History of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa

While other cities may owe their location to some accident, the whim of an officer locating a military post, the ambition of a pioneer to have a town site on his pre-emption, or the chance settlement of a trader, Sioux City’s location was a matter of foresight and design by men worthy to be the founders of such a city.

When, in the summer of 1853, John K. Cook came into this part of Northwestern Iowa to survey the land for the Government, he had instructions from an association of capitalists and politicians to choose for them a site for a city, to be the metropolis of this part of the northwest. The principal men of the association were Gen. G.W. Jones and A.C. Dodge, Iowa’s first Senators, Bernhard Henn, of Fairfield, also a Congressman; his partner in the banking business, Jesse Williams; Daniel Rider, also of Fairfield, and Wm. Montgomery, a Congressman from Pennsylvania, the author of the famous Montgomery Compromise; John K. Cook, who surveyed the land for the Government; and S.P. Yeomans, afterwards Register of the Government Land Office at Sioux City.

This land office was secured for the infant metropolis by the influence of the men who founded the city, and this and the business and settlement it brought, forced the town rapidly ahead of its many competitors.

Thompson town, once the county seat, dwindled to a single farm house; Sergeant Bluffs, at first the most formidable rival, was soon outstripped, and the county seat that had been moved to that village from Thompson town, was again moved to Sioux City.

Omadi, on the Nebraska side, once thought to be the coming town in this part of the northwest, has been swallowed up by the river, and the main channel is now where the main street was; of St. John, another Nebraska city of the future, only two or three farm houses remain on the town site, that covered one thousand acres; Dakota City and Covington, once formidable rivals of Sioux City, still exist, but only as villages. Sioux City has grown and prospered from the first. The securing of the Government Land Office was followed by the city securing the headquarters for the government expeditions against the hostile Sioux, and afterwards by its becoming the terminus of railroads created by land grant bills.

First its founders, and afterwards the leading men of the town, have been tireless in their efforts to advance the interests of the city. To this, even more than its superior location, is the present prosperity of the city indebted.

The population of the city has more than doubled since 1870. According to the official figures of the federal census taken in June, 1880, the population was 7,367. But today we can easily calculate upon 10,000 being the correct figures, for not a single business house is unoccupied, and although building boomed as never before last season, this winter sees many begging for houses to rent or quarters of some kind in which to locate. The demand for tenement houses is greater than the supply, and in many cases families are crowded into one room, not being able to secure more available quarters.

The population of the county, according to the census, excluding Sioux City, was 7,626, the whole county exceeding the town by 259. The county is divided into twenty-two townships, and the population of the whole county, including Sioux City, according to census figures, is given as follows:

Sioux City-First Ward1,707
Second Ward2,074
Third Ward1,786
Fourth Ward1,800
Sioux City township480
Arlington township137
Concord township340
Banner township64
Floyd township194
Grange township118
Grant township460
Kedron township316
Little Sioux township876
Liberty township721
Lisbon township408
Lakeport township436
Union township597
Moville township117
Willow township242
Rock township250
Rutland township197
Sloan township312
Wolk Creek418
Morgan township63
West Fork township286
Woodbury township594

What has been said in regard to the city’s population hold equally true of the county, outside of the city? Since the census enumeration many families have bought farms and settled in the county. In fact, the tide of immigration to Woodbury, which has never been greater than during last year, did not set in until after June, and continued until weather set in. It is save, therefore, to estimate the present population of the city and county at 19,000, at least.

Source: Woodbury County Iowa, History of Western Iowa, 1882

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