As a NEH participant in the URR workshop, I want to recognize John Brown’s link to Iowa by pointing out that Brown, on his way east to prepare for Harper’s Ferry, stopped among the Quaker community in Iowa near Springdale. A couple of Quakers from that community, “abandoning their pacifist principals to fight with Brown,” to paraphrase one source, accompanied him and helped to execute the violence at Harper’s Ferry.
Springdale is within eyesight today of Interstate 80, about 55 miles west of the I-80 bridge over the Mississippi River. That Quaker community was the same later to influence the upbringing of Herbert Hoover, born in West Branch, about 6 miles to the west of Springdale. Herbert Hoover Historic Site explains some of Hoover’s Quaker influences, and the site features a meetinghouse from the area used by the Friends. The national park is easily accessible, a little more than a quarter mile from the exit ramp of the interstate, and features Hoover’s birth home, a presidential library, and gravesites.