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Your Link to the Past

Your Link to the Past

First Schools in Sioux City

Arrival_of_Wilkens_-_SC04.version_2When the little town of Sioux City was just a few years old, its citizens became eager to open a school.  A board of education was formed, but funds were not available right away.  Then, a group of businessmen agreed to fund a school session of six months, and Miss Mary Wilkins was hired as the teacher of this first school.  Her salary was fifty dollars a month, which was a generous amount for a teacher at that time.

Mary Wilkins arrived in Sioux City on the first steamer of the season, the Omaha, on April 26, 1857.  Her schoolhouse, the first in Sioux City, was located on a sloping lot on the east side of Nebraska Street, between Seventh and Eighth Streets.  The unpainted wooden building had three brick pillars, six wooden steps and a school bell.  Inside, it was fitted with long wooden benches.  Long tables were placed against the walls for writing.  The schoolhouse was used for many community activities including lectures, music and church services.  

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Woodbury County Courthouses


Woodbury County was officially organized with an act of the Iowa legislature in 1853.  The area was originally named Wahkaw, but when the county was officially organized, it was named after a Supreme Court justice, Levi Woodbury. From New Hampshire, Woodbury served on the Supreme Court for five years until his death in 1851.

William Thompson’s little log house at Floyd’s Bluff was selected as the first county seat of Woodbury County in 1853. The little town of Sioux City became the county seat in the spring of 1856.

For the first twenty years, Woodbury County’s government did not have a permanent building.  The courthouse offices were scattered in other buildings around town, often in homes.




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Grandview Park & the Band Shell

In 1906, an independent park commission headed by Edwin C. Peters purchased thirty acres of pastureland on the city's north side. Peters later recalled, "When the commission was appointed, there was no park sentiment in Sioux City - After a prolonged fight, we got a 2 mill levy for park purposes, and that levy raised $16,000." The commission decided that the north side of town, since it had no park, would be the park commission's first undertaking.

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City Halls of Sioux City


Sioux City’s first City Hall was actually as a library. Built in 1891 by the Library Building Association for $122,000, it stood on the northwest corner of Sixth and Douglas.  The library occupied the first floor and city offices were located on the upper floors.  On March 8, 1913, the library moved to a new facility at Sixth and Jackson, and the building became the official City Hall.

City offices remained in that building for more that fifty years until a fire damaged the structure in 1944.  After the fire, city offices moved to the Insurance Exchange Building, and officials looked for a suitable location for a new city hall.

At the same time, the old federal building and post office was scheduled to be torn down. Federal offices and the post office moved to a brand new building diagonally across the street and the old structure stood empty.  The government sold it to the city for $30,000, less than the value of the land.  City officials planned to tear it down to make room for possible future construction.  However, the outbreak of WW II delayed those plans.

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War Eagle

wareagle1Wambdi Okicize is commonly known as War Eagle. He was born in either Wisconsin or Minnesota around 1785. While his Indian name means "Little Eagle," whites always referred to him as War Eagle, which is odd because all through his life War Eagle sought to keep peace. He even left his home tribe the Isanti (sometimes referred to as Santee) to avoid a battle as to who was to become chief.


War Eagle served as a riverboat guide or pilot on the upper Mississippi, he worked for the American Fur Company delivering messages, and during the War of 1812 he carried messages for the government. Having spent all this time with the whites greatly affected his view toward these people. He saw them as friends rather than enemies.

After marrying Mazakirawin in Minnesota, he was adopted into the Ihanktonwan or Yankton Sioux around 1830. War Eagle and his wife had seven children, four girls and three boys.


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