Linn County was named
in honor of Senator Lewis S. Linn, of Missouri, and was organized in
November, 1837, while Iowa was yet a part of Wisconsin Territory. The
county is made up of twenty congressional townships, is twenty-four
miles east and west by thirty miles north and south, and comprises one
of the most fertile territories within the State.
The county is traversed
by the Cedar and Wapsipinicon rivers, and abounds in rich, undulating
prairie land interspersed with beautiful natural groves, which have been
added to by artificial groves and hedges until the entire county
presents the appearance of a beautiful, well-kept park.
In the rural districts
the principal occupations are stock raising and dairying, and for the
manufacture of the dairy product the county is well supplied with
creameries, condensed milk factories, cheese factories, etc., the
product of which ranks with the very best and commands the highest
There are some very
fine limestone formations which furnish a good quality of building
stone, also making it possible, at a very little expense, to macadamize
many of the principal roads and highways of the county.
The first white man to
settle in Linn County was Edward M. Crow, who located in what is now
Buffalo Township in July, 1837. The first white woman to settle in the
county was Sarah Mann, who located with her father on Big Creek in
During the year 1838
about fifty families chose Linn County as their home. The years 1839,
1840, 1841 and 1842 brought each a larger number of settlers than the
preceding year, and during
the winter of 1841 and 1842 the first school was opened in what was
known as Otter Creek settlement, and taught by Wm.
Skinner. Prior to this time, and during the year 1840, the first
sermon was preached at the home of Terry Oliphant, also in Otter
Creek settlement, by the Rev. Mr. Hodges, who was a circuit
rider in the Methodist Church.
The first election in
the county was held in August, 1839, the
only voting precinct being at West Port, near what is now Bertram.
At this election County Commissioners were elected who
had about the same powers as those now held by the Board of
The Commissioners met for the first time on September 9,
1839, in the house of James W. Willits, which, as a matter of courtesy,
was called the county seat The first act of the commission was to appoint John C. Berry as county clerk, after which
they proceeded to name the county seat, the name of Marion being chosen
in honor of General Marion of revolutionary fame. At
the second meeting of the commission, which was held in October
of the same year, Ross McCloud was appointed county surveyor
and was given the job of laying out the county seat into lots. At
this meeting the first license ever issued in the county was given
to Woodbridge & Thompson for the sum of $15.00, allowing them
to sell general merchandise. At the November session the land
for the county seat was purchased of the government and ordered
sold for the benefit of the county.
In 1840 the county jail was built, followed the next year by
the building of the court house. The first assessment roll
amounted to $738.60. The first treasurer's report showed moneys
collected to the amount of $958.85. From these small beginnings
the county has grown to a population of over 60,000, and has an
assessment roll which brings in a yearly revenue of over $325.000.
For a great many years the Cedar river and wagon trains
were the only means of transportation from Linn county to the
markets in the south and east. The first railroad was completed to
Cedar Rapids in 1859, and gave Linn county a through railroad
connection with the Chicago market, which has since that time
been the principal market for her products. After the C. & N.
W. R'y, the next road to build into Linn county was the C., M. &
St. P., which built into Marion in 1864 and shortly after into Cedar
Rapids. The b., C. R. & N. was built through the county in 1870
and still has its general offices in the city of Cedar Rapids. It has
been one of the greatest factors in developing the county not
only giving it the best north and south connections, but bringing
to it the competition of two other east and west trunk lines,
namely, the C., R. I. & P. and C., B. & Q., which both do through
billing over its lines.
Linn county made prompt and repealed responses to the call
for troops during the war of the rebellion, furnishing Company K
of the First Iowa Volunteers on a week's notice from S. J. Kirkwood,
the war governor of Iowa. Linn county also furnished a
veteran of two previous wars, Thomas McKean, a graduate of
West Point, who was appointed a brigadier general. General McKean planned and commanded the battle of Corinth. The
memory of the soldier is perpetuated by several Grand Army
in which the Women's Relief Corps figure conspicuously.
From the log school house of 1840 the educational interest
of the county has developed into over 200 district and ward
schools, half a dozen high schools, three academies and three
colleges, including one of the best business colleges in the world.
In its banking interests and newspaper projects
is the peer of any territory of its size in the state. Its development
in this direction is so well known as to need no mention in this place.
There are several building and loan associations and savings
in the county, each doing a good, conservative, safe business.
Almost all fraternal organizations are represented in the
county, and the only Masonic Library in the world is located in
the city of Cedar Rapids.
St. Luke's Hospital is located in the same city, and while sectarian in its management, admits people of all classes, and is not only the pride of the church which supports it but of the city and county in which it is located.
Next to the largest packing house in the world is located in
the city of Cedar Rapids and enters into successful competition
with the eastern packers for one of tin: principal products of the
Linn county has many other institutions worthy of mention,
but in a history as limited as is this it is not possible to give them
the notice they deserve. There are many individuals within the county who have been so related lo the state and nation that in a
more extended history should and would receive personal mention.
The present standing and development of the county is well
known to all those to whom this brief outline of Linn comity's
history and progress will come. Regretting the limitations of this
sketch, and with a faith in and bust wishes for the future development
of the county, this brief history is brought to a close.