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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.
Webster County, Iowa, located in the northern part of the state, has a rich history dating back to the early 1800s. In the early years, the region was home to Native American tribes, including the Dakota Sioux and Ioway, who relied on the fertile land along the Des Moines River for hunting and gathering.

In the mid-1800s, settlers from the eastern states began arriving in the area, attracted to the land's agricultural potential. The county was officially established in 1851 and named after Daniel Webster, a prominent American statesman. The town of Fort Dodge, which would become the county seat, was founded in 1850 and served as a central hub for trade and transportation.

The discovery of gypsum deposits in the late 19th century brought economic prosperity to Webster County. Gypsum mining and manufacturing became major industries, attracting workers from around the region. This led to the development of several communities, including Lehigh and Dayton, which were built around the gypsum mines.

Webster County has been shaped by its agricultural heritage. The county's fertile soil and favorable climate allowed for successful farming, particularly in corn and soybean production. The introduction of modern farming techniques and machinery further bolstered the county's agricultural sector, contributing to its economic stability.

Today, Webster County continues to thrive as a vibrant community with a strong agricultural base. The county's history is celebrated through various historical sites and museums, showcasing the enduring legacy of the early settlers and the impact of industries like gypsum mining on the region's development.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Webster County, Iowa.

  • 1850: Webster County is established as a county in the state of Iowa.
  • 1855: The first courthouse is completed in Fort Dodge, the county seat of Webster County.
  • 1861: The American Civil War begins, and many residents from Webster County join the Union Army.
  • 1868: The city of Fort Dodge is incorporated, becoming the largest city in Webster County.
  • 1873: The first railroad, the Illinois Central Railroad, reaches Fort Dodge, improving transportation in the area.
  • 1881: The Fort Dodge Messenger, the oldest newspaper in Webster County, is established.
  • 1908: The Duncombe Dam is constructed on the Des Moines River, providing hydroelectric power to Fort Dodge.
  • 1926: The Webster County Courthouse, which still stands today, is completed in Fort Dodge.
  • 1961: The Crossroads Mall, the first enclosed shopping center in Webster County, opens in Fort Dodge.
  • 1985: The Blanden Memorial Art Museum opens its doors, showcasing various artworks and providing art education to the community.