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Keokuk (city, United States)

Keokuk, city (1990 pop. 12,451), seat of Lee co., extreme SE Iowa, on the Mississippi River at the foot of the Des Moines River rapids and in a farm area; inc. 1847. Its industries focus on food processing and packaging (turkeys, dairy items, grain products), and metal products are manufactured. The city was named for Keokuk, a Sac tribal chief who ceded lands to settlers and who is buried beneath an impressive statue in Rand Park. Because of its location at the foot of the treacherous Des Moines River rapids, Keokuk was a transshipment stop for boats ascending the Mississippi. During the Civil War five army hospitals there served the wounded; those who did not survive were buried in the city's national cemetery, where the Unknown Soldier Monument was erected. In 1877 a ship canal (9 mi/14.5 km long) was completed around the rapids; in 1910–13 the river was dammed, creating Lake Keokuk. Mark Twain worked as a printer in Keokuk; mementos of his stay are preserved.

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Keokuk (chief of the Sac and Fox)

Keokuk (kē´əkək), c.1780–1848, Native American, chief of the Sac and Fox, b. near present-day Rock Island, Ill. When Black Hawk supported the British in the War of 1812, Keokuk refused to join him, thereby gaining recognition and support from the U.S. government. After Black Hawk's defeat in 1832, Keokuk's people were given a large tract of land in SE Iowa. Keokuk visited Washington D.C., in 1833 and 1837. His grave and a statue of him are at Keokuk, Iowa.

See biography by M. Lockwood (1943).

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