Behind The Name
Each of our rooms are individually named for a person that was a part of our local history!
ROOM 201 - LT. ZEBULON M. PIKE
Pike's first expedition was to explore the upper Mississippi River and was instructed to select a site for a military post somewhere between St. Louis and Prairie du Chien. He was to procure the consent of the Native Americans for the building of a fort (which became known as Fort Madison and was the first permanent U.S. military fortification on the Uppper Mississippi. ). It does not appear as appear that the natives had consented to the erection of this fort on the west side of the Mississippi, which was a direct violation of the treaty negotiated with the five Sauk and Fox chiefs in 1804. This later led to the siege of the fort in 1812 in which only a lone chimney remained. (See more information about this Room 302 details on our website!)
SIDE NOTE: Pike's Peak in Colorado was named after Lt. Pike's after his second expedition which led him west to the Rocky Mountains!
Room 202 - ELSA MAXWELL
Elsa Maxwell was born in nearby Keokuk, IA in 1883. She was a gossip columnist, author, songwriter, screenwriter, radio personality and professional hostess, renowned for her parties for royalty and high society in her day. Some of her famous friends were Cole Porter, Salvador Dali, Rita Hayworth, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and many more! She was even mentioned in a few songs during her time and in an I Love Lucy episode!
Did you know that Elsa is credited with the introduction of the scavenger hunt and treasure hunt for use as party games in the modern era? In 1927 Elsa Maxwell gave a “Come as You Were” party, asking guests to arrive dressed as they were when they received the invitation. Cards went out at all hours, and guests arrived in tuxedos with no pants, ordinary street clothes, and carrying their underwear. "The best you can offer your guests is the unexpected,” wrote legendary party giver Elsa Maxwell.
She declared, "not bad, for a short, fat, homely piano player from Keokuk, Iowa, with no money or background, [who] decided to become a legend and did just that!"
She was one of a kind and we like to think that the Kingsley Inn is too!
ROOM 203 - JOSEPH M. BECK
Joseph M. Beck came to Fort Madison in 1850 and established his law practice here. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney and Mayer of Fort Madison and later appointed to the Supreme Court of Iowa. He is credited with writing the leading case involving equality in Civil Rights for all residents in the state. This advanced the desegregation of Iowa schools and public locations almost 100 years prior the rest of the nation.
His home is located 2 blocks away from the hotel at the 630 Avenue E. This house was built in 1859 with the influences of Gothic Revival, Italiante and Romanesque Revival. It is currently painted in the same red hue as its original surface! Look for the picture of his home in this room and on the historic Park-to-Park Residential Historic District self guided tour!
ROOM 204 - W.A. SHEAFFER
Sheaffer was an American inventor and businessman who developed the first commercially successful lever-filling fountain pen and founded the W.A. Sheaffer Pen Company. The Fort Madison factory is closed but is located at 3rd Street and Avenue H and the Sheaffer Pen Museum is located at 627 Avenue G. Did you know that during World War II, Sheaffer produced bomb fuses? The museum exhibits the one millionth bomb fuse produced.
ROOM 205 - ALPHA KINGSLEY
This room is named after Lieutenant Alpha Kingsley. In 1808 Office Kingsley was instrumental in the construction of the original Fort Madison. He was a Vermont man of considerable experience in frontier living.
More information about Alpha Kingsley at https://www.oldfortmadison.org/learn/biography-of-lieutenant-alpha-kingsley/
ROOM 206 - MARK TWAIN
Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens, lived in Keokuk Iowa and worked as a printer with his brother Orion. Together they authored Keokuk's first City Directory. His family established the nearby town of West Point in 1837 and his great grandmother is interred in the West Point Cemetery. In 1856 Clemens left printing and became a riverboat pilot, an experience fro which he based several of his well known novels.
ROOM 208 - TROY LAUNDRY
In 1910, Troy Laundry moved from 905 Avenue G (current day Pilot Grove Savings Bank) to the present day Kingsley Inn. The laundry service was in business from 1910 until 1981! The first historic picture with the ladies in long dresses was taken under rooms 203 and 204!
