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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


One of the United States, formerly a portion of the Louisiana territory, situated between 40°30' and 43°30' north latitude, and 90°20' and 96°50' west longitude from Greenwich, and is bounded north by Minnesota, east by Mississippi river, which separates it from Wisconsin and Illinois, south by Missouri, and west by the Indian territory.  Its superficial area is 50,000 square miles.

Physical Aspect--The general surface of this state is moderately undulating, without mountains or high hills, except in the northern part, where the hills are of considerable height.  Along the margins of the rivers there are frequent ranges of bluffs, which vary in height from 40 to 130 feet.  In other instances, the streams are skirted by rich "bottoms" covered with trees.  A large proportion of the territory consists of prairies, some of which have a level, others a rolling surface.  The soil on the bottoms, as well as on the prairie, is generally good, the former consisting of a deep rich black mould and the latter of a sandy loam, sometimes intermingled with gravel or red clay.

Rivers and Lakes--The principal rivers are the Mississippi, Des Moines, Iowa, Keosauque, Little Iowa, Turkey, Shunk, Red, Cedar, Maquekota and Wabsipinecon.  At the north part of the state there are numerous small lakes.

Climate--The climate is pleasant, and generally healthy, except where, during the summer, bilious complaints, fevers, and agues, usually prevail.  Snow rarely falls to exceed eight or ten inches in depth; and the Mississippi, at Prairie du Chien, is not frozen sufficiently strong to be crossed more than five or six weeks in the year.  The summers are warm, but not oppressively so, and are refreshed by frequent showers.

Productive Resources--The staple products of this state are, horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, butter, cheese, wax, wool, hay, hemp, flax, skins, furs, sugar, tobacco, wheat, barley, rye, oats, buckwheat, potatoes, and Indian corn. Among the mineral resources are found lead, iron, copper, zinc and coal; but lead is the most abundant, and the mines are extensively worked in the vicinity of Dubuque.

Manufactures--The manufacturing and mechanic arts have as yet but a slight foothold in Iowa; but with its abundant water power and other resources, it undoubtedly will not remain long as now almost entirely an agricultural state.

Commerce--From its position lying upon the Mississippi river, with numerous navigable streams traversing its interior, Iowa possesses commercial advantages equal to those of any other western state. It contributes largely to the valuable cargoes that are floated down the Mississippi to New Orleans.

Education--There are two collegiate institutions in this state; the Iowa University, at Iowa City, and the Franklin college, at Franklin.  The constitution makes it imperative that a school shall be established in each district.  All lands granted by Congress, and other specified avails, constitute a fund to be applied to education. A special fund is also provided for the support of the state university.

Government--The legislative power is vested in a senate consisting of not more than one half, nor less than one third, of the number of representatives, and who are chosen for four years, one half biennially; and on a house of representative, not less then 39, nor more than 72 in number, chosen for two years. The executive power is vested in a governor, chosen for four years.  The judicial power in a supreme court, consisting of a chief justice and two associates, elected by the legislature for six years; in district courts, the judges of which are elected by the people for five years; and in justices of the peace.  Every white male citizen, 21 years old (idiots, insane or infamous persons excepted), having resided in the state six months, and in the county 20 days, has the right of suffrage.  State elections first Monday in August; the legislature meets biennially, first Monday in December.

Population--In 1840 was 43,111 and in 1850 was 192,214.

History--Iowa embraces a portion of the ancient territory of Upper Louisiana, the eastern border of which was explored by Marquette and Joliet, in 1673.  It remained under the jurisdiction of France until 1763 when it was ceded to Spain.  In 1800 it was retro ceded, to France, who formally took possession of the country, and sold the whole to the United States in 1803. Subsequently to this, Iowa constituted a part of the territory of Louisiana, and afterward of that of Missouri.  Until as late as the year 1832, the whole of this territory north of Missouri, which was admitted into the Union as a state in 1821, was in undisputed possession of the Indians.  By a treaty made in 1830, the Sacs and Foxes, then the principal tribes, had ceded to the United States the last of their lands east of the Mississippi.  In consequence of not leaving the territory, in compliance with the treaty, arose the "Black Hawk War," which resulted in the total defeat of the Indians at the Battle of Bad Ax, in Wisconsin in 1832.  In the autumn of that year a belt of country along the west side of the Mississippi, extending northward from Missouri for nearly 300 miles, and 50 miles in width, commonly known as the "Black Hawk Purchase," was ceded by the Indians to the United States.  In 1836-37 further purchases were made, and in 1838 Iowa was erected into a territory.  By another treaty in 1842, a tract of some 15,000,000 acres more were purchased of the Sacs and Foxes for $1,000,000.  From that time the Indian title became extinct in the whole country lying within this state, which was admitted into the Union in 1846.  This state is being rapidly settled, and the tide of emigration now flowing westward will, at no distant day, make this one of the most populous states in the Union.

1850 Counties of  Iowa

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Allomakee northeast corner, crossed by Iowa river blank Lansing 777
Appanoose on south side blank Centreville 3,131
Benton on eastern side, crossed by Cedar river 660 Vinton 672
Black Hawk NE part, crossed by Cedar & Black Hawk rivers 625 main town Cedar Falls 135
Boone central part, crossed by Des Moines river 600 Booneville 735
Buchanan eastern part, blank Independence 517
Cedar eastern part, crossed by Cedar river blank Tipton 3,941
Clarke southwest part blank blank 79
Clayton northeast boundary, west side of Mississippi river 720 Gottenburgh 4,053
Clinton eastern boundary, west side of Mississippi river, Wabesipinnica river on the south 1012 Camanche 2,922
Dallas western part blank Adell 854
Davis southern boundary, intersected by Des Moines river at northeast corner blank Bloomfield 7,264
Decatur southern boundary blank blank 965
Delaware eastern part 576 Delhi 1,759
Des Moines southeast part, Mississippi river on east & Chickahoma river on southwest 410 Burlington 12,987
Du Buque northeastern part, Mississippi river on northeast blank Du Buque 10,841
Fayette north eastern part blank West Union 825
Fremont southwest corner, Missouri river on west blank Dawsonburgh 1,244
Henry south eastern part, crossed by Chicagua river 432 Mount Pleasant 8,707
Iowa no description blank blank 822
Jackson north eastern boundary on Mississippi river 628 Bellevue 7,210
Jasper central part blank Newton 1,280
Jefferson southeast part 380 Fairfield 8,890
Johnson eastern part, crossed by Iowa river 610 Iowa City (Capital) 4,472
Jones eastern part, crossed by Wapsipinecon river 576 Anamosa 3,007
Keokuk southeast part blank Lancaster 4,822
Lee southeast corner, Des Moines river on southwest, Mississippi river on southeast 600 Fort Madison 18,860
Linn toward east part 720 Marion 5,444
Louisa eastern boundary, crossed by Iowa river, with Mississippi river on east 442 Wapello 4,939
Lucas southern part blank Chariton 471
Madison southwest part blank blank 1,179
Mahaska toward south part, crossed by Des Moines river blank Oskaloosa 5,989
Marion central part, crossed by Des Moines river blank Knoxville 5,482
Marshall central part, crossed by Iowa river blank blank 338
Monroe southern part blank Albia 2,884
Muscatine eastern boundary, Mississippi river on east 440 Muscatine 5,731
Page south boundary blank Nodaway 551
Polk central part, crossed by Des Moines river blank Des Moines 4,515
Pottawatamie west boundary, Missouri river on west blank blank 7,828
Poweshiek central part blank Montezuma 615
Scott south eastern boundary, Mississippi river on southeast 540 Davenport 5,986
Van Buren on south boundary, crossed by Des Moines river 504 Keosauque 12,270
Wapello in southeastern part, crossed by Des Moines river blank Ottumwa 8,471
Warren toward southern part blank Indianola 961
Washington in southeastern part, Iowa river on northeast 648 Washington 4,957
Wayne on south boundary 375 blank 340
Winneshiek north boundary, crossed by Upper Iowa river blank Fort Atkinson 546


Formerly the capital and largest town in Iowa, and the seat of justice of Des Moines Co, occupies a pleasant slope on the west bank of the Mississippi, 75 miles southeast of Iowa City, 248 miles north of St Louis, 1,429 miles north of New Orleans and 871 miles from Washington (DC).  Pleasant hills and woody slopes rise behind the city, and enhance the effects of its other advantages.  It is the centre of an active, extended, and increasing commerce with the rich interior of the state, together with that of Illinois, and the valley of the Mississippi.  Possessing a combination of so many favorable circumstances it has already received a vigorous growth.  Its broad and delightful streets, either along the water, or on higher ground, are admirably suited for business, was well as for residence, and the number of public buildings, elegant stores, and dwellings, is already large, and receives almost daily accessions.  A steam-ferry connects the town with the opposite side of the river.

Population in 1840 was 1,300; in 1850 was 4,081

Iowa City, IA

Seat of justice of Johnson Co, and Capital of the state of Iowa, situated on the east bank of Iowa river, about 50 miles from its entrance into the Mississippi, and 75 miles northwest of Burlington.  For romantic and agreeable scenery, as well as in some measure for commercial advantages, it is eminently worthy to be the seat of government of so flourishing a state.  It is built on successive elevations, rising, like terraces, one above the other.  The ground near the river, is level and open.  Above and beyond, upon two heights, run broad and beautiful avenues, and at right angles to this, is "Iowa Avenue" a magnificent street, at the head of which stands the state house, a splendid edifice of richly variegated stone, called "bird's eye" marble.  It is in the Grecian Doric architecture, 60 feet wide and 100 feet long, surmounted by a beautiful dome.  There are churches, schools, stores, and all the accompaniments of civilization and prosperity in the west.  The river is navigable to Iowa City for steamboats and vessels of ordinary draught, and navigation will doubtless be speedily improved by canals and other channels of intercommunication.

Population: in 1840 was 800 and in 1850 was 1,250.

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