CLARKE COUNTY lies in the second tier north of the Missouri line, in the seventh west of the Mississippi River and contains twelve congressional townships embracing an area of four hundred thirty-two square miles. It was originally a part of Demoine County but in January, 1846, the new county was established and named for James Clarke who was then Governor of Iowa Territory. The boundaries formerly included the east half of Union County but did not then embrace the eastern tier of townships. In 1849 the boundaries were changed and the county assumed its present form. In 1846, when the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo took place, John and James Longley and John Conger, with their families, became separated from one of the trains and camped six miles south of where Osceola stands. Not being able to find the train they decided to remain where they were, open farms and make homes. The place was long known as "Lost Camp" and became the first settlement in Clarke County. In the spring they found other families of Mormons who had made homes but a few miles from them and all remained and became prosperous farmers. In 1850 Robert Jamison, A. Colier, Bernard and James G. Arnold, J. Ellis, John Shearer and William Overton settled in the southern part of the county. Soon after a colony from Van Buren County came and laid out the town of Hopeville near the west line of the county, settling in that vicinity.
In 1851 the county was organized by the election of the following officers: John A. Lindsley, judge; Alonzo R. Williams, clerk; G. W. Glenn, treasurer; and Ivison Ellis, sheriff. The commissioners chosen to locate the county-seat selected a farm entered by George W. Howe, which was purchased for one hundred dollars and the town of Osceola laid out upon it. George W. Howe built the first house in Osceola in 1851 in which he opened the first store in the county. At a sale of lots in October eighty-five were sold at an average price of twenty-two dollars each. The first term of court was held in 1853 by Judge J. S. Townsend. At the general election in August, 1852, but eighty-one votes were polled. The first newspaper was established in 1858 by G. S. Pike and T. R. Oldham and named the Osceola Courier. The Burlington and Missouri Railroad was built through the county and through the town of Osceola, and completed to the Missouri river in 1868.
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