Pottawattamie County, Iowa Genealogy

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Guide to Pottawattamie County, Iowa ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Council Bluffs
Organized: September 21, 1848[1]
Parent County(s): Non-County Area 3[2]
Neighboring Counties
Cass  • Harrison  • Mills  • Montgomery  • Shelby  • Douglas (NE)  • Washington (NE)  • Sarpy (NE)
See County Maps
Iowa, Pottawattamie County Courthouse.png
Location Map
Iowa Pottawattamie Map.png

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Pottawattamie County was named for the Potawatomi tribe and is located in southwestern Iowa.[3]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Pottawattamie County Courthouse
227 South 6th Street / P.O. Box 476
Council Bluffs, IA 51502
Phone: 712-328-5604
Pottawattamie County Website

Pottawattamie County, Iowa Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1880 1840 1880 1876 1849 1846 1847
* Statewide registration started for births in July 1880 and for deaths January 1891. General compliance by 1924.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[8]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Listed below are resources for Bible records specific to Pottawattamie County. To find more resources, go to the Iowa Bible Records page.

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Pottawattamie County, Iowa online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Iowa Cemeteries for more information.


Census Records[edit | edit source]

Iowa recorded not only federal, but state censuses for several in-between years as well. For more information, see the very informative Iowa Census article.

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 7,828
1860 4,968 −36.5%
1870 16,893 240.0%
1880 39,850 135.9%
1890 47,430 19.0%
1900 54,336 14.6%
1910 55,832 2.8%
1920 61,550 10.2%
1930 69,888 13.5%
1940 66,756 −4.5%
1950 69,682 4.4%
1960 83,102 19.3%
1970 86,991 4.7%
1980 86,561 −0.5%
1990 82,628 −4.5%
2000 87,704 6.1%
2010 93,158 6.2%
Source: "Wikipedia.org".

State Census

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Most church records are held by individual churches. Some denominations are gathering their records into a central repository. For more information about these major repositories, see Iowa Church Records.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Ward and Branch Records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  • Council Bluffs
  • Council Bluffs Dist
  • Council Point
  • Lake
  • Pottawatomie
  • Shirtses
  • Union


Court Records[edit | edit source]

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. They include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See Iowa Land and Property for information about early Iowa land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, transactions were usually recorded and housed at the county courthouse.

Online Land and Property Records

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for Pottawattamie County, which may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see Iowa Local Histories.

  • 1846-1852 The Sojourn of the Mormons at Kanesville, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, 1846-1852. 1936. By Belle Palmer. Greeley, CO: Colorado State College of Education. Online at: FamilySearch Digital Library.
  • Early Days at Council Bluffs. 1916. by Charles H Babbitt. Washington, D.C.: Press of Byron S Adams. Online at: HathiTrust — index & images.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

County and state maps, historical and more current, are valuable research tools. For online maps and collections in libraries and societies, see Iowa Maps. Historical maps may be especially useful.

Washington CountyDouglas CountySarpy CountyHarrison CountyShelby CountyCass CountyMontgomery CountyMills CountyIA POTTAWATTAMIE.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Green check.png
The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

Early migration routes to and from Pottawattamie County for European and African American settlers included:

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Multiple Wars

Civil War

Civil War service men in Pottawattamie County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed here:

- 4th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company B
- 15th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company H
- 17th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company H
- 23rd Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company E
- 29th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company A

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Please see the Iowa Naturalization and Citizenship page for state-wide information.

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

  • 1936, 1943-50, 1952-1956 Council Bluffs Nonpareil. Council Bluffs, IA, USA. Online at: Ancestry.com ($)

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

In most counties in Iowa, probate records have been kept by the county judge. They include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate ticklers, and dockets. The records are available at the county courthouse.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Iowa tax records complement land records and can supplement the years between censuses. Iowa's unique Old Age Assistance tax gives names, addresses and birth years. There may be gaps of several years. For more information, see the wiki page Iowa Taxation.

Online Tax Indexes and Records

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records consist of births, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded by civil officials on registers, certificates, and other documents. Copies or extracts may be purchased from the Iowa Department of Public Health or the County Clerk's office. See also Iowa Vital Records.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Death[edit | edit source]

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Pottawattamie County. For state-wide library facilities, see Iowa Archives and Libraries.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Pottawattamie County. For state-wide library facilities, see Iowa Archives and Libraries.

Council Bluffs Public Library
400 Willow Avenue
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
712-323-7553 Ext. 5425

Museums[edit | edit source]

Western Historic Trails Center
3434 Richard Downing Avenue
Council Bluffs, IA 51501

Walnut Creek Historical Society and Museum
304 Antique City Drive
Walnut, IA 51577

Nishna Heritage Museum
117 N. Main Street
Oakland, Iowa
712-482-6802 or 712-482-3075

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Pottawattamie County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Iowa Societies.

Botna Valley Genealogical Society (East Pottawattamie)
P.O. Box 693
Oakland, IA 51560-0693
E-mail: botnavalleygenealogy@yahoo.com

Pottawattamie County Genealogical Society
Frontier Heritage Library
622 Fourth Street
P.O. Box 394
Council Bluffs, IA 51502-0394

Walnut Genealogy Society
Walnut Public Library Genealogy Room
224 Antique City Drive
P.O. Box 493
Walnut, Iowa 51577-0493

Historical Society of Pottawattamie County
Post office box 2
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51502

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • Pottawattamie County at Cyndi's List - a comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online
  • Pottawattamie County at Genealogy Trails - volunteer transcriptions of genealogical and historical data
  • Pottawattamie County at Iowa USGenWeb - free online resources for genealogical research
  • Pottawattamie County at Iowa USGenWeb Archives - free online data for genealogical research
  • State Historical Society of Iowa — select from research collection topics
  • State Library of Iowa — electronic depository of documents intended for the general public produced by Iowa agencies
  • The Iowa Heritage Digital Collection — digital images from a variety of Iowa cultural institutions
  • FamilySearch Catalog – The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection.  Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records.

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Iowa Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed on 11 April 2021.
  2. Iowa Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed on 11 April 2021.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Potawatomi, Iowa," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pottawattamie_County,_Iowa."
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Iowa.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Iowa Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed on 11 April 2021.
  6. Iowa Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed on 11 April 2021.
  7. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Iowa.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  8. Wikipedia contributors, "Pottawattamie County, Iowa," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pottawattamie_County%2C_Iowa, accessed 22 October 2019.
  9. Jim Tompkins, "The Oregon Trail 1841-1848 Map I" in Oregon Trail Landmarks at http://www.oregonpioneers.com/OTMap1.jpg (accessed 18 July 2011).
  10. "Oregon California Trails Association" at http://octatrails.micromaps.com/ (accessed 18 July 2011).
  11. "The Pioneer Story: The Mormon Pioneer Trail" in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/pioneer-trek (accessed 18 July 2011).