I’m of the opinion that the state of Iowa represents the transition of the western frontier of the post colonial United States into the post Civil War midwest. Just looking over a list of Iowa place names, a person gets the feeling for the earliest times of Iowa history.
You may have heard of Dubuque, Iowa, named after French-Canadian entrepreneur Julien Dubuque. His lead mines were part of the attempts to consolidate Spanish colonial protection and to create a bulwark against British and American interests in the Upper Mississippi Valley.
There’s Sac City, named after the Sac or Sauk indian tribes. And Winnebago County honors the Winnebago tribes. Sioux City is named after the Lakota Sioux nation.
Iowa City, and, of course, the state of Iowa were named after the Ioway indian people. The Ioways profited from the antagonism between the British and Americans between the 1760s to the 1830s and the challenges to the French and Indian alliances through the region. The Ioways were pivotal during the French and Indian War, The American Revolution, and the War of 1812. During this period of transition, the Ioway village on the Des Moines River controlled much of the horse and fur trading with Euro-Americans and native Americans over the Upper Mississippi region.
The Southeast Iowa town of Fort Madison is the namesake of the U.S. Army outpost established in that area in 1809. The fort suffered numerous attacks by the Sauk and Winnebago nations who were allied with the British during the War of 1812. The outpost was levelled by fire and abandoned in 1813.
Black Hawk County and Black Hawk Lake honor the Black Hawk Purchase Treaty of 1833. This opened the legal non-native settlement of Iowa Territory. The influx of settlers pushed the Indians west, into Nebraska Territory. In 1839, the territorial capitol was founded at Iowa City.
Statehood was achieved as Iowa was admitted to the union as the 29th state on December 28, 1846. Development of the land and the growth of towns and cities were scattered throughout the entire state so the capitol was moved from Iowa City, to Des Moines in order to have the governmental headquarters near the center of the state.
The stereotypical midwest American farms sprouted up after the Civil War. Wheat was the primary crop in the early days, but later, most farmland became dedicated to corn, soybeans, hogs, and cattle. Aside from being just another “flyover” state, Iowa remains a center for commerce and agriculture in the Midwest United States.
The Blue Jay of Happiness notes that Iowa is most famous for its corn. The state is the largest producer of it in the U.S. They annually harvest more than 2,000,000,000 bushels.