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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.
Union County, Iowa, located in the southwestern part of the state, has a rich and diverse history. The area was originally inhabited by indigenous tribes, including the Ioway, Sioux, and Otoe-Missouria people. European settlement began in the early 1840s when pioneers from the east began to arrive.

In 1849, Union County was officially established, named after the desire for unity between the North and South during a time of tense division on the issue of slavery. The county quickly flourished, with small towns and farming communities springing up across the area.

During the mid-1800s, Union County became an important hub for transportation and trade. The arrival of the railroad in the late 1860s brought increased economic opportunities and population growth. The county's main industries at the time were farming, coal mining, and manufacturing.

In the early 20th century, Union County faced challenges such as the decline of coal mining and agricultural changes. However, the county adapted and diversified its economy. Today, Union County is primarily known for its agriculture, including corn, soybeans, cattle farming, and poultry production. The county is also home to attractions such as the restored Heritage Village, which showcases the area's pioneer history, and the Three Mile Lake Park, a popular recreational area for fishing and camping.

Overall, Union County has a vibrant history of growth, overcoming obstacles, and adapting to changing times. From its early days of settlement to its present-day agricultural prominence, the county's history reflects the perseverance and resilience of its inhabitants.

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

  • 1851 - Union County is established on January 15, 1851, with the county seat located in Afton.
  • 1864 - The Civil War reaches Union County, and several residents join the Union Army to fight in the conflict.
  • 1870 - Railroads extend into Union County, spurring economic growth and increasing transportation opportunities.
  • 1881 - Creston, a town located in Union County, becomes a major hub for railroad activity.
  • 1896 - The Great Western Sugar Company establishes a factory in Creston, boosting the local economy and providing job opportunities.
  • 1901 - The Adams County Coal Company opens a mine in Shannon City, which becomes an important industry in the region.
  • 1930s - Union County, like the rest of the United States, suffers the effects of the Great Depression, with many residents facing unemployment and economic hardship.
  • 1976 - The Union County Historical Village, a living history museum, is established to preserve and showcase the county's heritage.
  • 2008 - The Creston News Advertiser celebrates 120 years of continuous publication, serving as a valuable source of local news for Union County residents.
  • 2010 - Union County's population reaches approximately 12,500 people.
  • 2018 - Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signs a bill into law designating Union County as a Home Base Iowa community, aiming to attract veterans and their families to the county.