Section I: History and Geography



Cass County was established in 1851.  Previous to that, it had been a part of Pottawattamie County.  The county was named after Lewis Cass, a Michigan senator and a Democratic presidential candidate of 1848.


Cass County lies within the Nishnabotna and Nodaway watersheds.  The county was primarily covered with prairie.  Many of the earliest settlers followed these rivers from Rockport, Missouri.


Prior to being a county, the first white settlement was at Indiantown, a Mormon settlement near present day Lewis.  Indiantown was established in 1846 as the Mormons were fleeing from Illinois.  Most of the people from Indiantown relocated to Lewis, where the first courthouse was built in 1856.  The Hitchcock House was built in Lewis in 1856.  It was a stop on the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves.


Atlantic was established in 1868.  It grew rapidly after the Rock Island Railroad was extended through Iowa, and Atlantic was designated the railroad stop for Cass County in 1869. In 1869 Atlantic was established as the county seat.  The current courthouse in Atlantic is the fourth courthouse; it was constructed in 1934.





Cass County is in southwestern Iowa.  It is bordered by the following counties: West: Pottawattamie Co., North: Shelby and Audubon Counties; NE: Guthrie Co., East: Adair Co., and South: Adams and Montgomery Counties.


Current towns and communities (Zip codes given for towns having Post Offices)


Town/Community        Township                                             Population

1890                                  1990


Anita 50020                   Grant                                                      695                1,068    

Atlantic 50022               Grove                                                   4,351                7,432

Cumberland 50843         Union                                                      450                   295

Griswold 51535              Pleasant                                                  752                1,049

Lewis 51544                  Cass                                                       579                   433

Marne 51552                 Brighton                                                  350                   149

Massena 50853             Massena                                                 279                   372

Wiota 50274                  Franklin                                                   168                   160



Abandoned towns


Town                           Township                                 Town                           Township



Cass Center                  Bear Grove                                Lura                              Grant

Cold Springs                  (also Iranistan)                           Lyman                          Noble

Dewey                          Victoria                                     McDill                           Victoria

Edna                             Noble, Bear Grove                      Newlonís Grove              betw Atlantic, Villisca

Galion                           Bear Grove                                Pymosa                        Pymosa

Grove City                     Grove                                        Reno                            

Gurley                           Pymosa                                    Turkey Grove                 Grove

Hedges Grove                Union                                        Wax                             Noble

Iranistan                        Cass                                         Whitneyville                  

Lorah                            Pymosa



Section II: Resource Centers




         [CCCH] Cass County Courthouse

7th Street

Atlantic, Iowa 50022


Genealogical Society


         [CCGS] Cass County Genealogical Society

c/o Atlantic Public Library, 507 Poplar Street

Atlantic, Iowa 50022


Historical Societies


         [CCHM] Cass County Historical Museum

Cass Street and Highway 92

Atlantic, Iowa 50022


Libraries with Genealogical or Historical Collections


         [AtPL] Atlantic Public Library

507 Poplar Street

Atlantic, Iowa 50022

         [AnPL] Anita Public Library

812 3rd Street

Anita, Iowa 50020

         [CPL] Cumberland Public Library

119 Main Street

Cumberland, Iowa 50843

         [GPL] Griswold Public Library

505 Main Street

Griswold, Iowa 51535

         [LPL] Lewis Public Library

506 Main Street

Lewis, Iowa 51544

         [MPL] Massena Public Library

100 Main Street

Massena, Iowa 50853

         [IGSL] Iowa Genealogical Society Library

628 East Grand Avenue

Des Moines, Iowa 50309

         [ISHL] Iowa State Historical Library

600 East Locust Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50309




Museums, Historic Sites and Visitor Centers


         [CCHM] Cass County Historical Society Museum

412-4 Main Street

Griswold, Iowa 51535


Section III: Records Ė records may be found at the record sites abbreviated after each entry.  See Section II for complete record site information.



         Federal: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, microfilm: [IGSL] , [ISHL]; selected years, microfilm: [AtPL]

         Federal Indices: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1920: [IGSL] , [ISHL]

         State: 1885, 1895, 1910, 1915, 1925: [IGSL] , [ISHL]; selected years: [AtPL]


Vital Records


         Births: from 1880, originals: [CCCH] ; 1880-1933, microfilm: [IGSL] , [ISHL]

         Marriages: from 1853, originals: [CCCH] ; 1881-1928, microfilm: [IGSL] ; 1853-1940, microfilm: [ISHL]

         Deaths: from 1880, originals: [CCCH] ; 1880-1940, microfilm: [IGSL] , [ISHL]


Probate and related records


         Probate records, from 1870, originals: [CCCH]

         Wills, [CCCH] (recorderís office)

         Wills, 1873-1880, microfilm: [IGSL]


Land and related records


         Land records, from 1853, originals: [CCCH] (recorderís office)

