Mills County: Organized and Established in 1851

Named for a young officer from Burlington, Iowa, Frederick Mills.

  • A Yale graduate and lawyer.
  • Enlisted and commissioned as an officer during the Mexican War from 1846-1848.
  • Killed in action on August 20, 1847, leading a charge after General Santa Ana in the Battle of Cherubusco.
  • In 1851, Mills County was named in memory of this hero.

The first settlement was Rushville called by the Mormons

  • The Mormons arrived in 1846.
  • Present-day Glenwood was named Coonsville, named after Dr. Liberius Coons, a Mormon, first doctor and founder of the community.
  • In 1853, the name was changed to Glenwood.
  • Glenwood now serves as the County seat and is located near the interchange of US34 and Interstate 29.

The first courthouse was a small 12' x 20' frame building

  • Replaced in 1857 by a two-story Georgian Colonial style building.
  • An addition was made sometime after 1900 followed by the addition of a clock tower in 1910.
  • This first courthouse served as home to the first newspaper in Mills County as well as a temporary barracks for Civil War troops in 1861.
  • In 1898, an Iowa company was organized in the courthouse to serve in the war with Spain.
  • This courthouse continued to serve its community well for the next 100 years.
  • In 1959, it was replaced with the current, more modern building.
  • The building was dedicated on August 29, 1959, amidst much fanfare.
  • The courthouse has undergone more recent models and an addition to accommodate the growing population of Mills County.

Geographically, Mills County is located very near to the extreme Southwest corner of Iowa.

  • It is bordered on the north by Pottawattamie County, on the East by Montgomery County, on the South by Fremont County, and on the West by the Missouri River. 
  • Known for its rich soils and agricultural heritage, the County has become a diverse mixture of agricultural practices including vineyards, specialty crops, and traditional row crops and livestock operations. 
  • As a targeted high growth area for the Omaha/Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area, many Mills County residents are employed in nearby Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska.  
  • Mills County has the best of metropolitan and rural living with communities such as Malvern and Tabor offering unique dining, arts, and entertainment venues serving residents and persons from throughout Southwest Iowa and the entire Omaha metro area. 

Mills County boasts a variety of historical sites including a world class museum located in Glenwood.

  • It showcases many tools, implements, and household items of early life in the county as well as many Indian artefacts.
  • The community of Tabor, which lies partly in Mills County, is the location of a once important station on the Underground Railroad as well as the home of Rev. John Todd who harbored the abolitionist, John Brown.
    • The Todd house is preserved and now serves as a museum.
  • Pacific Junction in the Western part of the county is the Junction for the Burlington Railroad lines from Denver to Chicago and Kansas City to Council Bluffs.

In addition, Glenwood is the site of the Glenwood State Resource Center.

  • The Resource Center includes a state operated home and school for the mentally handicapped.
  • Started as a Soldier's Orphan's Home in 1866, it was closed in 1876 and the General Assembly converted the orphanage into the Asylum for Feeble Minded Children.
  • Later renamed the Glenwood State Hospital-School, this became an important part of the lives of the inhabitants.
  • Today the Resource Center Campus is home to multiple service providers and facilities meeting the needs of families with loved ones with both physical and mental challenges.

The 2010 census shows Mills County with an area of 437.44 square miles and a population of 15,059. 

  • Today, the Board of Supervisors in cooperation with the Mills County Economic Development Foundation, has implemented a strategic effort to grow both in population as well as high paying employment opportunities.