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CONDENSED HISTORY OF BOONE COUNTY, IOWA

FROM I. A. ‘WHO’S WHO OF IOWA,’ 1940

Less than a century ago, the first permanent settlement was made in Boone County, which is located in the heart of the Mississippi Valley, constituting the world’s greatest area of productive soil. Boone County is a little west of the center of Iowa and is bisected by the Des Moines River, the largest river in the state. The county is twenty-four miles square and contains 368,640 acres. It is divided into seventeen townships, eight on the east side of the river and nine on the west side.

Among the hardy pioneers to migrate west to Boone County was a man of character, bravery, and skill . . . Daniel Boone. His son Nathan, inherited a great many traits of his father and became Colonel of the United States Dragoons and was in command of on e of the first companies in this section of country. He was among the first white men who explored the region and gave correct account of its natural resources. As a tribute to his memory the county bears his name. The first white man who resided in the present limits of Boone County was Colonel L. W. Babbitt. The honor of being the first settler is claimed for different parties, but it is generally conceded this honor should be given to Charles W. Gaston, January 1846. The first settlement at Swede Point (now the town of Madrid) was made in 1846. The town of Ogden to the west, was incorporated, May 1878. Montgomery McCall settled near the present site of Boonsboro (now West Boone) in February 1847. At the time of final organization in 1849, there were about 400 inhabitants of the county. The town of Boonsboro was incorporated in 1865. During the fall of 1866 the town of Boone Station was incorporated and officers chosen. Some time after its incorporation the name of the town was changed to Montana and in 1872 it was again changed to Boone.

There was intense rivalry between the towns of Boone and Boonsboro, but these two towns are now merged into the modern city of Boone.

Briefly stated the important events which followed during the course of years might be summarized as follows:

  • The county was named and the boundaries defined in February 1847.
  • Boonsboro was located July 9, 1851.
  • County formally organized, 1849.
  • First white child born, Henry Hull, 1848.
  • First marriage, Henry Holcomb to Mary J Hull, 1848.
  • First term of court, October 6, 1851.
  • First land entered, Matthias Hoffman, October 1848.
  • First land transfer, Henry Everly to Eric Dalander, March 1849.
  • First mortgage executed, John Redpath to P. K. Detrick , May 1851.
  • First mill erected, 1848-49.
  • First newspaper published, spring of 1857.
  • First mail received in Boonsboro, 1851
  • Boone laid out, March 24, 1865.
  • Court House built, 1867.
  • Railroad completed to Boone, July 17, 1865.
  • First coal mine opened, 1866.

The first election was held at the house of John C. Crooks, August 6, 1849, for the purpose of electing county officers and board of public works.

A legendary incident, which has been proclaimed throughout the surrounding territory, has been linked with Boone County through the heroism of Kate Shelley. Living at Honey Creek in southwest Boone County, Kate Shelley braved a raging rainstorm to warn passengers of a night express that the bridge at Honey Creek had been washed out. She crossed the Des Moines River from Honey Creek to Moingona, at which point the train was to arrive, and averted this terrible catastrophe. The express was saved by her heroic effort and a special tribute was paid her memory and a bronze plaque dedicated in memory of her as recently as July 1956.

The present Court House was built in 1917, on the same site as the first one erected in 1867.

Various transportation systems prospered in the county . . .the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul from Des Moines to Boone; Fort Dodge Des Moines & Southern from Des Moines to Boone, and on to Fort Dodge; and the Chicago & North Western Railway. The county is traversed from east to west by U.S. Highway No. 30 and from north to south by U. S. Highway No. 169 and State Highway No. 17. Northern Natural Gas Company extended the march of progress in the county when their lines were brought across Iowa through Boone County. Their huge compressor station is located at Ogden. Other incorporated towns and villages include Beaver, Berkley, Boxholm, Fraser, Luther, Madrid, Pilot Mount, Sheldahl, (within the County), BOONE, the county seat, with magnificent public buildings, forms the center of the judicial affairs of the county, while Ogden is considered the trade center on the west side of the river and Madrid the trade center in the southeast corner of the county.

Surrounding these three towns lies some of the most fertile farming lands of the great Middle West, making Boone County an ideal spot in which to live.



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