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flag  History of Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Journey back in time to Des Moines, Iowa, USA

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Des Moines, Iowa, USA - Hunt and Adams Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines is French for "of the monks".

From 1942 up until 2009, it was illegal to dance between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m in Des Moines.

There is MUCH more to discover about Des Moines, Iowa, USA. Read on!

Des Moines Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Hunt and Adams
Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Walnut Street

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Walnut Street

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Fourth Street looking South from Locust Street

Discover Des Moines: History, News, Travel, and Stories

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  • 1851 - September 22 - The city of Des Moines, Iowa was incorporated as Fort Des Moines.
  • 1854 - Fort Des Moines
    Fort Des Moines, a thriving post-village, capital of Polk county, Iowa, is situated at the junction of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers, 120 miles W. from Iowa City. It is one of the largest villages in the central part of the state. The Des Moines is susceptible of stream navigation to this point, which is the terminus of the Black-water improvement now prosecuted by the state. The projected railroad from Davenport on the Mississippi river to Council Bluff is expected to pass through this place. Mines of stone coal have been opened in the vicinity, and timber is abundant. The river furnishes extensive water-power, which is partially employed in flouring mills and saw mills. Two newspapers are published here. The old fort Des Moines was evacuated by the troops of the United States in 1846.

    A New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States: Giving a Full and Comprehensive Review of the Present Condition, Industry, and Resources of the American Confederacy ... Thomas Baldwin (of Philadelphia.) Joseph Thomas January 1, 1854 Philadelphia : Lippincott, Grambo & Company 1854.
  • 1857 - State capital moved to Des Moines from Iowa City webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ iatimeln.htm
  • 1887 - Suicide
    William M. Locks, a retired banker whose fortunes had become impaired by unfortunate speculation, committed suicide by shooting Thursday morning at Des Moines, Ia. He recently removed from Noblesville, Ind.
    St Joseph Herald
    Saint Joseph, Michigan
    November 12, 1887
  • 1895 - Des Moines
    Des Moines, a city, the capital of Iowa, and seat of justice of Polk co., is situated on both sides of the Des Moines River (at the mouth of the Raccoon River), which affords abundant water-power and is crossed by 13 bridges. Lat. 41° 37' N.; lon. 93° 37' 30" W. The site is elevated. By railroad, Des Moines is 358 miles W. of Chicago, 360 miles N.W. of St. Louis, and 137 miles E. by N. from Omaha. The city has 6 public parks. The principal public buildings are a fine state-house which cost nearly £ and a marble edifice built by the United States for the post-office and court-house at a cost of $222,566. There are in the city 76 church organizations occupying their own houses of worship, the following denominations being represented: Methodist Episcopal (including Ger man, Scandinavian, and African), Presbyterian, Baptist (including African), Lutheran (English, German, and Swedish), Evangelical, Roman Catholic (including Ger man), United Brethren, Hebrew, Friends, Congregational,... Read MORE...

  • 1901 - Des Moines - Iowa's Capital City by Frank I. Herriott
    The beginnings of the city of Des Moines are not shrouded in romance or shadowy tradition. Thrilling episode and epochmaking events do not abound in her history. Cannon have never thundered against the gates of the city, nor hostile armies marched and counter marched within her environs. Not even the blood curdling war whoop of the Indian ever struck terror into the hearts of her pioneers. Yet the story of the capital city of Iowa is neither prosaic nor uninteresting. Her origin and early history typify the beginnings of civilized life throughout almost the entire State of Iowa; and since the seat of government was transferred to the city in 1857, her history is in epitome the history of the great commonwealth of which she is the capital.

    The origin of the city's name is a moot question among antiquarians. Popular etymology has derived Des Moines from the early associations of Trappist monks at or near the mouth of the river, la riviere des Moines: but Dr. Elliot Coues regarded... Read MORE...

