Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Iowa

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Iowa is one of the North Central States of the American Union, and is about midway between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. It lies between two great rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri, the Mississippi forming its eastern boundary and separating it from the States of Illinois and Wisconsin; the Missouri and its chief tributary, the Big Sioux, forming its western boundary, and separating it from the States of Nebraska and South Dakota. It extends from 40 deg. 36 min. to 43 deg. 30 min. north latitude. In the south-east corner, in Lee County, the boundary projects below the parallel, following the channel of the Des Moines River down to its junction with the Mississippi. The state is 310 miles from east to west and 210 miles from north to south, and has an area of 56,025 square miles, or 35,856,000 acres, being nearly the same size as Wisconsin or Illinois.

Physical Characteristics

The surface of the state is an undulating prairie, part of the Great Central Plain of North America. It rises gradually from the south-east corner, where the lowest point is but 444 feet above the sea-level, towards the north-west, to the Divide (an elevated plain beginning in Dickinson County in the north-western part of the state), where the highest point (1694 feet) is reached. The ridge then crosses the state from north to south, parallel with the western boundary and about 60 miles east of it, until it reaches Adair County, whence it sweeps eastwards to Appanoose County. That part of the state east of the Divide, comprising over two-thirds of its surface, is drained by rivers flowing in a southeasterly direction into the Mississippi and its tributaries. The principal rivers of this system are the upper Iowa, Turkey, Maquoketa, Wapsipinicon, Cedar, Skunk, and Des Moines. Of these the Des Moines is by far the largest and most important, rising in Minnesota and flowing diagonally across the entire state. West of the Divide the rivers flow southwesterly into the Missouri and its tributaries, and, as the watershed is near the western boundary of the state, the rivers have shorter courses and a more rapid flow than those of the eastern system. The principal western rivers are the Big Sioux, Rock, Floyd, Little Sioux, Boyer, and Nishnabotna. The principal lakes of Iowa are Spirit Lake, which is the largest, Lake Okoboji, a popular summer resort, Clear Lake, and Storm Lake. These are small but beautiful sheets of water situated in the north-western part of the state which is an extension of the lake region of Minnesota. Along the largest rivers are valleys from one to ten miles in width, bordered by irregular lines of bluffs. The picturesque ravines and bold rocky bluffs, ranging in height from 200 to 400 feet, along the Mississippi from Dubuque northwards, lend to that portion of the river a striking beauty all its own. There is but little native forest in the state, the timber being chiefly confined to the valleys of the rivers and the bordering bluffs. It was found, however, that all deciduous trees throve on the soil of the prairies; by special legislation, offering fiscal privileges, the farmers were encouraged to plant, and now woodland groves near the farmhouses are seen in all parts of the state, adding picturesqueness to the scenery. The principal trees are the cottonwood, ash, elm, maple, hickory, black walnut, poplar, box elder, cedar, and varieties of oak. There are no miasmatic bottomlands in the state; the air is dry and invigorating, and the general climatic influences salubrious. During the last ten years (1899 to 1908 inclusive) the average extremes of temperature were 102 deg. above to 31 deg. below zero; the average mean temperature was 48 deg. above zero. During the same time the average rainfall was 33 inches. For the year 1908, the mean temperature was 49.5 deg.; the highest temperature was 101 deg. (3 August) in Mahaska and Wapello Counties in the southern part of the state; the lowest temperature reported for the year was 18 deg. below zero (29 January) in Emmet and Winnebago Counties in the northern part of the state. The average amount of rain and melted snow for the year was 35.26 inches.

