IDA COUNTY lies in the second tier east of the Missouri
River and in the fourth south of the Minnesota line. It was created
in 1851, containing twelve townships, making an area of four hundred
thirty-three square miles. The name was suggested by Eliphalet
Price. The Maple River flows through the county from northeast to
southwest affording water power.
In 1854 Robert Townsley, Edward Smith and Samuel King took claims
in the county, opened farms and built log cabins. In 1856 J. H.
Morehead and E. Comstock and families settled at Ida Grove on the
Maple River. For many years this was an important station on the
stage line between Fort Dodge and Sioux City, remote from other
settlements. On one of the high ridges near the station in early
days there was an Indian village the remains of which were visible
for many years after the first white settlements.
In 1858 the county was organized and the following officers were
chosen: J. H. Morehead, judge; J. S. Loveland, recorder and
treasurer; and Bushrod Warren, clerk. The county-seat was located
at Ida Grove where a town was laid out by S. H. Hobbs in 1871. The
first school was taught at Ida Grove by Miss Atwood and the first
term of court was held there by Judge A. W. Hubbard in 1857. W. P.
Evans established the first newspaper in the county at Ida Grove in
March, 1872, which was named the Ida County Pioneer. J. H. Morehead
was the first postmaster in the county serving from 1860 to 1872 at
Ida Grove. The old town of Ida Grove was on the north side of the
river near the junction of the Odebolt and the Maple. When the
Northwestern Railroad was built in 1877, a new town was laid out on
the south side of the Odebolt which also took the name of Ida Grove
and became the county-seat. In 1877 the Blair Company laid out the
town of Battle Creek on the Maple Valley branch of the Northwestern
IOWA COUNTY was created in February, 1847, from territory
belonging to Keokuk. It lies in the fourth tier west of the
Mississippi River, also in the fourth from the south line of the
State and is twenty-four miles square containing an area of five
hundred eighty-four square miles. It was named for the Iowa River
which flows through the northern part of the county.
The first settler within its limits was Edward Ricord in 1837. Linaeas
Niles, John Burget and Mr. Cleveland in 1844 made claims near where
Homestead now stands. Soon after Robert Mckee, R. F. Mason, Amos
Crocker, Charles Kitchen, Williams Downward and Absalom Washington
with their families settled along the Iowa River near where Marengo
now stands. Edward Ricard built the first house in the county in
1844 in a grove on Old Man's Creek in the south part of the county.
In 1843 representatives of a German community selected a large
tract of land in Iowa County for the purpose of planting a colony
called the Amana Society. The members hold peculiar religious views
in some respects similar to the Quakers. They own most of the land
in Amana township, which is held in common and the business is
conducted by persons chosen for that purpose at annual elections.
They are divided into seven settlements where they have stores,
shops, mills and factories. Many of their dwellings are large and
each occupied by several families. The county was organized in 1847
and the following officers were chosen: Lewis Lansing, treasurer;
G. W. Kitchen, recorder; A. D. Stephens, probate judge; A. P.
Commissioners selected a site for the county-seat on the banks of
the Iowa River and caused a town to be platted which was named
Marengo. William Downward built the first house in the new town
and, in company with H. H. Hull, opened the first store. Robert
Mckee was appointed postmaster and Mr. Kirkpatrick opened a public
house. The Methodists organized the first church in 1848. In 1859
the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad was built to Marengo which was
the terminus for several years. The town of Victor is on this
railroad in the western part of the county. In 1856 Clinton Edwards
established a newspaper at the county-seat named Marengo Visitor.
The first court was held by Judge J. P. Carlton at the house of H.
H. Hill In May, 1847.
JACKSON COUNTY lies immediately south of Dubuque on the
west shore of the Mississippi River. It was created in 1837 from
the territory originally embraced in Dubuque County named for
General Andrew Jackson. The county contains an area of six hundred
thirty-eight square miles and large tracts of native woodland lie
well distributed over the county. The Maquoketa River runs from
west to east with several large tributaries. The first settlers
came in as soon as the Indian title was extinguished and took claims
along the Maquoketa River.
