GRUNDY COUNTY lies in the fourth tier south of the Minnesota line in the fifth west of the Mississippi River and contains five hundred four square miles. It was created in 1851 from territory formerly belonging to Benton and Buchanan counties and was named for Felix Grundy, a prominent citizen of Tennessee. The county contains no large streams and but little native timber but consists of a vast stretch of prairie of great fertility.

On the 4th of October, 1853, William D. Peck made a claim in the northeastern part of the county, now Franklin township. About two weeks later John Freel took a claim on Black Hawk Creek in the southeastern part of the county and built a log cabin. Thomas G. Hoxie made the first settlement in the vicinity of Grundy Center in 1855. C. F. Clarkson was the pioneer settler in the western part of the county where he built a house and established his family in May, 1855.

The county was organized in 1856 by the election of the following officers: A. W. Lawrence, judge; Thomas G. Copp, treasurer; T. G. Hoxie, sheriff; Elias Marble, clerk, and C. F. Clarkson, prosecuting attorney. The county-seat was located at Grundy Center in 1856 and the first term of the District Court was held in 1857 in a log house at which Judge J. D. Thompson presided. In 1861 a weekly newspaper was established by W. H. Hartman and J.M. Chaffee, named The Pioneer. The Burlington and Cedar Rapids Railroad runs in a northwesterly direction through the county and Grundy Center.

City, County History Entwined ...

How Grundy County Came Into Existence

Two of the best land deals in American history were the Dutch West India Company's purchase of Manhattan for $24 in trinkets, and the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

The French emperor wanted $15,000,000 for the Louisiana territory, but President Monroe paid it gladly because the country gained all or parts of 13 states--including Iowa.

Eventually, the Louisiana Purchase territory would be one of the nation's leading producers of food, fiber and petroleum.

For a long time the government did nothing to start development of the acquisition.

It was not until April 20, 1836, that the Wisconsin Territory was organized, Iowa was included in the boundaries of the territory.

A year later, during the second session of the House of Representatives of the Wisconsin Territory, approval was given, on December 21, 1837, to organize Buchanan and Benton counties.

The territorial legislators said Buchanan county would consist of everything west of Delaware county and between the line dividing townships 86 and 87, and the line dividing townships 90 and 91 north, and extending to the western boundary of the territory.

By the same act, Buchanan county was attached to Dubuque county for election, judicial and revenue purposes.

The lawmakers also said that Benton county would consist of everything south of the township 86 and 87 dividing line, and that it would be attached to Jackson county for judicial, election and revenue purposes.

Had the action not later been stayed, Felix and Clay townships today would be part of Benton county, and the remaining 12 townships a part of Buchanan county.

The next legislation of significance to Grundy county came after Iowa was organized as a territory.

On February 17, 1843, the Iowa territorial House of Representatives organized Tama county, and attached Tama and Benton counties and all territory west to the Missouri River, which still included Felix and Clay, to Linn county for judicial, elective and revenue purposes.

In the same action, the legislature organized Black Hawk county, and attached it together with the rest of Grundy county to Dubuque county for judicial, elective and revenue purposes.

In 1846 Iowa was admitted to the Union, and nothing more was done with Grundy county until January 15, 1851, when the Third General Assembly established the boundary line of the county as it now exists and named it Grundy after the distinguished Tennessee statesman, Felix Grundy.

The same legislature on February 5, 1851, attached Grundy to Buchanan county for judicial, elective and revenue purposes.

The Fourth General Assembly on January 12, 1853, organized Black Hawk county, and attached to it Bremer, Butler and Grundy counties.

Grundy remained tied to Black Hawk county until 1856. Meanwhile, on March 2, 1855, the first precinct in Grundy county was organized. A petition signed by Silas Peck and others was presented that day to J. R. Pratt, judge of Black Hawk county, asking that that part of Grundy county north of the correction line be organized as an election precinct. It was to be called Grundy Precinct.

Judge Pratt ordered an election to be held April 2, 1855, at the home of Silas Peck.

