pelletiers.

Peters helped establish the Sioux City Rapid Transit Company, becoming its president in 1888. In 1890, that company began construction of the Elevated Railroad, an elevated and ground railway system that provided convenient access to the developing suburb of Morningside. He was also involved in the founding of the University of the Northwest in Morningside, which eventually became Morningside College. He became a vice president and chairman of the executive committee. The University purchased part of the Peters estate for its campus.

The Peters family lost most of their fortune in the Financial Panic of 1893. In later years Peters recalled, "Before the crash, we were millionaires. If I had turned my holdings in Morningside three months before the bubble broke I would have been worth upwards of $1,500,000. After the crash I was penniless. I was wiped out, and I found paper on my hands that left me $7000 in debt."

Despite the heavy losses, Peters stayed in Sioux City and worked hard to repay all of his debts. He continued to be a respected leader in the community.

In an article celebrating Peters' 80th birthday, the Sioux City Journal stated, "Besides being the father of Morningside, Mr. Peters might also be termed the father of the park movement in Sioux City." He was head of the Park Commission that presented Grandview Park to the city in 1908.

Sioux City History web site link;
Edwin Peters

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 139; Notable People Part 11; John Peirce

John Peirce was one of Sioux City's greatest promoters and most colorful figures. He believed in this city's success and did everything he could to help it succeed early on.

One of the most colorful figures in Sioux City history, John Peirce was born in Pennsylvania March 17, 1840. He came to Marion, Iowa, at the age of 21. There he married Alice Granger.
Soon after his marriage, Peirce joined the Sixth Iowa infantry and fought in the Civil War. In April of 1862, Peirce lay seriously wounded on a battlefield, a severe wound to his chest. A confederate surgeon passed by him, saying that Peirce could not be helped. According to the often-told story, Peirce opened his eyes, raised up on his elbow and said, "Like hell I'm as good as dead! I'll still be alive when you Johnnies are licked."

Peirce lost a lung as a result of his wounds, but after spending a long time in the hospital, he recovered and the Peirces moved to Sioux City in 1869.

A major promoter during Sioux City's boom years, Peirce become involved in the real estate business. He was instrumental in developing the north side, grading the hills and building a cable line the full length of Jackson Street all the way to 40th Street. At its end, the cable line looped around a wooden pavilion that provided shelter and soft drinks for customers. Dances held at the pavilion were a popular activity. A power plant at 29th and Jones Streets provided power for the cable line and street lights in the area.

Peirce was active in promoting projects for the development for Sioux City including cable lines, businesses and railroads. He built a stone mansion for his family at 29th and Jackson (now the Sioux City Public Museum). In 1890, Peirces sold their old home at 21st and the Boulevard to the Sisters of Mercy as a site for a hospital. Apparently, the Peirces left all of the furnishings behind for the sisters, including the horse, buggy and cow.

Mr. Peirce lost most of his fortune in the financial panic of 1893. He sold his mansion though a lottery, which later was shown to be fixed.

The Peirces left Sioux City in 1901 and moved to Seattle, where Peirce went about the business of creating another fortune. He and his wife left on a long-planned trip to Europe, where his health started to decline. Despite his poor health, the Peirces traveled through France, the Holy Land, and India before they returned home. Soon after his return to the United States, Peirce died of cancer, which had developed in his wounded chest. He died June 14, 1910.

On February 12, 1901, Peirce and his family left Sioux City for Seattle. It was at that time that Peirce delivered his bittersweet "Farewell to Sioux City".

Farewell to Sioux City

Goodbye, Sioux City, perhaps for aye. You are at once the birthplace of all my ambitions and the graveyard of all my hopes.

After dedicating thirty years of my best strength to your development, you are not a city but a town, with an interesting past, an uneventful present, and a peaceful and conservative future.

No devotion of mine could prevent the calamity which spread your broken idols all around, and unrelenting fate still holds the ruins in her embrace. No period of prosperity can lend new animation to your fettered limbs, for commerce has her lines not laid within your favored zone.

Yet, old girl, there burns within my bosom that youthful first love that knows no death, and my hope is that, while you lie bound Prometheus-like, no vultures will further pluck your vitals.

Goodbye, goodbye.

