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Community History
Judge & Mrs. Eugene Criss
Founders of Sac City in1855



Judge & Mrs. Eugene Criss

The pioneer generally credited with being the founder of Sac City is Judge Eugene Criss. In fact, he often went by the name of "the father of Sac City" in an early day.

Born in West Virginia July 27, 1822, Judge Criss was reared in the state of Maryland. The family removed to Illinois in 1844 and later Mr. Criss engaged in the mercantile business in Shullsburg, Wis., for 11 years.

It was in the spring of 1855 that he loaded his stock of merchandise on a covered wagon and commenced the long overland journey to Sac County, Iowa.  He varied the monotony of the journey by trading with the farmers on the way, replenishing his stock of merchandise from time to time.

He arrived on the banks of the raccoon river in what is now Sac City in October 1855 and at once began the erection of a log building to house his store of goods and built a log cabin which for years was pointed out as the first cabin built in Sac City.

Although a merchant for many years, Judge Criss had a natural aptitude for agriculture, and as soon as possible he became possessed of 400 acres of land, which he cultivated up to the time of his death.  He erected a saw-mill, which furnished lumber for a number of the early buildings here. He erected the first flouring mill in Sac City and built the famous old mill dam.

Judge Criss soon became one of the leading land owners in western Iowa.  He was the first postmaster in Sac City and served several terms as county judge. In 1868 he was elected to the legislature and later he was a candidate for state senator. During the Civil war he served as provost marshal of this district, with headquarters at Fort Dodge.

One of the most memorable occasions in the history of Sac county occurred on July 27, 1902, when a great concourse od people gathered at the Sac county fair grounds to celebrate the 80th birthday of the founder of Sac City.  A barbecue was served and the whole day was given over to partaking of the hospitality of the judge.  On the 11th of the following March he passed to the beyond at the age of 81 years. 


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