Industries and General Social Conditions

Iowa has less waste land than any other of the United States, 97 per cent of its surface being tillable. The soil of the greater part of the state consists of a dark drift loam from two to five feet deep and of wonderful fertility. In the western part of the state is found the bluff soil, or loess, believed to be the deposit of the winds from the plains of Kansas and Dakota; this soil is deep and very rich, and is peculiarly adapted to the growth of fruit trees. The soil of the river valleys consists of waste carried down from higher levels, and is known as alluvium; it is the richest soil in the state. Because of the richness of its soil Iowa has long held a leading place among the agricultural states of the Union. Travellers over the state cannot but be impressed by the sight of its vast fields of Indian corn and oats. More than one-half of its population are engaged in farming. The value of the agricultural products of the state in 1908, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, was $376,076,646. This includes 287,456,000 bushels of Indian corn, valued at $149,477,000, and 110,444,000 bushels of oats, valued at $46,386,000. The state ranks first in the production of oats and in the number of swine; second only to Illinois in the production of corn, second to Texas in the number of meat cattle, second to New York in the number of dairy cows, and second to Illinois in the number of horses. Iowa is famous for its dairy products, and the State Department of Agriculture estimates the value of these products for the year 1908 at $44,500,000.

The most important mineral deposit in the state is bituminous coal; the coal-fields include an area of approximately 20,000 square miles in the southern and central parts of the state. The output in 1908 was 7,149,517 tons, valued at $11,772,228. Gypsum for stucco and plaster is found in Webster County, and clay for tile- and brick-making is abundant. In the year 1908 the value of clay products was $4,078,627. The mines in the vicinity of Dubuque, which attracted the first white people to the state, and which became known as the Mines of Spain, are still yielding lead and zinc ore. The manufactures of the state are steadily increasing, because of its growth and prosperity, and the possession of native coal. The value of the output of manufactures for the last statistical year, 1905, was $160,572,313. The Mississippi is now the only river navigable for large boats, the shifting channel and sand-bars of the Missouri constituting great obstacles to navigation. But the facilities for transportation are excellent, the state being covered by a network of railways, including seven great trunk lines. The total mileage of railways in the state, in 1908, was 9886.2 and the total mileage of electric interurban railways was 245.18. According to Federal estimates made in 1908, the population of Iowa was 2,196,970. By the last State Census (1905) the population - 2,210,050 - was made up of: 1,264,443 native whites of native parentage; 648,532 native whites of foreign parentage; 282,296 foreign-born whites; 14,831 coloured. There were only 53 Chinese in the state; but 39 per cent of the foreign-born population were born in Germany. Added to the immigrants from Germany, those from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark make 63.69 per cent of the foreign-born population derived from Teutonic races. Eight per cent of the foreign-born came from Ireland. Most of the native-born population are descendants of immigrants from the New England States, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. There were many Frenchmen among the earliest settlers (Bishop Loras preached sermons in the cathedral in French as well as in English), but there are now but few descendants of French families in the state. Prior to 1852, the immigrants from foreign countries were largely from Ireland and Germany, with the Irish in the majority; these immigrants settled in the eastern part of the state, and there were among them a large proportion of Catholics. But since that year the immigration has been largely from the Teutonic nations. The State Census of 1905 gives the membership of the four leading Churches as follows: Methodist Episcopal, 162,688; Catholic, 158,000; Lutheran, 91,889; Presbyterian, 47,765. According to Federal estimates in 1908, Des Moines, the capital and largest city, had a population of 83,717; the next largest cities in order are Dubuque, Sioux City, and Davenport.

An admirably organized system of public schools exists throughout the state, generous provision for that purpose having been made by the State Constitution. The schools are supported chiefly by local taxation and the interest on the permanent school fund. Education is compulsory, the parents and guardians of children between the ages of seven and fourteen years inclusive being compelled to send them to some public, parochial, or private school for at least sixteen consecutive weeks during each school year. By statute passed in 1909, the attendance of the children during these sixteen weeks is excused for such time as they are attending religious service or receiving religious instruction. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction has general supervision of the public schools. In each county there is elected a county superintendent. Some of the townships of the counties constitute each a single district having one or two central schools, but generally the townships are subdivided into subdistricts and independent districts, where the latter consist of cities, the schools are managed by boards of education. No religious instruction is given, the Bible is not excluded from any public school or institution, but no pupil can be required to read it contrary to the wishes of his parent or guardian.