Sioux City History web site link;
John Peirce

Previous posts about John Peirce;
Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 41: Pierce Mansion

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 138; Notable People Part 10; James Booge

James Booge was one of if not the first grocer in Sioux City. He later helped start the packing industry business in the area as well.

James Booge was born in Vermont in 1833. His family lived for awhile in Canada and then moved to Indiana, where he helped on his father's farm. His education was limited.

In 1854, Booge went to California to work in the mining industry. Then, in 1858 he moved to St. Louis, where he worked for the Wabash Railroad. On October 11, 1858, Booge arrived in Sioux City, then a little town of only 500 residents. He brought with him a supply of apples, flour and whiskey, and he opened a wholesale grocery company.

Soon after making Sioux City his home, Booge bought a steamboat's water-logged load of wheat. He fed the grain to a herd of hogs, butchered the hogs and sold the meat. His customers included the local butcher shops, but most of the meat was sold to Army outposts further west. With this venture, Booge started a meat-packing business that helped make him a wealthy man. His first pork-packing business was little more than a shack located along Perry Creek at the corner of Fifth and Water Streets. By 1873, he had constructed a three-story building on the same site and was slaughtering 123,000 hogs per year.

The city was growing as rapidly as Booge's packing house business. The downtown location was no longer practical for his expanding industry. So, in 1881, Booge built a plant in the stockyards area that began to slaughter 1,600 hogs a day in winter and 800 per day in the summer. Half of the plant's products were sold in Liverpool and London.

Booge became a very prominent businessman and Sioux City promoter. He became involved in the Union Stockyards Company, National Bank of Sioux City, Sioux City and Northern Railroad, the elevated railroad and many other ventures.

Sioux City History web site link;
James Booge

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 137; Notable People Part 9; Mary Wilkins

Sioux City's education and school system goes back as far as 1857. The first teacher, Mary Wilkins arrived in 1857 to start teaching the uneducated tudents, some of which were adults themselves, in the area.

Even in it's infancy, the citizens of the town realized the need to start a school to educate the children. Local businessmen pledged money to run the school for the first six months. On April 26, 1857, the new teacher arrived on the first steamboat of the spring season, the Omaha. Mary Wilkins, a nineteen year old from Keosauqua, Iowa became the first teacher. The salary for her first term was fifty dollars per month. She lived with a married couple she had met on the steamboat.

When Mary arrived, she was interviewed by two of the school board members and asked questions to see if she was qualified. They approved.

Mary experienced many problems when setting up the new school. The building scheduled to be completed May 1st was not close to being finished. There were no books. Not waiting for the building to be completed or the books to arrive, Mary started school. She started with 15 students ranging in age from 6 to 19 (her age). Many of these students were the children of pioneers and had always lived in wilderness areas, so even though they were older, they had never been to school and could not read or write or do math. Miss Wilkins was in the front of the room on a raised platform and the students sat at table with benches. The small children sat in front and the larger in the rear.

Within the first six weeks the school was finished, books arrived and the number of students attending school had more than doubled.

With the completion of her first successful term, the school received public funds. This meant Mary was now to be paid by the taxpayers of the city. Some objected to paying a young single girl fifty dollars per month. The school board thought Mary was worth the salary so worked out a compromise that satisfied all sides. Mary's salary was lowered to thirty dollars per month for fifteen students. For each student more than fifteen she would receive more money. Because of the number of students, Mary wound up making more money than she had the previous term! Mary taught for two years and then married a local man named C. B. Rustin and later moved to Omaha. She lived there until her death in 1934.

Sioux City History web site link;
Mary Wilkins

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 136; Notable People Part 8; George Weare

George Weare was the founding father of Sioux City's banking system. He had a primitive and rocky start though. At one time Iowa had a law prohibiting banks in the state. Had Weare not succeeded many pioneer business would never have gotten started.

The first bank in Sioux City was a tin box about the size of a cake box. George Weare brought the box with him to Sioux City December 26, 1855. At the time of his arrival from Cedar Rapids with the tin box with $1000 dollars in gold, Sioux City consisted of 6 log cabins! Three or four feet of snow covered the ground.

