Cass County is named in honor of
Lewis Cass, a Michigan senator and an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the
presidency in 1848. The county was established within its present boundaries in
1851 and originated in 1853. Religious persecution was responsible for bringing
the first white men to Cass County. The Mormons, fleeing from Illinois, were the
earliest settlers, and established a community at Indiantown in 1846.
At Indiantown, two of the three commissioners selected to locate a county seat
were chosen. The site they chose was one mile from Indian Town and named Lewis.
Most of the people and businesses in Indiantown moved to Lewis shortly after it
was laid out. In 1856 a frame courthouse was built, and eight years later a
small stone building was completed for the county treasurerís office. In 1857
there was an attempt to relocate the county seat to Grove City, it was
unsuccessful. On October 20, 1869, after a due canvass of the vote on the
re-location of the county seat, the Board declared the city of Atlantic the seat
of county government and ordered the county officers to that place.
In 1872 the first courthouse built in Atlantic was completed. Until it was
completed county offices were held in various empty buildings. Ten years later
the county built its second courthouse at Atlantic. The $65,000 building was
destroyed by a fire in 1932. The fire started in the clock tower and gutted all
of the second floor. Most of the county records and equipment were saved.
The present, fourth, courthouse was completed in 1934. While that was being
built, county offices were located in the Atlantic Motors building, where an
attempted robbery of the treasurerís safe took place. The robbers were
interrupted and escaped, but without any money. The final cost of the fourth
courthouse was $130,000: $65,000 came from a county bond issue, $46,500 from
insurance and the remaining was covered by a P.W.A. federal grant. The concrete
and brick building is three stories high. It was dedicated on December 26, 1934,
with the main speaker being the Governor of Iowa, Clyde L. Herring. The Board of
Supervisors approved a new jail addition, which was dedicated in 1984.