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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.

Worth County, Iowa

Worth County Education, Geography, and HistoryWorth County, Iowa Courthouse

Worth County is a county located in the state of Iowa. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 7,598. Worth County was created on January 15, 1851. The county seat is in Northwood. Worth county is named for Major General William Jenkins Worth (1794-1849), an officer in both the Seminole War and the Mexican-American War.

Worth County is part of the Mason City, IA Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Worth County Name

Worth county is named for William Jenkins Worth, a general in the Black Hawk War and Mexican-American War.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Worth County History

Major General William Jenkins Worth, a prominent officer in the Black Hawk and Mexican Wars, is the namesake of Worth County.

The county was established in 1851 and originated in 1858. Since the beginning of the county, there was a debate over the location of the county seat. The first two rivals were Northwood and Bristol. Their battle became so heated that at one time there was a movement to divide the county.

Originally the thriving settlement of Bristol was the county seat, but the community of Northwood was threatening. Bristol tried to relocate the boundaries of the county, in order to put itself nearer the center of the county. This was an attempt to solidify its position as the county seat. The attempt failed, because after much litigation and contention, Northwood became the county seat in 1863. Following this, the settlement of Bristol, once the largest in the county, vanished.

The first county courthouse at Northwood was a small stone structure that was rented to the county for $3 per month. In 1865 the Board of Supervisors authorized the construction of a courthouse. Total cost of the two-story building was $1,000.

Another county seat battle occurred in 1879. This time the parties were Northwood and Kensett. Northwood remained the county seat after winning the election, 709 to 644. Following this the county built its third courthouse. Local citizens pledged $5,000 toward the courthouse - only $4,594 was used, and land was donated by the county.

This brick building was used until 1893, when it was used as a high school, library, and city hall. Today it stands as the Worth County Historical Museum.

The current courthouse was completed in 1893. The original tower was removed, and the entire courthouse was remodeled in 1938. A Civil War cannon sits on the courthouse grounds as a monument to all veterans.

An addition was added to the courthouse in 1990, which included offices for the sheriff's department, a new jail, offices for the clerk of court, and a magistrate courtroom/conference room.

Source: Kay Clark, Worth County Auditor

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 402 square miles (1,040 km2), of which 400 square miles (1,000 km2) is land and 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2) (0.5%) is water.

 Worth county is located in north Iowa. The county is the fourth-smallest county in Iowa by land area and third-smallest by total area.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Freeborn County, Minn.
  • Northeast: Mower County, Minn.
  • East: Mitchell County
  • South: Cerro Gordo County
  • Southwest: Hancock County
  • West: Winnebago County


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