Benton County, one of the original twelve counties created from Dubuque County, is named in honor of Thomas Hart Benton. Benton was a lawyer, colonel in the War of 1812 and senator from Missouri.
In the spring of 1846 a county seat was selected. It was called Northport and the town was platted the following summer. Soon the town’s name was changed to Fremont, in honor of General John Charles Fremont. A town in Iowa was already named Fremont so they again changed the name, this time to Vinton, after Ohio Congressman Plynn Vinton, who paid $50 for the honor.
The first permanent courthouse was begun on July 13, 1856 with the laying of the cornerstone. This building was officially dedicated at a grand ball on December 23, 1856. The final cost of the two-story brick structure was $13,000.
When the time came to replace the old brick courthouse, there was great excitement. There was a persistent rumor that the contents of the cornerstone included a liquor bottle that would have had 49 years to age. The disappointment was just as great when no bottle was found.
The present courthouse was begun in 1905, and it was completed in 1906. The elaborate, three-story stone structure was constructed at a cost of $150,000. It has a 112-foot high tower that contains a clock and 1,500-pound bell which was donated by Paul Correll, a local merchant and farmer.
This building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.