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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.

Ringgold County, Iowa

Ringgold County Education, Geography, and HistoryRinggold County, Iowa Courthouse

Ringgold County is a county located in the state of Iowa. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 5,131, making it the second-least populous county in Iowa. Ringgold County was created on February 24, 1847. The county seat is Mount Ayr. The county is named after Major Samuel Ringgold, a hero of the Battle of Palo Alto fought in May 1846, during the Mexican-American War.

Etymology - Origin of Ringgold County Name

Ringgold county is named for Major Samuel B. Ringgold, who was killed in the Mexican-American War.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Ringgold County History

Ringgold County was named after Major Samuel Ringgold who was fatally wounded in the Mexican War. The county was established in 1847 and originated in 1855. It is one of the 26 Iowa counties which has a name not shared with any other county in the United States.

The first courthouse in Ringgold County was a 14 foot square log building built in 1856. The first supplies purchased for the new government seat included 6 loads of wood at $.80 per load, 40 pounds of candles costing $11.40 and two boxes of envelopes at $3.50. Today electricity, heat and water cost approximately $20,600.00 a year. Disaster in the form of a cyclone wind struck the building and the logs and records blew in all directions. Some were never recovered.

In 1859 the county built a new, larger, better wood frame building. It was located on the east side of the square. This building served Ringgold County for about 25 years. Then in 1884 a large brick building was completed from bricks made and fired in this county. It stood in the center of the courthouse square. About four years later the old wood frame courthouse caught fire and was destroyed on Thanksgiving night. The new courthouse lasted about forty years. Inferior brick and lack of drain tiles caused such large cracks that it was condemned as unsafe in 1921. The county offices moved into the beautiful brick building we use today, after using a garage, west of the Post Office, for several years. In the first floor lobby hangs a plaque with the names of all the Ringgold County servicemen who gave their lives for our country. These men fought in the Civil War, World War I & II, Korean War, Vietnam Conflict, & Desert Storm. Also, in our courtyard, we have a memorial statue honoring our servicemen. The inscription reads: "In memory of the men who gave their lives to the defense of their country". Until World War II there was a large cannon mounted on the northwest courthouse lawn. On the east lawn stood a tall flagpole. The base was shaped somewhat in a pyramid with large cannon balls embedded in the cement. On Saturday evenings in the summer, children loved to climb on both while their parents listened to band concerts from the bandstand on the north lawn.

The present courthouse, also built of brick in 1926-27, remains in good condition today. New windows were added in 1974-75. In the spring of 1997 the interior walls of the entire courthouse got a sprucing up. This was also the year of installing the computer network system as we pursue updating our services through modern technology. The addition of an elevator and re-locating Secondary Roads offices in their new building in 1999, brought about the remodeling and re-location of several offices within the courthouse. The courthouse continues to be modernized with Internet capabilities serving the needs of the various county/state offices while maintaining its historical charm.

In recent years a landscaping program has brought the beauty of new trees, shrubs, flowers & new lighting to the Square. A new sound system is also being added to the courtyard in 2002.

Just as the early pioneers used the courthouse for many meetings in addition to it's official functions. Our courthouse is available to community groups for meetings, entertainment and various activities.

Karen Schaefer, Ringgold County Recorder
Tara Lynch, Ringgold County Deputy Recorder
A Centennial History of Mount Ayr, Iowa by Jack Terry

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 539 square miles (1,400 km2), of which 535 square miles (1,390 km2) is land and 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2) (0.6%) is water.

Ringgold county is located in south Iowa. Sun Valley Lake is located in this rural county.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Union County
  • Northeast: Clarke County
  • East: Decatur County
  • Southeast: Harrison County, Mo.
  • Southwest: Worth County, Mo.
  • West: Taylor County
  • Northwest: Adams County


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