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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release July 2, 2009

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

History for Lunch: The Meskwaki, American Fur Company and Iowa City

Lecture series features UI Professor Laura Rigal July 15

(IOWA CITY) – The State Historical Society of Iowa’s popular “History for Lunch” lecture series continues this month with University of Iowa Professor Laura Rigal, who will discuss the factors that influenced how and why Iowa City was founded in Johnson County along the Iowa River.

History for Lunch will be at noon, Wednesday, July 15, 2009, at SHSI’s Centennial Building, 402 Iowa Avenue (Iowa and Gilbert streets) in Iowa City. The lecture is free and the public is encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch. Call 319-335-3911 for more information.

Rigal’s presentation, “Watershed Days on the Iowa River: The Meskwaki, The American Fur Company, and the Founding of Iowa City,” will explore how the Meskwaki, international fur traders and watershed ecology influenced the founding of Iowa City.

After Black Hawk’s defeat in 1832, most of the Meskwaki living in Iowa withdrew along the Iowa River into Johnson County, where the river crossed the northwest boundary of Keokuk’s Reserve.

John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company quickly sent fur traders after the Meskwaki and, by 1836, two trading posts stood on the river between Snyder and Ralston creeks. One of the traders, a part-time land speculator named John Gilbert, invited a few settlers to visit his post. Their families soon followed.

Laura Rigal is an Associate Professor, American Studies and English, and a Member of the Sustainability Curriculum Committee, at the University of Iowa.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state.


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