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Lee County, Iowa
Lee County Courthouse, Fort Madison.jpg
Courthouse located in Fort Madison
Map of Iowa highlighting Lee County
Location in the state of Iowa
Map of the U.S. highlighting Iowa
Iowa's location in the U.S.
Founded 1836
Seat Fort Madison and Keokuk
Largest city Fort Madison
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

539 sq mi (1,396 km²)
518 sq mi (1,342 km²)
21 sq mi (54 km²), 4.0%
 - (2010)
 - Density

69/sq mi (27/km²)
Congressional district 2nd
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Historic Lee County Savings Bank

Lee County, Iowa, was established in 1836. As of the 2010 census, the population was 35,862.[1] It has two county seatsFort Madison and Keokuk. Lee County is part of the Fort Madison–Keokuk, IA-IL-MO Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Fort Madison dates to the War of 1812. Lee County was the location of the Half-Breed Tract, established by treaty in 1824. Allocations of land were made to American Indian descendants of European fathers and Indian mothers at this tract. Originally the land was to be held in common. Some who had an allocation lived in cities, where they hoped to make better livings.

Large-scale European-American settlement in the area began in 1839, after Congress allowed owners to sell land individually. Members of the Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints) fled persecutions in Missouri to settle in Illinois and Iowa. Nauvoo, across the border in Hancock County, Illinois, became the main center of Latter-day Saints settlement, but there was also a Latter Day Saints stake organized in Lee County under the direction of John Smith, the uncle of Joseph Smith, land that was sold to them by Isaac Galland in 1839.

Lee has two county seatsFort Madison and Keokuk.[2] The latter was established in 1847 when disagreements led to a second court jurisdiction.[3]

Lee County's population grew to about 19,000 in 1850, the first US census, to 37,000 per the 3rd census in 1870, peaking at 44,000 people in 1960. It has continuously decreased since and as of 2010, 35,862 people lived there, comparable to the years between 1860-1870.[4]


There is no agreement about the derivation of the name "Lee." It has been variously proposed that the county was named for Marsh, Delevan & Lee, of Albany, New York, and the 'New York Land Company', who owned extensive interests in the Half-Breed Tract in the 1830s; Robert E. Lee, who surveyed the Des Moines Rapids; or Albert Lea, who helped explore the interior of Iowa.[5][6]:398


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 539 square miles (1,400 km2), of which 518 square miles (1,340 km2) is land and 21 square miles (54 km2) (4.0%) is water.[7] The lowest point in the state of Iowa is located on the Mississippi River in Keokuk in Lee County, where it flows out of Iowa and into Missouri and Illinois.

Major highways[]

  • US 61 (IA).svg U.S. Highway 61
  • US 136 (IA).svg U.S. Highway 136
  • US 218 (IA).svg U.S. Highway 218
  • Iowa 2.svg Iowa Highway 2
  • Iowa 16.svg Iowa Highway 16
  • Iowa 27.svg Iowa Highway 27

Adjacent counties[]

Lee County is surrounded by Henry County to the north, Des Moines County to the northeast, Henderson County, Illinois, across the river east, Hancock County, Illinois to the southeast, Clark County, Missouri in the southwest and Van Buren County, Iowa in the west.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 18,861
1860 29,565 56.8%
1870 37,210 25.9%
1880 34,859 −6.3%
1890 37,715 8.2%
1900 39,719 5.3%
1910 36,702 −7.6%
1920 39,676 8.1%
1930 41,268 4.0%
1940 41,074 −0.5%
1950 43,102 4.9%
1960 44,207 2.6%
1970 42,996 −2.7%
1980 43,106 0.3%
1990 38,687 −10.3%
2000 38,052 −1.6%
2010 35,862 −5.8%
Est. 2015 35,089 [8] −7.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[4]
1790-1960[9] 1900-1990[10]
1990-2000[11] 2010-2013[1]

2000 census[]

2000 Census Age Pyramid for Lee County

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 38,052 people, 15,161 households, and 10,248 families residing in the county. The population density was 74 people per square mile (28/km²). There were 16,612 housing units at an average density of 32 per square mile (12/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.24% White, 2.80% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.03% from other races, and 1.21% from two or more races. 2.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 15,161 households out of which 30.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.70% were married couples living together, 10.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.40% were non-families. 28.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.40% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 26.70% from 25 to 44, 24.60% from 45 to 64, and 16.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 97.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,193, and the median income for a family was $42,658. Males had a median income of $32,286 versus $21,821 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,430. About 7.10% of families and 9.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.60% of those under age 18 and 9.60% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census[]

The 2010 census recorded a population of 35,862 with a population density of 69.3133/sq mi (26.7620/km2). There were 16,205 housing units, of which only 14,610 were occupied.[13]


Courthouse in Keokuk in 1900


Unincorporated communities[]

  • Argyle
  • Denmark
  • Marion
  • New Boston
  • Pilot Grove
  • Wever

Population ranking[]

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Lee County.[14]

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)

1 Fort Madison City 11,051
2 Keokuk City 10,780
3 West Point City 966
4 Donnellson City 912
5 Montrose City 898
6 Denmark CDP 423
7 Houghton City 146
8 Franklin City 143
9 St. Paul City 129

Notable people[]

  • Cleng Peerson (1783–1865) pioneer settler in Lee County in 1840[15]
  • Richard Proenneke (1916–2003) naturalist subject of books and documentary[16]
  • William Elliott Whitmore (born 1978) singer and songwriter

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Lee County, Iowa
  • Lee County Courthouse in use in Fort Madison Original and oldest courthouse.
  • Lee County Courthouse in use in Keokuk Originally a Federal courthouse and post office.


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ North Lee County Historical Society, Museums USA, accessed 11 Aug 2008
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ The History of Lee County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical. 1879. pp. 414–415. 
  6. ^ Naming of Iowa Counties. The Annals of Iowa. 36 (1962), 395-400. ISSN 0003-4827
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  8. ^ "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  12. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  13. ^ "Population & Housing Occupancy Status 2010". United States Census Bureau American FactFinder. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Swansen, H.F.. "The Sugar Creek Settlement in Iowa". Norwegian-American Historical Association. pp. Volume IX: Page 38. Retrieved May 21, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Alone In The Wilderness". Bob Swerer Productions. Retrieved May 21, 2011. 

External links[]

Coordinates: 40°38′34″N 91°28′28″W / 40.64278, -91.47444

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Lee County, Iowa. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.