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In the early 1900s, the town of Villisca, Iowa was the site of a gruesome murder that remains unsolved to this day. On June 10, 1912, eight people were bludgeoned to death with an axe in their home. The crime is known as the Villisca Axe Murders and has been the subject of numerous books, films, and TV shows.
Henry County, Iowa is located in the southeastern part of the state and has a rich history dating back to its establishment in 1836. Originally inhabited by Native American tribes, particularly the Sauk and Meskwaki, the area later became the site of the first European settlements in the 1830s.

The county was named after Patrick Henry, a prominent American statesman and orator known for his influential role in the American Revolution. Henry County quickly grew with the arrival of European settlers, primarily of German, Irish, and English descent. The settlers established small communities, with Mount Pleasant serving as the county seat.

A significant event in the county's history was the construction of the first railroad in Iowa, which passed through Henry County in 1855. This railroad connection facilitated the transportation of goods and people, contributing to the county's economic growth and development.

Like many areas in the Midwest, Henry County played a role in the Civil War. Many of its residents volunteered to fight for the Union, leaving an impact on the county's population and economy. The county also had a strong abolitionist sentiment, with several underground railroad stations established in the area to aid escaped slaves.

Over the years, Henry County has faced various challenges, including economic ups and downs, changes in farming techniques and land use, and natural disasters such as floods. However, the county has persevered and continues to thrive today as a diverse and inviting community with a rich blend of heritage and modern amenities.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Henry County, Iowa.

  • 1834: Henry County, Iowa was established by the Territorial Legislature of Wisconsin Territory.
  • 1836: The first log cabin was built in the area by Thomas Cox.
  • 1837: Mount Pleasant, the county seat, was founded by pioneer settlers.
  • 1839: The first courthouse was built in Mount Pleasant, made of hewn logs.
  • 1840: The population of Henry County was 213.
  • 1847: The first newspaper, called "The Henry County Standard," was published in Mount Pleasant.
  • 1853: The current courthouse, a Greek Revival style building, was completed in Mount Pleasant.
  • 1861-1865: Henry County residents participated in the American Civil War.
  • 1876: The county's first railroad, the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern, was completed.
  • 1881: The Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, an annual event, started in Mount Pleasant.
  • 1897: The Henry County Courthouse was destroyed by a fire, resulting in a loss of valuable records.
  • 1901: The current Henry County Courthouse was completed in Mount Pleasant.
  • 1960s: Mount Pleasant experienced significant economic growth due to industrial development.
  • 1980s: The county's population decreased due to changes in agricultural practices.
  • 2019: Henry County celebrates its 185th anniversary since establishment.