Polk County, Iowa Genealogy

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United States
Polk County

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


Polk County, Iowa
Map of Iowa highlighting Polk County
Location in the state of Iowa
Map of the U.S. highlighting Iowa
Location of Iowa in the U.S.
Founded January 13, 1846
County Seat Des Moines

County Information


The County was named for President James K. Polk. The County has Des Moines as its seat and the County was created 1846. The County is located in the center area of the state. [1]

Polk County, Iowa Record Dates

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1880 1880 1941 1850 1846 1855 1847
Statewide registration started for births in July 1880 and for deaths Jan 1891. General compliance by 1924.

County Courthouse


Parent County

1846--Polk County was created 13 January 1846 from unorganized territory. County seat:  Des Moines

Boundary Changes

For animated maps illustrating Iowa County boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Iowa County Boundary Maps" (1816-1872) may be viewed for free at the MapofUS.org website.

Record Loss

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


Town/city records in the FamilySearch Catalog

Populated Places

Neighboring Counties

Boone • Dallas • Jasper • Madison • Marion • Story • Warren

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Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county
Findagrave.com Family History Library Findagrave.com
IAGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
IAGenWeb Archives
Tombstone Project
Iowa Gravestones
Billion Graves
See Iowa Cemeteries for more information.
  • I have photos of all headstones in the Oralabor Cemetery in Ankeny, Polk County, Iowa as of 2008. If you need one looked up, email me. Please provide a surname, christian name and DOD if you have it.


State Census


Most church records are held by individual churches. For contact information, check a phone directory, such as SearchBug or Dex Knows. Some denominations are gathering their records into a central repository. For more information about these major repositories, see Iowa Church Records.

LDS Ward and Branch Records

  • Des Moines



Fold3.com ($) has Des Moines City Directories 1881-1913 (2 yrs. missing) and miscellaneous years going back to 1866 available online.

  • R.L. Polk & Co.'s Des Moines City and Valley Junction directory for the year commencing December 1st, 1915 Des Moines, Iowa: R.L. Polk & Co., 1915. Online at: Ancestry.com ($)
  • R.L. Polk & Co.'s Des Moines City and Valley Junction directory for the year commencing December 1, 1912 Des Moines, Iowa: R.L. Polk & Co., c1912. Online at: Ancestry.com ($)


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

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

Local Histories 

Local histories are available for Polk County, Iowa Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the wiki page section Iowa Local Histories.

  • Resources and industries of Des Moines and Polk County, Iowa : showing the trade and commerce, railroads, business, manufacturing, mining interests, etc., of Iowa's capital and metropolis, the great railroad center of the Northwest, also containing short sketches of the towns of Polk County. By Joseph P.Bushnell. Des Moines, Iowa : J.P. Bushnell, 1885. Online at: FamilySearch Books Online.


Boone CountyStory CountyMarshall CountyDallas CountyMadison CountyWarren CountyMarion CountyJasper CountyIA POLK.PNG
About this image
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Civil War

Regiments. Service men in Polk County, Iowa Genealogy 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 in Polk County, Iowa Genealogy:

- 2nd Regiment, Iowa Cavalry, Company D
- 2nd Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company D
- 4th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company E
- 10th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company A
- 10th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company K
- 13th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company E
- 15th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company B
- 16th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company K
- 17th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company B
- 17th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company K
- 18th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company I
- 23rd Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company A
- 23rd Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company B
- 23rd Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company C
- 23rd Regiment, Iowa Infantry, Company E
- 47th Regiment, Iowa Infantry (100 days, 1864), Company F

Naturalization and Citizenship

  • Iowa. District Court (Polk County). Naturalization Records, 1907–1927. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1977. FHL films 1015201–17 item 2.
  • Iowa. District Court. (Polk County). Index to Naturalization, 1852–1884. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1977. FHL film 1015217 item 1.


Wikipedia has more about this subject: List of online newspaper archives


Online Probate Records


Iowa tax records complement land records and can be used to supplement the years between censuses. Tax lists were usually made every year, however, there may be gaps of several years. For more information, see the wiki page Iowa Taxation.

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Iowa Department of Public Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred. See also How to order Iowa Vital Records or order electronically online.


Societies and Libraries

Iowa Genealogical Society
628 E Grand Ave
Des Moines IA 50309-1924
E-mail: igs@iowagenealogy.org

State Historical Society Research Center
600 E Locust St.
Des Moines, IA 50319

Family History Centers

  • Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.


Sites with online indexes or images of records
State Historical Society of Iowa Free Select from research collection topics
IAGenWeb Project Free Data may be submitted by individuals or complete transcriptions
USGenWeb Archives Free Data may be submitted by individuals or may be complete transcriptions
[1] [2][3] FamilySearch Free Births, 1880-1935; Deaths 1880-1992; Marriages, 1838-1934; all indexes
FamilySearch Free Iowa, Polk County Probate Records, 1914-1924; browse images
Sites that search for links pertaining to Polk County, Iowa Genealogy
RootsWeb Resources Free Data may be submitted by individuals or may be complete transcriptions
Linkpendium Free Click links. Some sites they link to may have fees ($)
CyndisList Free Click links. Some sites they link to may have fees ($)
StateofUS.com Free family history resources and government records
Major catalogs for hard copy collections of Polk County, Iowa Genealogy
Books, microfilm, or manuscripts of genealogical records
FamilySearch Catalog Select topics. To select towns, add a comma to the search box.
WorldCat To find nearby libraries that have specific items, see WorldCat Online Catalog.
Allen County Public Library located in Indiana They are heavily involved in digitizing.
See also local libraries and Iowa Archives and Libraries
Social networking sites pertaining to Polk County, Iowa Genealogy
GeneaBloggers enter "Iowa" in search box to see list and links to Iowa blogs
Google+ list of groups from "iowa genealogy" search
Facebook list of groups from "Iowa Genealogy" search
genealogy.com IA Genealogy Forum
ancestry.com Polk County Message Board


  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Polk, Iowa," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polk_County,_Iowa."
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Polk County, Iowa. Page 230-238 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 222-225.