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Keokuk County, Iowa


The Keokuk County Courthouse is located at 101 South Main Street, Sigourney, IA 52591; phone: 641-622-2721.

Beginnings [1]

Keokuk County is located in the third tier of counties north of the Missouri border and is the third county west of the Mississippi River. Although the far southeast corner of the county was opened to settlers in October 1838, the main part of the county was included in the Treaty of 1842 which allowed settlement of the "New Purchase" on 1 May 1843. The county was named for Keokuk, the principal chief representing the Indians at the treaty signing. It is said that Aaron Miller was the first settler, arriving in Richland Township in the spring of 1838, but he was soon followed by others.

The county was officially organized in 1844 and a three man commission was charged with locating the county seat. After five days of riding through the new county they selected a site just one mile from the geographic center, drove a stake to mark it, and named it Sigourney. (One of the commissioners, George H. Stone, was a great admirer of the writings of the poet, Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney.) When the residents of Richland and Newton (towns in the southeast corner of the county) learned of the decision they were outraged and tried to get the commission to change its mind. However, the county clerk, S.A. James, took his job quite seriously, and he rode to the center of the county, located the stake driven by the commissioners and built his cabin at the site. This 12' x 16' building was to serve as the seat of county business until a true courthouse could be constructed.

  1. Molly Myers, Consultant, Sigourney Historic Preservation Commission, Historical and Architectural Resources of Sigourney, Iowa, multiple property nomination, 1998, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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