He found a place to work in the attic of a log cabin on the corner of third and Pearl . The bottom floor was occupied by the United States Land Office. His furniture consisted of an old drygoods box that served as the counter and his tin box that served as his safe. The box is now on display in the Public Museum

This was a difficult time to start a bank in Iowa. The state constitution prohibited banks in the state. Many small banks had started and then collapsed leaving their investors with no money. People were suspicious of putting their money into something that could close at any time.

In the spring, George built a log building to serve as his bank on Douglas Street near sixth. He stayed here until 1857 when his banking business was expanding and he needed more room.

In September of 1860, Weare formed at partnership with John P. Allison and a new bank was built. The old log building was purchased by the pioneer school board and moved to Fifth and Pierce. The new building was of frame construction and painted to look like it was made of stone.

By 1862 the business district had moved west so Allison and Weare moved again. Still later in 1878 the partners built the brick structure pictured here. They continued to be partners in their success bank until they merged their bank with the Iowa State National Bank in 1901.

Mr. Weare served the city as alderman and mayor. Had it not been for his leadership, many pioneer businesses would not have been started.

Sioux City History web site link;
George Weare

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 135; Notable People Part 7; Dr. John Cook

Dr. John Cook was the first person to plot the land that now makes up Sioux City. Cook Park and the Cook Fountain are both named for him.

Dr. John Cook was born in England. He went to school at Oxford University and was a graduate of the London College of Medicine and Surgery. Before moving to the United States, he served in some of Londons most famous hospitals.

Cook decided to move to the United States. Many of his friends had already made the trip and wrote letters describing this new land. Arriving in Illinois, Cook decided to work as a surveyor for the government. Here he met a young woman who lived in a neighboring settlement and asked her to marry him. The woman had been married before and had a daughter named Henrietta.

Several years passed and all the surrounding lands in Illinois had been surveyed. More and more people were settling the land. Cook was asked by the United States Government to move to Iowa where the lands were to be surveyed. He moved his wife and daughter to a small town on the Missouri River named Kanesville. This town is now named Council Bluffs. There he met a man named James Jackson. Mr. Jackson and his partner, Milton Tootle owned several small stores located in towns south of Kanesville. Mr. Jackson fell in love with Henrietta, Cook's stepdaughter, and married her.

Mr. Jackson had met and dealt with Theophile Bruguier for several years. Bruguier had complained to Jackson that he had to come a long distance just to purchase needed goods. He asked Jackson to consider building a store near the area where he lived. Jackson was not enthusiastic about traveling so far north into a country with sparse population except for migrating bands of Indians. However, encouraged by his wife, Jackson made the trip in 1852 and was very impressed with the location between the mouths of the Floyd and Sioux Rivers. He came back to Kanesville and spoke with Doctor Cook, who was quite interested.

Doctor Cook, James Jackson, Iowa Representative Bernhart Henn, United States senators George W. Jones and Augustus C. Dodge, and Jesse Williams, Iowa territorial official, formed the Sioux City Land Company. Cook served as both president and representative for the group. Cook moved to the area and discovered that much of the land had already been settled by Joseph Leonais. Leonais's land encompassed the area from the Missouri River to Seventh Street and from what is now Water Street to Jones Street. Cook then claimed the only land left available, 160 acres west of Leonais' claim across Perry Creek.

He then began the job of plotting of his new city. Shortly after beginning this survey, Dr. Cook found many Yankton Indians camped at the mouth of the Floyd River. Led by their leader Smutty Bear, Cook was ordered to quit his survey and leave or there would be violence. Dr. Cook reportedly replied that if Smutty Bear were not peaceable, he would go at once for white men of sufficient number of exterminate (kill) the tribe. The Indians chose to leave and the survey was completed.

Dr. Cook realized that the members of the company would not be very happy with his location for the new city. For the city to be successful, it would need a levee built so steamships would be able to stop, load and unload needed goods. He visited William Thompson and offered to buy his land. But Thompson wanted to start his own town, so he refused to sell.

Dr. Cook had been staying at Leonais' cabin and began to try to convince him to sell his land. He first offered Leonais $100 for the land. That is what Leonais had paid Bruguier for the land. Leonais had plenty of customers at his store and had already raised three crops of corn on the property, so he wasn't interested in selling. Cook responded by increasing the offer to $500. Leonais looked to his sister, Mrs. Lapore, who was living with him for advice. She told him not to sell. Dr. Cook told them he wanted the land to build an orchard to sell fruit to the pioneers. They did not believe him. They had figured that he wanted the land to build a town, and said they were going to stay and sell lots themselves. Dr. Cook then asked Leonais how much he wanted for his claim, to which Leonais replied, "three thousand dollars". While this was quite a shook to Cook, he finally agreed to the price, knowing he had to have the land for the city to develop. This area was called the East Addition.

