Historic Tour #3 – First and Court

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100 Court Avenue is now an office building but it was once the Kurtz Wholesale Warehouse.  Previously, it was a grocery warehouse and in the 19th century this was the site of the Dickerson Agricultural Implement Company (owned by William Dickerson, a Prussian immigrant).

Most of early Des Moines’ trade was with farmers.  Farmers traded their surplus harvest for items which they could not manufacture on their own farms, such as farm implements, buttons, and coal oil lamps to name a few.  Pioneer farmers were basically subsistence farmers, using oxen for power, and they were for the most part self-sufficient.  However, the growth of Des Moines from 1845 to 1880  parallels a revolution in agricultural technology.  The shift from ox power, subsistence farming, to horse-powered and the beginnings of commercial farming.  new horse-drawn machines enabled one farmer to complete more work in one day and gradually farm more land.  The Dickerson Agricultural Implement company is an example of an urban business which fostered this shift in technology.

Excerpt from:

Hunter, Dan.  Des Moines: Confluence of People and Resources.  1982:  Public Library of Des Moines.

One Response

  1. Very interesting about the shift from subsistence farming-GR

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