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Iowa History Daily: January 20 - William Larrabee

 Iowa History Daily: On January 20, 1832, Iowa’s 12th Governor, William Larrabee, was born. Famed for a campaign focused on ‘a schoolhouse on every hill and no saloons in the valley,” Larrabee also built the historic Montauk Mansion of Clermont.

Born the 7th of 9 children to West Point graduate and War of 1812 hero Adam Larrabee in Ledyard, Connecticut. During adolescence, a firearm accident cost the future governor eyesight in his right eye when a gun unexpectedly discharged. Educated in local schools until age 19, in 1853 the 21-year old Larrabee struck out west toward Iowa to pursue a career in education.

Settling in Clermont, a successful career as a miller, banker, and farmer eventually drew Larrabee out of the classroom. 

Rejected from service for the United States in the Civil War, Larrabee instead prospered in business while becoming one of Iowa’s largest landowners of the era. Entering politics in 1867 with a successful run for the Iowa Senate, Larrabee proved foundational in the early Republican party in Iowa. Eventually chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Larrabee served nearly 20 years in the Iowa Senate before running for governor during the 1880s. 

A two-term governor, Larrabee eventually retired to his estate at Montauk in Clermont (built in 1874). A noted bibliophile with a significant library, Larrabee developed a diverse estate around the Italianate mansion which included an orchard, a creamery, and a variable collection of birds including peacocks, turkeys, and chickens. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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