County was named by Theophilus Bryan, sheriff and later county
judge of the county. He named it in honor of his friend
Captain Edwin B. Guthrie, a commanding officer of a company of
Iowa volunteers in the Mexican War.
county was established and organized in 1851, and the search
for a county seat began. The State Legislature, at its
1850-1851 session, appointed David Bishop of Madison County
and Lewis Whitten of Polk County to designate a county seat.
After taking location and the center of the population at that
time into consideration, the town of Panora was selected.
June of 1853 there was a contract let to build the courthouse,
but for some reason it was never built. It stayed this way
until March 16, 1857, when Edward Serry made plans and
specifications for a courthouse. Soon afterwards James Cline
was hired to build the courthouse. Again the contract was
annulled and the courthouse was not built. Mr. Cline received
$200 for his troubles.
March 7, 1859 William Tracy and E. B. Newton presented county
judge Aaron Hougham with a petition asking that the location
of the courthouse be moved to Guthrie Center, since it was
more towards the center of the county than Panora. It was sent
to the voters of the county, and Panora won by a count of 297
to 277. The first courthouse was finally built later in 1859.
setback did not stop the people of Guthrie Center. On March
1860 another petition was filed on behalf of Guthrie Center.
James Cline then filed a petition against the Guthrie Center
petition. After the court took these petitions and testimony
of the citizens under advisement, it was decided that another
election would be held on April 2, 1860. This time Panora
lost, and, on April 7, the court decreed that Guthrie Center
was the new county seat and ordered all the papers moved to
wagon train set out for Panora to obtain the safe and county
records. They returned in full force with the safe, records
and county judge T. B. Harbour. All of these were housed in a
building prepared by E. B. Newton.
petition was brought before the September session in 1861 by
the people of Panora to relocate the county seat. Again the
people voted and this time Panora won the right to house the
county seat. So the safe, records and county judge were all
packed up and moved back to Panora.
Center tried twice more to regain the county seat. The first
time, in 1870, they were unsuccessful, but on the second try,
1873, they won back the county seat. It has been there ever
beautiful courthouse was built in Guthrie Center in 1877. The
building burned to the ground on March 3, 1883. Bids went out,
but all were more than the insurance money. A bid was finally
accepted, but it was two years before the courthouse was
completed. This courthouse served the county for 81 years.
the summer of 1963, construction was begun on a new
courthouse. In November the old courthouse was destroyed by
fire. For one year, during construction, Guthrie County was
without a courthouse.
present courthouse was occupied in November 1964.
in part from Iowa
State Association of Counties