In 1917, a German submarine sank the SS Housatonic, a U.S. freighter carrying food and supplies to Europe during World War I, off the coast of South Carolina. Among the crew members who went down with the ship was an Iowa native named Herbert C. Jones, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the sinking.
Clarke County, Iowa, is located in the south-central part of the state. It was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Ioway, Marseilles, and Illinois tribes. European settlement began in the early 1840s when the United States government opened the area for settlement. The county was officially established on January 13, 1846, and named after Governor James Clarke of Iowa Territory.

In the early years of Clarke County's history, agriculture played a crucial role in its development. Many settlers were attracted to the fertile soil and began farming crops such as corn, wheat, and oats. The county's economy also flourished with the introduction of the railroad in the late 1860s, making it easier to transport goods to and from the area.

Clarke County has had its share of struggles throughout its history. It faced significant challenges during the Civil War, with many residents enlisting in the Union Army. The county also experienced periods of economic downturn, particularly during the Great Depression in the 1930s, but managed to rebound through new agricultural practices and government relief programs.

Over time, Clarke County has seen growth and development in various sectors. The construction of Interstate 35 in the 1970s improved transportation within the county and allowed for increased commerce. Today, the county continues to thrive, with a diverse economy that includes agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, and education. It is known for its beautiful landscapes, historic sites, and friendly community. Clarke County remains a place that values its heritage while embracing progress and innovation.

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

  • 1846 - Clarke County is established as a county in the state of Iowa
  • 1851 - The first settlers arrive in the area
  • 1856 - The city of Osceola is founded
  • 1862 - The Civil War affects Clarke County, with many residents joining the Union Army
  • 1870 - The railroad arrives in Osceola, boosting economic development
  • 1875 - The first courthouse is built in Osceola
  • 1880 - Coal mining becomes an important industry in the county
  • 1900 - The population of Clarke County reaches its peak at around 14,000
  • 1920 - The county experiences a decline in population due to the agricultural crisis
  • 1930 - The Clarke County Historical Society is founded
  • 1948 - The county fairgrounds are established
  • 1980 - The Clarke County Development Corporation is formed to promote economic growth
  • 2000 - The population of Clarke County is around 8,400
  • 2010 - The county celebrates its 150th anniversary