Jefferson County Online
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The following is a chapter from "The History of Jefferson County, Iowa", Pages 260-263, published by the Western Historical Company of Chicago in 1879.



In shape, Iowa presents an almost perfect parallelogram; has a length, north to south, of about 300 miles, by a pretty even width of 208 miles, and embraces an area of 55,045 square miles, or 35,228,800 acres. The surface of the State is generally undulating, rising toward the middle into an elevated plateau which forms the "divide" of the Missouri and Mississippi basins. Rolling prairies, especially in the south section, constitute a regnant feature, and the river bottoms, belted with woodlands, present a soil of the richest alluvion. Iowa is well watered; the principal rivers being the Mississippi and Missouri, which form respectively its east and west limits, and the Cedar, Iowa, and Des Moines, affluents of the first named. Mineralogically, Iowa is important as occupying a section of the great Northwest coal field, to the extent of an area estimated at 25,000 square miles. Lead, copper, zinc, and iron, are also mined in considerable quantities. The soil is well adapted to the production of wheat, maize, and the other cereals; fruits, vegetables, and esculent roots; maize, wheat, and oats forming the chief staples. Wine, tobacco, hops, and wax, are other noticeable items of the agricultural yield. Cattle-raising, too, is a branch of rural industry largely engaged in. The climate is healthy, although liable to extremes of heat and cold. The annual gross product of the various manufactures carried on in this State approximate, in round numbers, a sum of $20,000,000. Iowa has an immense railroad system, besides over 500 miles of water-communication by means of its navigable rivers. The State is politically divided into 99 counties, with the following centers of population: Des Moines (capital), Iowa City (former capital), Dubuque, Davenport, Burlington, Council Bluffs, Keokuk, Muscatine, and Cedar Rapids. The State institutions of Iowa -- religious, scholastic, and philanthropic -- are on par, as regards number and perfection of organization and operation, with those of her Northwest sister States, and education is especially well cared for, and largely diffused. Iowa formed a portion of the American territorial acquisitions from France, by the so-called Louisiana purchase in 1803, and was politically identified with Louisiana till 1812, when it merged into the Missouri Territory; in 1834 it came under the Michigan organization and, in 1836, under that of Wisconsin. Finally, after being constituted an independent Territory, it became a State of the Union, December 28, 1846. Population in 1860, 674,913; in 1870, 1,191,792, and in 1875, 1,353,118.

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