STORY, a new county near the centre of Iowa, has an area of 576 square miles. It is traversed from N. to S. by Skunk river, an affluent of the Mississippi. The surface is diversified by prairies and groves; the soil is productive, but mostly uncultivated. The census of 1850 gives no returns for this county. Extensive beds of stone coal are found. Seat of justice is not yet established.  (Baldwin's New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States..., 1854)

STORY COUNTY   Occupies the geographical centre of the State, and is bounded on the north by Hamilton and Hardin Counties, on the east by Marshall, on the south by Jasper and Polk, and on the west by Boone. The county was settled by quite a number of families in the spring and summer of 1851, among which were those of the Ballards, at Ballard's Grove, John H. Keigley and Squire M. Cary, on Skunk River, and George N. Kirkman, on Indian Creek. The honor of the first location belongs to William Parker, who settled on the farm where he still resides, and which is near the Jasper line, on the 12th day of April, 1848. Mr. Parker was assessed, and enumerated in the census of 1850, as a citizen of Marshall County.
The county was organized in the spring of 1853, but the records do not show the exact date. E. C. Evans was first County Judge, John Zenor first Treasurer and Recorder, Franklin Thompson first Clerk of the District Court, Eli Deal first Sheriff, Otho French first Surveyor, Shadrack Worrell first Coroner, and John H. Keigley first School Fund Commissioner. The election was held April 4th, 1853, and the votes were canvassed on the 9th at Boonsboro. The date of qualification of the officers is not given.
The first entry on the Minute Book is as follows:
“Story County–County Court, Nov. 15th, 1853.
Ordered, That Stephen P. O'Brien, receive the sum of thirty-six dollars for services rendered as Assessor of Story County. E. C. EVANS, Judge.”
The first transfer of real estate recorded is a deed from Jenkin W. Morris, to Story County, for the lands on which the Commissioners had previously located the county seat, where is now the town of Nevada.
The first marriage license issued was that of Noah Hand and Sarah Sellers, May 24th, 1854.
The site of the present town of Nevada was selected as a county seat in 1853, and the first session of the District Court was held on the 14th day of August, 1854, his honor, the very eccentric C. J. McFarland, presiding. The court was held in a log house then unfinished, which stood just east of the site of the Alderman Block. The jury retired to the stable of John McClain to make up their verdicts, and it is among the traditions that one of the jurors was kicked by a horse in the jury-room! 
The Grand Jury was conducted to a retired spot upon the prairie, where they are said to have gravely discussed the contents of a jug of corn whisky, occasionally assisted in disposing of the subject by His Honor, whose ability in that direction was never questioned.
This primitive style was in vogue to some extent until the summer of 1856, when a court house was erected, containing rooms for holding court, and for the county officers. It was burned down on the night of January 1st, 1864, with the loss of over ten thousand dollars in “greenbacks,” and to the imminent danger of the county records, which barely escaped destruction. The building now used for like purposes was erected on the same site, in the fall of 1864.
The county is twenty-four miles square, and is divided into eleven civil townships, viz: Collins, Franklin, Howard, Indian Creek, Lafayette, Milford, Nevada, New Albany, Palestine, Union, and Washington.
The principal villages are Nevada, the county seat, Iowa Centre, Cambridge, New Philadelphia, Story City, Ames, and Colo. The first and last two are on the line of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway.
The surface of the county is a gently undulating prairie, interspersed with groves, and diversified with streams, mounds, lowlands and ponds. The soil is a rich, warm, sandy loam, very productive, and well adapted to grains, grasses, roots and fruits. The quality of the wild grass is excellent both for pasturage and for hay, and at the same time is abundant in nearly every portion of the county. The fattening qualities of this grass are extraordinary and well adapted to the production of beef and wool. The small fruits, including grapes, are easily raised, and of good quality. Perhaps no part of the country is better calculated to produce large crops of corn, garden vegetables, beets, turnips, melons, and other vines, with little labor.
Many thousand sheep have been introduced within the past two years. They do well, and pay a handsome profit. Cattle and hogs are raised in large numbers.
The timber is mostly in the southern and western parts of the county, yet there is timber in or near every portion except the central northern. Skunk River, which runs from north to south through the west half of the county, is well timbered, also the West Fork, or Squaw Creek. In the central and eastern part is the timber of East Indian and West Indian Creeks. Ballard's Grove, Walnut Grove, Worrell's Grove, Luther Grove, Centre Grove, Deer Grove, Johnson's Grove and Bear Grove, supply the prairie farmers near them with timber of good quality, consisting of oak, walnut, ash, maple, linn, hickory, elm, cottonwood, &c. Some of the farmers are beginning to plant timber on the prairie with good prospects; and there are many miles of the white (or gray) willow, (saliz alba,) for hedges.
There are several quarries of good building stone already open; a good quality of limestone is found in several places, and clay suitable for brick is easily obtained. No coal mines have been discovered, but there is little doubt but the county is within the coal region.
The general course of the streams is south and southeast. In addition to those already named may be mentioned Bear Creek, Long Dick Creek, Keigley's Creek, Walnut Creek, Deer Creek, Wolf Creek, Clear Creek and Minerva Creek, all of which are tributaries of Skunk River and its branches, except the last named, which empties into the Iowa River.
There are some small water-mills upon these streams, but the water-power is insignificant. There are three steam grist mills and quite a number of steam saw-mills, but a large proportion of the lumber now used in building and fencing is brought in by Railroad.
Story county contains the STATE AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE and Model Farm. This is situated on the waters of Squaw Creek, ten miles west of Nevada, on the line of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, one mile west of Ames station. The College buildings are in process of erection, and when completed, will be fine structures, capable of accommodating several hundred students. The farm contains six hundred and forty-eight acres of excellent land, and will soon be stocked with the choicest specimens of domestic animals to be found in the country. It is expected that the college will be formally opened in the fall of 1866. Being endowed by the National Government with a munificent land grant, and under the fostering care of the State, the college and farm will probably be of great advantage to the region in which it is located, as well as to the peculiar interest it is intended to advance.   (Hair's Iowa State Gazetteer..., 1865)

Total Population 1860
Free Black Population 1860
Presidential Election Result 1856
Presidential Election Result 1860
Presidential Election Result 1864
Unconditional Union (1864)