POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY   This county is bounded on the west by the Missouri River, south by Mills and Montgomery Counties, east by Cass County, and on the north by Shelby and Harrison Counties. It is twenty-four miles wide from north to south, and has an average length of forty miles from east to west. It is divided into twelve municipal townships, to-wit: Boomer, Crescent, Centre, Grove, James, Kane, Knox, Macedonia, Rockford, Silver Creek, Walnut, and York.
Several streams of considerable magnitude cross the county, all bearing from the northeast to the south-west. The first of these on the east is the east fork of the Nishnabotany which crosses the south-east corner of the county through Walnut township. It is about 200 feet wide, and an excellent mill stream. There is considerable timber, and an abundance of stone on this stream in Walnut township. The west Nishnabotany is about the same size as the east fork, and crosses the county through Knox, Centre and Macedonia townships. There is a fine grove of timber in each of these townships on this stream, and also an abundance of stone. On it are three fine grist mills, two in Macedonia and one in Knox township. Seven miles farther west is Silver Creek, a stream about 75 feet wide. It crosses the county through Knox, James and Silver Creek townships. There is considerable timber on this stream, but no stone. It is a good mill stream, but at present there are no mills in operation. Keg Creek comes next, eight miles farther west, and is about the size of Silver Creek. There is but one grove of timber of any magnitude on this stream, though there are several small groves, at each of which settlements have been made. It passes through York, Kane and Silver Creek townships. Mosquito Creek is about the size of Keg, and crosses the county through Boomer, Crescent and Kane townships. It enters the Misssouri Valley about two miles from Council Bluffs. There are two fine flouring mills on this stream, one of which is just being completed, about three miles from Council Bluffs. There is some stone on this creek and considerable timber. Boyer River crosses the northwest corner of the county through Rockford and Crescent Townships, and enters the Missouri River about the middle of the county from north to south. It is about 200 feet wide, and a fine mill stream. A flouring mill to run two pair of burrs is now nearly completed on the Boyer, about fifteen miles from Council Bluffs. Its course in Pottawattamie County is all the way through timber. There are also some stone quarries on it. Pigeon and Honey Creek are tributaries of the Boyer, both entering it from the east, and both large enough to run mills the greater portion of the year. There is an abundance of timber on both these streams. All these water courses have numerous tributaries and all are fed by never failing springs. In fact there is no county in the State better watered, and more richly supplied with living fountains of pure water than Pottawattamie. As yet no coal has been discovered in this county. Lime stone is abundant on both forks of the Nishnabotany, and in the bluffs near the river.
The proportion of prairie and timber is about one acre of timber to sixteen of prairie. The timber in the Missouri Valley is mostly cotton wood. On the other streams it is principally oak, hickory, walnut, linn, and elm. The soil of Pottawattamie County for richness and fertility is equal to any in the world. The valleys along the streams are generally from half a mile to two miles in width, and are extremely rich and productive. The uplands are gently rolling. This county is very well adapted to stock and sheep raising. All the cereals, vegetables and fruits cultivated in this latitude have been found to flourish well in all western Iowa. The soil is of such a character that it stands the extremes of drought and wet to a remark. able degree. There has never yet been a failure of the grain crops on the waters of the Missouri River in this part of the State. The roads dry up and become good and passable at the breaking up of winter and after severe rains much sooner than in the middle and eastern portions of the State. The valley along the Missouri River in this county is generally about four miles wide, with a belt of cottonwood timber along the bank of the river varying from one-fourth of a mile to two miles in width. These bottoms are alluvial and extremely rich and productive, and but a small portion subject to overflow from the river.
Pottawattamie County is being rapidly filled up and improved by enterprising farmers from the east. The ready market found at Council Bluffs for everything produced by the farmer and the rich remunerative yield from everything planted in the soil, are rapidly enriching the farming community.
History.—In 1836 the Pottawattamie Indians were settled by government in southwestern Iowa, including what is now Pottawattamie County. By treaty made the 5th of June, 1846, that tribe of Indians sold all their lands in Iowa to government, and in 1847 and '48 were removed to Kansas Territory. Government had a grist mill erected on Mosquito Creek and for the benefit of the Indians, at the place where Baylis & Parks flouring mill now stands. The mill was run by S. E. Wicks who still resides in the county. A gunsmith shop was also kept and supported by government for the benefit of the Indians at the place where Council Bluffs now stands. The Catholics also had a missionary station at that point. A man by the name of Hardin superintended the farming interests of the Indians. Two of his sons, Richard and Martin D., still reside in the county.
In 1846 the Mormons being driven from Nauvoo, in Illinois, made the country on and near the Missouri River in western Iowa, their resting place, preparatory to their emigration to the “Promised Land,” in the distant valley of the Great Salt Lake. Several hundred of them congregated at Council Bluffs, and built up quite a town of log huts which they called Kanesville, in honor of the celebrated Dr. Kane, the great arctic explorer. Kanesville became the great business centre of the whole Mormon population; and soon after became celebrated as the great crossing point for the California emigration. In 1847 the Mormons commenced taking their departure for Salt Lake. But thousands of them were unable to raise teams and outfit for the trip for several years, and hundreds were taken through after a few years, with means sent back for the purpose from Salt Lake. Many of them acquired property which they were unable to dispose of on terms to suit them until recently. But all who believe in Mormonism as taught by Brigham Young, have left Pottawattamie County. Quite a number however, yet remain, who have renounced Brigham Young, but who claim to believe that Joe Smith was a true prophet of God. They are generally industrious and thriving farmers, and most of them have become the owners of good farms. In 1850 the overland emigration induced a number of enterprising men (termed by the Mormons “Gentiles”) to settle and engage in business in Kanesville. Prominent among them was C. Voorhis and Co., Stuttzman & Donnell, Tootle & Jackson, and S. H. Riddle, all of whom went extensively into the mercantile business. The next year a number of others came and engaged in merchandising, hotel keeping, and various other kinds of business, from which they derived large profits, from the trade of both the California emigrants and Mormons. From that time on, the character of the population both in the town and surrounding country rapidly changed from “Mormon” to “Gentile.” Among the first “Gentile” settlers in Kanesville who still remain in and have become permanent citizens of Council Bluffs, are C. Voorhis, J. B. Stuttzman, James A. Jackson, S. H. Riddle, W. D. Turner, and P. J. McMahon. P. J. McMahon has been a practising physician in the place since 1851.
In 1851 the county of Pottawattamie was organized by an act of the Legislative Assembly, and named in honor of the Indians who had last inhabited the county. The same year the county seat was established at Kanesville by a vote of the people of the county. Prior to 1851 the county had been attached to Monroe county for election and judicial purposes, including also the territory now embraced in about a dozen other counties.   (Hair's Iowa State Gazetteer..., 1865)

Total Population 1850
Total Population 1860
Free Black Population 1860
Free Black Population 1850
Presidential Election Result 1852
Presidential Election Result 1856
Presidential Election Result 1860
Presidential Election Result 1864
Unconditional Union (1864)
City or Town