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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.

Osceola County, Iowa

Osceola County Education, Geography, and HistoryOsceola County, Iowa Courthouse

Osceola County is a county located in the state of Iowa. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 6,462.  Osceola County was created on January 15, 1851. The county seat is Sibley. Osceola county is named for Seminole war chief Osceola.

Etymology - Origin of Osceola County Name

The county is named in honor of Osceola, a famous Seminole Indian Chief, in the Second Seminole War, who fought brilliantly against the United States to preserve the land and the rights of his people. He was finally captured and died a prisoner at Ft. Moultrie, Florida in 1838.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Osceola County History

Osceola is named after a famous Seminole Indian Chief who fought brilliantly against the United States to preserve the land and the rights of his people. He was finally captured and died a prisoner at Ft. Moultrie, Fla. in 1838. The settlers liked to talk about his exploits and his romance with the Creek Indian Princess, Ouscaloosa.

Osceola County was established in 1851 and organized in 1871. The first permanent settlement took place that same year by Captain Eldred Huff when he took up residence on a claim he had filed the previous November. Since the county was void of any timber (early settlers called it the "American Desert"), Captain Huff hauled a load of lumber from Sioux City for his house. This lack of timber also caused a fuel problem in the winter. Settlers were urged to plant giant sunflowers, as an acre of sunflowers would yield a good burning material equal to six cords of good dry wood.

The first session of the Osceola County Board of Supervisors was held on January 1, 1872. The following Thursday they passed their first resolution. It read "Resolved - that Sibley, Osceola County, Iowa, shall be the county seat of said Osceola County and that the County Auditor be authorized to petition the Legislature through our representation to have the action of the Board of Supervisors legalized." The fact that the railroad went through Sibley and that the land for the courthouse was donated by the railroad promoters probably did not hurt this decision by the board.

The first courthouse was built in November of 1872 by Henry Pfingsten (or Phringston) at a cost of $4,500. The wooden frame structure also served as a school and a church. It contained a 6-foot x 10-foot privy, coal shed, front and rear steps, vane and ball on the flagstaff, and a room under the stairway inside the courthouse.

In 1901 it was decided that Osceola needed a new courthouse. A special election was held in November, and a $50,000 bond issue was passed. The contract was awarded to C. E. Atkinson, and construction was completed by 1902. It was formally dedicated in September of 1903. In October of 1915 the building was wired for electricity.

The original courthouse contained a dome which held a statue of Justice. In 1925 the dome was removed and replaced by a square-shaped cupola and the statue of Justice was replaced. This construction was done to modernize the building. On August of 1961 the square cupola was removed, leaving the upper portion of the courthouse as it is at the present time.

Constant upkeep and repairs have kept the building's beauty there for all to enjoy and admire. A major entrance change was made in 1974 to make the building more handicapped accessible. Even with the addition of an elevator, the continuity of the original design is still there.

On July 5th, 2002 the centennial of the Osceola County Courthouse was observed with a rededication ceremony. At the same time, a recognition ceremony was held for the Osceola County Veterans Memorial. The memorial monument joins two other monuments on the courthouse lawn honoring veterans of the Civil War and World War I. The first phase of the project was erected just prior to the Courthouse Centennial and the memorial will be completed and dedicated on November 11, 2002

The Osceola County courthouse is a fine old building. She has stood the test of time. From the crisp cool days of fall to the bitter cold and blinding snows of winter. She has enjoyed the gentle spring rains and endured the hot humid days of summer along with a few northwest Iowa tornadoes. She has seen her people laugh, she has seen them cry. She has seen her young men and women leave to serve their country well, and unfortunately, some never to return. Yes, she is a fine old building and we salute her. May she stand and serve her county inhabitants for another 100 years. God bless our courthouse.

Source: Arlene Kuehl, Osceola County Recorder

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 399 square miles (1,030 km2), of which 399 square miles (1,030 km2) is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) (0.2%) is water.

 Osceola County, located in the northwest corner of the state, is Iowa's youngest county and consists of only 397 square miles. Osceola was originally part of Woodbury County, then called Wahkaw County. Besides being the youngest county in Iowa, Osceola is also the highest. The highest natural point in Iowa, Hawkeye Point at 1,670 feet (509 m), is located in Osceola County.  This county is the third-smallest county in Iowa by land area and smallest by total area.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Northeast: Jackson County, Minn.
  • East: Dickinson County
  • Southeast: Clay County
  • South: O'Brien County
  • Southwest: Sioux County
  • West: Lyon County
  • Northwest: Nobles County, Minn.


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