Among the earliest pioneers were William Jones, James Armstrong,
Alexander Reed, Thomas Nicholson, David Dias and his sons. They
built cabins in the forests and cleared the timber for farms near
the Mississippi in the vicinity of Bellevue. James McCabe, Nicholas
Carroll, Arthur Mullen and Anson Newbury made claims near Sabula.
At the time the county was created it had a population of two
hundred forty fur. J. E. Goddenow, in the spring of 1838, took a
claim, built a cabin and the next year laid out a town which he
named Springfield and a few houses were built. But in the winter of
1856 Mr. Goddenow in company with A. Spaulding and Z. Livermore
platted a large tract of land owned by them embracing that upon
which Springfield had been laid out and gave the new town the name
Maquoketa. John Shaw purchased a claim now in the limits of
Maquoketa, in 1837, and removed to it in 1841. The first store was
opened by S. M. Marr in 1844. In 1837 John Kindly took a claim and
built a cabin at Andrew. The county was organized April 2d, 1838,
by the election of the following officer's: commissioners, William
Jones, J. Leonard and William Morden; treasurer, John Sublett;
probate judge, J. K. Moses; clerk, J. H. Rose; recorder, John Howe.
A movement was made to secure the county-seat to the new town of
Andrew laid out on Hindley's farm. Commissioners were appointed to
relocate the county-seat and they selected Andrew in 1841. In 1845
a weekly newspaper was started there by m. H. Clark and Andrew
Keesecker, with Ansel Briggs editor. In the county seat was again
removed to Bellevue, and in 1861 it was again transferred to Andrew.
In 1873 it was moved to Maquoketa where it has since remained. In
the fall of 1835 John D. Bell made a claim, built a cabin, laid out
a town and gave it the name of Bullevue. It was a beautiful site
on the bank of the Mississippi River and protected on the north and
west by a semi-circle of wooded bluffs. A hotel was built the
following year by Peter Dutell. In 1837 Bellevue was made the
In early days desperadoes settled in the Big Woods along the
Maquoketa. They had confederates in Illinois and Missouri at points
along the Mississippi River and for a time Bullevue appeared to be
their headquarters. Horse stealing and passing counterfeit money
were their chief crimes though they did not hesitate to commit
murder when attempts to arrest them were made. In the spring of
1840, after a series of desperate conflicts between the criminals
and the sheriff's posse under the direction of Captain W. Warren,
known as the "Bullevue war," the gang was broken up and twelve of
the number captured.
The county was organized April 2d, 1838, by the election of the
following officers: county commissioners, William Jones, J. Leonard
and William Morden; John Howe, recorder; J. K. Morse, probate judge;
John Bublett, treasurer; and J. H. Rose, clerk.
Sabula is a thriving town on the Mississippi River in the
southeast corner of the county. The Milwaukee Railroad follows the
valley of the Mississippi through the eastern part of the county.
JASPER COUNTY lies in the sixth tier west of the
Mississippi River and in the fourth north of the Missouri line. It
contains twenty townships, embracing an area of seven hundred thirty
square miles and was created in January, 1840, from territory
formerly included in the original county of Keokuk. It was named
for Sergeant William Jasper of the Revolutionary War. Poweshiek, a
noted Fox chief, had his principal village in this county on Indian
Creek and a smaller one a mile west of Newton.
A portion of the county was opened to settlement in May, 1843,
and the remainder in October, 1845. William Highland and family
were the first white settlers who, in May, 1843, took a claim in a
grove near Monroe. A few months later Adam M. Tolle, John Frost and
John Vance located in the same vicinity which became known as Tool's
point. In 1845 settlements were made on Clear Creek by Mr. Knitz at
Hixon's Grove by Jacob Bennett and on the site of Newton by
In April, 1846, a county government was organized by the election
of the following officers: J. R. Sparks, Manly Gifford and Jacob
Bennett, commissioners; J. H. Franklin, clerk; J. W. Swann,
treasurer; David Edmundson, sheriff; Seth Hammer, recorder; and W.