  • July 19, 1905: Morris Nourse earned a Carnegie Medal by saving a drowning boy in Des Moines, Iowa
    The Old Farmer's Almanac
  • News  1906 - ACCIDENT AT DES MOINES. Five Commissioners to General Assembly Injured in Collapse of Platform.
    Des Moines, Iowa, May 18—Five commissioners to the Presbyterian general assembly were bruised and injured late this afternoon by the collapse of a temporary stand which had been erected for the purpose of getting a group photographed. The injured are:

    Dr. C. Lukins, Roswell, N.M., hip bruised
    Rev. W. O. David, Monongahela, W. Va., hip bruised
    George Wills, Mendota, Ill., back bruised
    Rev. J. M. McGaughey, Charlton, Iowa, leg strained
    Rev. W. C. Buell of New Mexico, back bruised

    Mr. Davis is the most seriously hurt and is under a physician's care tonight.
    Dallas Morning News
    Dallas, Texas
    May 19, 1906
    Des Moines - FRANK MERRIAM, aged 25, and E. R. CAMPBELL, aged 22, were asphyxiated by illuminating gas in their room at 1435 West Locust Street. The double tragedy, from all appearances, was accidental. The gas jet, which worked very loosely, had been left partly open, apparently in the act of turning it off carelessly.

    The room occupied by CAMPBELL and MERRIAM was fifteen by twelve feet in dimensions. It was a front room with windows on two sides, but all the windows were closed. The young men were discovered dead in bed at 8 o'clock a.m. by the landlady, Mrs. C. Reynolds, who immediately notified the police. The door of the room had been left unlocked but was tightly closed. The odor of gas was not noticed in the house until morning.

    The young men had roomed together for only a month. CAMPBELL came from Paton, Iowa, a year ago and was employed with the Carr-Adams Company. MERRIAM is the son of G. D. Merriam of Shannon City, Iowa. He was employed here with the Brown-Herley... Read MORE...

    Des Moines, Ia., Feb. 4. - Seven miners were killed to-night, and a dozen were injured in the wreck of a coal train on the Chicago and Northwestern Railway near Des Moines. The dead:
    A car in the middle of the train left the track and ditched the cars behind it. The train carried about thirty miners, scattered in groups on different coal cars. Several passengers were in the caboose. The victims were all buried under wreckage and coal, which later caught fire, making the rescue work difficult.

    The injured will recover. Among the hurt are BLANCHE ROSER and JEAN HORSBURG, school teachers.
    The Washington Post
    Washington, D.C.
    February 5, 1907
  • 1913 - September 22 - Des Moines, IA, experienced their earliest freeze of record.

    The Weather Channel
  • 1916
    Des Moines, a city and port of delivery, the capital of Iowa and of Polk oo., is situated on both sides of the Des Moines River (at the mouth of the Raccoon River), which affords abundant water-power and is crossed by numerous bridges. Lat. 41° 37' N. ; Lon. 93° 37' W. Des Moines occupies an elevated site, and is on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, the Chicago and Great- Western and other railroads, 340 miles W. of Chicago. The city, which has large shipping and manufacturing interests, has numerous attractive public parks and buildings, among the latter being the state capitol, erected at a cost of nearly $3,000,000, city-hall, United States government building, opera-houses, and state library (with 80,000 volumes). It is the seat of Drake University, Highland Park College (industrial), Des Moines College, and other oollegiate institutions. The city's industries comprise iron-foundries, planing- and flouring-mills, and manufactures of machinery, steam- and gas-engines, boilers,... Read MORE...

  • 1924 - April 15 - WHO-AM in Des Moines Iowa begins radio transmission
    Des Moines, Iowa, April 6. - (AP) - At least five persons are dead and scores are suffering from injuries, burns and cuts received in a fire which broke out at the Kirkwood Hotel, shortly after 3 o'clock this morning.

