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Iowa Counties

There are ninety-nine counties in Iowa. The first two counties, Des Moines County and Dubuque County, were created in 1834 when Iowa was still part of the Michigan Territory. In preparation for Michigan's statehood, part of Michigan Territory was formed into Wisconsin Territory in 1836]. Two years later, the western portion was split off to become Iowa Territory. The south-eastern part of Iowa Territory became Iowa, the 29th state in the union, on 28 December 1846, by which point 44 Counties had been created. Counties continued to be created by the state government until 1857, when the last county, Humboldt County, was created.

Adair County, Iowa

Adair County Education, Geography, and HistoryAdair County, Iowa Courthouse

Adair County is a county located in the state of Iowa. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 7,682. Adair County was created on January 15, 1851. The county seat is Greenfield. The county is named in honor of John Adair, a general in the War of 1812 and eighth governor of Kentucky.

Etymology - Origin of Adair County Name

The county is named for John Adair, general during the War of 1812 and 6th governor of Kentucky.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Adair County History

Adair County was established in 1851, and named for John Adair, general during the War of 1812 and 6th governor of Kentucky. The General Assembly appointed three commissioners to locate a county seat. They selected Summerset (now Fontanelle) in 1855. The first courthouse was built a year later. Native lumber and hardware were hauled by wagon from Keokuk for the building. This building burned in 1910.

The town of Greenfield, located near the center of the county, was laid out in 1856. From this time on, people of Greenfield fought to have the county seat moved to Greenfield. A petition was signed by 91 voters in 1858 to have it moved, but at the same time, another petition containing 137 signatures was presented to keep the seat in Summerset.

During the Civil War, the people were content with the idea of Fontanelle as the county seat, but at the end of the war it was brought to a vote. Changing the seat was defeated by seven votes. Again in 1869 the change was defeated. Finally, in 1874, voters approved the move to Greenfield. The decision was challenged and taken to the Supreme Court. Even though the decision wasn't final, the people of Greenfield removed the county records to their town. More than 200 men and 75 wagons made the trip to Fontanelle and, against the orders of the sheriff, loaded the records and furniture into their wagons and returned to Greenfield. It so surprised Fontanelle's townspeople, they didn't resist.

Judge Mitchell ordered the sheriff to direct the people of Greenfield to return the county records, but when the sheriff presented the order to the Board of Supervisors, a person snatched the order and tore it up. The next morning the sheriff came again to Greenfield and presented a warrant, but was resisted by an angry mob, so did nothing. The following day General N.B. Baker arrived from Des Moines and persuaded the people to return the records to Summerset.

About one month later, the "county seat war" came to an end when the court's final decision moved the county seat to Greenfield.

In preparation for this move, the Greenfield Building Association had erected a two-story frame building on the East side of the square, which was used by county officials until it burned in 1883. Following the fire, court was held in the Opera House, and a temporary office building was built over the vaults of the burned building.

Eight years later, on July 4, 1891, the cornerstone of the present courthouse was laid. Some items placed in the cornerstone were: histories and lists of members of local organizations, a Bible, an 1891 nickel, several copies of various newspapers of the day, and one bottle each of corn, oil, and wine.

The building was completed in March 1892. It was originally adorned with a large square tower rising 100 feet in the air which was removed in 1935 when it became unsafe. The total cost of construction, including the furniture, was $26,768. In comparison, it cost $40,448 to install the elevator in 1988.

The Adair County Historical Society helped Adair County to organize an open house and program to celebrate the courthouse centennial July 4, 1991.

History of Adair County, Iowa, and Its People, Lucian M. Kilburn, Supervising Editor.
Jenice Wallace, Adair County Auditor, 2002.


As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 570 square miles (1,500 km2), of which 569 square miles (1,470 km2) is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2) (0.2%) is water.

Adair county is located in southwest Iowa. Lake Greenfield and Nodaway Lake are located in this county.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Guthrie County
  • Northeast: Dallas County
  • East: Madison County
  • Southeast: Union County
  • Southwest: Adams County
  • West: Cass County
  • Northwest: Audubon County


The county is served by five school districts:

  • Nodaway Valley Community School District
  • Orient-Macksburg Community School District
  • Cumberland-Anita-Massena Community School District
  • Adair-Casey Community School District
  • West Central Valley Community School District

The schools in the Nodaway Valley Community School District are:

  • Nodaway Valley Elementary School
  • Nodaway Valley Middle School
  • Nodaway Valley High School.

The schools in the Orient-Macksburg Community School District are:

  • Orient-Macksburg Elementary School
  • Orient-Macksburg Middle School and High School.

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