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Iowa County Information

Brief History of Iowa


Source: "Ancestry's RedBook: American State, County & Town Sources," edited by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., C.G., Iowa Section, by Carol L. Maki, Ancestry Publishing, PO Box 476, Salt Lake City UT 84110, 1989, pages 185-198

The Iowa region was claimed for France from 1671 through 1689, after which the following jurisdictional changes occurred:

1762: France cedes Iowa to Spain
1800: Iowa transferred to France by Spain
1803: Iowa acquired by United States in Louisiana Purchase
1808: Iowa included in Illinois Territory
1812: Iowa included Missouri Territory
1821: Iowa is without a civil government
1832: First land opened for settlement
1834: Iowa included in Michigan Territory
1836: Iowa included in Wisconsin Territory
1838: Iowa Territory created
1846: Iowa statehood

Prior to 1800, French and Native Americans were the only Iowa residents.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (Lewis & Clark Expedition) spent time near the Missouri River in Iowa in 1804. Explorer Zebulon Pike raised the first American flag in Iowa on the southern edge of current Burlington in 1805. Fort Madison was built by a US Army detachment from St. Louis in 1808; abandoned and burned 5 years later by departing troops, running from Chief Black Hawk and the War of 1812. Fort Armstrong was built on Rock Island in 1816. Also in that year, the 1804 treaty with Chief Black Hawk was ratified.

Settlers began coming from the east as early as 1820. Danish immigrants settled in Lee County in 1832. A year later, pioneers from Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana established more settlements. After the creation of the Iowa Territory in 1838, a great influx of settlers began.

The first territorial capital was in Iowa City, established in 1839. By 1840, settlers included Scandinavians, Dutch, Germans, Irish, Scots, Welsh, and New Englanders. Quakers came in 1841, Mormons migrated across Iowa in 1846, and Dutch immigrants from the Netherlands in 1847, settling near Pella. In 1854, a large number of families came from Ohio. A mass migration of Germans ran from 1850 through 1880.

There was also migration from Iowa from 1850 through 1880, with a large exodus to California in 1849.

Two significant influences on Iowa settlement was the steamboat industry, which peaked from 1850 through 1877, and the railroad, which started in 1855. The state population in 1860 was 674,913. By 1870, there were 1,194,020 Iowans.

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