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During World War II, Iowa was home to several prisoner of war camps, where German soldiers were held captive. The largest of these camps was located in Algona, Iowa, and housed more than 10,000 prisoners at its peak.
Decatur County, located in south-central Iowa, has a rich history dating back to its early settlement in the mid-19th century. The county was named after Commodore Stephen Decatur, a prominent naval hero of the War of 1812. The first European-American settlers arrived in the area in the 1840s, primarily from Ohio, and established small farming communities.

In the 1850s, Decatur County experienced a period of rapid growth and development. The county seat, called Decatur City, was established in 1850 and quickly became a hub for trade and commerce. The arrival of the railroad in the 1870s further facilitated economic growth, connecting Decatur County to larger markets and bringing more settlers to the area.

Agriculture has always played a central role in Decatur County's economy. Early settlers cleared the land and cultivated crops such as corn, wheat, and oats. Livestock farming, including cattle, hogs, and poultry, also became an important industry. The county's fertile soil and favorable climate made it a prime location for agricultural production.

Over the years, Decatur County has faced challenges, including economic downturns and natural disasters. The Great Depression of the 1930s hit the county hard, causing widespread unemployment and poverty. The community came together during this time, establishing relief programs and collaborating on various public works projects to provide jobs and support for residents.

Despite these challenges, Decatur County has persevered and continues to thrive today. Its agricultural heritage is still evident, with a variety of farms and agricultural businesses dotting the landscape. The county also boasts a strong sense of community, with active civic organizations, annual festivals, and a commitment to preserving its history for future generations.

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

  • 1851: Decatur County is established on October 9.
  • 1853: The county seat is located in Garden Grove.
  • 1854: The county seat is moved to Decatur City.
  • 1857: The county seat moves yet again, this time to Leon.
  • 1860: The first school in the county is established in Woodland Township.
  • 1877: The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad is completed through the county.
  • 1880: Leon becomes an incorporated city.
  • 1904: Decatur County Courthouse is built in Leon.
  • 1925: Decatur County Historical Museum is established in Leon.
  • 1989: Leon General Hospital opens in Leon.
  • 2006: The county celebrates its 155th anniversary.