    Fire Chief Burnett after inspecting the wreckage expressed the belief that several additional might be found. He said a group of men and women had been reported holding a party in one of the rooms, and had not been found since. Firemen were almost unanimous in believing that more victims were buried in the debris.

    The known dead:
    W. F. RAIDLER.
    Two unidentified men.

    Twelve persons were taken to hospitals and many others injured and burned were given first aid treatment. Between 125 and 150 persons were in the building when the fire broke out.

    Two policemen, attracted by the screaming of woman, and a negro porter noticed the fire about the same time and turned in alarms. All fire companies in the city responded to the call,... Read MORE...

    Des Moines, Ia., July 19. - (AP) - ROSS ARNOLD, pilot of the endurance monopane, "Greater Des Moines," was killed late yesterday when the plane crashed nine miles southeast of here. The crash followed an attempt at a test refueling preparatory to starting an endurance flight today. CHARLIE GATSCHET, co-pilot, was thrown from the plane but landed safely with a parachute. The plane was flying directly below its refueling ship, "The Miss Sioux City," piloted by ARNOLD'S brother, AMON, and JIMMY BARWICK. It suddenly went into a dive, completely out of control. GATSCHET and ARNOLD were both in the rear cockpit, which is equipped with dual controls. GATSCHET said he attempted in vain to pull the nose of the ship up. Then he was tossed from his seat into the air. He said he did not know what became of ARNOLD.

    One report said that ARNOLD, too, was thrown from the ship but other witnesses declared he attempted to right it. The position of the body, a few feet from the wrecked craft, bore... Read MORE...

  • 1941 - December 31 - Snow which began on New Year's Eve became a major blizzard on New Year's Day, burying Des Moines, IA, uunder 19.8 inches of snow in 24 hours, an all-time record for that location.

    The Weather Channel
  • 1950 - February 21 - WOI TV channel 5 in Ames-Des Moines, IA (ABC/PBS) begins broadcasting

Discover Your Roots: Des Moines Ancestry

Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Des Moines, Iowa, USA

We currently have information about ancestors who were born or died in Des Moines.

View Them Now (sorted by year of birth)

male ancestorDan Alonzo MOULTON (9 January 1806, Randolph, Vermont, USA - 11 May 1875, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
male ancestorIsaac FRANKS (1808, , New Jersey, USA - 25 July 1880, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
female ancestorAdaline WALLACE (16 March 1811, Petersham, Massachusetts, USA - 14 April 1885, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
male ancestorPatrick O'ROURKE (1815, , Ireland - 3 November 1880, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
male ancestorHoratio Horace BENNET (1822, , New Jersey, USA - 23 September 1880, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
male ancestorEdward B. ARMIL (1830, , Pennsylvania, USA - 7 November 1880, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
male ancestorJohn SERVIS (1833, , New York, USA - 19 August 1880, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
male ancestorGeorge TRAVES (1838, , New York, USA - 25 November 1880, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
photo of Elizabeth Evelyn "Lizzie" MILLSElizabeth Evelyn "Lizzie" MILLS (1847, Madison County, Iowa, USA - August 1924, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)

Ancestors Who Were Married in Des Moines, Iowa, USA

We currently have information about ancestors who were married in Des Moines.

View Them Now

male ancestorWalter Heman BRIGGS (28 October 1862 - 13 January 1899) and photo of Mary Rebecca "Monie" MOTT Mary Rebecca "Monie" MOTT (21 August 1866 - 1946) married 8 June 1891
male ancestorRobert Edward HITE (21 December 1881 - 2 May 1941) and female ancestorGrace Elizabeth "Bessie" LANDERS (17 January 1883 - 27 November 1952) married 25 December 1901
photo of Obediah Solmon BARKER Obediah Solmon BARKER (10/1/1875 - 12/1/1953) and female ancestorMary Josephine BUNYARD (29 November 1888 - 19 September 1967) married 9 December 1907
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Updated: 4/16/2023 9:27:23 AM

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