Fleener, probate judge. The county-seat was located by
commissioners in July,1846, at a central place where a town was laid
out and named Newton City. A rude log building was erected for a
court-house in which Judge Joseph Williams of Muscatine held the
first term of court. The first store in the county was opened at
Tool's Point by Daniel Hiskey in 1851. The first school was taught
by William E. Smith at Elk Creek settlement in the winter of 1848.
In 1850 commissioners chosen by the General Assembly to select a
site for the permanent Capital of the State decided on the tract of
prairie four miles northwest of Toole's Point. A sale of lots was
held but the state refused to make it the Capital and the plat was
eventually vacated and used for farms. Monroe was laid out at
Toole's Point by David Hiskey in 1856 and has grown into a
flourishing town. Prairie City was platted in 1856 by James Elliott
and was first named Elliott. Kellogg, which was first called Jasper
City, was laid out in September, 1865, by Enos Blair and A. W.
Adair. Colfax, on the Skunk River, was named for Schuyler Colfax,
Vice-President of the United States, and has long been famous for
its mineral springs. The Newton Free Press was a weekly newspaper
established in the 1859 by the Campbell brothers. The main line of
the Rock Island Railroad runs from east to west, while the Keokuk
division runs through the western part of the county.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, originally a part of Demoine, was
established in January, 1839. It is the third county west of the
Mississippi River in the second tier north of the Missouri State
line and contains twelve townships, embracing an area of four
hundred thirty-two square miles. It was named for Thomas Jefferson,
author of the Declaration of Independence. The county-seat was
located in March, 1839, where a town was laid out and named
Fairfield. The county was organized by the election of the
following officers: J. J. Smith, Daniel Seares and B. F. Chatlin,
county commissioners; John A. Pizer, clerk; J. W. Sullivan,
treasurer; James Sanders, recorder.
The first settlement had been made in the spring of 1836 by James
Lanman, Amos Lemon, George Stout, Alfred Wright and others who took
claims in the eastern part of the county. The first term of court
was held by Judge Joseph Williams in August, 1839. A court-house
was built in the fall of the same year and a jail was built in 1841.
The first house in the town was erected by Henry B. Notson in the
spring of 1839. The United States land office was removed from
Burlington to Fairfield in 1842. The first store was opened by
William Hutson immediately after the town was platted and a tavern
was kept in a log cabin with but one room and a loft, by Thomas
Dickey. Miss Clarisa Sawyer taught the first school in a log cabin
in the spring of 1839. On the 12th of June, 1847, the first number
of a weekly newspaper was issued by A. R. Sparks, called the Iowa
The state Agricultural Society was organized at Fairfield on the
28th of December, 1853. Parsons College was located at Fairfield in
December, 1874, in consideration of $30,000 donated to the
institution by the citizens. The Burlington Railroad traverses the
county from east to west.
JOHNSON COUNTY was created in December, 1837, and named
for Richard M. Johnson, Vice President of the United States. It
lies in the third tier west of the Mississippi River and in the
fourth from the south line of the State, containing an area of six
hundred eighteen square miles. The Iowa River flows through it in
the south-easterly direction, bordered by fine woodlands and
furnishing water power.
As early as 1836 John Gilbert, an Indian trader, established a
post on the Iowa River where for several years he carried on traffic
with the Indians. Soon after Phillip Clarke and John Meyers settled
near him and opened farms. In 1838 Gilbert and Clarks laid out a
town which they named Napoleon and which became the first
county-seat. Settlers came rapidly and in the fall of 1838 S. C.
Trowbridge received a commission from Governor Lucas to organize the
county. He called an election at Gilbert's trading house on the
10th of September at which Henry Felkner, Abner Wolcott and Samuel
Strugis were chosen county commissioners. The first term of court
was held at Napoleon in 1839 at which Judge Joseph Williams
presided. The county-seat remained at Napoleon until the Capital of
the State was located at Iowa City when it was moved to that place
and the town of Napoleon soon reverted to a farm. The first school
was opened by Jesse Berry at Iowa City in 1840. On the 10th of
June, 1841, the first number of a weekly newspaper was issued by
William Crum and called the Iowa Standard which was a supporter of
the Whig party. In December of the same year the Iowa Capital
Reporter, a Democratic journal, was established by Van Antewerp and
Hughes. The first frame house was built in Iowa City by Wesley
Jones in 1839 in which he opened a store. Walter Butler the same
year built and kept a hotel. Jacob De Forest was the first mayor of
the capital city in 1853.