Sioux City History web site link;
Dr. John Cook

Previous posts about Dr. John Cook;
Sioux City History & Culture by Bicycle Part 24: Cook Park Fountain

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 134; Notable People Part 6; Rosalie Menard Leonais

Rosalie Menard Leonais, otherwise known as First Bride was the first white woman married in what became Sioux City. After her death she was buried on a bluff that later becamse South Ravine Park in the Morningside area of Sioux City. Rosalie married Joseph Leonais, one of the earliest developers of Sioux City.

Tucked in a pocket of South Ravine Park, a series of steps leads up into the woods. At the end of the trail is the First Bride's Grave.

The First Bride's Grave monument was built in 1938 by the Woodbury County Pioneer Club near the grave of Rosalie Menard Leonais. The Pioneers Club called her the "first bride" because she was believed to be the first bride of a non-Native American in the area that would become Sioux City.

Rosalie was born in 1838, the daughter of French/Canadian fur trader, Louis Menard, and his Native American wife, Klanhaywin. She had two sisters and four brothers.

Sometime around 1852, Rosalie's family moved into the area of Perry Creek and the Missouri River. There, the family became acquainted with Joseph Leonais, another French/Canadian fur trapper making his home in the area. Rosalie and Joseph were married by a traveling Catholic priest in 1853. She was in her teens and her husband was about twenty-nine.

Rosalie and Joseph had four children together: Joseph II, Josephine, Rosalie and William. At first, they lived in the cabin Joseph had built near Perry Creek, close to what is now 2nd and Water Street. Later they moved to a farm along the Floyd River.

Rosalie died in 1865, shortly after the birth of their son William. She was 27 years old.

Sioux City History web site link;
Rosalie Menard Leonais

Previous blog posts on Rosalie Menard Leonais, (First Bride);
Sioux City History & Culture by Bicycle Part 9: First Brides Grave.

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 133; Notable People Part 5; Joseph Leonais

Joseph Leonais purchased a track of land from his friend Theophile Bruguier in 1852 for $100. This area is now downtown Sioux City. In 1854 Dr. Cook arrived and started plotting the land and further helped develop it into the town of Sioux City, Iowa.

Joseph Leonais was born in the province of Quebec, Canada in 1818. His parents were French and lived on a small farm. When Joe turned eighteen, he left home and moved to Mackinac Island on Lake Michigan. He got a job as a fur trapper.

Because many people were moving to the area, Joe decided to head west. As Bruguier had also done, Joe got a job working for the American Fur Company. He traveled up the Missouri River to Dakota Territory where he would trap furs all winter. In the spring the company would gather all the trappers' furs together and send them down the Missouri River to St. Louis. Only the most trusted employees were given this job. Joe was one of the men that made this trip many times. The men would float down the Missouri through the plains of Dakota to the tree lined bluffs of Iowa.

Many times the men would camp below a bluff that had a small wooden cross that marked the grave of Sergeant Floyd from the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Joe married Rosalie Menard daughter of Louis Menard, a fur trapper, and his Indian wife. A year later, in 1852, Joe and his wife decided to settle down. He remembered this good land between the Sioux and Floyd. He stopped by a log cabin and discovered his old friend Bruguier lived there. He purchased from Bruguier a claim for 160 acres of land for $100. This land is today the downtown area of Sioux City.

Legend has it, Bruguier and Leonais celebrated the land deal by having a little party. After having drank too much liquor, Leonais left on his horse. Bruguier worried about his friend riding in such an intoxicated condition and sent his son to try to bring him back. Leonais saw the boy coming and thought he wanted to race, so he set off on his horse as fast as it would go. At top speed the man and his horse crested Prospect Hill and went over the cliff. Joe was lucky, his fall was stopped by a mulberry bush and he was pulled back up to safety by four Indians who had witnessed this amazing event. His horse fell all the way to the bottom and drowned in the river.

