Montgomery County, Iowa

 History Center



 Montgomery County History Mileposts

Taken from The Red Oak Express, Friday October 6, 1989, Page 3B

This is a partial timeline of a few of the events which took place during the development of  Montgomery County.

Do you have a date and event to add to the time line? If you will email it to me and I will add  it here.




Pre 1819 The area is a Indian hunting ground, not homeland to the Otoe, Omaha, Ponca, Sioux, Iowa, Sac and Fox tribes.
1819 Major Stephen H. Long writes the first description of the area on a trip from St. Louis to Council Bluffs.
1838 - 1846 The Pottawattamie tribe is brought into the area by the federal government.  
1846 Iowa became a state.
1848 - 1850 Villisca is founded. The first Montgomery County residents come from Page County to southwestern Montgomery County. There are perhaps a dozen settlers in the area that is to become Montgomery county.
1851 Montgomery County is surveyed. "From a sea of grass to known distances and locations."
1853 The county is organized as a county political and geographic entity.  It is named for Revolutionary War hero, General Richard Montgomery.
1854 Jackson and West townships are created.
1854-1865 The first county courthouse is built in Frankfort at a cost of $1,141.50.  It is a 1 1/2 story frame building.
1856 The Land Grant Act opened up land to the railroads for purchase.
1857 Douglas and Frankfort townships are created. Red Oak and Washington townships are formed between now and 1861. 
1857 Red Oak Junction is platted
1858 Milford [Grant] is platted
1864 A land Grant was given to the state of Iowa for railroad company purchases. The Union Pacific and Burlington were the largest buyers of land in Montgomery County.
1865 On a margin of six votes, the courthouse and court business is moved to Red Oak Junction from Frankfort.  The entire building is put on flats and pulled through a blizzard to the new location, although it is nearly lost when it slides down a hill in the snow.
1868 Grant, Lincoln and Sherman townships are created with names near and dear to Iowa veterans of the Civil War (1861-1865).
1869 Emerson is platted and the Burlington Railroad builds tracks through Emerson and Red Oak Junction.
1870 Pilot Grove and Scott townships are created and the town of Stanton is founded by Swedish immigrants . Nodaway also is founded in the 1870s.
1876 Red Oak Junction is incorporated as a city.
1879 Elliott is founded near the northern boundary of the county.
1890-1892 The cornerstone on the new courthouse is placed and it is dedicated two years later. It features a castle-style and is made of Missouri limestone, red pressed brick and terra cotta and has a slate roof. From  the clock tower, citizens may see the time of day from north, south, east and west.  It is said to be worth more than $100,000.
1901 Red Oak Junction becomes just Red Oak.
1902 Red Oak Creek floods the square, covering four blocks of the county seat.
1903 Milford changes its name to Grant, after  our 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant
1911 The Blue Grass Road is the first cross country road (roughly following Highway 34).  It is a dirt road.
1914 - 1918 After World War I, Fountain Square Park is built as a memorial.  The 29 nozzles of the fountain represent the 29 Montgomery County soldiers who died in Europe.
1916 The Nishnabotna River floods, threatening Red Oak.
1929 U. S. Highway 34 is paved over what used to be the Blue Grass Road.  The New York Stock Market  crashes, beginning the Great Depression.
1941 The third Battalion of the 168th Infantry, 34th Division takes almost 90 percent of the men of eligible age. The division sees 600 days of combat, more than any other unit. REA completes the electrification of the county.
1943 One hundred telegrams are delivered one night in March to Red Oak families with sons in Company M saying, "The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your son ... has been missing inaction."  It is learned that of the 100, 27 men are prisoners. 
1947 The Nishnabotna River floods again and red Oak has its worst flood ever.
1950 Most of the rural roads are gravel instead of just dirt.
1959 Villisca and Nodaway schools consolidate.
1960 Grant schools consolidate with Griswold and Emerson, Hastings, Henderson and Strahan combine to form the Nishna Valley school district.
1962 Elliott and Griswold schools merge.
1967 - 1972 Three Montgomery County men are killed in the Vietnam War. Another is missing in action.  Many, many more are wounded.
1980 The population of the county is 13,413.
1982 Downtown Emerson is flooded, filling buildings on Morton Avenue with five feet of water and mud.
1983 The restoration of the square in red oak is completed with repaved streets and new sidewalks. Storm drains and water mains are also replaced. new lighting is installed and trees are planted around the square.
1987 Red Oak Creek backs up and floods an area south of the square.
1987 - 1989 Rain does not come except in brief, light showers until September, 1989.  The nearly two-year drought has stressed farmers and city-dwellers alike. Terrential downpours come the first week of September and some flooding occurs.
1989 The Red Oak airport is named for long-time aviation supporter, R. K. Belt. Corporation jets land several times per month at the new runway at R. K. Belt Field.  The new, modern Montgomery County Memorial Hospital opens.