Annie Wittenmyer


"...there is one name among them all [Iowa's daughters] we will ever cherish in our hearts... a name which every true woman delights to honor; a name that shall ever live in the heart of a grateful state—the name of ANNIE WITTENMYER!"
— Mary Darwin, 1863


Annie Wittenmyer, known as Iowa's wartime hero, was living in Keokuk, Iowa when she first became concerned about sanitation for the wounded and the cleanliness of the food served to soldiers during the Civil War. She worked throughout the war to improve sanitary conditions, organizing diet kitchens for Union Army hospitals as well as serving on a hospital ship at the battle of Shiloh. Most of her time, however, was spent at the Iowa Soldiers Orphans Home that started in Farmington in 1864 and later moved to Davenport. Over the next 10 years, more than 720 children were cared for at the home and at branches in Cedar Falls and Glenwood. Born in 1827, Wittenmyer died in 1900 at age 73. The Davenport Institution was renamed the Iowa Annie Wittenmyer Home nearly 50 years after her death. Wittenmyer was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1975.