Leonais built a cabin near what is now Second and Water streets and began to farm the land, planting corn and trading with Indians in this region. His first of four children was born here in 1853. The family grew in 1854 when Leonais' sister, Mrs. Anna Lapora and her two children moved in with them. Her husband had died in Canada and she came to visit but decided to stay. She became the first white woman to live in Sioux City and later the first white woman to be married here.

In 1854 Doctor Cook arrived and began plotting out the city. He approached Joe to buy his land because of the ideal location. His land was desperately needed to build a levee on so steamboats would have a place to dock. Mrs. Lapora advised Joe not to sell. He listened to her advice and told the doctor no. She realized how important this land was to the development of a city and encouraged Joe not to sell at any price. They could sell the lots themselves. Joe held out until the price of three thousand dollars was offered. He then sold without discussing it with his sister.

Joe and Rosalie had four children. She died during the birth of their fourth child. She was buried on a hill overlooking South Ravine Park in Morningside. There is now a monument there naming her the first bride to die in the city.

Joe remarried twice in his life. He second wife, Victoria Ganon, died in the 1890's. His third wife Rosalia was alive at the time of his death.

Sioux City History web site link;
Joseph Leonais

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 132; Notable People Part 4; Chief War Eagle

War Eagle was father in law to Theophile Bruguier. Despite his name he was instrumental in the pursuit of peace in the area that becamse Sioux City. Had it not been for efforts it is thought the area may have elapsed into conflict and may never have been developed or would have been developed much later then it was.

Wambdi Okicize is commonly known as War Eagle. He was born in either Wisconsin or Minnesota around 1785. His Indian name means "Little Eagle" but whites always referred to him as War Eagle. This is odd because all through his life War Eagle sought to keep peace. He even left his home tribe the Isanti (sometimes referred to as Santee) to avoid a battle as to who was to become chief.

War Eagle served as a riverboat guide or pilot on the upper Mississippi, he worked for the American Fur Company delivering messages, and during the War of 1812 he carried messages for the government. Having spent all this time with the whites greatly affected his view toward these people. He saw them as friends rather than enemies.

After marrying Mazakirawin in Minnesota, he was adopted into the Ihanktonwan or Yankton Sioux around 1830. War Eagle and his wife had seven children, four girls and three boys.

One of the things War Eagle was most proud of was a silver medal he received from the President of the United States, Martin Van Buren in 1837. His family still proudly displays this medal. By this time he had been elected chief of the tribe and been invited to travel to Washington, D.C. with other tribal leaders from around the nation to negotiate peace treaties.

War Eagle was related to the commander of the Vermillion trading fort, William Dickson. Mr. Dickson had married a cousin of War Eagle. War Eagle also had two of his daughters, Dawn and Blazing Cloud marry Theopile Bruguier. Bruguier had been accepted into the Yankton tribe and traveled with War Eagle's band for several years. He told War Eagle of a dream he had of a beautiful place where two rivers joined together. War Eagle told Bruguier he had been to that place and would show it to him.

Bruguier claimed the land at the confluence of the Sioux and the Missouri river. Here in 1849, he built a cabin and with his two wives began to homestead the land and trade with the Indians. War Eagle and his band visited the area often and stayed in teepees and log cabins located on the property.

In the fall of 1851 War Eagle died. He was buried on top of a bluff overlooking the Missouri River Valley. Along with War Eagle his two daughters Dawn and Blazing Cloud, and several others including grandchildren were buried on this bluff. Today the bluff is part of War Eagle Park and the monument pictured honors the great chief.

War Eagle is best remembered as a person who believed in peace and worked his whole life toward that goal. Because of his leadership among the tribes, the Indians and the whites learned to work together without having to resort to violence.

Sioux City History web site link;
Chief War Eagle

Previous blog post on Chief War Eagle;
Sioux City History & Culture by Bicycle Part 8: War Eagle Park

Sioux City History and Cultuer by Bicycle Part 131; Notable People Part 3; Theophile Bruguier

Theophile Bruguier was created as the first white settler in what became Sioux City in the history books even though William Thompson was before him. Bruguier was instrumental to the early development of the area. As an independant fur trapper he did a lot of business with the people of the Lakota Sioux. He married into Sioux Nation and was accepted as a member of the Lakota Sioux. He settled in the area and eventually sold a large track of land to Joseph Leonais.

