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In the mid-1800s, Iowa was a major hub for the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved African Americans to escape to freedom in the North.
Tama County, Iowa, holds a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Long before European settlers arrived, the region was inhabited by native tribes, most notably the Meskwaki (or Sauk and Fox) people. They were known for their agricultural practices, including growing corn, beans, and squash, and their intricate weaving and pottery skills.

European exploration of the area began in the late 1600s, but it was not until the early 1800s that permanent settlers began to arrive. The Meskwaki people were forced to cede their lands in the 1840s, leading to the ultimate establishment of Tama County in 1843. The region was named after Chief Taimah, a respected Meskwaki leader.

The county grew rapidly in the mid-1800s with the construction of railroads, which allowed for easier transportation of goods and people. Agriculture became the backbone of the economy, with abundant fertile lands supporting the growth of crops such as corn, oats, and soybeans. Tama County also had thriving industries, including lumber mills, flour mills, and a canning factory.

Throughout its history, the county has faced challenges, including natural disasters such as tornadoes and floods. However, Tama County residents have displayed resilience and strength in rebuilding their communities. Today, Tama County continues to be a vibrant part of Iowa, with a diverse economy that includes agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. The county is also home to a strong sense of community, with numerous cultural events and festivals celebrating its rich history and heritage.

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

  • Tama County was established on February 17, 1843
  • The first white settler, Samuel Jordan, arrived in 1842
  • Tama City became the county seat in 1853
  • The first railroad arrived in Tama County in 1864
  • The Tama-Toledo newspaper, The Tama County News, began publication in 1868
  • Tama County saw rapid growth in agriculture and industry in the late 1800s
  • Tama County celebrated its centennial in 1943
  • The historic Lincoln Highway, one of the first transcontinental highways, passed through Tama County
  • In 1987, the Meskwaki Settlement, a Native American community, gained federal recognition
  • Tama County is known for its rich heritage, scenic beauty, and agricultural importance