The officers elected that day were Phillip S. Taylor and Henry Hammer, justices of the peace; and Nelson H. Peck and John P. Collins, constables.

The court appointed Jasper Ingalls, W. S. Peck and Phillip S. Taylor as trustees, and appointed Henry Collins Assessor.

At the time, Grundy precinct or township was still part of Black Hawk county, and it was customary then as now for the township assessors to meet at the county seat to determine what values should be placed on articles subject to assessment.

The newly elected Grundy Township assessor, Henry Collins, attended a meeting with the other Black Hawk county assessors on April 16, 1855, and they fixed the following values:

First quality land, $5 per acre; first class horses, $100 apiece; one pair work oxen, first class, $100; first class cows, $30; sheep, $1 per head; hogs and other articles at what the assessor thinks they are worth.

On March 3, 1856, A. W. Lawrence and others petitioned Black Hawk County Judge John Randall to organize all of Grundy county south of the correction line into an election precinct.

The judge ordered the election to be held on April 5, 1856, at the home of Thomas G. Copp. The precinct was given the name Palermo township.

Judge Randall rejected the returns, however, and ordered a new election held on May 5, 1856.

This time the returns were accepted. Twenty-six votes were cast. The minutes of the proceedings of the Black Hawk county canvassers show the following:

Arthur W. Lawrence received all 26 votes cast and was elected County Judge.
Elias Marble, Clerk of District Court, 26 votes.
Thomas G. Copp, County Treasurer and Recorder, 26 votes.
C. F. Clarkson, Prosecuting Attorney, 26 votes.
Thomas G. Hoxie, Sheriff, 26 votes.
Ira B. Thomas received 15 votes and Henry Collins 11 votes for the office of Coroner.
Cornelius Ketchum, Drainage Commissioner, 26 votes.

In addition, there were 15 votes cast for the organization of Grundy county.

Thus, Grundy county was organized into a municipal corporation, independent for the first time of any other county, and divided into only two townships, Grundy and Palermo.

Now, in regards to the location of the county seat in Grundy Center, it may be said that there is little and in fact no authenticated record of how the county seat came to be located here.

Records kept by the court do not show that the county seat was ever legally located at Grundy Center, as the law then provided. Among old papers, an order locating the county seat as follows:

Boonesboro, Iowa
December 25, 1856

The commissioners appointed by me to locate the county seat of Grundy county, in the State of Iowa [John C. Bennett, Jas E. Hull and J. H. Seeley], having been duly sworn by your Honor on the 15th last have just reported to me that they did on the 19th last locate said county seat at 'Grundy Center' and given the name 'Belpre.' The commissioners likewise recommend that the south half of the southeast quarter and the east half of the southwest quarter of Section 12, Township 87, Range 17, be laid off into lots corresponding with the original plat and added to said town of Balpre, with the express understanding that 50 lots be deeded to the County of Grundy, all of which I approve, and you will have this request duly entered of record.

C. J. McFarland
Judge, 5th Judicial District

No such record, however, was made by the county judge.

In time the county was divided into 14 townships.

Fairfield and Beaver, part of the original Grundy township, became independent townships in 1860.

Shiloh and Melrose townships were organized in 1858 as Melrose township, but in 1863 became separate townships.

Felix and Clay originally were one township, Clay, but was divided and renamed in 1863.

Orcutt township was organized in March, 1858, but in 1866 was divided and renamed Pleasant Valley and German.

Grant township was organized on November 3, 1868.

Up to 1869 Lincoln and Colfax townships were associated together, but in that year became independent.

The last change occurred in 1877.

Up to that year Washington and Palermo were one township named Palermo (or, variously, Palermo No. 1 and Palermo No. 2). In 1877 they were divided The west half kept the name Palermo and east half was named after the first president.

At the time Washington was detached, Sections 6 and 7 and N 1/2 of Section 18 were retained by Palermo, making it the largest of the 14 townships.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 7 July 1877, Section Four, Pg 1, 3