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Iowa County Information

Archives, Libraries &

       Locating Iowa County Records

  To locate any of the documents mentioned below, go to:  Archives, Libraries & Societies

Cemetery Records

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.

Census Records

Federal Records
The following are the available federal census:

  • Indexed - 1840, 1850
  • Unindexed - 1860, 1870, 1910
  • Soundex - 1880, 1900
  • Mortality - 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880
  • Agricultural & manufacturing - 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

State & Territorial Census Schedules in Existence  

Census Year Notation Census Year Notation
1836 printed 1849 Indexed
1838 Van Buren County only 1851, 1852, 1853 Warren County only
1841 Indexed 1854, 1856 See "Personal Name Index to the 1856 City Directories of Iowa," by Elsie L. Sopp, Gale Genealogy & Local History Series, Vol. 13, Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1980.
1844 Indexed, Keokuk County only 1859-1869 Statistics only
1846 Indexed, Louisa, Polk & Wapello Counties only 1873, 1875, 1885, 1881-97 Several cities only
1847 Indexed 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 Gives marriage data for husband & wife

State Historical Society Holdings

Census Notation
1838 Johnson County
1847 Davis, Louisa & Marion Counties
1849 (Benton, Clinton, Louisa, Madison, Scott & Washington Counties
1851 Guthrie County
1852 Appanoose, Butler & Pottawattomie counties
1854 Dallas, Harrison, Henry, Monona, Montgomery, Shelby, Story, Tama, Taylor & Union Counties
1856 Calhoun, Green, Hardin, Kossuth, Sac, Shelby, Story, Taylor & Wright Counties

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 section.

Other Resources

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.

Church Records

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.

Predominant Groups:

  • Catholics
  • Methodists
  • Lutherans
  • Baptists

Smaller but Important Groups:

  • Quakers
  • Mormons
  • Mennonites

The influence of the Community of True Inspiration arrived from Germany in 1854. Additional members of the group arrived a year later and established the unique Amana colonies of present-day Iowa.

"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.

Court Records

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:

  • District of Iowa, 1845-82
  • Northern District, 1850-1959
  • Southern District, 1842-1959

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.

Land Records

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 Iowa Claims Clubs: Symbols & Substance," by Allan G. Bogue, Mississippi Valley Historical Revue 45, 1958, pages 231-235.
  • "Iowa Public Land Disposal," by Roscoe L. Lokken, Iowa City: State Historical Society of Iowa, 1942.
  • "Constitution & Records of the Claim Association of Johnson County, Iowa," edited by Benjamin F. Sambaugh, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1894.
  • "Pioneers & Profits: Land Speculation on the Iowa Frontier," by Robert P. Swierenga, Ames, Iowa: Iowa University Press, 1968.

Military Records

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:

  • "Persons Subject to Military Duty, ca. 1862-1920" by the Iowa Adjutant General's Office, 94 microfilm reels, Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978.
  • "Revolutionary War Soldiers & Patriots Buried in Iowa," Marceline, MO: Walworth, 1978.
  • "Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Iowa," US Adjutant General's Office, Washington DC: National Archives, 1964.

Probate Records

The clerk of the county district court handles all matters of probate, including wills, administrator or executor bonds, inventories, and guardianships. 

Tax Records

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),
except where attributed to previously copyrighted material. All rights reserved.

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