JONES COUNTY was established in December, 1837, from
territory belonging to the original county of Dubuque. It lies in
the second tier west of the Mississippi River and the fourth south
of the Minnesota line. It is twenty-four miles square and contains
an area of five hundred seventy-six square miles. The county was
named for General George W. Jones who, as delegate in congress,
secured the creation of the Territory of Iowa, and who was one of
the first United States Senator when it became a state. The
Wapsipinicon and Maquoketa rivers flow through the county in a
southeasterly direction and their stores are lined with woodland.
In 1836 Hugh Brown, Moses Collons, John Flynn and Alfred
Weatherford made a settlement at Brown's Prairie in the northeast
part of the county. During the same year Daniel Varvel and William
Clarke made claims and built cabins near Montecello. In 1837 a
colony from the Red River of the north emigrated southward and made
a settlement at Scotch Grove. Among them were Alexander Sutherland,
James Brimmer, David McCoy and their families numbering in all about
thirty persons. In 1839 thirty-three of their neighbors joined the
settlement. In 1837-8 a settlement consisting of about thirty
persons was made along Farm Creek. Among them were Abraham
Hostatter, John Rafferty, Charles P. and James Middleton. The first
settlers at Buffalo Forks of the Wapsipinicon River were George Russ
and Sherebrick Dakin who came from Maine in 1838. Gideon H. Ford
came in the fall and bought their claims which included the site of
Anamosa. He sold a portion of the tract to Timothy Davis and George
H. Walworth which who laid out a town which was named Walworth.
Three years later a town was laid out west of Walworth which was
named Lexington. In 1842 David Wood and Edmund Booth built a frame
house where Anamosa stands.
The county was organized in August, 1838. In 1840 a commission
was chosen by the Legislature located the county-seat near the
geographical center of the county and laid out a town which was
named Edenburgh. The first term of court was held there the
following year by Judge Thomas S. Wilson. In 1845, by a vote of the
people, the county-seat was removed from Edenburgh to Newport where
the only house was a small log cabin. In 1847 the people voted to
move the county-seat and it was located at Lexington. The name of
this town was soon after changed to Anamosa in honor of a beautiful
Indian girl who once lived there and whose father was a chief named
Nas-i-nus. The name of the daughter signifies "White Fawn." The
first newspaper in the county was the Anamosa News, published by
William Haddock and first issued in February, 1852.
Montecello was laid out in September, 1853, by G. H Walworth and
D. Varvel. Branches of the Milwaukee Railroad run through the
county. One of the large penitentiary of the State was located at
Anamosa where there are extensive stone quarries.
KEOKUK COUNTY as first created in December, 1837,
comprised all of townships seventy-seven to eighty-one from the west
line of Johnson County to the Missouri River. This immense county
was afterwards divided into a number of smaller ones. On the 17th
of February, 1843, the present county of Keokuk was created. It
lies in the third tier west o the Mississippi River and in the third
north of Missouri, is twenty-four miles square and has an area of
fine hundred seventy-six square miles. This county was named for
the Sac chief whose name signifies "Watchful Fox." The northern
tier of townships was contained in the old county of the same name,
while its entire territory was once embraced in the original county
The first white settlers came before the Indian title became
extinct but no record of their names has been preserved, Aaron
Miller settled in Richland township in the spring of 1838 and was
soon followed by William Searcy, John Wasson, Cyrus Jordon and Jacob
Wisner. Mr. Griffith took a claim on Clear Creek in 1837, Dr. W.
Neeley settled near him in 1838 and in 1839 Harvey Stevens and
William Grimsley joined the settlement. Farther up the river at
Stillman's Grove Jacob Shaver, Robert Linder, John and William
Shaver located in 1843-4.
