Bellevue 175/180

Starting date:

Always call # confirm
Event# 563-872-4425

Event Details

“BELLEVUE 175/180” to Mark Iowa Frontier History

On Saturday, August 15, 2015, dozens of descendants and hundreds visitors will gather in Bellevue, Iowa, for “Bellevue 175/180” from 10 a.m. to midnight. This free, unique event will mark the 180th anniversary of the founding of the beautiful, historic Mississippi River community as well as the 175th anniversary of Bellevue’s famous, or infamous, “Bellevue War.”
From 1833 into the late 1840s, Bellevue and its surrounding area were a gateway to the early West, as the American frontier crossed the Mississippi River. However, confederated gangs of outlaws followed settlers into the new territories.
These gangs often were secretly led by men considered upstanding community leaders. So it seemed in Bellevue for three years prior to 1840, when matters reached a violent climax that changed everything.
A battle of posse-turned-vigilantes against alleged outlaws on Bellevue’s front street drew national attention and came to be called the Bellevue War. Its drama surpasses that of the OK Corral, almost a half-century later. It also raised issues of motive and rights still debated today.

Descendants to Participate
For the first time ever, descendants of early Bellevue and Bellevue War participants have been located and will participate in Bellevue 175/180. Forty or more descendants are expected to attend., traveling locally and from as far as Wisconsin, Alabama, Missouri, Colorado, the West Coast, and, possibly, London.
Many will bring family heirlooms to display and will meet with the public in a special “Descendants Hall” (aka Great River Gallery) established for the event. A re-enactment of the climax of the Bellevue War also is planned, in which one or more descendants may represent a respective ancestor.

Background to the Bellevue War: 1837-1840
Suspicious characters began to appear about 1837 in the newly settled Mississippi River town of Bellevue, Iowa Territory, They soon were alleged to be an outlaw gang. Incidents of counterfeiting, rustling, robbery, murder, and intimidation accelerated throughout the upper Midwest, extending as far east as Pennsylvania.
Tensions grew for three years, with justice by the fledgling legal system continually thwarted. Heated debate swirled about the character of the alleged outlaw leader, William W. Brown, a young leading Bellevue entrepreneur at whose hotel the gang ostensibly headquartered, some posing as woodcutters for Brown’s steamboat supply business.
Then, on April 1, 1840, Bellevue became the site of a mass gunfight involving approximately 100 posse-turned-vigilantes and outlaws. Debate swirled then and later about the culpability of Brown as well as the young Jackson County sheriff, William A. Warren, who was both acclaimed and condemned for his role leading up to the battle. The fight strongly impacted frontier vigilantism and become known as “The Bellevue War.”
Colorful characters on both sides of the law make the Bellevue War almost too dramatic to be true, but it is. The War set precedent for other early frontier areas plagued by outlaw activity when formal law was judged insufficient by some.

BELLEVUE 175/180
Instead of bullets, Bellevue 175/180 will feature interactive activities for descendants and visitors. The event will run in tandem with the annual “Fishtival” arts fair in Riverview Park, across the street. Both events are under the auspices of the Bellevue Arts Council. Both are free and open to the public. For additional information visit For media interviews or inquiries, contact (Please note: e-mail is ".org," current event website is ".com" but will link to the ".org" site soon.)

“BELLEVUE 175/180” Schedule
Saturday, August 15, 2015

10 a.m.
Opening of “Bellevue 175/180” (“Descendants Hall,” aka Great River Gallery — across the street and one-half block north of Riverview Park) and the 2015 “Fishtival” arts fair (Riverview Park, across from the business district, along the river).
Meet real descendants of early Bellevue and Bellevue War participants and view historical artifacts. Art and historical activities as well as a self-guided Bellevue War walking tour are available throughout the day.

1:30 p.m.
Welcome to Descendants by Bellevue public officials (Riverview Park gazebo).

3:00 p.m.
Re-enactment of the Bellevue War climax (historic Riverview Hotel).

4:00 p.m.
Close of “Fishtival,” followed by the annual Bellevue Water Ski Club show (south end of Riverview Park).
Bellevue 175/180 will continue, with opportunities to meet descendants.

5 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Seatings at popular “fish boil” (Water Street Market, adjoining Great River Gallery). Food available at restaurants throughout Bellevue area, throughout the day.

8 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Contemporary street dance sponsored by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.


Lucke is the author of THE BELLEVUE WAR: MANDATE OF JUSTICE OR MURDER BY MOB?, an investigative history which appears in collections that include the Lincoln Presidential Library and the Göettingen (Germany) State and University Research Library. She is working with the Bellevue Arts Council to organize the observance.

Bellevue 175/180

Address : Riverview Street, downtown Bellevue IA
Phone : 563-872-4425   (Always call and confirm events.)

Web Address :
Admission Fee : Free


Attractions and Upcoming Events

Bellevue Butterfly Garden

Garden designed specifically to attract butterflies by providing nectar plants for adults and host plants for caterpillars. Some 60 species of butterflies expected each year. Adjacent to a three-acre reconstructed prairie, this garden is also used as a teaching and research resource.

Bellevue, IA Gardens

Young Historical Museum

Century-old residence built of native limestone has 10 rooms and is furnished with fine antiques and turn-of-the-century items. It features a fine collection of china and Parian ware.

Bellevue, IA Museums

Potter's Mill

Iowa's oldest gristmill was built in 1843 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been completely rehabilitated and now is a full service restaurant and bed & breakfast. Self-guided and pre-arranged group tours to see the structure are available.

Bellevue, IA Mills

Bellevue Golf Club

Course Access: Semi-Private
Holes: 9
Reserve Advance Tee Times: 7

Bellevue, IA Golf Courses

Things to do near Bellevue, IA