Dexter, Iowa–Named for a Famous Racehorse

My hometown of Dexter was supposed to be called Marshalltown after man who platted the town, Maben Marshall. But Marshalltown already claimed the name, so Dexter is named for a champion trotting racehorse. 

Dexter3 (2)

At one time the town, with never more than a population of 800 souls, had three harness tracks in the area so there was a lot of interest when the white-faced, white-footed horse Dexter set the world trotting record in 1867, then even broke that record. 

Dexter, foaled in 1858 as the first truly trotting-bread horse, was a son of Hambletonian 10 out of Clara, the greatest producing daughter of American Star 14. Dexter and his driver Budd Doble competed in over one hundred races and broke many records.

Dexter, famed for his ideal trotting action called the “Dexter stroke,” won 46 of 50 races and trotted the mile in a record 2:17.1/4 during the 1860s.

His picture in action was of the nation’s most popular prints, and thousands of structures used Dexter-shaped weathervanes.

Dextertrot (2)

When running for President of the United States in 1868, General Ulysses Grant drove Dexter through the streets of New York.

Currier and Ives 1868 lithograph of President Grant driving Dexter.

The same year the Iowa town was founded.


The Des Moines Tribune, December 10, 1966

History of Dexter, Iowa, Centennial Committee, 1968

The New York Times, Sunday, November 6, 1966



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