ROOM 209 - SAMUEL F. MILLER
Miller moved to Keokuk, Iowa in 1850 to practice law. He was also a real estate investor and one of the founders of the Republican Party. Abraham Lincoln appointed him a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1862-1890. His home, The Miller House Museum, can be toured at 318 N. 5th. Street in Keokuk, IA. He is interred at Oakland cemetery in the same town.
ROOM 210 - C.E. "EDDIE" RICHARDS
This room is named after C.E. "Eddie" Richards, who along with his father in law and Gene Autry, helped with the organization of the first Tri-State Rodeo in 1948! This is Fort Madison's largest annual event! Read the story at http://tristaterodeo.org/history/
ROOM 211 - ROBERT E. LEE
You may know Robert E. Lee as a prominent general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War but was sent to our area as a young army lieutenant in 1837 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They were to recommend improvements to navigation between Montrose and Keokuk due to the dangerous rapids, which were one of two major obstacles to river traffic on the Mississippi River. Various attempts to make the river navigable started when a channel was blasted through the rapids that same year. A canal was built around the rapids in 1877 but was obliterated by the Keokuk Lock & Dam #19 that was constructed in 1910 and completed in 1913. It is now the largest electricity generating plant in the world, with locks measuring 1200 feet long and 110 feet wide, with a lift of over 38 feet!
ROOM 301 - CHIEF BLACK HAWK
Black Hawk was the Chief of the Sac Indians. At an early age he distinguished himself as a warrior and was the chief responsible for the attack on Fort Madison in 1812. Ironically, he was the guest of honor at the 1838 Fourth of July celebration in Fort Madison. He attended Presbyterian services and gave what became his farewell speech. He died in October of that year.
ROOM 302 - POTOWONOK
Potowonok"is a Native American word meaning "lone chimney". In 1812, after a year of attacks, a large body of Native Americans made an attack on the Fort, and for several days kept up an incessant fire. When the soldiers retreated to the river, they set fire to the Fort. The entire fort was reduced to a smoldering ruin except for the settler's store chimney which remained as a landmark for many years. A memorial was built in 1908 to commemorate this event and is located in front of the old Sheaffer Pen Company in the 300 block of Avenue H, on the river side.
ROOM 303 - BRIDGE VIEW
This room has our hotel's best view of the bridge and river! The Mississippi River Bridge is notable not only for its overall length of 1,675 feet, but because its 525 foot electrified swing span was the longest and heaviest in the country at the time it was built. The swing span is used to allow river traffic to be able pass through the bridge. Trains pass over the river at the bottom of the bridge while vehicles travel on the top. The bridge has also functioned as a toll bridge in essentially unaltered condition since its opening in 1927.
ROOM 304 - GAZEBOS & GARDENS
Fort Madison has 2 beautiful gazebos in Old Settlers Park and Central Park with many gardens to enjoy!
Old Settlers Park was given that name when it became the official location of the annual reunion of the Old Settlers Association. The original bandstand was demolished in the 1930s and was replaced in the 1990s. Chief Black Hawk made his last speech here in 1838 as the honored guest during the 4th of July Celebration. Located at 4th Street and Avenue E.
Central Park is home to the City Band that gives free community concerts during the summer! The park also has an artesian fountain, flower gardens, and a Boy Scouts of America Statue of Liberty Replica. Fort Madison has one of over 200 replicas that were distributed throughout 39 states in the US in 1950. Located at 9th Street and Avenue E.
Riverview Park is Fort Madison's showpiece for all to enjoy with it's open views of the Mississippi River, BNSF Bridge and waterway traffic! This 35-acre park offers a marina, picnic facilities, open shelter, Veterans Memorial, playground equipment, restrooms, formal flower garden, Santa Fe 2913 Steam Engine Locomotive, River Walk, Kuhlmeier Reflecting Pond / Ice Skating Rink, two sand volleyball courts, and Old Fort Madison. Located at 812 Riverview Drive and directly across the street from the Kingsley Inn!
ROOM 305 - CHIEF KEOKUK
Keokuk was the Chief of the Fox Indians. He was known as an orator and was skilled at communicating with his people. He attempted to cultivate friendly relations with the American people. The nearby city of Keokuk was named after him in 1837 A life-sized monument of the chief was erected in Rand Park and is overlooking the Mississippi River. His remains are buried beneath.