Trails to the Past


Lee County



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Lee County
Fort Madison dates to the War of 1812. Lee County was the location of the Half-Breed Tract, established by treaty in 1824. Allocations of land were made to American Indian descendants of European fathers and Indian mothers at this tract. Originally the land was to be held in common. Some who had an allocation lived in cities, where they hoped to make better livings.

Lee County as a named entity was formed on December 7, 1836, under the jurisdiction of Wisconsin Territory. It would become a part of Iowa Territory when it was formed on July 4, 1838. Large-scale European-American settlement in the area began in 1839, after Congress allowed owners to sell land individually. Members of the Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints) fled persecutions in Missouri to settle in Illinois and Iowa. Nauvoo, across the border in Hancock County, Illinois, became the main center of Latter-day Saints settlement, but there was also a Latter Day Saints stake organized in Lee County under the direction of John Smith, the uncle of Joseph Smith, land that was sold to them by Isaac Galland in 1839.

Lee has two county seats - Fort Madison and Keokuk. The latter was established in 1847 when disagreements led to a second court jurisdiction.

Lee County's population grew to about 19,000 in 1850, the first US census, to 37,000 per the 3rd census in 1870, peaking at 44,000 people in 1960. It has continuously decreased since and as of 2010, 35,862 people lived there, comparable to the years between 1860 and 1870.

On Line Data







Hstoric Lee County Savings Bank

    Fort Madison
    St. Paul
    West Point
Census-designated place
Other unincorporated communities
    New Boston
    Pilot Grove

    Des Moines
    Green Bay
    Pleasant Ridge
    Van Buren
    West Point

Lee County Court House Keokuk

Lee County Court House Fort Madison


Adjacent counties
Henry County to the north
Des Moines County to the northeast
Henderson County, Illinois, across the river east
Hancock County, Illinois to the southeast
Clark County, Missouri southwest
Van Buren County west


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