Little Known Iowa Fun Facts
Here is a little something for all the Iowa folks.
Jesse James and his gang robbed their first train near here on July 21, 1873. They killed the engineer.
Nile Kinnick, famous Iowa football player and war hero was born here.
Sports star and evangelist, Billy Sunday was born here in 1862.
Mamie Dowd Eisenhower was born here in 1896 at 709 Carroll.
Indian Chief Black Hawk died in 1832 and was buried on James Jordan's farm near Iowaville. On July 3, 1839, James Turner, a local dentist, stole the corpse, fled to Quincy, Illinois, cooked off the flesh in a hog-scalding kettle, and prepared to exhibit the skeleton. The Iowa governor insisted on its return, then gave the skeleton to a physician friend, who kept it here in his Burlington office. A fire destroyed both office and bones in 1855.
Actor William Frawley was born here in 1887. He is better known as Fred Mertz on the "I Love Lucy" show.
CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA
An explosion in a food plant here on May 22, 1919, killed 44 people.
The Quaker Oats plant on 3rd Street was the largest cereal plant in the world in 1950.
Glenn Miller was born here on March 1, 1904 at 601 So.16th. His family moved to Nebraska in 1909.
CLEAR LAKE, IOWA
Rock Star Buddy Holly made his last appearance here at the Surf Ballroom on February 2, 1959. He was killed in a plane crash the next day.
Johnny Carson was born here in 1925.
Jesse and Frank James, and Cole Younger, robbed the bank here of $10,000 on June 3, 1871.
COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA
Amelia Jenks Bloomer is buried here in the Fairview Cemetery at the end of Lafayette St. A pioneer in women's rights, and an advocate of dress reforms, one of which the public dubbed "bloomers" after her. She died here on December 30, 1894.
Also buried here in Fairview is Anna B. Dodge. Her monument, the bronze "Angel of Death," was erected on her grave by her daughters in 1918. The inspiration for the monument came from a constantly recurring dream about which Mrs. Dodge told her children before her death. American sculptor, Daniel Chester French executed the monument, which he considered his masterpiece.
In 1864, Jesse and Frank James robbed a train near here. On a curving stretch of the Rock Island line's tracks, the gang pulled a rail out of the tracks. Just as a train approached, the engineer, John Rafferty, spotted the sabotage and tried to stop, but the engine and coaches toppled off the tracks. Rafferty was crushed to death and a dozen passengers were injured.
Virgil Earp was a stage coach driver here after the Civil War.
Musician Bix Beiderbecke was born and raised here at 1934 Grand Ave. He is buried in Oakdale Cemetery at 25th and Eastern.
Kate "Big Nose" Elder's parents, Michael and Katherine Harony died here in Davenport. Katherine died in 1865. Big Nose Kate was the girl friend of the infamous Doc Holliday.
Actress Donna Reed was born here in 1921. She starred in the films, "It's a Wonderful Life," and "From Here to Eternity."
DES MOINES, IOWA
Harriet Nelson, wife of Ozzie was born here in 1914.
Bonnie and Clyde had a gunfight here with police on July 19, 1933.
Actor Don Ameche is buried here in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery (Formerly St. Philomina's) on Asbury Rd. He starred in the film "Cocoon"
The movie "Field of Dreams" was filmed here in a cornfield 3.3 miles outside town.
Four-year-old John Wayne and his family lived here in 1910, at 320 Ohio St. near the depot.
When Wyatt Earp's second wife, Mattie Blaylock died in Arizona, her effects were sent here to her mother Mrs. Sarah Blaylock. Mattie was with Wyatt during the shootout at the O.K. Corral.
FORT DODGE, IOWA
Actress Lily Damita (Loomis) and former wife of Errol Flynn is buried here in Oakland Cemetery on 15th Street.
In 1907, the city council passed a law requiring everyone between the age of 25 and 45 to get married - or else.
Dick Van Dyke made the movie "Cold Turkey" here. The whole town quit smoking for 30 days during that time.
GREEN MOUNTAIN, IOWA
A train wreck here on March 21, 1910, killed 55 people.
George Gallup of Gallup Poll fame was born here in 1901.
Mark Twain worked here in a print ship when a young man. He gave his first after-dinner speech at the Hawkeye Hotel at 2nd and Main.
Six-year-old John Wayne lived here with his father in 1912, at 11 So. Ninth St.
Virgil Earp married Ellen Rysdam here on September 21, 1861. The names on the marriage license were Walter Earp and Eleanor Donahoo.