Theophile Bruguier was the first white settler on land that would become Sioux City. He was born on August 31, 1813 in a small town near Montreal, Canada and was educated to become a lawyer. Soon after he had begun to practice law, Bruguier became engaged to a young French girl, Marie. Just before the marriage, she became very ill with cholera and died. A grieving Bruguier left Canada to begin a rugged life as a fur trader/interpreter with the American Fur Company in St. Louis. He was sent to Fort Pierre, Dakota Territory, arriving there January 1, 1836. Bruguier could speak English and French, and he quickly learned the Dakota language of the Sioux Indians.

Bruguier worked for the American Fur Company and later as an independent fur-trader, buying furs from the Sioux Indians and selling them to small fur companies. Often he traveled along the Missouri River. In his work, he met and developed a friendship with a Yankton Sioux Indian tribe led by Chief War Eagle. Bruguier dwelt among the tribe, learning their customs and earning their respect. His friendship and knowledge of the Sioux people helped ease the tensions between the white settlers and the Indians on many occasions. Bruguier later married two of War Eagle's daughters, Flaming Cloud and Dawn. With these wives he had thirteen children.

According to legend, Theophile Bruguier told his friend War Eagle about a dream he had of land where two rivers joined together near a high bluff. War Eagle told him that he knew of just such land near the mouth of the Sioux River on the Missouri. So in 1849, Bruguier decided to settle down and establish a farm and trading post on the land of his dream. His farm included several log cabins and many teepees used by members of War Eagle and his family.

Bruguier claimed the land from the mouth of the Big Sioux River east along the Missouri River to near the Floyd River. In 1852 he sold part of this land, from Perry Creek east to the Floyd River, to Joseph Leonais.

At about this time, Bruguier encouraged James A Jackson, a fur trade outfitter, to come to this area from Council Bluffs (then Kanesville) to start a trading post. Jackson, in turn, convinced his father-in-law, Dr. John Cook, of the area's potential as a future city. Cook was the government surveyor who would later establish the little town of Sioux City, staking out its lots and streets.

As Sioux City grew, Bruguier continued in the trade business, also serving as an Indian commissioner and a wagon freighter. He was one of the 17 people who cast their votes in the first election in Woodbury County in August 1853. He was even appointed Clerk of Courts, but never served his post and was replaced after a year.

A prominent early Sioux Cityan, J.C. Hoskins, described Bruguier as a man of medium height, quick action, athletic build and splendid physique. He had black hair and a full black beard. Others credited him with courage, wit and great physical and mental strength. He was usually armed and ready for combat should the need arise.

After the death of his wives in the late 1850s, Bruguier traveled to St. Louis on business and met Victoria Turnott, a widow. He married her in the 1860's and brought her back to Sioux City. With his new wife, he settled on 500 acres that he owned in the Salix area, raising crops and livestock. He was reportedly well known and liked in the Salix area during his later years.

Bruguier died of pneumonia on February 18, 1896. He was buried in the Catholic Parish Cemetery north of Salix. In 1926, his body was re-interred on the bluff of War Eagle Park, near the graves of War Eagle and his first two wives.

Sioux City History web site link;
Theophile Bruguier

Previous blog posts on Theophile Bruguier;
Sioux City History & Culture by Bicycle Part 3: Bruguier Cabin
Sioux City History & Culture by Bicycle Part 8: War Eagle Park

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 130; Notable People Part 2; William Thompson

William Thompson was the first white settler to move into the area near Floyd's Bluff. So named because of where Sgt. Floyd is buried.

"Indians encamped on the Missouri River Bluffs looked up in silence and made no move as they watched a white man of giant stature in his early thirties walk into their midst, rifle in hand.

He was alone and he was angry. The Indians know why, for not long before they had helped themselves to one of the white man's horses. The white man took his horse and stalked out of the camp with complete disregard and disdain for the large group of Indians who watched him closely.

They made no move to halt him, for the man's reputation for toughness, violence and courage had spread through the Indian tribes and they were afraid of him. In fact, there was no one within range of his reputation, white or Indian, who failed to have a healthy respect for him." ( Louise Zerschling, SC Journal 1954)

William Thompson was born in a small town in Illinois in 1818. He grew up, married and lived there until 1847 when his wife died. He enlisted in the United States Army and fought in the Mexican War.

