Collection Dates: 1853 -- 1893
(Bulk Dates:1860s- 1880s)
1 linear ft.
This document describes a collection of materials held
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420
Posted to Internet: January 1998
Acquisition Note: This collection was donated to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1959, by the Redhead family.
and Restrictions: This
collection is open for research.
This collection is open for research.
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Wesley Redhead (1825 -- 1891) was born in England but immigrated to Canada when he was four years old. When his parents died in 1831, he was sent to Cincinnati to live with an uncle. There he was apprenticed to learn the printing business. However, his uncle decided to send him east to Vermont where he was to live with his older brother and learn cabinet making. Unhappy there, Redhead ran away to work at whatever jobs he could find. These jobs included working on canals, farms, riverboats, etc. In 1844, he landed in Iowa and stayed. In Iowa City, he apprenticed himself for three years to a tailor and in 1851 he opened his own tailor shop in Fort Des Moines. He remained in Des Moines for the rest of his life, becoming one of its most prominent pioneer citizens.
In 1853, Redhead was appointed postmaster. He combined this office with a book store. In 1855, he opened an Aetna Fire Insurance Company office and issued the first insurance policy in Des Moines. Redhead was later elected vice-president of the Equitable Life Insurance Company. In 1864, Wesley Redhead began investing in coal mining operations. His first was the Des Moines Coal Company, but he also was involved in the Black Diamond Coal Co. and the Pioneer Coal Co.
Although he was never a politician, Redhead was elected as a representative to the states 21st General Assembly in 1866. That same year he was elected to represent Des Moines township on the County Board of Supervisors.
of Redheads other investments included State Bank of Iowa (director
and stockholder), Des Moines Scale Co. (treasurer), and the State Printing
Company (vice-president). He also helped organize the Pioneer Hay Company
and the local Grange. In 1879, Wesley Redhead helped secure the State Fair
permanently in Des Moines and donated some of the land for the fairgrounds.
Scope and Content
The papers of Wesley Redhead consist of two boxes of manuscripts (one linear foot) dating from 1852 -- 1893, relating to his career as a pioneer businessman. Comprised of correspondence, diaries, account books, and tax receipts, these papers document his activities in early Des Moines. The correspondence concerning his three coal mining interests includes letters from Samuel Kirkwood who was a partner in the Black Diamond Coal Company.
Diaries and account books
1850, 1858 & 1860
1866 & 1874
1885 -- 1891 & 1891
March 2, 1857 -- Dec. 8, 1888
Jan. 25, 1889 -- Dec. 5, 1890
1850 -- 1874
Feb. 23, 1875 -- May 2, 1885
Deeds, 1859 -- 1894
1858 -- 1864
1865 -- 1869
Business correspondence (cont.):
1872 -- 1892 (includes scratch pad)
Pioneer Coal Company correspondence, 1886 -- 1889
South Park Company correspondence, 1883 -- 1887
Des Moines Coal Company correspondence, 1866 -- 1867
Envelope of early calling cards and seven newspapers, 1885-1891
Black Diamond Coal Company correspondence, May 30, 1860 -- March 20, 1874
Contract between the Central Railroad of Iowa and the Hardin and Mahaska Coal Company, 1871
Correspondence between Thomas Heaight, Samuel Kirkwood, Wesley Redhead and William Seevers
Oct. 16, 1872 -- May 27, 1873
June 7, 1873 -- Feb. 9, 1893