The origin of the naming of Tama County is somewhat disputed. Some authorities say the name comes from Taimah, a Fox Indian Chief. Others say it comes from Taomah, wife of Poweshiek–another Fox Indian Tribe Chief. Still others say the county is named after the Indian Chief Potama or Pottama.
In the fall of 1853 various locations were being considered for a county seat. The county officials decided on the present county seat, Toledo. The first courthouse was completed in 1854 at a cost of $1,300. The two-story frame building was constructed by T. A. Graham. In 1866 this building was abandoned and sold.
At this time (1867) the county began its second courthouse. The building, which is still standing in Toledo, is constructed of brick on a stone foundation. The total cost of the building was $22,000, $5,000 of which was paid by the Toledo Court House Association. The three-day centennial celebration in 1946 was heralded as the largest in central Iowa. During this centennial year, James Poweshiek, the great-grandson of Chief Poweshiek, the original chief of the Sac and Fox Tribe, celebrated his 92nd birthday. He was at that time the oldest life-long resident of Tama County and the oldest Indian in Iowa.
There have been numerous attempts to replace the 100-year-old courthouse, but all have failed. In 1978, the courthouse’s red brick exterior was sandblasted, the interior remodeled and the plumbing and wiring were replaced. Additional remodeling began in 2000 after moving the offices of Assessor, Auditor, Recorder, Supervisors and Treasurer into a new County Administration Building just north of the courthouse. The remodeled courthouse is now home to all court services including the County Attorney and juvenile probation offices. The 1914 courthouse clock will be restored to its original condition, with the help of community fundraising, in 2003.
Source: John Adams, Tama County Auditor, 2002