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Historic Tour #7 – 3rd and Walnut

The following is a sampling of businesses that occupied the west side of 3rd between Walnut and Court in early Des Moines.

Amends image

Amends Meat Market was here.

From The Midwestern, vol I, no. 6, p. 25.

  • Phineas Casady’s Des Moines Savings Bank was  here, also.  It was founded in 1875 by P.M. and Simon Casady and C.H. and E.S. Gatch as Des Moines Bank.  It merged with Union Savings Bank in 1884 and the name was changed to Des Moines Savings Bank.
  • Benjamin Saylor had both his office and a residence here.  He was one of two first commissioners elected when Polk County was organized in 1846.

Additional fact: A fire took down a quarter square block edged by 3rd and Walnut on July 4, 1871, destroying several businesses.  The fire was later proved to be arson.

image of 1871 fire

Unknown source. Taken from historical tour.


Brigham, Johnson. Des Moines: The Pioneer of Municipal Progress and Reform of the Middle West Together with the History of Polk County, Iowa. . . vol. 1.  Chicago:  S.J. Clarke, 1911

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

Content also from the Des Moines Architectural and Historical Tour.

Historical Reminiscences of the City of Des Moines, 1857

Newly digitized!

Historical Reminiscences of the City of Des Moines, Together with a Full Description of the City and the County, H. B. Turrill, 1857.

Update: Well, it looks like Archive.org is either having problems or changing their format. Here is a link directly to the “Read Online” version of Historical Reminiscences.


Hoyt Sherman

Annals of Polk County, Iowa and City of Des Moines, 1898.

 Major Hoyt Sherman was born in Ohio in 1827, the youngest of 11 children.  His father was a an Ohio Supreme Court judge, his brother John became the U.S. Secretary of Treasury and Secretary of State, and his brother  William Tecumseh Sherman, a famous Civil War General.

Hoyt Sherman came to Iowa in 1848 and joined the Bar the following year.  In 1850, he was appointed Postmaster and served as such until he resigned and was elected clerk of the the District Court in 1853.  

On Christmas day, 1855, Sherman married Sara Moulton, an Ohio native.   They had five children.

Throughout his life, Sherman contributed to the development of Des Moines.  He served as an organizer of the Des Moines Coal Company, the Des Moines Water Company, Equitable Life Insurance Company, and served on the Board of Directors for the Iowa and Minnesota Railroad, as well as the Narrow Guage railroad.  He was also a pioneer member of many organizations and societies.

In 1850, Sherman purchased land at auction that would eventually be the setting for Hoyt Sherman Place:

On the day fixed, he was there and was offered five dollars to act as clerk of the sale, which he accepted.  When the tract he wanted was offered, it soon developed that others wanted it.  Bids ran up to the limit of his pile and halted for a time, when he added the five dollars–his day’s compensation–and got.  —  Pioneers of Polk County, vol. I, 1908

Sherman house prior to the building of Hoyt Sherman Place, A.T. Andreas' Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa, 1875.

Construction of Hoyt Sherman Place was finished in 1877.  Prior to then, the Shermans lived on the southwest corner of 6th and Locust.  Today Hoyt Sherman Place serves as home to the Des Moines Women’s Club and provides events space for authors, dancers, musicians, and other performers. 

His name has also been lent to the historic Sherman Hill Neighborhood, an historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tom and Jerry, not the cartoon characters

Meet some of the interesting characters that lived at Grandview Park in the early 1900’s: Tom and Jerry (Bob Cats) and Playful Punch, one of the Grandview Bears.

Tom and Jerry (bob cats)

Board of Park Commissioners Annual Report - 1905

Playful Punch - one of the Grandview bears

Board of Park Commissioners Annual Report - 1908

Pioneers of Polk County

Pioneers of Polk County is a compilation of Sketches of Pioneers of PolkCounty, Iowa, and Reminiscences of Early Days, printed in the Sunday Register and Leader during the years 1904-5-6, that they may be more tangible and accessible to those who desire to preserve them. —from the Introduction of Pioneers of Polk County

This piece contains images and biographical information of Polk County pioneers.  It can be viewed online at a fabulous repository called archive.org.  Here,  you can view it in an online reader or choose to download in one of many formats.  All file formats can be found on the left hand side of the screen.

The print version is available for viewing at the Central, East, and North locations.

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David Rumsey Collection

Old original books and images are wonderful, but digital versions have many advantages.  You can print on demand, save, export, share, zoom, etc.  The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection allows you to do this with the 1875 Illustrated Historical Atlas of Iowa, published by Andreas Atlas Company. 

Print copies are available for viewing at the Des Moines Public Library locations (dependent upon condition).   Pages focusing on Polk County can be viewed here.

David Rumsey donated his collection to Stanford University earlier this year, but maps will continue to be added.

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