Trails to the Past

Iowa

Johnson County

 

 

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Johnson County was created in December 1837 by the legislature of the Wisconsin Territory, one of thirteen counties established by that body in a comprehensive act. The county's area was partitioned from Dubuque County, and was not initially provided with a civil government, instead being governed by Cedar County officials. It was named for the US Vice President Richard M. Johnson.

The first courthouse in the county was a two-story log cabin structure, built in 1838 in the settlement of Napoleon, about two miles south of the current courthouse. The building stood across from what later would become the James McCollister Farmstead on land later owned by Philip Clark.
Old Johnson County Courthouse, Iowa City, 1857-1899

After Iowa City was established as the new territorial capitol of Iowa, the county seat was removed there. The second Johnson County Courthouse, the first in Iowa City, was built on Lot 8 Block 8 of the County Seat Addition to Iowa City in 1842 for $3,690. This location was in the southeast corner of the intersection of Harrison and Clinton Streets. The building was 56 x 28 feet and two stories tall. It was built by James Trimble, who had previously built the first jail.

A third courthouse was built in 1857 in the courthouse square on Clinton Street between Court and Harrison Streets. It was used until 1901, after cracks appeared in its south wall in 1899. The building was apparently built of brick with stone and wood ornamentation.

The Richardsonian Romanesque style courthouse in use today was designed by the firm of Rush, Bowman and Rush of Grand Rapids, MI. It was bid at a cost of $111,000 and built by the firm Rowson & Son of Johnson County. The cornerstone was laid in December 1899. The building's tower was based on Henry Hobson Richardson's design for the spire of Trinity Church in Boston. The building was dedicated on June 8, 1901. The currently unused jail that stands to the west of the courthouse was designed by C.L. Wundt of Burlington on behalf of the Stewart Iron Works, Cleveland, OH and bid for $14,000.

On Line Data

Cities
    Coralville
    Hills
    Iowa City
    Lone Tree
    North Liberty
    Oxford
    Shueyville
    Solon
    Swisher
    Tiffin
    University Heights
Census-designated place
    Frytown
Other unincorporated communities
    Amish
    Elmira
    Cosgrove
    Morse
    Oasis
    River Junction
    Sharon Center
    Sutliff
    Windham
Ghost towns
    Midway

Townships
    Big Grove
    Cedar
    Clear Creek
    East Lucas
    Fremont
    Graham
    Hardin
    Jefferson
    Liberty
    Lincoln
    Madison
    Monroe
    Newport
    Oxford
    Penn
    Pleasant Valley
    Scott
    Sharon
    Union
    Washington

Johnson County Court House

Old Johnson County Courthouse, Iowa City, 1857-1899

Adjacent counties
    Benton County - northwest
    Cedar County - east
    Iowa County - west
    Linn County - north
    Muscatine County - east and southeast
    Louisa County - southeast and south
    Washington County - south

 

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