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About Clinton County

  • Clinton County is comprised of 18 townships.
  • In 1835, five years before Clinton County was officially created, Elijah Buell was building a log cabin for his family, thereby laying the foundation for the first settlement, the town of Lyons.
  • The world's largest sawmill was operated by W.J. Young, who helped Clinton earn the reputation of having more millionaires per capita than any other city in the nation.
  • The famous Iten Christmas display attracted people to Iowa from as far away as New York.
  • Only six years after the state's first post office opened in Dubuque, in 1833, we had two - one at Hauntown and one at Lyons. The Hauntown office was moved to Andover in 1843.
  • DeWitt Clinton, two times governor of New York and chief promoter of the Erie Canal, impressed the early settlers. Both the county and its two largest cities were named for him.
  • Clinton County is the only county in the state to have three county seats: Camanche, DeWitt (then Vandenburg) and Clinton.
  • The famous fire wagon team of Bob and Bob won state championships in 1911 and 1915, a record unmatched by any other county.
  • In 1854, a portion of the state's first railroad track was laid by the Lyons and Central Railroad. The ultimate destination was Iowa City. Unfortunately, the company folded after only 12 miles had been completed. The company paid off it's workers in yard goods, thus earning the nickname "Calico Road".
  • In 1860 one of Iowa's fiercest tornadoes tore through Camanche, killing 29 people and virtually demolishing the town.
  • In 1854, the Clinton Mirror became the first newspaper in the county.
  • To choose a judge probate, recorder and coroner, the county held its first special election in 1841.
  • From 1840 to 1851, three commissioners handled all county affairs.
  • Clinton, DeWitt and Low Moor were considered three of the strongest points along the Underground Railroad system, which, in the late 1850s, spirited slaves out of the south.
  • During the civil war, the 26th Iowa was called the Clinton County Regiment.
  • The Lyons Female College was the state's first educational institution for young ladies. Opening in 1858, tuition, room and board cost $175.00 a year.
  • The Randall House was a plush 300-room hotel which never opened its doors for business. Completed in the depth of financial panic in 1857, no one could be found to lease or operate it.
  • Preceding the outbreak of World War I, in a burst of patriotism, the name of Berlin township was changed to Grant township.
  • In the early days of Clinton County, justice was swift and deadly. Two powerful bands of vigilantes operated and hanging was their only reply to horse thieves.
  • The first set of triplets born in Iowa were from Clinton County.
  • The Chicago and North Western Roundhouse was once the largest of its kind in the nation.
  • Farmer Burns of Big Rock was a world famous wrestler.
  • Native-born world greats include stage star Lillian Russell; Felix Adler, "King of the Clowns"; Duke Slater, All-American; and Pulitzer prize winner Marquis Childs, author of many books. Ruby Bell Rickoff, "Madame Coretta", was a world-famous midget. At age 13, she was 30" tall and weighed 19 lbs.
  • In 1841, there was grumbling about annual property tax. On 160 acres of "first hand land", the tax was $2.40.
  • The 1860 census for Clinton County was 18,938.
  • There were 5,418 Clinton County servicemen in World War II.
  • The first airplane fatality in Iowa happened at the DeWitt Fair in 1911.
  • The 1921 Boy Scout trip to Yellowstone Park is still considered to be one of the outstanding undertakings in the organization's history.
  • There was a time when Clinton County cattle feeders had shown more grand champions than any other single county in the nation at the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago.