ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

History of American Towns:Muscatine, Iowa, named for Mascouten American Indian Tribe, City known for pearl buttons

Updated on December 27, 2014
Source

Muscatine, Iowa was most likely named for the Mascouten American Indian tribe of Algonquian speaking Indians. Like many frontier towns Muscatine was started when a trading post was established. In this case representatives of Colonel George Davenport, whom the City of Davenport is named, in the year 1833 and incorporated as Bloomington in 1839, started the post. However, Bloomington was a pretty common name for cities and there were a number of them already in the Midwest. It was thought that there would be less confusion in delivering mail if the name were changed. Wikipedia cites “Casey’s Woodpile” as another name by which Muscatine had been known.

Other natives and the French according to belief drove the Mascoutin tribe from Michigan about 1642. In the 18th Century they may have been absorbed into the Fox and Sac tribes. Another possibility is that the name might have derived from a term in the Siouan language meaning “island of fire,” according to Wikipedia. It referred to an area south of town covered by a slough. When the sun set the slough reflected colors that made it look like fire.

Source

Muscatine is known for freshwater pearls, an experimental farm operated by Iowa State University, and for its vegetables and melons. So Muscatine is both the “Pearl Button Capital of the World” although China now dominates the market and the “Watermelon Capital of the world.”

The pearl button industry was a major industry in the early years. It was in the year 1884 that J. F. Boepple, who emigrated from Germany, founded the pearl button industry. The buttons were made from certain kinds of clam shells, from the Mississippi River.

When the pearl buttons were a significant factor in Muscatine's economy they adopted the slogan "Pearl of the Mississippi."

In 1915 Weber & Sons button Company, Inc. was the worlds largest producer of fancy freshwater pearl buttons. After that the city became known as "The Pearl Button Capital of the World."Weber is still manufacturing today but largely plastic buttons."The button industry started to decline in the mid-20th Century for a number of reasons, such as the popularity of other fasteners.


Muscatine is situated between Iowa City, Iowa and the Iowa-Illinois Quad Cities, which include Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River as well as Moline and Rock Island, Illinois on the other side of the river. Commuters living in Muscatine work in several other cities. It can be a fast commute on Interstate 80 or a pleasant leisurely drive on the river road. I lived in Moline and often went to Iowa City. Since I prefer the scenic roads to the Interstates I often went through Muscatine along the scenic river road on the Iowa side.

In 1855 Mark Twain lived in Muscatine for a short time and worked for the Muscatine Journal a paper his brother Orion owned a part of. There is now a “Mark Twain Scenic Overlook” in the town.

Muscatine is home to another writer, a mystery writer, by the name of Max Allan Collins. This interested me because he had a series of mystery novels set in the area of the Quad Cities and Iowa City. The river road that I often drove was the location where fictional gangsters buried fictional corpses. Does wonders for ones imagination.

A bridge connects Muscatine to the Illinois side of the river. It was a toll bridge for many years but some time ago they stopped collecting tolls. The city is on a series of bluffs and hills and according to Wikipedia it is at a major bend in the Mississippi River.Ten miles east along the river you will find Wildcat Den State Park.


It is interesting that Muscatine, between the 1840s and the Civil War, had the largest black community in Iowa. Fugitive slaves came from the south and there were free blacks from the East. Prominent community leader Alexander Clark Sr. was one of the founders of the locale AME Church, helped fugitive slaves and petitioned the state to overturn racist laws before the war,. He also helped organized a black regiment –the 60th United States Colored Infantry, according to Wikipedia


Sources are the City of Muscatine home page and Wikipedia articles on Muscatine and Freshwater Pearls.


A
Muscatine, Iowa:
Muscatine, IA, USA

get directions

© 2012 Don A. Hoglund

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      rs. Plyer, thanks for reading the article and leaving a comment.I'm glad you liked it.

    • profile image

      Ms.Plyer 

      6 years ago

      Very interesting read! My father grew up around there & some family owned & operated Mississippi Valley Shell Co for many years, I still have a ring that my parents had made for me of a teardrop pearl that they found while working for said company. Thanks for sharing the history (:

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I used to live in St. Paul and enjoyed it when I found it was originally named Pigs Eye.I wrote about it in a hub.I put a link to it below the map if you care to know more about it.Thanks for your comment.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      6 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I enjoyed learning about Muscatine. One of the most interesting place names I've heard about is Pig's Eye, Minnesota, the original name of St. Paul.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Dexter,I'm glad you are back.Thanks for the comment and the votes. I found Muscatine to be a pleasant stop off place from Iowa city. I lived in Moline and went to Iowa City to go to the dental school for some discounted dental work.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      6 years ago from United States

      Hi Dahoglund! I have been away for awhile but I am back - and looking forward to reading your hubs again.

      Being from the Midwest, I have had occasion to visit Muscatine. I believe it is in an idyllic location in that Illinois - Iowa area.

      I knew about the pearl buttons but not about the black community there. Fascinating hub with a great deal of history! Voted up, up and away!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks Sophia. Like you say there are those who are fans of pearl buttons.

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 

      6 years ago

      Hi Daho. Great. Now add an Amazon link to pearl buttons!! :) I love pearl buttons. I'm sure others do to. :)

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      You are most likely right,Sophia. I'll see what I can do with it. Thanks for the comment and advice.

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 

      6 years ago

      “Pearl Button Capital of the World." Now there's an interesting phrase, Daho. I would love to hear more about that aspect. I think you'd find that it might generate some traffic as well if you used the keyword 'pearl button.' I would be fascinated to hear more...

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Peggy, I was under the impression the industry was still going to some extent. However it seems that foreign buttons and plastic ones have taken over the market.Apparently, plastic buttons are superior buttons.So far I have not found anything stating there is still manufacturing so there probably are no buttons being made there anymore.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Are people still employed today making buttons from those fresh water pearls in Muscatine?

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy,

      I must have pasted in the same copy twice. Thanks for pointing it out. Muscatine is noted for freshwater pearls In mentioning pearls most people would think of those that come from salt water. Thanks for commenting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Don,

      Very interesting history regarding Muscatine. Never knew about it being the pearl capitol of the world but had heard about its melons. By the way, your first 2 paragraphs are written twice. At least that is the way it is reading from here. Might want to check it on your end. Muscatine, Iowa is west of where some of my relatives live in Bettendorf. Enjoyed learning about it from you. Thanks!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Angel. Thanks for commenting. I was born in Des Moines but my family moved to Minneapolis when I was six.Iowa suffers from being between Minnesota and Illinois, both of which make fun of Iowa.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Enjoyed this Hub immensely, Dahoglund as I'm familiar with the area having lived in Iowa as a child -- DesMoines. I did not, however, have any idea of the history of Muscatine until your Hub. Thanks muchly. Voted UP! Best, Sis

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)