WAPELLO, a county in the S. S. E. part of Iowa, has an area of 432 square miles. The River des Moines flows diagonally through the middle of the county, in a S. E. direction; it is also drained by Cedar and Avery's creeks. The surface is slightly undulating; the soil is highly productive. Grain of various kinds, grass, and pork are the staples. In 1850 this county produced 589,395 bushels of Indian corn; 53,169 of wheat; 72,405 of oats; 24,388 pounds of wool, and 114,268 of butter. It contained 2 churches, 2 newspaper offices, and 1567 pupils attending public schools. Stonecoal is found along Des Moines river, and limestone underlies a part of the surface. The river affords valuable water-power at the county seat. Organized in 1842-3. Capital, Ottumwa. Population, 8471. (Baldwin's New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States..., 1854)
WAPELLO COUNTY Was opened to settlement on the 1st of May, 1843, and organized in April, 1844. It is claimed by residents to be one of the best tracts of land in the State. The Des Moines River passes diagonally through the county. The water-power, as furnished by that river and Cedar Creek, is abundant, the banks of the streams also being rich in limestone of the best quality, and excellent sand, which, together with the extensive tracts of timber, render it one of the most desirable counties in the interior of the State. The population of Wapello was 8,466, since which time the county has settled more rapidly than at any previous period. The number of votes polled at the general election in 1854 was 1502.
Ottumwa, the county-seat, is situated at what are called the Appanoose Rapids, on the Des Moines River, distant twenty-five miles from Fairfield, and seven from Agency City, (the old Sac and Fox Agency).
Respecting the Rapids at this place, Mr. Newhall writes : "In August, 1845, a survey of the Appanoose Rapids at this place was made by David Armstrong, Esq., when it was ascertained that there passed at the Rapids, every minute, 42,000 cubic feet of water; a sufficient quantity to fill a lock 42 feet wide, and 150 feet long; being enough to run 28 pair of burrs, 4 feet in diameter, under a head of 6 feet water. There is a fall of 4 feet at these Rapids, in one mile; and a dam, 5 feet high, would give 6 feet 10 inches rise and fall."
Several mills and other manufactories have already been erected at Ottumwa, which place will become one of the most flourishing cities in the interior of the State, when her water-power and other capabilities are fairly developed.
Agency City is situated some seven miles from the centre of the county, and in beauty of locality, and natural scenery, will compare favorably with any point in the interior. The late Indian Agency was here located by Gen. Street, who considered it a favorable situation in all respects.
Eddyville is situated on the Des Moines River, in the extreme north-west corner of the county, upon the site of an old Indian trading-post. The society in Eddysville is as good as in any place of its size in the State. Churches and schools are well supported, and the edifices and buildings are of a size and character that would do honor to places of greater pretensions. (Iowa As It Is in 1855; A Gazetteer for Citizens..., 1855)