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Locating Iowa County Records
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Archives, Libraries & Societies
Various cemetery records have been published by the respective County Chapters of the Iowa Genealogical Society. Many must be ordered directly from the County Chapters. The listing can be found at Publications Available for Sale. A number of cemetery transcription collections, funeral home records, and obituary indexes are held by the Iowa Genealogical Society.
State & Territorial Census Schedules in Existence
They also have special indexes for 1841-49 and 1851-59. Numerous federal census
transcriptions for specific counties in certain years are part of the collection. Several
city census enumerations, dating from 1881 through 1897, are housed in the Archives
During the 1847 Iowa state census, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints enumerated its members in Pottawatomie County. It includes the standard information, plus a count of wagons & guns; number of family members ill, aged or infirm; and the number of oxen, cattle & horses.
The 1836 Wisconsin Territorial Census includes the original Iowa counties of Dubuque
and Des Moines. Both are indexed and available at the State Historical Society. The
National Archives/Central Plains Region holds a microfilm copy of this census.
The first church building in Iowa was built of logs in 1834. The
Methodist Church is located in the city of Dubuque. The Catholics constructed a parish
building in Dubuque in 1835. Afterwards, the Congregational and Presbyterian clergy began
ministering to the settlers of Iowa in 1843.
Smaller but Important Groups:
"Iowa History Reference Guide," by William J. Peterson, was published in
1952, by the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City. It's an extensive bibliography
on religion and religious groups in Iowa.
It's thought that the Miners' Compact, drawn up by the lead miners in 1830, is the first government instrument in Iowa. Three district courts were created in 1838, when the Iowa Territory was established. In 1846, Iowa obtained statehood, combining the three districts and their courts into one. It was again divided into three districts in 1849 ... northern, middle & southern divisions. Iowa experienced considerable redivision and reorganization until 1907. The National Archives/Central Plains Region holds files from:
For the Iowa counties, many Iowa criminal & civil court records are now or soon will be transferred to the State Archives of Iowa. What records remain in the counties can be found at the county clerk's offices.
The State Archives holds the Supreme Court of Iowa Order Books. They begin in 1838 with
the formation of the Iowa Territory and continue in four volumes through 1858. An
excellent example of what these books contain is Order Book A, which has 21
naturalizations between 1840 and 1851.
Iowa was a public-domain state with one principal meridian, established in Arkansas in 1815. The federal government and its agents made the original land disposition. The first two land districts in Iowa were in Burlington & Dubuque in 1838. Eventually, there were nine land districts.
Patents, tract books and township plats are available at the Bureau of Land Management Eastern States Office.
Federal military bounty-land warrants were used to purchased an estimated 50% of Iowa land. Many of these military warrants are held by the National Archives/Central Plains Region. They hold all or some of 1842 to 1855 for the district offices of Chariton, Kanesville, Council Bluffs, Decorah, Osage, Des Moines, Fort Des Moines, Dubuque, Marion, Burlington, Fairfield, Fort Dodge, Iowa City and Sioux City, as well as other records of the register and receiver for these same counties. Additionally, they hold homestead records with certificates, receipts and entries for Des Moines, Fort Dodge and Sioux City.
Once land was disbursed, then the purchases and sales of land were handled by the recorder of the respective county government, once the county had been established.
The Iowa State Archives hold land office color copies of plats from original land surveys from 1835 to 1860. Twelve volumes cover the state, with notations on Indian villages & trails, old roads and pioneer dwellings. The Archives also hold "Auditor of State Abstracts of Original Land Entries," 1847 through 1859. Additional Archive holdings include:
The holdings at the State Archives include the State Adjutant General's records of Iowa volunteers in the Mexican War, Civil War, and Spanish-American War. There are muster rolls, enlistment papers, roster books, reports, pay book, and correspondence. Some of these records have indexes.
There are no Iowa pension records for volunteer units, but they have the records of the Grand Army of the Republic posts for many Iowa communities. A World War casualty file, containing information and some photos of individual servicemen, also is there.
Additional available resources are:
The clerk of the county district court handles all
matters of probate, including wills, administrator or executor bonds, inventories, and
Personal property & real estate tax rolls were kept by the auditor or treasurer of each county. The State Historical Society has a few of these records on microfilm.
From 1934 to 1936, a directive collected an old age assistance
tax, based on a list of all persons over 21 years of age. The information includes name,
address, sex, date of birth, place of birth, and the names of both parents. The Iowa
Genealogical Society has many of these counties on microfilm.
All material copyright 1996-2006,
by the Iowa Genealogical Society (IGS),
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