OSKALOOSA, a flourishing post-village, capital of Mahaska county, Iowa, 4 miles N. from the Des Moines river, and 70 miles W. S. W. from Iowa City. It has an elevated and healthy situation in the midst of an undulating and fertile country, in which prairies and forests of fine timber are distributed. Limestone and stonecoal abound in many parts of the county, and the streams furnish extensive water-power. It contained in 1851 several churches, a state normal school, 10 dry-goods stores, and 2 steam mills. A newspaper is published here. A plank-road about 100 miles long is in progress from Oskaloosa to Burlington. Four-horse coaches run daily from this place in several directions. Laid out in 1844. Population, June, 1861, 916; in 3853, about 1500. (Baldwin's New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States..., 1854)
OSKALOOSA, the county seat of Mahaska County, is situated near the centre of the county, on a beautiful rising prairie, “level and wide and skirted round with wood,” two and a half miles from the station of the DesMoines Valley Railroad, and about 100 miles from Burlington.
The Society of Friends are preparing to erect a large College edifice, just outside of the city limits, which, being the only institution of the kind they have in the State, will, doubtless, take rank among the first literary institutions of the country.
Oskaloosa also has a system of graded schools, that will compare favorably with any other schools in the State. This system consists of five departments, as follows: a primary, secondary, intermediate, grammar and high school. In addition to the above, there is a separate school for colored pupils. There are enrolled in these schools over eight hundred pupils. A superintendent and ten assistant teachers are employed. These schools are maintained, at public expense, nine months in each year. They are free to all pupils residing within the limits of the city, and the course of instruction is extensive, practical and thorough.
Steps are now being taken by the prominent teachers of this county, to organize, permanently, a Normal School, in Oskaloosa, for the special training of teachers. This school will convene, once a year, during the usual summer vacation of other schools, and continue in session about four weeks.
Oskaloosa College —This young and flourishing institution for the thorough and practical education of males and females, situated in the suburbs of the healthy, beautiful and enterprising city of Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, Iowa, was incorporated in the latter part of 1857. In the fall of 1861, a preparatory school was opened in it, under the supervision of Professors G. T. and W. J. Carpenter. The success of the school has been most gratifying, and the institution is now assuming regular college proportions, and bids fair to become one of the first institutions of the West.....
The College edifice stands on a beautiful ten acre plot of ground, and is a beautiful brick building, of Grecian architecture, three stories high, and presents a front of 130 feet, the openings for the doors and windows, the groins, copings, base and string courses being of beautiful limestone.
The city contains between 3,000 and 4,000 inhabitants, two flouring mills, one woolen factory and one brewery. There are nine churches, viz: Baptist, Cumberland Presbyterian, United Presbyterian, First Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Friends and Christian. Also two weekly newspapers, the Herald and Watchman.
In the beauty of its location and surrounding country, the neatness of its buildings, the pleasantness of its streets, the energy and capacity of its business men, the excellence of its schools, the piety and faithfulness of its ministers and churches, or the general intelligence, uprightness and patriotism of its people, it will compare favorably with any town in the West. (Hair's Iowa State Gazetteer..., 1865)