Brief History of Buchanan County     



Buchanan County was a land ruled by Indian Tribes in 1842 when a pioneer named William Bennett trekked westward from Delaware County to become the first settler in this region. As the county's first settler, he also became the first resident of Quasqueton.

Buchanan County was named in honor of Senator James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, who was instrumental in the acquisition of the Wisconsin Territory, which included this county. The Senator later became the 15th president of the United States.

A village of fewer than 15 persons located farther north of Quasqueton on the Wapsipinicon River was established as the county seat in 1847 by three distinguished guests from the Iowa Legislature. At the same time, the settlement was named "Independence," probably taking the name from Independence Day, which was to be observed by the nation in 19 days. The town was incorporated in 1864.

In the spring of 1857, the construction of the first courthouse was started by Oliver Hamson Pierce Roszell, the the county judge, who had control of county business at that time. The office of county judge in 1857 would be similar to the present-day county auditor's position. The task of completing the building fell to Judge Stephen Tabor, who, in 1857 was appointed to succeed Roszell as county judge. The cost of  $ 9,758.51 comprised all that had been done for the courthouse, including the preparing of the ground, the lumber (which was hauled from Dyersville by ox teams), the lime, stone, brick, sand, hardware, well, and in fact, every species of expense connected with the grounds of the edifice.

Two men were convicted of blowing up the treasurer's safe and stealing $26,000 from Buchanan County. This was one of the largest robberies in Iowa's early history. They were pardoned because of inconclusive evidence of guilt. One of the men moved to Kansas and was later elected to the Kansas State Legislature.

In 1870, by a vote of 1,405 to 264, the old jail and sheriffs house was built at a cost of $ 18,828. In 1881, by a vote of  2,155 to 615, a fireproof building was erected by expending $ 7,500 from the swamp fund.

By 1938, there was a need for a new and larger courthouse. The voters agreed, 2,665 to 1,756, on the condition that the county be permitted to issue bonds and to ask the federal government for a grant. The first shovel of dirt was moved November 15, 1938, by Wilbert H. Frye, chairman of the Board of Supervisors at that time. Bonds were sold to the county for  $ 110,000 at 1.75 percent interest, and $114,264.45 was received from the federal government. Total cost of the building was $ 253,921. The cornerstone was laid September 20, 1939, with 1,500 people present.

In 1976, the Buchanan-Independence Public Safety Center was constructed for joint use by the Independence Police Department and the Buchanan County Sheriffs Department.

Taken from History of County Governments in Iowa, published in 1992 by Iowa State Association of Counties, Des Moines, Iowa.


Archaeological Site Information

As of June 1996, there are 34 archaeological sites recorded in Buchanan County


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