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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.

Guthrie County, Iowa

Guthrie County Education, Geography, and HistoryGuthrie County, Iowa Courthouse

Guthrie County is a county located in the state of Iowa. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 10,954. The county was created on January 15, 1851. The county seat is Guthrie Center. Guthrie county is named after Captain Edwin B. Guthrie, who had died in the Mexican-American War.

Guthrie County is one of the five counties that make up the Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA Metropolitan Statistical Area

Etymology - Origin of Guthrie County Name

Guthrie county is named for Edwin B. Guthrie, a soldier in the Mexican-American War.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Guthrie County History

Guthrie County was named by Theophilus Bryan, sheriff and later county judge of the county. He named it in honor of his friend Captain Edwin B. Guthrie, a commanding officer of a company of Iowa volunteers in the Mexican War.

The county was established and organized in 1851, and the search for a county seat began. The State Legislature, at its 1850-1851 session, appointed David Bishop of Madison County and Lewis Whitten of Polk County to designate a county seat. After taking location and the center of the population at that time into consideration, the town of Panora was selected.

In June of 1853 there was a contract let to build the courthouse, but for some reason it was never built. It stayed this way until March 16, 1857, when Edward Serry made plans and specifications for a courthouse. Soon afterwards James Cline was hired to build the courthouse. Again the contract was annulled and the courthouse was not built. Mr. Cline received $200 for his troubles.

On March 7, 1859 William Tracy and E. B. Newton presented county judge Aaron Hougham with a petition asking that the location of the courthouse be moved to Guthrie Center, since it was more towards the center of the county than Panora. It was sent to the voters of the county, and Panora won by a count of 297 to 277. The first courthouse was finally built later in 1859.

This setback did not stop the people of Guthrie Center. On March 1860 another petition was filed on behalf of Guthrie Center. James Cline then filed a petition against the Guthrie Center petition. After the court took these petitions and testimony of the citizens under advisement, it was decided that another election would be held on April 2, 1860. This time Panora lost, and, on April 7, the court decreed that Guthrie Center was the new county seat and ordered all the papers moved to Guthrie Center.

A wagon train set out for Panora to obtain the safe and county records. They returned in full force with the safe, records and county judge T. B. Harbour. All of these were housed in a building prepared by E. B. Newton.

A petition was brought before the September session in 1861 by the people of Panora to relocate the county seat. Again the people voted and this time Panora won the right to house the county seat. So the safe, records and county judge were all packed up and moved back to Panora.

Guthrie Center tried twice more to regain the county seat. The first time, in 1870, they were unsuccessful, but on the second try, 1873, they won back the county seat. It has been there ever since.

As was mentioned before, the first courthouse was built in 1859, in Panora. It was made of native lumber and was two-stories high. The cost was $2,400.

A beautiful courthouse was built at a cost of $22,500 in Guthrie Center in 1877. The building burned to the ground on March 3, 1883. Bids went out, but all were more than the $15,000 insurance money. The bid finally accepted was for $19,100, and it was two years before the courthouse was completed. This courthouse served the county for 81 years.

During the summer of 1963, construction was begun on a new courthouse. In November the old courthouse was destroyed by fire. For one year, during construction, Guthrie County was without a courthouse.

The present courthouse was occupied in November 1964. It was designed by Dougher, Frevert, and Ramsey of Des Moines and cost $417,000.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 593 square miles (1,540 km2), of which 591 square miles (1,530 km2) is land and 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2) (0.4%) is water.

Guthrie county is located close to the center of Iowa. Guthrie County is made up of a beautiful rural landscape. The county is home to two private lake developments: Lake Panorama and Diamondhead Lake.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Greene County
  • East: Dallas County
  • Southeast: Madison County
  • South: Adair County
  • Southwest: Cass County
  • West: Audubon County
  • Northwest: Carroll County


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