Iowa County records vary widely from county to county in both quality and quantity. Some have been carefully preserved while others have been much abused and neglected. Some Iowa records have simply disappeared.
For genealogists doing research in Iowa there is no effective replace for an on-site search of county courthouse records.
Iowa county governments recorded few vital statistics earlier than 1880.
Marriage record registration began in many areas with the organization of the county.
It is estimated that between 1880 and 1921, only about fifty percent of the births and deaths were registered. Birth, marriage, death, and probate records are usually found in the office of the clerk of courts at the county seat.
Land transactions are in the county recorder’s office.
The FHL online catalog was used to compile most record state dates. Researchers are encouraged to contact the courthouse or local genealogical society in the county of interest. See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.
The damage to courthouses greatly has a bearing on genealogists in every way.
Not only are these historic structures torn from our lifetimes, so are the records they housed: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others.
Once destroyed they’re lost forever. Although they have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn too.
However, not all records were damaged or lost in some counties.
Adair County Courthouse – Courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1889. Most Court Records were destroyed.
Adams County Courthouse – The Courthouse was destroyed by fire on February 1, 1888. Some early records were destroyed.
Benton County Courthouse – The Courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1853. The county records were rescued by three courageous men who were seriously burned and died from their injuries three months after the blaze.
Buena Vista County Courthouse – On January 1, 1877 the courthouse was destroyed by a fire. Most records were destroyed
Calhoun County Courthouse – The Courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1884.
Carroll County Courthouse – In 1886, this courthouse was damaged by a fire
Cass County Courthouse – In March 1932, a fire destroyed the courthouse, but the county records were saved
Chickasaw County Courthouse – The Courthouse was totally destroyed in a fire on March 26, 1880. Many irreplaceable documents were lost, but many more were saved with the help of the “Hook & Ladder Co.,” and concerned citizens.
Decatur County Courthouse – The Second Courthouse was destroyed by a windstorm before it could be finished. The 3rd Courthouse was destroyed by a fire on March 31, 1874 (One book from the auditor’s office and one book from the clerk’s office survived). The 4th Courthouse was blown up on April 1, 1877 destroying the entire west side of the courthouse.
Des Moines County Courthouse – The Courthouse, along with some of the county records, was destroyed by a fire in 1873.
Dickinson County Courthouse – The Courthouse was destroyed in a fire in November of 1871, some of the county records were destroyed.
Fayette County Courthouse – The Courthouse burned in 1872 when a prisoner set fire to the courthouse during and escape attempt.
Floyd County Courthouse – One June 7, 1874, a terrific thunderbolt struck the courthouse (The important county records were saved). The courthouse burned down in 1881, destroying nearly all county records.
Fremont County Courthouse – The 2nd Courthouse was damaged by a gunny sack full of dynamite in 1863. In 1888, vandals poured Coal oil throughout the building and set a fire (A steel vault saved most of the records).
Guthrie County Courthouse – In 1857, in the cabin of the county clerk, a keg of gunpowder blew all the county records to pieces. This Courthouse burned to the ground on March 3, 1882 (A heroic clerk saved most of the court records). In November of 1963 courthouse was destroyed by fire (some records were destroyed).
Hardin County Courthouse – The first courthouse was destroyed that same year by in 1856.
Harrison County Courthouse – The first courthouse was destroyed in a fire in September 1854, all of the county records were destroyed.
Howard County Courthouse – The courthouse at Cresco burned down on December 1, 1876. Few records survived.
Ida County Courthouse – On January 12, 1877, the courthouse burned, along with most of the county records.
Jones County Courthouse – The courthouse built in 1848 and vacated in 1864 was destroyed by fire in 1875.
Lee County Courthouse – In 1911, fire damaged the courthouse
Madison County Courthouse – In 1875, a fire destroyed the building in less than four hours.
Muscatine County Courthouse – The courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1864 (No records were lost in the fire, as far as can be determined).
Page County Courthouse – The Courthouse and the records were destroyed in an 1858 fire.
Ringgold County Courthouse – On June 8, 1858, a cyclone blew down the courthouse and many records disappeared.
Sac County Courthouse – The Courthouse burned down in 1888.
Story County Courthouse – The courthouse was destroyed by fire on New Year’s Day, 1864.
Union County Courthouse – The first courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1893.