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Des Moines (City), Iowa

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  • John A. Hull (1874 - 1944)
    Adley Hull (August 7, 1874 – April 17, 1944) was a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Army and an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.Hull was born in Bloomfield, Iowa to Civil Wa...
  • Anna Bertina Handeland (1868 - 1968)
    Find a Grave
  • Paul Gilbert Lagerquist (1909 - 1981)
    Name: Paul Gilbert Lagerquist Birth: Aug 20 1909 Hiron, Craford, Iowa Residence 1910: Otter Creek, Crawford, Iowa, United States Residence 1925: Des Moines (4th precinct of 6th ward-7th precinct of 6th...
  • Roy Lagerquist (b. - 1968)
    Name: Leroy Axel "Roy" Lagerquist Birth: Mar 29 1899 Missouri, United States Residence 1910: Otter Creek, Crawford, Iowa, United States Residence 1925: Des Moines (4th precinct of 6th ward-7th precinct...
  • Wilbur Lagerquist (1905 - 1941)
    Name: Wilbur Lagerquist Birth: Aug 12 1905 Chanute, Neosho County, Kansas, United States Residence 1910: Otter Creek, Crawford, Iowa, United States Residence 1925: Des Moines (4th precinct of 6th ward-...

Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa.

Not to be confused with Des Moines County.

Des Moines is the capital of Iowa and the county seat of Polk County and was originally named Fort Des Moines, which was shortened in 1857.

Official Website

Des Moines traces its origins to May 1843, when Captain James Allen supervised the construction of a fort on the site where the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers merge. Allen wanted to use the name Fort Raccoon; however, the U.S. War Department preferred Fort Des Moines. The fort was built to control the Sauk and Meskwaki Indians, whom the government had moved to the area from their traditional lands in eastern Iowa. The fort was abandoned in 1846 after the Sauk and Meskwaki were removed from the state and shifted to the Indian Territory.

The Sauk and Meskwaki did not fare well in Des Moines. The illegal whiskey trade, combined with the destruction of traditional lifeways, led to severe problems for their society. One newspaper reported:

"It is a fact that the location of Fort Des Moines among the Sac and Fox Indians (under its present commander) for the last two years, had corrupted them more and lowered them deeper in the scale of vice and degradation, than all their intercourse with the whites for the ten years previous".

After official removal, the Meskwaki continued to return to Des Moines until around 1857.

Archaeological excavations have shown that many fort-related features survived under what is now Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway and First Street. Soldiers stationed at Fort Des Moines opened the first coal mines in the area, mining coal from the riverbank for the fort's blacksmith.

In May 1851, much of the town was destroyed during the Flood of 1851. "The Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers rose to an unprecedented height, inundating the entire country east of the Des Moines River. Crops were utterly destroyed, houses and fences swept away."

In 1864, the Des Moines Coal Company was organized to begin the first systematic mining in the region. Its first mine, north of town on the river's west side, was exhausted by 1873. The Black Diamond mine, near the south end of the West Seventh Street Bridge, sank a 150-foot mine shaft to reach a 5-foot-thick coal bed. By 1876, this mine employed 150 men and shipped 20 carloads of coal per day. By 1885, numerous mine shafts were within the city limits, and mining began to spread into the surrounding countryside. By 1893, 23 mines were in the region. By 1908, Des Moines' coal resources were largely exhausted. In 1912, Des Moines still had eight locals of the United Mine Workers union, representing 1,410 miners. This was about 1.7% of the city's population in 1910.



Des Moines Art Center

Des Moines Public Library

Des Moines Historical Society

Fort Des Moines

USS Des Moines (CA-134)

Des Moines class cruiser

Iowa Culture Museum