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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.

Mitchell County, Iowa

Mitchell County Education, Geography, and HistoryMitchell County, Iowa Courthouse

Mitchell County is a county located in the state of Iowa. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 10,776. Mitchell County was created on January 15, 1851.The county seat is Osage. The county is named in honor of John Mitchel.

Etymology - Origin of Mitchell County Name

Mitchell county is named for either John Mitchel, an Irish patriot, or John Mitchell, an early surveyor.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Mitchell County History

Mitchell County was originally part of Fayette County until it was established in 1851 at a winter session of the Iowa legislature. The county was named either after John Mitchell, an Irish patriot and refugee of 1948, or after an early surveyor.

The first settlers of the county were Leonard Cutler and his son. They passed through Mitchell County in the fall of 1851 and returned the following spring to make a land claim. The first families to settle were the families of L. S. Hart and Orrin, his son, who came in the summer of 1852.

The county originated in 1854 and county officers were first elected August 7, 1854. Each newly-elected officer opened his county office in his own cabin until a building could be provided.

Perhaps the most interesting history of the county involves the battle of the county seats. The first county seat was located in Mitchell because it was centrally located in the county, a very important asset at this time. The people of Osage objected to Mitchell and called for an election. In this election Osage won, but the people of Mitchell contested the election. It was rumored that votes for Osage were bought and paid for with merchandise. The two towns now resorted to every trick known to politicians to gain the county seat.

In 1858 Osage agreed to build a courthouse and jail, and give them to the county. At the same time Mitchell built a courthouse and agreed to give it to the county, but it never did.

Later Osage and Charles City joined forces, since Charles City also wanted to be a county seat, of Floyd County. To better locate both cities centrally in their respective counties, Floyd County gave Mitchell County a three-mile strip of territory on the north end of Floyd County.

This controversy was taken to the courts and arguments were thrown back and forth between the two towns. Finally the matter was called up to trial in a adjoining county. The people of Mitchell were not given notice of this and thus failed to appear for the trial. The judge ruled in favor of the town of Osage. Then, in the middle of the night the county records were moved to Osage, before a contest could be filed. They have been there ever since.

The courthouse that Osage built in 1858 is still in use today. Except for a $100,000 addition in 1976, the red brick building is unchanged and has become one of the oldest courthouses in the state.

Originally, the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors was a body of 17; one from each township. In 1875, the Board was reduced to five members. In 1926, the county was redistricted, and the number of Board numbers changed to three.

The first Lieutenant Governor of Iowa, Oran Faville, came from Mitchell County.

Mitchell and Worth counties have the distinction of being the first in Iowa to enter into a joint agreement for the sharing of a county engineer.

Biedermann, William H., Brief History of Mitchell County, 1973
Zola Naig, Mitchell County Recorder

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 470 square miles (1,200 km2), of which 469 square miles (1,210 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) (0.09%) is water.

Mitchell county is located in north Iowa, along the Minnesota border. The county has the western-most trout streams in Iowa, beautiful river bluffs, and rich woodlands, wetlands, and prairie.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Mower County, Minn.
  • East: Howard County
  • Southeast: Chickasaw County
  • South: Floyd County
  • Southwest: Cerro Gordo County
  • West: Worth County


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