Decatur County

Population (2010): 8,457

Land Area: 532 Square Miles

Homeownership Rate (2012): 68.9%

Median House Hold Income (2012): $34,942

County History

Decatur County was organized in 1850 and named for Stephen Decatur, a naval hero of the War of 1812. An area for the county seat was selected by the county commissioners and named it Decatur. The public objected, and prevailed upon the General Assembly to order a vote to establish a county seat. The majority vote in 1853 favored moving the county seat a few miles to the east and naming it Independence.

Citizens of Decatur refused to relinquish the county records, so the records were taken under cover of darkness to Independence with a wagon and a team of oxen. Later it was discovered that there was another town by the same name in Buchanan County. Decatur County then changed its county seat’s name to South Independence. In 1855, the name was changed to Leon.

The first courthouse was 20 by 22 feet and 14 feet high, made of logs and cost $375 in 1851. After only a few years, the crude log structure was outgrown and a new courthouse built to replace it. A new one was begun but a windstorm destroyed it before it could be finished. The next was razed by a fire on March 31, 1874. 

After the misfortune of the previous courthouses, the people of the county were determined to build one which would stand more than a few years. Consequently, in 1875, at an approximate cost of $20,000, a brick courthouse was completed. Voters passed a resolution to build another courthouse in 1905. This time the courthouse was built of iron, steel, stone, tile, brick, marble and granite – completely fireproof and a safe place to keep valuable records. The structure, still in use today, was dedicated in 1908 and cost $70,000. (Source: Decatur County Development Corporation) (Picture Source: Iowacourthouses.org)

Helpful Links

Decatur County Development Corporation

Lamoni Chamber of Commerce

Leon Chamber of Commerce

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: Decatur County


Public Libraries

Garden Grove Public Library

Lamoni Public Library

Leon Public Library


School Districts

Central Decatur School District

Mormon Trail School District

Lamoni Community School District

Mount Ayr Community School District

Murray Community School District

Clarke Community School District


Cities of Decatur County

Decatur County

City of Davis City

City of Decatur City

City of Garden Grove

City of Grand River

City of Lamoni

City of Leon

City of Le Roy

City of Pleasanton

City of Van Wert

City of Weldon