Historical Markers in
Jasper County, Iowa

In 1979, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay rights in the case of Varnum v. Brien. The ruling declared that Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, making Iowa the third state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.
Jasper County, located in central Iowa, has a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Fox, Sauk, and Potawatomi, who used the land for hunting and gathering. European settlers began arriving in the 1830s, establishing small communities along the banks of the Skunk River.

In 1846, Jasper County was officially formed and named after Sergeant William Jasper, a Revolutionary War hero. The county quickly developed as agriculture became the backbone of the local economy. Fertile soil and abundant water sources allowed for the cultivation of crops such as corn and soybeans, leading to a flourishing farming community.

The arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s brought further growth and prosperity to Jasper County. Towns like Newton, the county seat, saw the development of industries such as manufacturing and mining. The county became known for its coal mines, contributing to the economic boom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

However, like many other areas in the Midwest, Jasper County faced challenges during the Great Depression and both World Wars. The decline of coal mining and the introduction of mechanized farming resulted in a shift away from labor-intensive industries. Despite these setbacks, the county rebounded in the post-war era with the growth of manufacturing and the establishment of the Iowa Speedway in Newton.

Today, Jasper County continues to build on its agricultural heritage while diversifying its economy. The county remains a major agricultural producer but has also attracted industries such as advanced manufacturing, logistics, and renewable energy. With a population of over 36,000 residents, Jasper County embraces its history while looking toward a bright future.

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

  • 1846: Jasper County is established by the Iowa Territorial Legislature.
  • 1851: The city of Newton is founded as the county seat.
  • 1855: The first railroad line, the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad, is built through Newton.
  • 1871: The Jasper County Courthouse, a three-story brick building, is completed.
  • 1882: The Newton Light, Heat and Power Company is established, providing electricity to the city.
  • 1943: The Maytag Company, a major appliance manufacturer, moves its headquarters to Newton.
  • 1963: The Jasper County Museum is opened in a historic building in Newton.
  • 2008: The Jasper County Courthouse, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, undergoes renovations.