The county was organized in March, 1844, and the following
officers chosen: Enos Darnell, J. Hollingsworth and J. H. Smith,
commissioners; J. M. Waters, judge of probate; Edom Shugarth, clerk;
W. H. Briwn, treasurer; and George W. Hayes, sheriff. In 1844 the
commissioners appointed for that purpose located the county-seat
near the geographical center of the county and gave it the name of
Sigourney for the well-known author, Lydia H. Sigourney. previous
to this time the county business had been transacted at a place
called Newton, consisting of a log cabin and school-house. Edom
Shugarth built the first house in Sigourney in 1844 and in it Judge
Williams held his first court in July of that year. A town was soon
laid out and a public sale of lots held in October at which but one
lot was purchased and that by Joel L. Landreth for twelve dollars.
A court-house square was laid off upon which in 1845 a hewed log
house twenty by twenty-four feet was built for the use of county
officers and courts, at a cost of two hundred eighteen dollars. The
first newspaper was the Western Friend established in June,
1854, by J. N. and J. L. Paschal.
The oldest town in the county is Richland which was laid out by
Pryor C. Woodward in 1840. Extensive coal mines have been opened in
various parts of the county and the town of What Cheer is in the
midst of these coal beds. Numerous railroads furnish excellent
KISHKEKOSH COUNTY was created in February, 1843, and named
for a famous Fox Indian chief. It was organized in July, 1845, when
E. S. Rand, Israel Kister and J. A. Galligher were appointed
commissioners to locate the county-seat. They chose a site where
Albia now stands, and a town was laid out named Princeton.
In May, 1843, John B. Gray went from Burlington into the
northeasterly part of the new county, made a claim and built a
cabin. James Hilton, James and Josiah Boggs, John and W. G. Clark
and James Myers settled in the county a few months later. During
the next two years many families arrived and in the summer of 1845
the preliminary steps were taken to organize the county government.
In 1844 an election had been held at Clark's Point, two miles
northwest of where Albia stands, at which W. G. Clark was chosen
justice of the peace. During the same year Mr. Clark laid out a
town at Clark's Point named Clarksville. The first election for
county officers was held here in August, 1845, at which the
following were chosen: W. G. Clark, probate judge; James Hilton,
clerk; T. Templeton, treasurer; John Clark, sheriff, and J. M.
McMullen, M. H. Clark and J. S. Bradley, county commissioners. The
election was held at John Clark's log cabin where the first term of
the District Court was also held in 1845. On the 19th of January,
1846, an election was held to decide upon a permanent county-seat
which resulted in favor of Princeton.
On the 1st of August, 1846, the name of the county was changed to
Monroe and the county of Kishkekosh ceased to exist.
KOSSUTH COUNTY was established in 1851 and named for the
Hungarian patriot, Louis Kossuth. When first created it was
twenty-four miles square and its northern boundary was on the north
line of township ninety-seven, lying immediately south of Bancroft.
In January, 1855, by act of the General Assembly, Bancroft County
ceased to exist, its territory having been added to Kossuth as was
also the north half of Humboldt. In February, 1857, the townships
taken from Humboldt were restored to it and Kossuth was left with
territory reaching from Humboldt to the Minnesota line. It lies in
the fifth tier east of the Missouri River; is twenty-four miles wide
and forty and one-third long, containing nine hundred seventy-seven
square miles, making it the largest county in the State. The east
fork of the Des Moines River flows through the county to the south
and the Blue Earth River flows to the northwest.
The first settlers in the county were Ambrose A. and Asa C. Call
who, in July, 1854, took claims along the Des Moines River near
where Algona stands. The place was long know as "Call's Grove."
Later in the year Malachi Clark, Levi Maxwell, William Hill and
Soloman Hand, with their families, took claims on the west side of
the Des Moines River about four miles below Call's Grove. In
January, 1855, W. H. Ingham and Andrew L. Seeley took claims near
the river four miles above Call's Grove. In the summer of the same
year Jacob Wright, Thomas and John Robinson, W. G. Clark and others
settled near where Irvington stands.
In August, 1855, the county was organized by the election of the
following officers: Asa C. Call, judge; Robert Cogley, clerk; J. W.
