MsC 21

  Manuscript Register


Collection Dates: 1853 -- 1893
(Bulk Dates:1860s- 1880s)
1 linear ft.

This document describes a collection of materials held by the
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420
Phone: 319-335-5921
Fax: 319-335-5900

Posted to Internet: January 1998

Acquisition Note: This collection was donated to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1959, by the Redhead family.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright:  Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on "Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials"

Use of Collections:  The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Biographical Note

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 state’s 21st General Assembly in 1866. That same year he was elected to represent Des Moines township on the County Board of Supervisors.

Some of Redhead’s 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.

Box List

 Box 1

Diaries and account books

1850, 1858 & 1860

1866 & 1874

1885 -- 1891 & 1891


March 2, 1857 -- Dec. 8, 1888

Jan. 25, 1889 -- Dec. 5, 1890

Tax receipts

1850 -- 1874

Feb. 23, 1875 -- May 2, 1885





Deeds, 1859 -- 1894

Business correspondence:

1858 -- 1864

1865 -- 1869

 Box 2

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