In 1908 the number of schoolhouses was 13,914, the number of teachers 27,950, the enrolment of pupils 526,269, and the total appropriation for educational purposes for the year $1,936,363. There are 534 high schools in the state in which the course of study, generally speaking, covers four years. The State University, the head of the public school system is located at Iowa City. It was established in 1847; in 1908 it had 164 professors and instructors, and 2315 students enrolled. The State also maintains the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, at Ames, and the Normal School at Cedar Falls. There are in the state 276 private denominational and higher educational institutions. The Juvenile Court Law has been for several years in force in Iowa. Under the provisions of the law, offending children under the age of sixteen years are no longer treated as criminals, nor confined in jails. They, as well as neglected children, are treated as wards of the state and, under the supervision of probationary officers, are kept in their own or other homes, or sent to the State Industrial Schools. Many girls are sent to the Houses of the Good Shepherd.

Catholic Education

Through the unremitting zeal of the present Archbishop of Dubuque and his predecessors in office, and their labours among the clergy and people, the cause of Catholic religious education has so advanced that parochial schools exist in all the parishes of considerable size in the state, and are taught chiefly by religious orders. In the year 1909, there are in the state 36,942 pupils attending the parochial schools. These schools are supplemented by 36 academies and high schools in which 5812 students are taught; and to complete the system are two diocesan colleges: St. Joseph's College, at Dubuque, with 280 students, and St. Ambrose College, at Davenport, with 167 students. At Dubuque, the metropolitan city of the archdiocese, where the enrolled number of pupils attending the public schools is 4084, the number attending the parochial schools is 3000. The city is surrounded by a cordon of Catholic institutions, educational and charitable, and has become widely known as a centre of Catholic education.


The first white men who saw Iowa were the French Jesuit Father Marquette and Louis Joliet, who on the 17th day of June, 1673, coming down the mouth of the Wisconsin River, discovered the Mississippi and faced the picturesque bluffs of the Iowa shore. The first landing on Iowa territory recorded by Father Marquette in his journal was near Montrose, in Lee County, where he had a peaceful and memorable meeting with the natives. One hundred and fifteen years passed away from the time of Father Marquette's discovery until the first white settlement was made within the limits of the state. In 1788 Julien Dubuque, a French Canadian trader, obtained from the Indians a grant of land, in which to mine for lead; it extended seven leagues along the west bank of the Mississippi and was three leagues in width, including the territory on which now stands the city of Dubuque. This grant was afterwards confirmed by Baron de Carondelet, the Spanish governor of the province of Louisiana, and the strip of land became known as the Mines of Spain. Here Dubuque, with ten other Canadians, and aided by the Indians, operated the mines until his death in 1810, when the whites were driven out. Dubuque was buried on the top of an isolated bluff just below the present limits of the city of Dubuque, and a large cross marked his grave for many years. This became a well-known landmark to river men on the upper Mississippi, and is mentioned in books of travel. In 1832, in the territory east of the Mississippi, occurred the war with the Indians known as the Black Hawk War. This resulted in a treaty, made in the same year, by which the Indians relinquished that part of Iowa known as the Black Hawk Purchase, containing six million acres of land, lying immediately west of the Mississippi River, about ninety miles in width, and north of the Missouri State line. Although this was not the first concession of territory in Iowa by the Indians, it was the first which opened any portion of the land for settlement by the whites. Settlements were made in 1833 at Dubuque and at other points near the Mississippi River. Within ten years the title to practically all of the state was secured by treaties with the Indians. Attracted by glowing accounts of the richness of the soil, immigrants came pouring in from the New England states, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Missouri, and other states.

In 1834 that part of the Louisiana Purchase now included in the State of Iowa was made a part of the Territory of Michigan; in 1836 it was attached to, and made a part of, the new Territory of Wisconsin, and in 1838 was established separately as the Territory of Iowa. On 28 December, 1846, it was admitted to the Union as the twenty-ninth State, being the fourth state created out of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1854 the first railroad was built from Davenport west, and railroad-building then extended rapidly. In the same year was passed a law, prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors which, with some changes, is still on the statute books. In 1857 the state adopted a revised Constitution which, with a few amendments, is still the law. The progress of the state was checked by the Civil War, at the close of which, however, immigration recommenced, and population and wealth increased. Although the population in 1860 was less than 700,000, the state furnished, during the Civil War, 75,519 volunteers.

