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Lyon County is the most northwesterly county of the U.S. state of Iowa. The population was 11,581 in the 2010 census, a decline from 11,763 in the 2000 census. The county seat is Rock Rapids.
Lyon County is named in honor of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon, who served in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. He was killed at the battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri, on August 10, 1861, after which the county was named for him. The county's name was originally Buncombe County, but was changed by the state legislature on September 11, 1862.
The land that makes up Lyon County was ceded to the federal government by the Sioux Indians through a treaty signed on July 23, 1851. The boundaries of the county were set on January 15, 1851 and attached to Woodbury County (then called Wahkaw County) for administration purposes. Lyon County officially split from Woodbury County on January 1, 1872.
The first white man to live in Lyon County was Daniel McLaren, known as "Uncle Dan". He lived near the Sioux River for a short time, spending his time hunting and trapping. He moved out of the county very early in its settlement to stake a claim further west. The second settler in the area was known as "Old Tom", a hunter and trapper who lived briefly near present-day Rock Rapids. While setting his traps, Old Tom was killed by Sioux Indians.
In 1862-1863, a group of men from the east coast spent time in the county on a hunting trip. They were: Roy McGregor, George Clark and Thomas Lockhart. During the winter, Lockhart and McGregor were hunting elk along the Little Rock creek and encountered a group of Sioux Indians. Lockhart was killed by an arrow, but McGregor was able to escape and rejoin Clark. The two continued to hunt and trap until March 1863. During a spring flood, Clark was drowned and McGregor decided to move back east.
The first permanent settlement in Lyon County was built by Lewis P. Hyde in July 1866. The county's population reached 100 persons in 1869, entirely through migration and settlement. The first white child born in the county was Odena Lee, born on May 28, 1871. The first election in the county was held on October 10, 1871, and recorded 97 votes.
According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 587.63 square miles (1,522.0 km2), of which 587.50 square miles (1,521.6 km2) (or 99.98%) is land and 0.13 square miles (0.34 km2) (or 0.02%) is water.
Lyon County is the location of Gitchie Manitou State Preserve, which contains some of the oldest exposed bedrock in the country.
Lake Pahoja is located in the northwest part of the county. It is a man-made lake with an area of just over 28 ha (70 acres).
- Rock County, Minnesota (north)
- Nobles County, Minnesota (northeast)
- Osceola County (east)
- Sioux County (south)
- Lincoln County, South Dakota (west)
- Minnehaha County, South Dakota (northwest)
The 2010 census recorded a population of 11,581 in the county, with a population density of 19.7123/sq mi (7.6110/km2). There were 4,848 housing units, of which 4,442 were occupied.
As of the census of 2000, there were 11,763 people, 4,428 households, and 3,263 families residing in the county. The population density was 20 people per square mile (8/km²). There were 4,758 housing units at an average density of 8 per square mile (3/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 99.13% White, 0.09% Black or African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.10% from other races, and 0.37% from two or more races. 0.36% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 4,428 households out of which 34.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.10% were married couples living together, 4.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.30% were non-families. 24.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.70% 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 28.00% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 24.60% from 25 to 44, 20.90% from 45 to 64, and 18.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 98.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $36,878, and the median income for a family was $45,144. Males had a median income of $29,462 versus $19,385 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,081. About 4.90% of families and 7.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.90% of those under age 18 and 10.30% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
- "Population & Housing Occupancy Status 2010". United States Census Bureau American FactFinder. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
- "Data from the 2010 Census". State Data Center of Iowa. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- A.T. Andreas. "Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa". Chicago, 1875.
- Pioneer Association of Lyon County. "Compendium of History Reminiscence and Biography of Lyon County, Iowa". Chicago, 1904-1905.
- Paul C. Smith. "Buncombe to 'Twenty-Two'". Lyon County Reporter, 1975.