The famous explorers Lewis and Clark passed through Iowa in 1804 on their journey to the Pacific Ocean, but they didn't actually set foot on Iowa soil. The expedition traveled along the western border of Iowa, which was then part of the Missouri Territory.
Greene County, located in central Iowa, has a rich history that dates back to its establishment in 1854. Named after General Nathanael Greene, a Revolutionary War hero, the county was initially a sparsely populated area with small settlements scattered across its fertile land. As the railroad industry expanded in the late 19th century, Greene County saw a surge in population and economic growth.

The first major development in the county came with the construction of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad in the 1870s. This railway provided a vital transportation link, connecting Greene County to larger markets and facilitating the export of agricultural products. As a result, more settlers arrived, and towns began to thrive. Jefferson, the county seat, emerged as the primary commercial and administrative center.

Agriculture played a significant role in shaping Greene County's history. With its fertile soil and favorable climate, the area quickly became known for its corn and soybean production. In addition to crop farming, livestock farming became a vital component of the county's economy. Greene County became known as a leading dairy producer, contributing significantly to the state's overall dairy industry.

Throughout the 20th century, Greene County adapted to changing times. The automobile revolutionized transportation, leading to the construction of better roads and highways. In the mid-1900s, the county experienced a decline in population as many residents migrated towards larger cities for work opportunities. However, the agricultural sector continued to thrive, and new industries, like manufacturing and healthcare, emerged to diversify the local economy.

Today, Greene County remains a vibrant community with a focus on agriculture and small-town living. Its historic downtown areas, rich farmlands, and friendly atmosphere make it an attractive place for residents and visitors alike. As the county continues to evolve, it maintains its deep-rooted connection to its agricultural heritage while embracing innovation and progress.

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

  • 1854 - Greene County is established by an act of the Iowa Legislature.
  • 1856 - The first courthouse in Greene County is constructed in the town of Franklin.
  • 1868 - The county seat is moved from Franklin to Jefferson.
  • 1870 - The first railroad, the Chicago and Northwestern, is completed in Greene County.
  • 1876 - A new courthouse is built in Jefferson to replace the previous one.
  • 1893 - The town of Grand Junction is established as a stop on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.
  • 1904 - The town of Churdan is incorporated, becoming the third largest town in Greene County.
  • 1920 - The first paved road in Greene County is completed, connecting Jefferson to Churdan.
  • 1942 - The Jefferson Army Air Field is established during World War II and serves as a training facility for pilots.
  • 1974 - The county courthouse in Jefferson is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1993 - The county celebrates its 150th anniversary with various events and activities.
  • 2007 - The Greene County Historical Society Museum is opened in Jefferson to preserve and showcase the county's history.