The fork of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers was recognized as an ideal site a military post as early 1834. Fort Des Moines was established in 1843, but was abandoned in 1846 following the treaty whereby the Sauk and Mesquakie Indians relinquished their rights to the surrounding lands. The sale of army property provided housing for white settlers who began to moved into the area at that time. Des Moines became a county eat in 146, and in 1857 the state capital was moved here from Iowa City. Iowa's present capitol building was constructed between 1870 and 1884. Another military post was created in 1901 for cavalry units. This 400 acres facility was later used as a training center for black officers during World War I, and as the first training camp for the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps during World War II.
The word "Fort" was dropped from the name of the town in 1857. Des Moines grew to have the largest population of any municipality in the state. It is noted as being the largest insurance center in the Midwest, home of several major publishing companies and the site of the Iowa State Fair, one of the largest agricultural expositions in the word. (over)
Several prominent persons have lived in Des Moines. John A. Kasson, U.S. Congressman, Assistant Postmaster General, and distinguished diplomat for many decades, first moved to Des Moines in 1857. Kasson was Minister to Austria-Hungary and also represented the U.S. at international congresses dealing with such topics as postal regulations, the Congo, Somoa, reciprocal tariffs, and boundary disputes.
Mary Jane Coggeshall, a pioneer in the women's suffrage movement, came to Des Moines in 1865. She served as editor of the Women's Standard, President of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association, and in 1895 was elected to the Board of the National Woman Suffrage Association.
Albert B. Cummins, a nationally known Progressive leader, served as Governor for 3 terms, as U.S. Senator for 3 terms and was President of the Senate after Coolidge's elevation to the Presidency in 1923. Edwin T. Meredith, head of the well known publishing firm, served as Secretary of Agriculture under Woodrow Wilson, was a candidate for Governor and U.S. Senator, and was appointed to numerous federal commissions and boards. (over)