Muscatine History: Pearls, Jobs, and Prosperity

Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in Muscatine will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Muscatine history is filled with rich variety. The name Muscatine was taken from a mixture of French and Indian roots from the Musquakee Indians of the area. One meaning of the name is People of the Fire. The Indians would burn off the wild grasses every year and the fires could be seen for long distances along the river. Praise God we are the people of the Fire of God!

When we only had a few cabins and Casey’s Landing, Muscatine was known up and down the river for its Hospitality. A young man came here looking for some people he knew. He knocked at a cabin door and asked the man where he could find the family. Instead of just giving directions, the man walked two miles with him guiding the young man to the proper cabin. The young man was so impressed that he wrote this story in his journal and spread Muscatine’s reputation of hospitality. Glory to God for Muscatine is full of Hospitality!

In early Muscatine history we were known as “The Breadbasket of the East” because of the many flourmills. By the 1880’s Muscatine was known for its lumber. It was said that most of our lumber built the homes of the East. These statements were advertised in Eastern newspapers to attract settlers with the promise of jobs and prosperity. Thank You Father God, for all the Jobs and Prosperity You have planned and ordained for Muscatine, Iowa!

In 1890, Mr. Boeapple, a German emigrant, came to Muscatine because of the rich clam beds along our riverbanks beginning the successful button industry. People began to call Muscatine “The Pearl City” for the clam mother of pearl buttons manufactured here. The man was very talented, creative, and a hard worker. He would go to Chicago to buy saws and machinery that he could convert. So he held many patents on button cutting, saws, and machinery. He became quite successful when he formed a partnership with an English speaking man. The button industry continues today, but now plastic buttons are manufactured in Muscatine. The name Pearl City continues to be a poplar name even today. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Pearl of great price. (Matthew 13:46) Praise the Lord that the people of Muscatine seek You Lord and Your Kingdom!

Mural of hand pearls taken by Debbie Kerr

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