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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.

Humboldt County, Iowa

Humboldt County Education, Geography, and HistoryHumboldt County, Iowa Courthouse

Humboldt County is a county located in the state of Iowa. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 9,815. The county was created in 1857. The county seat is Dakota City.  Humboldt county is named in honor of Alexander von Humboldt,  the famous German scientist, explorer and statesman.

Etymology - Origin of Humboldt County Name

Humboldt county is named for Friedrich Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt, the famous German scientist, explorer and statesman.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Humboldt County History

Humboldt County is named in honor of Baron Friedrich Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt, a famous German scientist, explorer and statesman.

The county was originally created on January 15, 1851 but was then legislated out of existence in July 1855. The land was given to Kossuth and Webster counties. On February 26, 1857 the county was re-established as Humboldt County. Unlike all counties to its east and west, Humboldt County has only 12 townships. Although founded with the standard 16 townships in January 15, 1851, the county was removed from existence in 1855. By the time the county was reestablished on February 26, 1857, John Duncombe of Fort Dodge (namesake of Duncombe, Iowa) had tricked Humboldt County into cedeing the southern four townships (Jackson, Deer Creek, Badger, Newark) to Webster County "on loan"

The first white man to build a cabin in the county was Henry Lott. In 1854, Lott killed Sidominadotah, an Indian chief, and most of his family and then fled the state. The Spirit Lake Massacre was led by Inkpaduta, brother of Sidominadotah.

The county had been in existence for 15 years before a courthouse was erected at Dakota City, which had been chosen as the county seat in 1857. This first courthouse was built at a cost of $5,000. It was constructed of bricks that were made at the courthouse site. The original size of the building was supposed to be 37-foot x 47-foot, but the final dimensions were 47-foot x 59-foot and two stories high.

After several heated debates, the citizens of Humboldt County finally agreed to the construction of a new courthouse. Some people felt Humboldt should get the new building, but Dakota City remained the county seat.

Dakota City has the smallest population of any county seat in Iowa (911 as of 2000 census).

The building was dedicated on February 25, 1939. It is a three-story, 64-foot. x 104-foot gray brick building. The county paid $95,000 of the $175,000 cost. The remaining balance was furnished by the Public Works Administration.

Source: Peggy Rice, Humboldt County Auditor, 2002

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 436 square miles (1,130 km2), of which 434 square miles (1,120 km2) is land and 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2) (0.3%) is water.

Humboldt county is located in northwest Iowa. West Fork of the Des Moines River is located in this county and the river is known for its forested limestone bluffs and grassy banks. Lake Nokomis, popular for its woods and small ponds is in Humboldt county.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Kossuth County
  • Northeast: Hancock County
  • East: Wright County
  • South: Webster County
  • West: Pocahontas County
  • Northwest: Palo Alto County


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