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Buchanan County, Iowa facts for kids

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Buchanan County
Buchanan County Courthouse
Map of Iowa highlighting Buchanan County
Location within the U.S. state of Iowa
Map of the United States highlighting Iowa
Iowa's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Iowa
Founded 1837
Named for James Buchanan
Seat Independence
Largest city Independence
 • Total 573 sq mi (1,480 km2)
 • Land 571 sq mi (1,480 km2)
 • Water 2.1 sq mi (5 km2)  0.4%
 • Total 20,565
 • Density 35.89/sq mi (13.857/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 1st
Wapsipinicon River Bridge
Wapsipinicon River Bridge

Buchanan County is a county located in the U.S. state of Iowa. As of the 2020 census, the population was 20,565. 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%
2020 20,565 −1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2018
Population of Buchanan County from US census data

2020 census

The 2020 census recorded a population of 20,565 in the county, with a population density of 35.9886/sq mi (13.8953/km2). 97.06% of the population reported being of one race. 94.13% were non-Hispanic White, 0.35% were Black, 1.64% were Hispanic, 0.14% were Native American, 0.25% were Asian, 0.06% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 3.43% were some other race or more than one race. There were 8,886 housing units of which 8,198 were occupied.

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.



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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