Sigourney: The Story of Us

SIGOURNEY- 175 years is a long time for anything, especially for a small town to thrive. However, Sigourney has outlasted others and set aside the opinions of critics, all in a rich history that tells a unique story. For 175 years now, Sigourney has been a community of its own, deep in the heart of ag-country, yet independent of any outside influence. This is the story of us.


The Beginnings

The origins of Sigourney can be traced back to around the time of the Second Black Hawk Purchase, which was the purchase of land from Chief Black Hawk, who had been the main antagonist in the brief, but decisive, Black Hawk War earlier in the 1830s. By 1843, the Indians were to leave and the settlers began to build cabins in the area. In 1844, Keokuk County became self-governed, and Sigourney had its start. According to “The History of Keokuk County, Iowa”, published by the Keo-Mah Genealogical Society in 2001, the county seat was selected by S.A. James, who was the County Clerk, when he set a pole in the center of the county, determining it to be the place where county business would be conducted.

“Mr. James then built a remarkably large cabin 12 feet by 16 feet. It cost $218. This served as the county offices, held public records, judges rooms, jury room, the county’s cash, and its criminals jailed,” reports the book.

That one spot would later grow into a town of over 2,000 people.

By the fall of 1844, Sigourney had its’ very first plat completed, with 42 blocks covered. The first plat was sold to Joel Landereth, for $12. The terms of the sale were that $6 would be paid in three months and the remaining $6 would be paid in six months. The town also had been given its name, at the suggestion of a local resident after reading some poetry by Lydia Huntley Sigourney. To show her appreciation at having a town named after her, Lydia Sigourney donated several trees for the court yard of the courthouse, one of which would stand for 110 years.

For more on this story and others, catch the May 15 edition of the News-Review.