         County tax records: [CCCH] (treasurerís office)


Maps, atlases and gazetteers


         Egan, Anderson and Co.: Directory of Cass County (1902): [ISHL]

         Anderson Pub Co.: Atlas of Cass County (c1917): [ISHL]; [CCCH] (recorderís office)

         1875 hand drawn map of Cass County: [CCCH] (recorderís office)

         Plat of properties of farmers, (1942): [CCCH]  (recorderís office)

         Atlantic city directories (1970-1989): [AtPL]


Court records


         Civil and criminal court records, from 1865, originals: [CCCH] (clerk of court office)

         Divorce records, from 1906: [CCCH]

         Naturalization records: [CCCH]

         Guardianship records: [CCCH]

         Adoption records: [CCCH]




Cass Co Gen Soc.: Cass County Cemetery Records, 12 books (1988): [IGSL] , [ISHL], [AtPL]

Works Progress Administration: Cass County Graves Registration Project (1942): [IGSL] , [ISHL], [AtPL]


Funeral homes (Current)



-          Mullen Funeral Home

1008 Main Street, Anita, Iowa 50020


-          Mullen Funeral Home

602 Oak Street, Atlantic, Iowa 50022

-          Roland Funeral Service

204 East 5th Street, Atlantic, Iowa 50022


-          Duhn Funeral Home

300 Main Street, Griswold, Iowa 51535


Church, Bible


         Saints Peter and Paul Church, Atlantic 1873-1973 (1973): [ISHL]

         Area church and bible records: [AtPL]

         First United Presbyterian Church Directory, Atlantic, Iowa (1977)




         26 Notebooks of World War II clippings: [AtPL]

         Volunteer soldiers 1917-1919: [AtPL]


Newspapers:  (on microfilm)



-          The Anita Record, (1916-1921): [ISHL]

-          The Anita Times, (1883): [ISHL]

-          The Anita Republican, (1893-1911): [ISHL]

-          The Anita Tribune, (1883-1929), (1975-1997): [ISHL]


-          Atlantic Messenger, (1897), (1903-1907): [ISHL]

-          Farmers Messenger, (1907-1910): [ISHL]

-          Atlantic Weekly Telegraph, (1910-1911): [ISHL]

-          Atlantic News Telegraph, (1912-2002): [ISHL]


-          The Cumberland Enterprise, (1923-1969): [ISHL]


-          The Griswold Advocate, (1880-1885): [ISHL]

-          The Griswold American, (1885-1997): [ISHL]

-          The Griswold Gleaner, (1905): [ISHL]


-          Cass County Gazette, (1863): [ISHL]

-          The Cass Messenger, (1865): [ISHL]

-          Lewis Independent, (1884-1885): [ISHL]

-          The Lewis Standard, (1916-1918): [ISHL]

-          The Lewis Weekly Standard, (1918-1933): [ISHL]


Educational, business and other: (school annuals for this county)


         Atlantic Chamber of Commerce: 100 Years of Pioneering and Progress 1868-1968 (1968): [ISHL]




         Area family histories: [AtPL]


County & Local Histories:


         Young: History of Cass County, Iowa (1877):

         Continental Hist Co.: History of Cass County, Iowa (1884): [IGSL] , [ISHL], [AtPL]

         Henry Taylor and Co.: Compendium of History and Biography of Cass Co., Iowa (1906): [ISHL], [AtPL]

         Cass Co History Book Corp.: Cass County History (1980): [IGSL] , [ISHL], [AtPL]

         Hansen: Danish Immigrants to Cass County, 1868-1903 (1998): [IGSL]

         Cass Co Gen Soc: Cass County Newsletter: [IGSL]

         Quasquicentennial board: Anita, Plant the Seeds (2000): [ISHL]

         Centennial book for Villisca: [AtPL]

         Centennial book for Marne: [AtPL]

         A Century of Memories, Cumberland, Iowa 1884-1984

         The Turning of a Century Ė Massena, Iowa, 1886-1986

         100 year History of Griswold, Iowa 1879-1979

         The First Century, Marne, Iowa, 1875-1975




         Iowa Genealogical Society: Hawkeye Heritage articles through 1993, [IGSL]  (Entries indicate year, issue number and page number.)

-          Marriage Records of the Zion Lutheran Church, Atlantic 1875 Ė 1899 (1992) 4:214

-          Militia Roll, 1875 (1969) 2:81

         The following Cass County Publications are for sale through the Iowa Genealogical Society.  See the Iowa Genealogical Society Webpage for a detailed listing and availability.

-          Cass County Cemetery records, 12 books listed by townships



Section IV: Credits


We wish to acknowledge the contributions made by members of the Cass County Genealogical Society, Cass County Historical Museum, the Cass County Courthouse, the Iowa State Historical Society and volunteers at the Iowa Genealogical Society in providing data contained in this research guide. Their efforts have been of immeasurable help in gathering this information.