The Church in Iowa

The first Mass celebrated within the limits of Iowa was said in the year 1833, by the Rev. C.P. Fitzmorris, of Galena, Illinois, in the home of Patrick Quigley in the city of Dubuque, and the first Catholic church in the state was built at Dubuque by the celebrated Dominican missionary, Samuel Mazzuchelli, in 1836. On 10 December, 1837, the Very Rev. Mathias Loras, Vicar-General of the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama, was consecrated first Bishop of Dubuque. Bishop Loras was a native of Lyons, France, and was a worthy comrade of Bl. Jean Baptiste Vianney, the celebrated Curé of Ars. Going to France for priests and financial aid, Bishop Loras arrived in Dubuque with two priests and four deacons on the 19th day of April, 1839. His diocese included all the territory between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, from the northern limit of the State of Missouri to the British Possessions. In his diocese he found but three churches and one priest, Father Mazzuchelli. The indefatigable labours of Bishop Loras in personally attending to the spiritual wants of the scattered settlers in his vast territory, in building churches and procuring funds, and in inducing immigration from the Eastern States and from Europe, have secured him a high rank among the pioneer missionaries and church-builders of this country. In 1843, he brought from Philadelphia the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who established their mother-house near Dubuque and have become widely known as successful teachers. In 1849 he gave a home to the Trappist monks from Mount Melleray, Ireland, who founded the Abbey of New Melleray, still in existence, twelve miles from Dubuque. When he died (19 February, 1858) there were within the limits of the State of Iowa, 48 priests, 60 churches, and a Catholic population of 54,000. In 1850 the territory north of the State of Iowa had been formed into the Diocese of St. Paul. He was succeeded by his coadjutor, the Rt. Rev. Clement Smyth, who had been Prior of New Melleray Abbey. Bishop Smyth was a man of great scholarly attainments and was the founder of the school for young men which still flourishes in the Abbey of Mount Melleray, Ireland. His uniform courtesy and gentleness won all hearts, and he was noted for his ardent patriotism during the strenuous days of the Civil War. During his short episcopacy he cemented and greatly extended the work of Bishop Loras and died 23 September, 1865, lamented by priests and people.

On 30 September, 1866, in St. Raphael's Cathedral, Dubuque, the Rev. John Hennessy, pastor of St. Joseph's church, St. Joseph, Missouri, was consecrated Bishop of Dubuque. Bishop Hennessy was renowned as a pulpit orator, and was a man of rare executive ability. The thirty-four years of his episcopacy were an era of great progress for the Diocese of Dubuque. Priests and teachers, churches and schools were multiplied in all parts of the state, new religious orders were introduced, and hospitals and asylums founded. The work became too great for one man, and in 1881 the diocese was divided, and the new Diocese of Davenport founded, comprising the southern portion of the state. In 1893 Bishop Hennessy was made first Archbishop of Dubuque; he died 4 March, 1900.

On 24 July, 1900, Rome selected as successor to Archbishop Hennessy, the Most Rev. John J. Keane, titular Archbishop of Damascus, at one time Bishop of Richmond, Va., and first rector of the Catholic University of America. The results of his great ability and wide experience are shown in the marvelous growth of the Church within the limits of the state since his arrival. In the Archdiocese of Dubuque, he has thoroughly organized his clergy, increased the number of priests and parishes, and, by his episcopal visitations, has become acquainted with all parts of his territory. The cause of religious education has been the object of his special care, and the flourishing state of St. Joseph's College and other institutions of higher learning, and the number of children attending the parochial schools demonstrate the success of his labours. He expends all the revenues from the property of the archdiocese in the building of churches and schools. Among new orders introduced by him are: the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, who have two houses, one in Dubuque, the other in Sioux City; the Sisters of the Order of St. Dominie; the Brothers of Mary. He has also organized an apostolate band of diocesan priests. An enthusiastic advocate of temperance, many temperance societies have been formed at his instance. At his advent, in the cities in the eastern part of the state, the provisions of the modified liquor law, known as the Mulct Law, were entirely ignored, and saloons were open on Sundays. Archbishop Keane, by his sermons and addresses, and attendance at public meetings, aroused public sentiment in favour of the law, with the result that now, in all parts of the state, the Mulct Law is strictly carried out, and the observance of Sundays enforced. In 1902, at the instance of the archbishop, twenty-four counties in the north-western part of the state were separated from the archdiocese and formed into the Diocese of Sioux City.