After the war, he was discharged from the army and headed up the Missouri. When he got to Floyd's Bluff, he decided this was the place he would stay. Although Thompson was the first person to settle in the area, it was well known because of the marker for Sergeant Floyd. Later in the fall his brother Charles came to visit. He stayed all winter.

The following years several French trappers and their Indian wives built cabins in the area. This did not please William because he liked being alone. He did not like people or the laws they made. In the past he had had trouble following the law. But as long as people were coming he decided to make the best of it. He decided to found a town called Thompsontown and sell lots to people to earn money.

In 1852 one of the Frenchmen, a Mr. LaCharite had a dance at his home. Thompson, the French and Indian neighbors attended the party. An Indian agent named Major Norwood also attended. The Major was planning on marrying Sophie Menard and Thompson was dancing with her. Thompson decided to make fun of Norwood by taking the wig off Norwood's head. This made Norwood very mad and he stabbed William slightly injuring him. Thompson left for home and Norwood, realizing the trouble he was in tried to escape. Thompson caught up with him and crushed his skull in with the butt of his rifle, killing Norwood. He was tried for murder but never punished because people were so afraid of him.

He had his own set of values. In the winter of 1855, Thompson had an unusually large supply of flour on hand. The settlers needed this flour to make bread. He was the only one in the area with extra to sell. He could have raised his prices but he refused. All people were allowed to buy the wheat at the standard price.

In 1858 he traveled to Kanesville (Council Bluff) to register a plat of his town he now named Floyd's Bluff, but the town never became a success. He did have a chance to have his town developed when Dr. Cook offered to purchase his land to build Sioux City. Thompson was too stubborn and wanted too much money so Cook was forced to look somewhere else.

He continued to live on his land, marrying again in 1869 to Martha Jane Blackwell. He died in 1879 at the age of 61.

Sioux City History web site link;
William Thompson

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 129; Notable People Part 1; Sergeant Charles Floyd

Sioux City and the surrounding area has a long list of notable people who helped contribute to the historical value. I am going to post about these historical figures in Sioux City's history and the impact they had and continue to have on this community. I will try to post in chronological order starting with Sergeant Charles Floyd. Some of these historical people have been posted about before. Where that is the case I will provide a link to the original blog post that has to do with that person. For the most part the posts about the historical people will be copied and pasted as quoted text directly from a sioux City history web site. All one has to do is visit and ride bike around Sioux City see and enjoy the historical impact these people continue to have on this area, even to this day.

While Sioux City did not exist when the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery came through this area over 200 years ago, it should be agreed had it not been for Sgt. Floyd dying and being buried where he was this area may have never developed into the community it is today.

Here is the info. on Sgt. Floyd;
Sergeant Charles Floyd is best known as the only member of the crew to die during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the first United States soldier to die west of the Mississippi. Floyd was born in Kentucky around 1782. In 1803, he joined the Corps of Discovery, the military expedition that would explore the Louisiana Territory.

The night of August 19th 1804, as the explorers reached the area just south of Sioux City, Floyd became seriously ill with "bilous cholic". Although expedition leaders did everything they could to help the young soldier, Floyd became weaker. At the last, he told Captain Clark, "I'm going away and I want you to write me a letter." He died sometime after 2:00 in the afternoon on Monday, August 20, 1804.

Captain Clark read the funeral service for Charles Floyd and noted in his journal: "We buried him on the top of the bluff Mile below a Small river to which we Gave his name, he was buried with the Honors of War, much lamented." Patrick Gass, another member of the expedition noted that they buried him "in the most decent manner our circumstances would admit." His grave was marked with a cedar post with the inscription "Sergt. C. Floyd died here 20th of August 1804."

It is now believed that what was described as "bilous colic" was likely appendicitis. At that time in history, there was no cure for that disorder, and Floyd would likely have died even in the best hospital.

Two years later, as the expedition returned from the mouth of the Columbia River, the men visited the site of Floyd's Grave. They found it had been disturbed, perhaps by animals. They restored the grave and replaced the fallen cedar marker.
In the years that followed, Floyd's Bluff and the cedar post became a landmark for white travelers in the area. The famous painter George Catlin later painted the gravesite while passing through the area in 1832.

