The first white man came to Bremer County in 1845 and settled about two miles southwest of Denver. At that time this area was an Indian reservation belonging to the Winnebagoes, numbering about 300. Later the Reservation was purchased by the government, and the Indians were moved to the Crow River area of Minnesota, about 150 miles north of St. Paul.
Bremer County had been named in 1850 by Governor Hempstead, who was an admirer of the Swedish authoress, Fredricka Bremer. Bremer County is thought to be the only Iowa county named after a person eminent in literature.
Townships were named for famous people also: Washington, Jefferson, Jackson and Polk for four of our presidents; Fremont and Douglas for candidates for president; Dayton for a presidential running mate in 1856; Lafayette and Warren for two famous soldiers of the Revolution; Fredricka for Fredricka Bremer; Maxfield for Judge Maxfield; and Sumner for Charles Sumner, a senator of the Civil War period.
Waverly was first settled in 1850, and it soon grew to importance due to its waterpower that was used by the flour and saw mills. On January 24, 1853 Waverly was chosen as the county seat, and, unlike numerous counties the county seat has remained unchanged. Waverly was selected because of its growth, commercial position and railroad facilities.
Bremer County was permanently organized in August 1853 with the election of county officers.
The first courthouse was erected one year later by Richard Miles at a cost of $147.50. The small frame building was used for only three years, and then it was replaced by a brick and stone two-story structure that cost the county $23,000 to complete. None of the materials used in its construction — brick, stone and lumber — were from outside of the county. This 43-foot x 63-foot building was dedicated on January 1, 1858 at a grand ball and reception that was held in the new building.
This second courthouse contained no vaults for the safekeeping of county records, so in the summer of 1870 a small brick building was constructed adjacent to the courthouse. The $5,000 building was used to house all of the county records.
These two buildings were torn down in 1937 in order to make room for the third and present courthouse. The county used a W.P.A. grant of more than $60,000 to construct a $139,000 courthouse. Several bands were on hand to celebrate the dedication and open house of the courthouse on June 10, 1937.
On July 2, 1975, a joint law enforcement building was erected to be shared by Waverly Police and Bremer County Sheriff Department. At this time the Sheriff’s housing quarters, office and jail were removed from the courthouse building.
In 2003 Bremer County will be celebrating it’s 150th year from the election of county officers. The courthouse is in the process of going through a renovation project and will be completed by 2003.
1965 Bremer County Atlas
Kathy Thoms, Bremer County Director of Finance & Management, 2002