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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 not completely clear, 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 the Native American word Moingona, Moingonan, Moingoun, Mohingona, or Moningounas, as shown on early maps.  

http://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2317&context=annals-of-iowa  

Contact the DMHS

Des Moines Historical Society

     P.O. Box 8038, Des Moines, IA  50301

EMAIL - info@desmoineshistoricalsociety.org  or complete the form to the right. Please ask for a reply and check the box if you want to be on the email list. 

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The success of the DMHS 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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Please go the 'WHAT'S HAPPENING' & 'PROJECTS' pages for further information.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF DES MOINES, IOWA IS FARTHER DOWN ON THIS PAGE.

NEWS - Upcoming Events - Projects - Activities

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​                DMHS Polo Shirts available for $22.00


  • Order items online below, OR pick up at:
    •  Ameriprise Financial Services
    •  2716 Grand Avenue   
    •  Des Moines, IA 50312
    •  From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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​​​Further information about Events and Projects are on the 'WHAT'S HAPPENING' & 'PROJECTS' pages.
Occasionally events are changed, please check this page for any modifications.  Thank you.  


UPCOMING PROGRAMS

THE NEXT EVENT ~~~ RIVERVIEW
The June 11th program is 6:30 p.m. at the Franklin Av. Library.
BILL KOOKER will talk and show a PowerPoint about RIVERVIEW
and the experiences of his family managing this iconic park.

​Other TENTATIVE Upcoming Programs and Events
(please check back later for verification)
Further Information is Available on the What's Happening - News, Events and Program Page 
(click on the list in the upper right corner)


~July 2nd, North Side Library - LEO LANDIS - History of DES MOINES BASEBALL and how it transformed the national game of baseball. 
August 10 - RANDA LeJEUNE HOUSE TOUR - a beautiful, unique Victorian home in Sherman Hill *
~ September 9 - DMHS booth at the CONCOURS DE'ELEGANCE - learn about 'Auto Row' and how the automobile has been a part of Des Moines since the invention of motorcars. 
~October TBA - NORM MANDLEBAUM
-speaks about the DES MOINES JEWISH COMMUNITY and how it has been a big part of the development of Des Moines - from the 1800's on
December 8, 1:00 - Iowa State Capitol - the author of a book regarding Governor Ray and the Refugees he brought to Iowa is speaking.
...

~~~   DURING 2018 the DMHS is REMEMBERING 100 YEARS AGO WHEN THE FIRST THREE AMERICANS WERE KILLED DURING WORLD WAR I, INCLUDING PRIVATES MERLE DAVID HAY OF GLIDDEN, IOWA , THOMAS P. ENRIGHT OF PITTSBURGH, PA AND CORPORAL JAMES B. GRESHAM OF EVANSVILLE, IN ON NOVEMBER 3, 1917.  Only 16 days later, the City Council of Des Moines renamed 58th Street as Merle Hay Road in honor of Pvt. Hay November 19, 1917 as Camp Dodge was becoming important to the war effort.   ~~~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

PLEASE JOIN WITH THE DMHS IN THESE IMPORTANT EFFORTS -

~~~ PROJECT 1843 to repair and enhance the Fort Des Moines II/Birthplace of Des Moines Cabin -  CHECK OUT THE GREAT NEWS ABOUT PROJECT 1843!  Further information is on the PROJECTS page.  (See the page list in the upper right corner.)

~~~ GEORGE MATTERN MONUMENT PROJECT - Further information is on the PROJECTS page. (See the page list in the upper right corner.)

​      ​Des Moines Historical Society of Des Moines, Iowa

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