"Buffalo Bill" Cody was born here and grew up here, two miles outside town on Route 61.
Gunfighter Ben Cravens was born here in 1868 on his father's farm. While still in his teens he ran away to the Indian country where in a few years he became a train robber, horse thief, whiskey runner, and killer.
Labor leader John L. Lewis was born here in 1880.
MASON CITY, IOWA
John Dillinger and "Baby Face" Nelson robbed the First National Bank here of $50,000 on March 13, 1934.
Rock stars Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the "Big Bopper," were killed in a plane crash four to five miles northwest of the runway of the Mason City airport, on February 3, 1959. The plane crashed five minutes after takeoff on Albert Juhl's farm near the Reeve Eldridge farm. The death plane was buried secretly in the wilderness by Jerry Dwyer.
Composer Meredith Willson was born here in 1902. He wrote the music for "The Music Man," and the Iowa University fight song. Mason City is immortalized as the fictional 1912 town of River City in he film "The Music man."
On a dark and stormy night on July 6, 1881, fourteen-year-old Kate Shelley, who lived with her family near the bridge across Honey Creek, lay awake listening to the storm. Just after midnight, she heard a tremendous crash: the bridge had given way and a locomotive had plunged into the torrent below. Shelley knew immediately what she had to do - get to the railroad station and stop the approaching passenger express.
She headed out into the storm. By the time she reached a nearby bridge over the flooded Des Moines River, her lamp had gone out. In pitch darkness, crawling on her hands and knees, she inched across the 673-foot span, terrorized with fear. Finally she made it to the far side and ran the last half mile to the station in time for the agent to telegraph ahead and stop the train. Shelley was rewarded with nation-wide attention, as well as a gold medal and $200. In later years Shelley was given the job of station agent at Moingona.
Mark Twain lived here with his mother at 109 Walnut in 1853.
Boxing champ Rocky Marciano was killed in a plane crash near here on August 31, 1969.
Elmer and Fred Maytag, founders of the Maytag Washing Machine Co. are buried here in the Newton Union Cemetery at 1600 W. 4th St. N.
Sports star and evangelist, Billy Sunday went to high school here in the late 1870s.
Wyatt and Virgil Earp grew up here at 507 Franklin Street. They lived here from 1850 to 1865. Morgan Earp was born here on April 4, 1851. Their father Nicholas was the Provost Marshall here in 1865.
Martha Earp, sister of Wyatt is buried here in Pella. She died in 1861. Another younger sister is also buried here.
Pella was once called the cleanest city in Iowa.
The Jesse James gang robbed the Sexton bank here of $5,000 on July 10, 1881.
Actress Sarah Bernhart was born here in 1845. Her mother, Mrs. King, is buried in the Rochester Cemetery.
Horticulturist Henderson Lewelling discovered the Bing Cherry here. He lived on West Main St.
SIOUX CITY, IOWA
In 1922, James Capone, brother of Al, was a special officer for the U.S. Indian service here when he was arrested for the murder of an Indian brave. He was acquitted but the relatives of the victim waylaid him and knocked out one of his eyes.
The tallest tombstone in the west is located here. It belongs to Sergeant Charles Floyd. He died of a perforated appendix on August 20, 1804 while with the Lewis and Clark expedition.
The grave of Chief War Eagle is located here in War Eagle Park.
Mrs. Winans, a survivor of the Fort Dearborn Massacre in Chicago in 1812, is buried here in Springville Cemetery on Dubuque Rd.
Actress Virginia Christine was born here in 1920. She was best known for her role as Folger Coffee's Mrs. Olsen. Stanton once converted its water tower to look like a coffee pot in her honor.
VAN METER, IOWA
Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller was born (1918) and raised here.
John Wayne Gacy had a long record of sexual abuse, sodomy and other acts of perversion. In 1968, at age 26 while married and operating a fast food store here, he lured a youth into a back room, handcuffed him and attempted to sodomize him. Gacy was arrested and sentenced to te years in prison, but because his past indicated no serious crime and because he proved to be a model prisoner, he was released in 18 months. He then moved to Chicago where he was arrested several years later for killing over 20 young boys.
Tommy Carroll, a member of the John Dillinger gang, was shot and killed here by police on June 7, 1934.
WEST BRANCH, IOWA
President Herbert Hoover was born and raised here. His home was on the west side of Downey St. He is buried here at the Hoover National Historic site.
John Wayne was born here in 1907 at 216 S. Second St..
Winterset is the county seat of Madison County. The county is famous for its bridges.
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