Over the years, the Missouri River eroded Floyd's Bluff, and rain eroded the end of the grave, washing away the cedar post. In 1857, concerned citizens of the little town of Sioux City recovered what remains they could find and placed them in a walnut coffin. They buried the coffin 600 feet back from the river and remarked the grave.

In 1894, Floyd's Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition were rediscovered, renewing interest in the young soldier and his gravesite. However, for nearly forty years cattle had trampled the grave and souvenir hunters had carved away the wooden markers. It took considerable searching, but the grave was rediscovered on Memorial Day 1895.

His remains were placed in two earthenware urns and reburied again on August 20, 1895. The citizens held a special re-interment service. This time a marble slab, four feet by eight, was placed over the grave. The Floyd Memorial Association was also formed in 1895 for the purpose of honoring Sergeant Floyd in a more fitting way, with a permanent monument in his memory.

The Memorial Association secured $13,400 from the United State Government, the state, the county and other private sources. Colonel Chittenden of the United States Engineer's Office in Sioux City, donated his services. The railroads even transported the materials free of charge.

Construction of the monument took about a year. The foundation was laid May 29, 1900. The cornerstone was laid with a great deal of ceremony on August 20, 1900, on the ninety-sixth anniversary of Floyd's death. The umbrellas in the photograph are for protection from the heat.

The Floyd Monument is an Egyptian-style obelisk, 100 feet high and built of Kettle River sandstone. It is capped with aluminum connected to copper grounding wires as protection from lightning strikes. It has a solid concrete core in which Floyd's remains are sealed. The capstone was placed at the top on April 22, 1901.

The Dedication was held on Memorial Day, May 30, 1901. Thousands attended the dedication ceremonies, and many came by a special train that was provided free by the Sioux City and Pacific Railway Company.

Sioux City History web site link;
Sergeant Charles Floyd

Here are links to the previous blog posts about Sgt. Floyd;
Sioux City History & Culture by Bicycle Part 10: Sgt. Floyd Museum.
Sioux City History & Culture by Bicycle Part 11: Sgt. Floyd Monument
Sioux City History & Culture by Bicycle Part 12: Lewis & Clark Discovery Corps

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 128; Abraham Lincoln Statue

Abraham Lincoln was one of America's most beloved and favorite President's. Almost every American city has a statue or some sort of tribute to him. Sioux City is no exception. Located on 24th St just inside the south entrance to Grandview Park is a statue of Lincoln that was erected at the city's Centennial. Buried next to the statue is a time capsule that is not to be opened until 2054, Sioux City's 200th celebration.

Abraham Lincoln
Time Capsule

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 127; History in the making

May 2nd to May 7th was Sioux City's Historical Preservation week. There were events happenong all week long, one of which was the annual gala I wrote about in a previous post. But there is much history to visit, view and enjoy then just the 5 days a year during the preservation week. I have posted about several places to visit in this blog. The next historical piece I will post about is a statue of one of America's greatest President's that was built during Sioux City's Centennial celebration in 1954. Stay tuned for the upcoming post about a tribute to this great man.

Here is a failry recent article from one of the free publications, The Weekender about the area's history and the preservation society;
History in the making

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 126; Siouxland Historical Preservation Society Annual Gala

Tonight, May 6, 2009 is the Siouxland Historical Preservation Society is holding their annual gala. It wil be held at the Scottish Rite Temple on 8th and Douglas in Sioux City. The event is from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. It is free and open to all. The event will include food, music and will introduce a new film by G. R. Lindblade & Co., "The Last Great Neighborhood, a look at the South Bottoms."

I posted about the South Bottoms a while back.

Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 125; Taking a break from William L. Steele

For the time being I am taking a break form posting about William L. Steele. Right now I am unable to conduct enough research on him ton continue posting the series about his work. I am not saying I will give up posting about Steele, not at all. I am going to post about other historical and cultural events one can attend and visit by bicycle in the Siouxland area. I do not want this blog to sit idle because I am waiting to research about Steele so I can post something abotu him. When I am able to research and post about Steele's work I will fit it in between other postings about differant historiocal and cultural sites and events.