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Buchanan County, Iowa facts for kids

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Buchanan County, Iowa
Map of Iowa highlighting Buchanan County
Location in the state of Iowa
Map of the USA highlighting Iowa
Iowa's location in the U.S.
Founded 1837
Seat Independence
Largest City Independence
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

573 sq mi (1,484 km²)
571 sq mi (1,479 km²)
2.1 sq mi (5 km²), 0.4%
 - (2010)
 - Density

37/sq mi (14/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Named for: James Buchanan
Wapsipinicon River Bridge
Wapsipinicon River Bridge

Buchanan County is a county located in the U.S. state of Iowa. As of the 2010 census, the population was 20,958. Its county seat is Independence. The county was created in 1837 and was named in honor of Senator James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States.


Buchanan County was formed on December 21, 1837 from parts of Dubuque County. It was named after future US president James Buchanan.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 573 square miles (1,480 km2), of which 571 square miles (1,480 km2) is land and 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2) (0.4%) is water.

Major highways

  • I-380 (IA).svg Interstate 380
  • US 20 (IA).svg U.S. Route 20
  • Iowa 27.svg Iowa Highway 27
  • Iowa 150.svg Iowa Highway 150
  • Iowa 187.svg Iowa Highway 187
  • Iowa 281.svg Iowa Highway 281

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 517
1860 7,906 1,429.2%
1870 17,034 115.5%
1880 18,546 8.9%
1890 18,997 2.4%
1900 21,427 12.8%
1910 19,748 −7.8%
1920 19,890 0.7%
1930 19,550 −1.7%
1940 20,991 7.4%
1950 21,927 4.5%
1960 22,293 1.7%
1970 21,746 −2.5%
1980 22,900 5.3%
1990 20,844 −9.0%
2000 21,093 1.2%
2010 20,958 −0.6%
Est. 2015 21,062 0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

2010 census

The 2010 census recorded a population of 20,958 in the county, with a population density of 36.70/sq mi (14.17/km2). There were 8,968 housing units, of which 8,161 were occupied.

2000 census

USA Buchanan County, Iowa age pyramid
2000 Census Age Pyramid for Buchanan County

As of the census of 2000, there were 21,093 people, 7,933 households, and 5,672 families residing in the county. The population density was 37 people per square mile (14/km²). There were 8,697 housing units at an average density of 15 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.41% White, 0.27% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.40% Asian, 0.16% from other races, and 0.54% from two or more races. 0.62% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,933 households out of which 34.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.70% were married couples living together, 7.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.50% were non-families. 24.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the county, the population was spread out with 28.60% under the age of 18, 8.10% from 18 to 24, 26.30% from 25 to 44, 22.50% from 45 to 64, and 14.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 98.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $38,036, and the median income for a family was $45,421. Males had a median income of $30,212 versus $22,356 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,405. About 6.80% of families and 9.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.90% of those under age 18 and 7.60% of those age 65 or over.



Unincorporated communities

Galbraith Rail Service Map1897
This detail of Galbraith's 1897 Rail Service Map of Iowa shows Buchanan County towns of the time. It is a pictorial map rather than a technical map: Shady Grove, for example, is shown next to a man lying under a tree; Masonville is shown next to a Masonic symbol. Some of the towns' locations are slightly altered to make room for the illustrations. Several of these towns, including Hamerville, Vista, Kier, Middlefield, Newtonville, and Castleville no longer exist. A few are nearly ghost towns.

A number of historic communities in Buchanan County once appeared on state maps, but no longer exist. Hamerville was located east of Brandon at the intersection of Highway 150. Today, the site is the location of three farmhouses. Vista, once located between Brandon and Independence, appeared on maps frequently until the 1950s. This site is not even accessed by paved road. Kier, between Fairbank and Littleton, appeared on many maps in the 19th century and early 20th century. The area is now settled by Amish. Several towns named Middlefield existed southeast of Winthrop, but none are populated today. Newtonville was located a few miles south of Monti. The houses at Castleville were later moved to Aurora. Wise, once located between Independence and Jesup just north of Highway 939, was a train-stop between the 1920s and the 1950s. Little remains at the site. Kiene was founded in 1911 between Quasqueton and Monti, but was empty by 1955. Few or even no houses remain at any of these sites.


Buchanan County is divided into sixteen townships:

  • Buffalo
  • Byron
  • Cono
  • Fairbank
  • Fremont
  • Hazleton
  • Homer
  • Jefferson
  • Liberty
  • Madison
  • Middlefield
  • Newton
  • Perry
  • Sumner
  • Washington
  • Westburg

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Buchanan County.

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Independence City 5,966
2 Jesup (partially in Black Hawk County) City 2,520
3 Fairbank (partially in Fayette County) City 1,113
4 Winthrop City 850
5 Hazleton City 823
6 Quasqueton City 554
7 Lamont City 461
8 Brandon City 309
9 Rowley City 264
10 Aurora City 185
11 Stanley (partially in Fayette County) City 125

Amish community

Buchanan County is home to the Hazleton Old Order Amish settlement, founded in 1914, that in 1987 had to six church districts (congregations) with an estimated population of about 1,200 Amish. The Buchanan Amish affiliation is named after Buchanan County.

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