KCCI-TV in Des Moines recently did a highly inquisitive report based on this map posted on social media.

The map highlights Kossuth County, which is easily the largest 0f 99 counties in Iowa. The interesting part is, Kossuth County was once split into two, meaning there used to be even 100 counties in the state.

So, what happened?

According to Wikipedia, Bancroft County, which included the cities that are now known as Bancroft, Swea City, and Ledyard, was established in 1851. It was abolished six years later and combined with Kossuth County in 1857 making it more than twice the size of the adjacent counties. It was simply a matter of not enough population to sustain two counties, so it became one.

Since then, there have been two votes to again split up Kossuth and form an additional county, but the vote never passed.

KCCI via Youtube/Library of Congress/Canva
KCCI via Youtube/Library of Congress/Canva
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Library of Congress
Library of Congress
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But wait, there's more! Was a THIRD county almost made out of what is now Kossuth County? Per Wikipedia, Crocker County was established in 1870, but its existence was voted unconstitutional a year later because the law at the time stated a county couldn't be developed in less than 432 square miles. A few exceptions were later made to this rule, as we'll find out later.

Wikipedia
Wikipedia
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Not too far west of the largest county in Iowa is the smallest one. Osceola County has a total area of 399 square miles. 0.7 square miles (0.2 percent) is water, making it the state's smallest county by total area but the third-smallest by land area.

Osceola County, Wikipedia
Osceola County, Wikipedia
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Dickinson County could arguably stake a claim as the smallest county in Iowa, depending on how you measure such things. It is the smallest by land area (381 sq. mi. to Osceola County's 399), while the total overall area of Osceola County is smaller (399 sq. mi. to 404).

That's history

So now you know the fascinating story of why 99 Iowa counties didn't become (or stay) 100. Maybe someday the lawmakers will revisit the idea for the third time.

Smallest Populations In Iowa

Smallest Populated Towns In Iowa

Gallery Credit: Gabe Glidden

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