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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.

Ida County, Iowa

Ida County Education, Geography, and HistoryIda County, Iowa Courthouse

Ida County is a county located in the state of Iowa. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 7,089. The county was created on January 15, 1851. The county seat is Ida Grove.  Ida county is probably named after Ida Smith, the first child of European immigrants to be born in this region.

Etymology - Origin of Ida County Name

Ida county is named for possibly Ida Smith, the first European-American child born in the county.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Ida County History

Ida County was established in 1851. The county's name is usually credited to Eliphalet Price, about 1852. Price was on a State Commission to name Iowa's newly formed counties. The story claims he was camped east of the grove watching Indian campfires on the far ridge, and the image brought to mind Mount Ida in ancient Greece. Price called the county Ida, and even before settlement seriously began, the new county's most significant landmark was know as Ida's Grove. The Grove that someday would give Ida Grove its name and was one of only a few scattered timber groves in the county.

The first authentic account of the early settlement of Ida County states that in 1854, Robert Townsley and Edward Smith build a cabin and raised a small crop of corn. The first white child born in the county was a girl to Ed and Margaret Smith and was named Ida. (Some say she was named for the county; others say the county was named after her.)

At this point in history Ida Grove takes on the first hint of permanence with the arrival of Ebenezer Cornstock and John Moorehead. The Cornstocks and Mooreheads were farmers. They depended on the land to provide for their families and livestock.

It was the Moorehead's cabin that was destined to become the center of slowly growing commerce in the area. The arrangement of early homesteads made his cabin on the south end of the grove the first human habitation after a 25 mile trek, and it was only natural that is would become a regular stage coach stop.

The official organization date of the county is just as unclear. The first settlements were made in 1856 near the Maple River, and some say the county was organized shortly afterwards in 1858, with a county population of 40. Others say that the correct date is January 1, 1859.

The county was originally divided into four townships: Douglass, Silver Creek, Corwin and Maple. From June 6, 1876 to January 4, 1881, the other townships were detached from the originals.

The county seat was officially located in Ida Grove on December 17, 1860 and the first regular meeting of the board of supervisors was January 1, 1866. Members present included: J.H. Moorehead, A.J. Teal and M.G. Aldrich.

The first courthouse of Ida County was built in the original town of Ida in 1871 and was nearly completed before any other building was begun near the site. On January 12, 1877, the courthouse burned, along with most of the county records. County offices were then located in various locations around the town.

Late in 1879 a building was constructed with private funds. The county had the option to either rent or buy the building. In 1880 the county moved its offices into the building.

On July 2, 1883, the letting of a contract to build a new courthouse and jail as per plans and specifications of J.P. Bryant was held with W. Townsend and J.M. Starbuck having the low bid of $28,145 with the erection and completion of the building to be on or before January 1, 1884.

The 66-foot x 82-foot brick structure is in ornate Victorian style. Due to state of repairs, in the 1960s the building did undergo some remodeling. The basement and large courtroom were remodeled into offices and storage space.

In 1974, the 1883 courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This makes it eligible for federal restoration funds and prohibits the use of federal funds for its destruction.

In 1970, the first of seven bond issues asking to build a new courthouse was defeated. On November 4, 1980 plans to erect "a new courthouse and renovate portions of the courthouse not previously remodeled at a total cost not to exceed $900,000 and use federal revenue sharing funds on hand to pay the cost thereof" was passed and the blending of the old and the new on courthouse hill seemed to be a suitable compromise to the courthouse issue. This building was dedicated to the present and future citizens of Ida County on September 25, 1983.

Ida County contains the following municipalities: Arthur, Battle Creek, Galva, Holstein and Ida Grove. There are 12 townships and the 2000 census shows a population of 7,837. The county is basically agricultural although there are three manufacturing companies that employ several hundred people.

Harold Hughes, a native son of Ida Grove, was Governor of Iowa 1962-1968.

In 1987, Bruce M. Snell, Jr. of Ida Grove was named to the Iowa Supreme Court by Governor Branstad. Judge Snell's father had also served on the Supreme Court, making the Snells the first father and son to have served on the Iowa Supreme Court.

Jim Dowling, Sac County Recorder
Lorna Steenbock, Ida County Auditor, 2002

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 432 square miles (1,120 km2), of which 432 square miles (1,120 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) (0.1%) is water.

Ida county is located in west Iowa. The northwest Iowa landscape of this county is made up of gently rolling hills.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Cherokee County
  • Northeast: Buena Vista County
  • East: Sac County
  • Southeast: Crawford County
  • Southwest: Monona County
  • West: Woodbury County


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