​Des Moines
Historical Society

Give Local Des Moines - May 3, 2016 - we are joining more than 100 communities across the country to raise millions of dollars for our individual communities.  See Events page for more details.



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May 14, 2016 - Quarterly Meeting and St. Johns Lutheran Church Tour


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​​Iowa Architectural Foundation 2016 Lectures
​Thursday, April 28th– 6:30 Pm – Des Moines Art Center
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NEWS - Upcoming Events - Projects - Activities

EARLY HISTORY OF THE DES MOINES RIVER - TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 6:30 p.m.
            by John Wenck, the Water Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
When:  Tuesday, August 22 at 6:30 PM
Where: The Ding Darling Shelter House Park
            2100 Saylor Road, Des Moines, Iowa - on Birdland Lagoon, just below Union Park

August 22, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. the Des Moines Historical Society is fortunate to host a lecture by John Wenck, the Water Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. This event will be held at the Ding Darling Shelter House.

Mr. Wenck will talk about Tacitus Hussey, a pioneer and writer who lived from 1832 to 1919. Hussey was a "riverman" and wrote volumes on the history of the river; what it was like and how it was useful in the Victorian Era and many river happenings.
This will be a very entertaining lecture with a valuable power point including many unique photographs.


THIS IS A MEMBERS ONLY EVENT, but you may join in advance online or at the door. See you then!
 


PROJECT 1843- See further information on the Events page.  To make a contribution go to the 'Donate' button below.  If donations are made in multiples of $18.43 ($18.43, $36.86, $55.29, etc.) we will know the donation is for PROJECT 1843.  Please send an email if a different amount is given.  THANK YOU!


GEORGE MATTERN MONUMENT PROJECT- See further information on the Events page. To make a contribution go to the 'Donate' button below.  If donations are made in multiples of $5.40 ($5.40, $10.80, $16.20, $21.60, $27.00, etc.) we will know the donation is for the George Mattern Monument.  Please send an email if a different amount is given.  THANK YOU!    

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Des Moines History - 

The modern history of Des Moines can be traced to 1834, when John Dougherty, an Indian Agent at Fort Leavenworth, Ks, recommended a military post be established at the point where the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers merge. Nine years later, May 1843, Captain James Allen and a company of dragoons from Fort Sanford (east of the city of Ottumwa) arrived on the site. Captain Allen proposed to name the garrison Fort Raccoon but was directed by the War Department to use the name Fort Des Moines. (and the residents of Des Moines are glad the War Department prevailed) 

The origin of the name 'Des Moines' is uncertain, but most historians agree the name initially referred to the river. Some people feel 'Des Moines' is derived from the Indian word 'moingona,' the meaning of which is unknown; but it has been applied to natives of the area. In the French language des moines literally translates to "of the monks," so others believe the name applies to the Trappist Monks (Moines de la Trappe) who lived in huts at the mouth of the Des Moines river. Early French voyagers in the 1700's referred to the river on maps as La Riviere des Moines. Another theory is that Des Moines was corrupted from the French de moyen ("middle") because of its location between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.  The consensus seems to be that Des Moines is a variation of Moingona, Moingonan, Moingoun, Mohingona, or Moningounas, as shown on early maps.  

​ Get your Des Moines Historical Society Polos Now!!!

​              DMHS Polo Shirts available for $22.00


  • Order items through Paypal below, they may also be picked up at:
  •  Ameriprise Financial Services
  •  2716 Grand Avenue   
  •  Des Moines, IA 50312
  •  From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  •  *Make checks payable to Des Moines Historical Society...
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Contact the DMHS

Des Moines Historical Society

     P.O. Box 8038

     Des Moines, IA  50301

EMAIL -
     info@desmoineshistoricalsociety.org

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Our success depends on the generosity of those who share the belief that Des Moines history should be preserved. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, 

your contribution may be  tax deductible. 

The DMHS is a growing organization with many special tours, events and programs throughout the year. Join today!

The Des Moines (Iowa) Historical Society is a 501c3 organization with the mission to promote the preservation and study of the history and heritage of Des Moines, Iowa. 

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