The Montgomery County History Center


We’re open Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

The Early History of Southwest Iowa

Iowa and the Midwest has been witness to great change. It once was the bottom of a shallow inland sea. Once the seas withdrew it became the area of vast growth and mega fauna only to be punctuated by periods of ice and glaciers. Then came the humans, first Native Peoples. Then by 1650 A.D., we see European traders, missionaries and explorers appearing on the scene. Thus begins a period of even more change and at a much faster rate.

Iowa will become a state in the closing days of December, 1846. However, there are few settlers between Fort Des Moines and the Missouri River. The great western migration had begun, but people traveled a trail from Des Moines to Council Bluffs or they went to St. Joseph, Missouri. Where they crossed the Missouri River, striking north, then west when they got to the Platte River.

Southwest Iowa was circumvented, people thought, there was nothing here. By 1847, most of the Native Peoples had been moved in the name of progress. 1849, saw only a very occasional traveler, then slowly people began to come. Farms, churches, schools, businesses, and the beginnings of modern civilization began to appear. Montgomery County thus became one of the last counties organized, but it will boom and make up for lost time and ‘oh what history’ history it will make.