The province of Dubuque includes the States of Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The State of Iowa is divided into three dioceses. (1) The Archdiocese of Dubuque occupies that part of the state north of the counties of Polk, Jasper, Poweshiek, Iowa, Johnson, Cedar, and Scott, and east of the counties of Kossuth, Humboldt, Webster, and Boone, and has an area of 18,048 square miles. (2) The Diocese of Sioux City comprises 24 counties in the north-western part of the state, west of Winnebago, Hancock, Wright, Hamilton, and Story Counties, and north of Harrison Shelby, Audubon, Guthrie, and Dallas Counties, its area being 14,518 square miles. The present Bishop of Sioux City is the Rt. Rev. Philip Joseph Garrigan, residing at Sioux City, Iowa. (3) The Diocese of Davenport, with an area of 22,873 square miles, comprises all that portion of the state south of the other two dioceses and extends from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River. The present Bishop of Davenport is the Rt. Rev. James Davis, Davenport, Iowa. In 1909, according to the Wiltzius "Official Catholic Directory," there were in the state 579 churches, 492 priests, 27 different religious orders, 28 hospitals and asylums, and a total of 37,154 children being taken care of in schools and other institutions. The Catholic population of the state is as follows: Diocese of Dubuque 111,112; Diocese of Davenport, 75,518; Diocese of Sioux City, 54,543. Total Catholic population, 241,173.

The best of feeling exists amongst the different denominations, and there is but little bigotry anywhere in the state. The Constitution provides that the General Assembly shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and that no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office, or public trust, and no person shall be deprived of any of his rights, privileges, or capacities, or disqualified from the performance of any of his public or private duties, or rendered incompetent to give evidence in any court of law or equity in consequence of his opinions on the subject of religion. By statute, the disturbance of public worship is punished by fine or imprisonment, and the breach of Sunday by "carrying firearms, dancing, hunting, shooting, horse racing, or in any manner disturbing a worshipping assembly or private family, or buying or selling property of any kind, or engaging in any labour except that of necessity or charity" is punished by fine and imprisonment. In general all stores in cities and towns are closed on Sunday. The customary form of oath is: "I do solemnly swear." Placing the hand on the Bible is not required. A person conscientiously opposed to taking an oath may affirm. The use of blasphemous or obscene language is prohibited under penalty of fine and imprisonment. By custom, a chaplain is appointed by each branch of the Legislature, and the daily sessions are opened with prayer. In addition to Sunday, the only days which are recognized as religious holidays are Christmas and Thanksgiving Day. By statute, no minister of the Gospel, or priest of any denomination is allowed, in giving testimony, to disclose any confidential communications properly entrusted to him in his professional capacity and proper to enable him to discharge the functions of his office according to the usual course of practice or discipline. The statutes of the state provide that any three or more persons of full age, a majority of whom shall be citizens, may incorporate themselves for the establishment of churches, colleges, seminaries, temperance societies, or organizations of a benevolent, charitable, or religious character. Any corporation so organized may take and hold by gift, purchase, devise, or bequest, real and personal property for purposes appropriate to its creation. The corporation shall endure for fifty years and may be then reincorporated. As a rule, real estate in the State of Iowa belonging to the Catholic Church is held in each diocese in the name of the bishop. All grounds and buildings used for benevolent and religious institutions and societies devoted to the appropriate objects of these institutions, not exceeding 160 acres in extent, and not leased or otherwise used with a view to pecuniary profit, are exempt from taxation. Cemeteries are also exempt. The State imposes what is called a collateral inheritance tax of 5 per cent on all property within the state which passes, by will, or by the statutes of inheritance, or by deed to take effect after the death of the grantor, to collateral heirs or strangers to the blood. From this tax are exempt bequests or deeds to charitable, educational, or religious institutions within the state, and, by a statute passed in 1909, there is also exempt from this tax "any bequest not to exceed $500 to and in favour of any person having for its purpose the performance of any religious service to be performed for and in behalf of decedent or any person named in his or her last will, or any cemetery associations," thus exempting bequests for Masses. Clergymen are excused from jury service, and the Constitution of the State provides "that no person having conscientious scruples against bearing arms shall be compelled to do military duty in time of peace."

Prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors is still the law of the state, but in cities where a majority of the voters consent, liquors may be sold by complying with the "Mulct Law," the principal conditions imposed by which are: the written consent of the owners of property situated within fifty feet of the proposed place of sale; the payment of a tax of $600 annually to the state; the giving of a bond of $3000. The liquors must be sold in one room, having but one exit, with no tables or chairs therein and no curtains on the windows to obstruct the view; there must be no sales to minors or drunkards, nor after ten o'clock at night; the place must be closed on Sundays and legal holidays, and in no case shall the business be conducted within 300 feet of a church building or schoolhouse. In the state penitentiaries, each warden is required to appoint "some suitable minister of the Gospel as chaplain" and all regular officiating ministers of the Gospel are authorized to visit the penitentiaries at pleasure. This privilege is, in fact, true of all public institutions of the state.

Marriage is regarded as a civil contract, and, outside of the usual degrees of consanguinity, is valid between a male of sixteen years and a female of fourteen years. It can be solemnized by any minister of the Gospel or civil magistrate. Previous to the solemnization, a licence must be obtained from the clerk of the district court of the county in which the marriage is to be performed. If the parties are minors the written consent of their parents or guardians is required. Divorces can be granted by the district court for any of the following causes: desertion, adultery, felony, habitual drunkenness, cruel and inhuman treatment. In no case can either of the parties divorced marry again within a year, unless specially permitted to do so by the decree. Any person of full age and of sound mind can make a valid testamentary disposition of all his property subject to the homestead and dower right of his wife and the payment of his debts. But no devise or bequest to any corporation organized for religious, charitable, or educational purposes or for any purpose of a similar character, is valid in excess of one-fourth of the testator's estate after payment of debts, in case a wife, child, or parent survive the testator. The will must be in writing, signed by the testator in presence of two witnesses, who must attest the same in writing, except that verbal wills of personal property to the value of three hundred dollars are valid. Associations for cemetery purposes may be incorporated under statutes provided for that purpose, and the land so occupied is exempt from tax, but throughout the state Catholic cemeteries, like all other church property, is held in the name of the bishop of the diocese.

For reasons, none of which had anything to do with religion, Catholics have generally allied themselves with the Democratic party which has for many years been the minority party in the state, and therefore few of them have attained political eminence. The following Catholic laymen have been prominent in the history of the state: George W. Jones, first delegate to Congress from Michigan Territory, introduced in Congress bills creating the Territory of Wisconsin and the Territory of Iowa, afterwards U.S. Senator from Iowa for twelve years, and Minister to Bogota; Patrick Quigley, pioneer benefactor of the Church; Charles Corkery, postmaster of Dubuque under President Buchanan, and prominent in colonization work; D.A. Mahony, founder and first editor of the Telegraph-Herald, and imprisoned in Fort Lafayette by order of Secretary Stanton; John S. Murphy, a brilliant editor of the same paper; William J. Knight, one of the leaders of the Bar of the state and counsel for two railways; M.J. Wade, Representative in Congress; M.D. O'Connell, Solicitor of the Treasury, Washington; Jerry B. Sullivan, Democratic candidate for Governor.

GUE, History of Iowa (New York, 1903); SALTER, Iowa (Chicago, 1905); DE CAILLY, Life of Bishop Loras (New York, 1897); Census of Iowa, 1905 (Des Moines); Statistical Abstract of U.S., 1908 (Washington); Census of Manufactures, 1905, Iowa Bulletin No. 32 (Washington, 1906); Climatological Service, Iowa Section, Report for December, 1908 (Washington); Crop Reporter, Department of Agriculture, December, 1908 (Washington); Biennial Report, Department of Public Instruction (Des Moines, 1909).