The history of Delaware County, Iowa.
Delaware County, Iowa - History
|In 1837, Delaware County was established when
Dubuque County was divided into a number of smaller counties. After that, the
elected Delaware County commissioners were directed to meet and select a county
seat. The first area selected was at Ead's Grove, located in the Northeast part
of Delaware Township.
Shortly after that, many of the residents requested a site closer to the center
of the County near the present town of Delaware. When no suitable site was found
there, they continued to look and located a site near Silver Lake, which later
became the City of Delhi.
The choosing of Delhi as the county seat is rather interesting. The selecting
committee wanted to locate the county seat in the geographical center of the
county, but there was no timber or water in the center of the county. After
visiting several locations, the committee was approaching the site of Delhi.
Suddenly a deer sprang up and ran off. It was suggested that they kill the deer
and stake a site at that location. This was done, and Delhi became the county
Four long years passed before the county could raise the $200 needed to purchase
the land for the county seat. Finally two residents of the county offered to
loan the county the $200. The county sold county orders at 50 cents on the
dollar to reimburse the two residents.
In the winter of 1843-1844 a hickory log courthouse was built at Delhi. This
courthouse was the first building erected in the county seat. Another courthouse
was built in the early 1850s, but it soon became too small for county business.
A new county building was erected in 1857. The cost of the two-story brick
structure was $5,000. The architecture was of unique style. It was said to
"resemble some battlements of the feudal ages, without possessing any of their
beauty or grandeur."
A battle over the county seat developed between Manchester and Delhi. Several
elections were held over the location of the county seat. Manchester failed all
of them, except the last one held on November 2, 1880.
Following this election, the citizens of Manchester quickly constructed a
two-story frame courthouse, complete with a vault. This building was a temporary
structure, and a more elaborate building was constructed in 1894. The red brick
building cost $36,860 to build, not including $800 for plumbing. Seven hundred
county citizens bought a clock that was placed in the tower in 1895. This
courthouse, the fourth for Delaware County, was dedicated on January 7, 1895.
*Taken from History of County Governments in Iowa, published in 1992 by the
Iowa State Association of Counties, Des Moines, Iowa.
Delaware County Courthouse
301 E Main Street
Manchester, Iowa 52057
Monday - Friday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM