Iowa County

Iowa County
Iowa County derives its name from the Iowa River, which runs through the county, and for the Ioway Indian tribe.
The county seat, Marengo, was established on August 13, 1845, 14 years before it was even a town. It seems that a land speculator by the name of E. C. Lyons beat the county officials to the land office and bought the area of Marengo. It took some time for county officials to round up the funds to purchase the county seat from Lyons. Local citizens who contributed were paid back with town lots.

The county seat of Iowa County has always been Marengo, but not without a fight. The first battle came when some settlers disliked the town name. “Marengo” comes from Italy, where Napoleon Bonaparte gained a celebrated victory. The area of the Iowa Valley that contains Marengo is said to resemble that same area in Italy. The settlers changed the name to Valley Forge but later it was discovered that they had no authority, so the name remained Marengo.

A second battle over the county seat came in March 1857, when the enemies of Marengo started a movement to move the county seat to Genoa Bluffs. A petition was presented to the judge asking that the question of the location of the county seat be put on the general election on April 1857. It was soon discovered, however, that the petition contained names of non-legal voters. These names removed, the petition no longer contained sufficient numbers to call for an election.

The final battle came from Williamsburg. A petition was presented, with the sufficient number of signatures, and an election was held in November 1864. Marengo won out by a vote of 968 to 500.

The first courthouse was a log cabin that cost $50 to build in 1847. It was rejected by the county as being to small, but they did rent it for some years, until 1850. That was when the second courthouse was completed. This more elaborate building was used until 1861. Construction of a third courthouse began in 1861 an the completed cost was $2,000. In 1869 this building underwent the construction of an addition, but by 1890 the courthouse was too small for county business.

The current courthouse was erected in 1892. It is a two-story, stone building ornamented with turrets and a tower. It was designed by Foster and Liebbe and constructed by P. H. Wind at a cost of $57,608.


Dinwidde, James C., History of Iowa County Iowa, vol.1, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. , Chicago: 1915

Lillie, Pauline, Marengo, the County Seat, Marengo the Town, 1984.

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Amana Conroy Homestead Ladora
Marengo Millersburg North English Parnell