Moore, recorder and treasurer; H. F. Watson, sheriff, and Lewis H.
Smith, surveyor. The county-seat was located on the claim of A. C.
Call and named by his wife Algona. Mrs. Call was the first woman to
settle in the county. The town of Algona was platted by A. C. Call,
A. A. Call and J. W. Moore in April, 1856. The first newspaper was
issued in September, 1861, by Ambrose A. Call and was named the
Algona Pioneer Press. A flouring-mill was erected on the Des
Moines River in 1867 by J. E. Stacy. Lewis H. Smith was the first
lawyer in Algona. The first bank was established by W. H. Ingham in
In the fall of 1870 the Milwaukee Railroad was completed to
Algona giving a direct line to the Mississippi River and Chicago.
Algona College was established in 1872 under the auspices of the
Methodist Episcopal denomination.
LEE COUNTY was first established in 1836 but the
boundaries were changed in 1838 and in 1839 its present boundaries
were fixed by the Territorial Legislature. On the 18th of January,
1838, the county-seat was located at Fort Madison. The county lies
in the extreme southeast corner of the State, the Mississippi River
forming the eastern boundary, while the Des Moines River forms the
western and part of the southern boundary.
The origin of the name of the county is involved in doubt. It
was named in an act of the Legislature of Wisconsin Territory on the
7th of December, 1836. It has been claimed that it was named for
Robert E. Lee but when it is remembered that he was an obscure
lieutenant in the regular army when the county was named, not having
been in or near that region until 1837, from which time he was an
engineer in charge of improvements of the Mississippi until 1841,
there is not even a remote probability that he had ever been heard
of at Belmont where Lee County was created and named. There was a
land speculator from New York operating in the "Half Breed Tract,"
by the name of Charles Lee, about the time the county was created
and it has been supposed that the county might have been named for
him. There is no evidence to substantiate this supposition.
Lieutenant Albert M. Lea had, in 1835, descended the Des Moines
River in charge, as engineer, of an exploring party making a survey
of its course and rapids. He surveyed and mapped the shore of the
Mississippi River in Lee County and above the same year. He was an
officer in General Kearny's command at old Fort Des Moines, in Lee
County, for some time. In 1836 he became widely known as the author
of a book and map of the "Iowa District." This publication made his
name familiar to the people of the "Black Hawk Purchase" the year
that Lee County was named. Many of the prominent citizens of
pioneer times understood and believed that the county was named for
Albert M. Lea, who gave the name of "Iowa" to the region which
afterwards became the State of Iowa. Lee County has an area of five
hundred twelve square miles and an abundant supply of native
In 1843 the county-seat was removed to West Point where the first
term of court was held the same year. In the fall of 1845 by a vote
of the people Fort Madison was again made the county-seat.
Commissioners appointed in 1840 had selected a site for the
county-seat near the geographical center of the county, where a town
was laid out and named Franklin but no buildings were erected and
the business of the country was never transacted there. By act of
the Legislature of 1855 a court with concurrent jurisdiction was
established at Keokuk where a deputy clerk kept records of the
court. A history of early settlements at Fort Madison and Keokuk
will be found elsewhere.
LINN COUNTY was created in December, 1837, and named for
Lewis F. Linn, United States Senator from Missouri. It lies in the
third tier west of the Mississippi River and in the fourth south of
the Minnesota line. The county is twenty-four miles wide by thirty
long containing and area of seven hundred twenty square miles. The
Cedar and Wapsipinicon rivers flow through it in a southeasterly
direction having fine belts of woodland along their banks.
In February, 1838, John Mann of Pennsylvania, settled at Linn
Grove on Upper Big Creek, where he built a mill and log cabin for
his family. In 1851 his mill was carried away by a flood and he was
drowned. John Crow of North Carolina took a claim on the
Wapsipinicon in April, 1838. Soon after Robert Dean, John Gibson,
Peter McRoberts and others settled in Franklin township; Judge
Mitchell, Jacob Leabo and Mr. Henry in Bertram township and several
families made homes in Linn township, in Marion and other
localities. In July, 1838, Israel Mitchell laid out the first town
and named it Westport. In September of the same year William Stone
staked out a town plat where Cedar Rapids stands and called it
Columbus. The first store in the county was opened at Westport in
the fall of 1838 and William H. Merritt opened one at Ivanhoe in the
spring of 1839. The first election was held at Westport in October,
1838, for members of the Legislative Assembly, at which thirty-two
votes were cast.
