The town of Elkader, Iowa was named after Abd el-Kader, a 19th-century Algerian Muslim leader who fought against French colonialism. The town was founded by settlers from Dubuque, who were inspired by Abd el-Kader's bravery and leadership.
Appanoose County, located in south-central Iowa, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was first inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Fox, Sac, and Iowa tribes. European settlement began in the early 19th century, spurred by the establishment of Fort Des Moines in 1843. In 1844, the county was officially organized and named after Chief Appanoose, a respected Fox warrior.

During the mid-19th century, Appanoose County experienced rapid growth due to its fertile soil and abundant natural resources. Settlers primarily engaged in agriculture, particularly farming and livestock production. The county's connection to the expanding railroad network in the late 1800s further stimulated its economy, leading to the establishment of several towns and the growth of trade and industry.

Appanoose County played a significant role in the development of the coal mining industry in Iowa. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mining became one of the county's primary economic activities, employing thousands of people and leading to the growth of mining towns such as Coalfield and Brazil. However, as the demand for coal declined, the industry gradually declined, leading to economic challenges for the county.

Today, Appanoose County is known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. It is home to Lake Rathbun, a popular destination for fishing, boating, and camping. The county also boasts a vibrant arts and cultural scene, with numerous art galleries, museums, and theaters. Despite the ups and downs in its history, Appanoose County continues to thrive as a close-knit community that celebrates its rich heritage while embracing opportunities for growth and development.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Appanoose County, Iowa.

  • 1843: Appanoose County is established by an act of the Iowa Legislature.
  • 1846: The first settler, John Davis, arrives in the county.
  • 1851: The city of Centerville is platted, becoming the county seat.
  • 1854: The county's first newspaper, "Appanoose Flag," is published.
  • 1861-1865: Many residents of Appanoose County serve in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
  • 1869: The county's first railroad, the Burlington and Southwestern, is completed.
  • 1875: A devastating fire destroys much of the downtown area of Centerville.
  • 1907: The county courthouse, designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is completed.
  • 1930s: Appanoose County, like much of the nation, is heavily impacted by the Great Depression.
  • 1940s-1950s: The county experiences a decline in population due to economic challenges and changing agricultural practices.
  • 1970s: Appanoose County begins to see growth in industries such as manufacturing and healthcare.
  • Present: Appanoose County remains an agricultural hub, while also diversifying its economy to include tourism and recreation.