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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.

Howard County, Iowa

Howard County Education, Geography, and HistoryHoward County, Iowa Courthouse

Howard County is a county located in the US state of Iowa. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 9,566. The county was created in 1851. The county seat is Cresco.  Howard county is named after General Tilghman Ashurst Howard, a Representative of Indiana and United States Senator.

Etymology - Origin of Howard County Name

Howard county is named for Tilghman Ashurst Howard, an United States senator from Indiana and general in Tennessee and Indiana.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Howard County History

Howard County, established in 1851 and formally organized by Judge James Lyon of Chickasaw County in July 17, 1855, is named in honor of General Tilghman Ashurst Howard. He held various offices in Tennessee and Indiana and was a long time friend of Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston.

A county seat battle raged in Howard County for 25 years. The county seat has been in the towns of Vernon Springs, Howard Center and New Oregon. Finally, in 1858, to put a stop to these battles, the county seat was located between the towns of Vernon Springs and New Oregon at a site called Pike's Peak. In February 1859 the courthouse was built with money raised by residents of Vernon Springs and New Oregon. This building was deemed unsafe and abandoned in 1865. The county records were then moved to a stone building in Vernon Springs.

In 1867 the citizens of Shook's Grove (now called Cresco) offered the county a new building. It was constructed by the Howard County Court House Association. In July 1867 the Board of Supervisors moved into this building but exceeded its authority when it did this, so the decision went to an election. The voters favored keeping the courthouse at Pike's Peak, but county business was still conducted at Cresco.

In 1868 the treasurer's office was broken into, and $13,000 in money and securities was stolen. The person responsible was never apprehended.

This arrangement continued until the courthouse at Cresco burned down on December 1, 1876. After the fire the citizens of Cresco agreed to extend the city limits to include Pike's Peak. With this done, the Board of Supervisors then relocated the courthouse to the town square. It was here were Howard County built its present courthouse. This Italianate-Classic style building, constructed of light red brick, was completed in January 1880. The courthouse association paid $5,707.90, and the county paid $1,040 for the building.

In 1964 voters approved a $60,000 bond issue to improve the courthouse. Two additions provided for more storage in the vault and more office space. The main structure is still much as it was when completed in 1880.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 474 square miles (1,230 km2), of which 473 square miles (1,230 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) (0.08%) is water.

Howard county is located in northeast Iowa. Lake Hendricks is located in this county.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Northeast: Fillmore County, Minn.
  • East: Winneshiek County
  • South: Chickasaw County
  • Southwest: Floyd County
  • West: Mitchell County
  • Northwest: Mower County, Minn.


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