Territorial and State Treasurer's Office


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morgan Reno, for whom Reno Street in Iowa City was named, was the first territorial treasurer to serve in this room. He served from 1840 to 1846 and then was elected the first treasurer of the State of Iowa. At the same time, he also held the position of librarian of both the territory and state. He was succeeded by Israel Kister in 1850 and by Martin L. Morris in 1852. All three of these men were state librarians in addition to handling the duties of treasurer. Conveniently enough, the library is located in the room next door.

The duties of the treasurer were specifically provided for in the laws of both the territory and state. He was to receive all monies belonging to the territory and report annually to the legislative assembly and quarterly to the auditor. The monies came primarily from three sources: taxes, fines, and the sale of public land. It was also the responsibility of the territorial treasurer to give notice of the sale of public lots and to conduct the sale.

In addition, it was the duty of the treasurer to "collect all stoves, pipes or other furniture, or any stationary [sic] or books, belonging to this territory; and cause the same to be kept in a safe and suitable place, during the recess of the Legislature." He was also to prohibit the legislative halls from being used for any purpose during the recess of the legislature. University use of this room includes use as a Latin recitation room at one time. At some time this room and the restored library next door were combined to make one large room which became known as the Board Room because it was the site of meetings of the University's Board of Regents.

Original vouchers for the purchase of furniture list only one item bought specifically for the treasurer's office.. a safe. The safe in the corner dates from the 1840-1850 period and weighs 3100 pounds; it is not, however, the original safe.

The table in front of the window has a riveter attached to it which installed brass posts in the ends of legal documents. In the center of the room is a walnut desk-table, placed there for the convenience of people who would come in to pay bills. Because there were no built-in closets in the building, an 1850s coat tree has been used here. The large stand-up walnut desk has Bennington-type ceramic drawer knobs and are thought to be original. The elevator in the corner was an addition during the restoration and is disguised to look like a closet. The elevator accommodates a wheelchair and attendant and is available to persons who are physically unable to climb the stairs. A ramped entrance at the ground floor level leads to the elevator there.

Accessories which would be necessary for the treasurer include tin lock boxes and wood change trays. Old ledgers and legal books, including the Laws of Iowa and the Code of Iowa 1851, old ceramic inkwells, and a string-holder were also included. The camphene lamp on the desk has longer wick-holders than whale-oil lamps because of the explosive nature of the camphene. Whale oil, when available, was also used in the lamp. Whale oil was desirable because it burned ten times brighter than a single candle, was less smoky, and smelled better than tallow candles.


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Old Capitol Museum
Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development