First Inhabitants

First Inhabitants1
     Iowa was a battle ground for various Indian tribes. Only a few accounts of battles are on record.

     Sioux held the region in the north of Iowa.  The bands of Sioux found in Iowa included the Oto, Omaha, and Santee.  On the hills and in the valleys were the deer; on the prairies, the buffalo.  Buffalo wallows can still be found close to Ventura.  

     Trouble constantly occurred between the Sioux and the Indians south of them.  This compelled the government to interfere.  At an 1825 council of Indians at Prairie du Chien, a boundary was fixed.  The Sioux were to stay north and the Sacs and Foxes were to keep south of this line.  Regardless, war parties kept fighting until the U.S. secured ground forty miles wide from the Mississippi to Des Moines River termed Neutral Ground.  

     Ventura was within this strip of land where Indians of any tribe could hunt and fish with no charge of trespassing set against them.  In 1833, the Winnebagoes from Wisconsin were moved into the Neutral Ground by the government.  The Winnebagoes claimed to be the ancestors of the other Iowa Indians.  At first they resented living between other tribes.  However, after they were removed to Minnesota in 1846, they would persist at migrating back to the Iowa area they had learned to love.  There are accounts of the Indians camping and trading with people in the Ventura area on their journeys.  

     The Mesquakies, who lived on their settlement in Tama County, are Fox Indians and are now the only Native Americans in the state.  Their settlement is different from  a reservation in that they purchased the land from private parties and it was not owned by the government.  Mesquakies camped east of Ventura's City limits (Clark Road) on a hill north of the lake.  This was a favorite spot, especially in the summer.  They camped on the hill becasue the lake breezes kept the bugs away.

     The last conflict with the Sioux occurred in 1852.  The scene was the west bank of the east branch of the Des Moines River, some six miles north of Algona.  A band of Mesquakies had gone from Tama County to the Clear Lake /Ventura area.  The chief was Ko-ko-wa.  These Indians heard that a party of Sioux were encamped on the Des Moines River.  The temptation was too great and the Mesquakies donned their war paint, and headed out, trekkin through the Ventura area to fight the last battle with the Sioux.

     Ever eager for land, white settlers moved westward forcing the Indians to relocate further west.  By the early 1850's most Indians were removed from Iowa.

1 "Celebrate the Venture." Ventura Centennial. Ventura, IA. 1995.

Railroad History

Railroad History1
     The journey for pioneers was slow and difficult in the 1840's and 1850's before railroads were built all the way to Iowa. The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad was put through from Algona to Clear Lake and finished on August 3, 1877.  A Mr. Thayer was the first to build a siding to utilize the railway, later two box cars were placed by the tracks and sued as a depot by railroad officials.  

     Pioneers in the area drew up a petition asking the railway company to put a station at a convenient point.  If the railway could aquire a strip of land 200 ft wide and 2,000 feet long they would establish a station.  Edward Scherf, pioneer, donated land and gave the railway a deed to the right-of-way.

     Scherf conveyed real estate owned to Boehnke, however, since he no longer owned the strip of land he had deeded over to the railroad for right-of-way, he then had to make an exception for railroad right-of-way in any subsequent deed.

     Railway business was prosperous.  The first year the freight bill exceeded $20,000.  It was agreed to buid a station.  A very neat depot was built in 1897 and H.A. Dellahook became the first agent.  There used to be a lot of traffic on the railroad.  Two passenger trains each way, each day.  They went from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Chicago (through) Madison.  Cattle, some hogs, grain, sugar beets and mail were shipped.  There were mail clerks on each train. 

     Other agents included Joe Nemitz, Mr. Jones, E.A. Scheetz and Bernard Meyer.  The station was redecorated in 1955 and abandoned for passenger and freight service in 1959.

1 "Celebrate the Venture." Ventura Centennial. Ventura, IA. 1995.

Town Name

Town Name1
     Mr. Thayer was the first to cut baled hay and sold from the first railroad siding he built.  Thayer's Siding was the first identification or railroad siding name used for the town.  When the railroads came through, they passed through land obtained through land grants.  Some land grants were owned by families and the towns were named after these families.  This railroad siding - Thayer's Siding may have been so named.  The U.S. government gave the railroad land to build the railroads not in land grants.
     Wild hay was cut and baled to sell from what is now the marsh.  When asked what they wished to call the siding, as the story goes, the Skene Bros. said that being in the area was quite a 'venture'.  Thus the new choice for the town name was made. However, to identify the freight lading for the railway, the town name needed to be included.  In the process, the name Venture was changed to Ventura.  The name of the town that has "stuck" these many years is VENTURA.  The name change had taken place by 1890, as recorded on the railroad commissioner's map.
1 "Celebrate the Venture." Ventura Centennial. Ventura, IA. 1995.