Home | Whats New | Site Index | Search

Sigourney City

Keokuk County, Iowa

Sigourney City Hall is located at 100 North Main Street, Sigourney, IA 52591.
Phone: 641‑622‑3080.

Sigourney as described in 1938 [1]

Sigourney, seat of Keokuk County, was named for Lydia Huntley Sigourney [1791-1865] of Connecticut, author of many books. When she learned of the honor, she presented the town library with 50 volumes, and directed the planting of the outer row of trees around the courthouse square. Most of the residents are of German descent.

Achilles Rogers, the only Revolutionary War soldier buried in the county, is interred in the Pennington Cemetery; he died at the age of 102 during the cholera epidemic of 1864.

During the period of the Civil War opposing factions in Keokuk County clashed in what became known as the Skunk River War or Tally War. It began in a difference of opinion between those who believed the Federal Government was justified in waging war upon the States attempting secession and those who felt that secession was a State right. The leader of the rebels was a young Baptist preacher, Cyphert Tally, who had come to Iowa from Tennessee. He freely expressed his objections to the war upon the slave-owning States, and was in consequence called a Copperhead.

On Aug. 1, 1863, Tally and some friends, who had held a political meeting in a nearby grove, attempted to pass through South English where the residents had armed against him. A shot was fired, afterwards asserted to have been accidental. This incident, however, began a fight during which Tally was shot in the head. On hearing of Tally's death, a group of armed men gathered. Two thousand Tally sympathizers came from Wapello, Mahaska, and Poweshiek Counties, forming the "Skunk River Army." The people of South English and Sigourney sent a request for aid to Governor Samuel Kirkwood. Ordering 11 companies of militia to move into Keokuk County, the Governor himself hurried there. The town was filled with armed men determined to defy the State government. The Governor ordered the men to disperse and assured them that the entire military resources of Iowa would be at his disposal to effect their arrest if they remained. After some sullen argument and resistance the men dispersed.

  1. Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Iowa, Iowa: A Guide to the Hawkeye State, American Guide Series, The Viking Press, New York, 1938.