The county was organized in June, 1839, by the election of the
following officers: Samuel C. Stewart, Peter McRoberts and Luman M.
Strong, county commissioners; John C. Berry, clerk; W. H. Gray,
sheriff; Thomas W. Campbell, treasurer; Ross McCloud, surveyor. The
commissioners chosen to locate the county-seat selected the site of
Marion where a town was laid out in 1839. The first store was
opened the same year by Woodbridge and Thompson and Luman M. Strong
built a hotel. A mill was built by Bales and Thompson and several
shops were opened. A court-house was built in 1840; and a Methodist
church organized the same year with Rev. Mr. Hodges as pastor. A
school was opened the following year. In 1852 a weekly newspaper
was established by A. Hoyt called the Prairie Star which in
later years became the Marion Register. The first cabin on
the site of Cedar Rapids was built by an outlaw by the name of
Shepard, in the year 1838. It was for a long time the rendezvous of
horse thieves which infested that region in early days. They
secreted stolen property among the islands of the Cedar River. The
gang was not broken up until 1851. The first permanent settlement
of that place was made in 1839 by T. Gaines and D. W. King who took
claims on the west side of the river.
In 1841 the town of Cedar Rapids was laid out by N. B. Brown and
others; the following year a dam was built across the Cedar River
and a sawmill erected. In 1844 N. B. Brown built a flouring-mill at
a cost of $3,000; and in 1849 a woolen factory was built at a cost
of $10,000. In 1850 D. O. Finch established a newspaper named the
In 1847 the town of Mt. Vernon was laid out by A. J. Willits and
others, where Cornell College, one of the leading educational
institutions in the State, is located. The main line of the
Northwestern Railroad runs through Linn County from east to west and
was the first built to Cedar Rapids which has become one of the
important railroad centers of the State.
LOUISA COUNTY was created in 1836 from territory
originally included in Demoine. When first established it included
parts of Washington, Henry and Des Moines. On the 12th of January,
1839, the boundaries of Louisa were fixed as they are now embracing
an area of four hundred seven square miles. The county lies in the
third tier north of Missouri and its eastern boundary is the
Mississippi River. It was named for Louisa Massey, a young woman in
Dubuque, who had recently shot a ruffian who had helped to murder
one of her brothers and was attempting to kill another when she put
an end to his career.
The Iowa River flows through the county in a southeasterly
direction emptying into the Mississippi within its limits. This
county was at one time the home of the famous Indian chiefs Black
Hawk, Wapello, Keokuk and Poweshiek.
The first white settler in the county was Christopher Shuck who
made a claim near Toolsboro previous to 1834. In 1835 William L.
Toole, P. Harrison, W. Crayton, S. Smith and L. Thornton settled
near the mouth of the Iowa River. Francis Springer, Colonel Garner,
N. W. Letts, David Hurley and Rev. Josiah Vetrees were among the
early settlers who came before 1840.
The county was organized in 1837 and the following officers
chosen: William L. Toole, Levi Thornton and Robert Williams, county
commissioners; John Gilliland, recorder and treasurer; Z. C. Ingham,
clerk and C. M. McDaniel, sheriff. The county-seat was located at
Wapello where a town was platted by order of the commissioners in
1838. The first court was held by Judge David Irwin who presided
over a number of the earliest courts held within the limits of Iowa.
The first citizens who settled in Wapello were John Drake, Jacob
Minton, John Gilliland, C. McDaniels and William Thomas. Francis
Springer was one of the first attorneys. In 1841 Clark and
Noffinger established the first newspaper, the Wapello
Intelligencer. The first school in the county was taught by
The county-seat was located on the banks of the Iowa River about
eighteen miles from its mouth on the site of an Indian village where
the chief Wapello lived many years and is named in his memory.
