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02 March 2012

Iowa March 1931 - Stories from the Palimpsest

Many, many years ago when I started researching my family history, I thought for sure that all my answers could be found in historical documents that were available.  So I bought all the old Iowa Palimpsest magazines I could find from the State Historical Society of Iowa.  Alas, my Irish relatives were never the subject of one of their stories!  But, maybe YOUR relative is mentioned.  I am going to try and make a real effort to get these published (since I hope I am under the correct impression that the ones I have are out of copyright).

Today's summary will be about the March 1931 Palimpsest (and, if you, like me, did not know what "Palimpsest" meant, here is the definition from the inside cover of this publication:

 "The Meaning of Palimpsests:  In early times palimpsests were parchments or other materials from which one or more writings had been erased to give room for later records.  But the erasures were not always complete; and so it became the fascinating task of scholars not only to translate the later records but also to reconstruct the original writings by deciphering the dim fragments of letters partly erased and partly covered by subsequent texts. 


The history of Iowa may be likened to a palimpsest which holds the records of successive generations.  To decipher these records of the past, reconstruct them, and tell the stories which they contain is the task of those who write history."

This issue is devoted to a book review of  "Ioway to Iowa:  The Genesis of a Corn and Bible Commonwealth" by Irving B. Richman.  [google books page, or it can be found on Ancestry's site as well).  
Cover Page March 1931 Palimpsest Published by the State Historical Society of Iowa.




There is much discussion of American Indian tribes:  The Fox, the Ioway, the Sauk.

The Contents (which in this issue are all from the book) are:

  • Ioway to Iowa
  • The Rising Sun
  • Iowaland
  • The Red Barrier
  • The Star of Empire
  • The White Tide
  • The Prairie
  • Epic of the Towns
  • Corn
  • The Bible



The Palimpsest also quotes this beautiful prose from the book about a prairie fire:
Prairie Fire



"Infernal geyers gushed and sudden streams
Of rainbow flux went roaring up the skies

There broke a scarlet hurricane of light
Inverted seas of color rolled and broke

The valley was a flood with elk and deer
And buffalo and wolves and antelope

They heard the burning breakers boom and beat
Their gaping mouths pressed hard against the clay
They fought for very breath"









Why did white men come to Ioway/Iowa before the 1840's?
"The White Tide" - the influx of white people to Iowa prior to 1840
Long before the movie "Field of Dreams" labeled Iowa as heaven, this book makes reference to Iowa as a "Western Paradise":
"Between 1837 and 1840-1841 the onset grew.  Public prints now proclaimed the white tide a 'torrent', said John Plumbe of Dubuque in 1839, quoting a Burlington correspondent, 'the unparalleled rapidity with which the torrent of immigration has since [June 1, 1833] poured into this Western Paradise, may be inferred from the official returns of the census taken in May, 1838, according to which...the population has increased, within less than five years from nothing, to 22,859.' "


Which begs the question....an Iowa census taken in 1838?  

And now.....a giveaway (of sorts).  I really need to downsize my books.
So.....if you would like the original of this Palimpsest, be the first to post a comment AND send me an email at midwestancestree at gmail dot com (so I can contact you for a mailing address)  and all I ask is that you send back a couple bucks to cover the cost.
Deal?