Columbus is a thriving town in the northern part of the county at
the junction of Burlington and Cedar Rapids, and the Chicago and
LUCAS COUNTY was created in January, 1846, and at that
time embraced a portion of Clarke County but in 1849 was reduced to
its present limits. It lies in the second tier north of Missouri
and midway between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and contains
twelve townships embracing an area of four hundred thirty-two square
miles. The county was named for Robert Lucas the first Governor of
the Territory of Iowa. In 1846-7, the year of the Mormon exodus
through Iowa, several families stopped at Chariton Point near the
river of that name in Lucas County, where they built cabins and
remained several years. They were the first white settlers in the
county. In September, 1847, William McDermott and family made a
claim ten miles east of the Chariton River. In March, 1848, Elijah
Baldwin and family settled west of McDermott's and in June, James
Rolland located south of them. Before the close of the year there
were eight families in the neighborhood. During the following year
many families made homes in various parts of the county.
In August, 1849, an election was held and the following officers
chosen: William T. May, Jacob Phillips and J. G. Robinson, county
commissioners, who proceeded to organize the county. In September,
1849, the commissioners chosen to locate the county-seat reported a
site on the Chariton River which they named Polk. The citizens of
the county at a public meeting held in November changed the name to
Chariton and a town was platted and a public sale of lots ordered in
December. In April, 1850, a contract was let for the building of a
log courthouse in which the first term of court was held in May,
1851, over which Judge McKay presided. A mill was built by Isaac C.
Cain and Pleasant Williams on Whitebreast creek. In the winter of
1852-3 Crawford Sellers taught the first school in the court-house.
The first newspaper in the county was the Little Giant;
established in 1856 by George M. Binckley. The Chariton Patriot
was a weekly journal started by John Edwards in 1857. The
Burlington Railroad runs through the county from east to west
passing through the towns of Russell, Chariton and Lucas.
LYON COUNTY lies in the extreme northwest corner of the
State and when first created in 1851 was named Buncombe. By act of
the legislature of September 11, 1862, the name was changed to Lyon
in honor of General Nathaniel Lyon who was killed at the Battle of
Wilson's Creek while in command of the Union army in 1861. The
county is about thirty-five miles in length east and west and about
seventeen miles wide, containing five hundred eighty-seven square
The first white man who built a cabin within its limits was
Daniel McLaren a hunter and trapper who lived several years near the
Big Sioux River at the mouth of a creek which bears his name. In
the summer of 1862 Roy McGregor, George Clark and Thomas Lockhart,
three adventurous young men from Massachusetts settled on the Iowa
side of the Big Sioux River and built a cabin. McGregor was killed
by the Sioux Indians, Clark was drowned in March, 1863, and
Lockhart, after many narrow escapes from the hostile Indians,
returned to the settlements. In July, 1866, Lewis P. Hyde of
Minnesota took a homestead on the Big Sioux River two miles below
where Beloit stands. In 1868 Ole Nelson and his brother Halver of
Clayton County, with a colony, settled near the Big Sioux River
where they built a mill. During the same year Dr. H. D. Rice and
wife, Emerick Irwin and H. W. Reeves settled on the Rock River near
the present town of Doon. D. C. Whitehead and several others
settled at Rock Rapids in 1869 and at the close of that year the
population of the county was about one hundred.
The first school was taught at Rock Rapids during the winter of
1870-71 by Mrs. D. C. Whitehead and the first minister in the county
was Rev. Ellef Oleson of Beloit. On the 25th of July, 1871, a
weekly newspaper was established at Rock Rapids by C. E. Bristol
which was named the Rock Rapids Journal. The county was
organized in October of the same year by the election of the
following officers: Charles E. Goetz, auditor; James H. Wagner,
treasurer; D. C. Whitehead, clerk; T. W. Johnson, sheriff, and
Thomas Thorson, recorder. Rock Rapids on the Rock River was made the
county-seat. The Big Sioux River forms the western boundary of the
county and State in this section. The Milwaukee and other railroads
furnish transportation facilities