Sioux County, located in the northwest corner of Iowa, was formally
organized on January 20, 1860. Its name is in honor of the Sioux Indian
tribe, which was once prosperous in the area. Sioux means 'Snakes' or
The first county seat of Sioux County was Calliope. It was a small
village, established in 1860 with no more than 15 residents, the entire
population of the county at that time.
The first courthouse was built in Calliope in 1860. It served the
county until 1872 and was a one-and-one. The name means either "People
of the Yellow Earth"or "red bana-half story log cabin. It contained
portholes, like a fort, for protection from outlaws and Indians. The
building also served as living quarters for county officials and other
As was previously mentioned, Calliope contained all the residents of
the county, but in 1869 that all changed. At this time there was a large
increase of immigrants, mostly from the Netherlands, into the area. The
town of Orange City was laid out by Henry Hospers in the eastern part
of the county, and the immigrants from the Netherlands flocked to the
It was not long before a rivalry developed between the two towns.
This rivalry became so heated that, on January 22, 1872, 55 bobsleds
left Orange City bound for Calliope. Along the way they met up with 25
more sleds from the Hull area. When these raiders arrived at Calliope,
they cut a hole in the log courthouse and removed the safe and all of
the county records contained within. They then hauled the 5,000-pound
safe back to Orange City.
The safe and county records were later returned to Calliope with the
agreement of both towns. However, the county seat was officially removed
to Orange City with an election held in November 1872.
The old log cabin in Calliope was sold and county offices were
scattered around Orange City for several years. Then, with the help of a
bond issue, the construction of a red and buff- colored sandstone
building began in June 1902. Construction was stalled when the
construction company went bankrupt later that year.
The building was finally completed in October 1904. There was a huge
celebration containing bands, glee clubs, speeches and even fireworks.
M.P. Van Oosterhout of Orange City furnished two 1,400 pound steers for
Lightning struck the courthouse tower in 1907, knocking off about
four feet of the pinnacle, which broke many roof tiles. A 10-foot bronze
statue of "Lady Justice" (Vrouwe Justitia), replaced the broken
From 1976-1982 extensive improvements were made to the courthouse and
its facilities: a new roof, renovated courtroom, an elevator, the
latest computer system, and new voting machines. In 1977, the Sioux
County Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic
Taken from History of County Governments in Iowa, published in 1992 by Iowa State Association of Counties, Des Moines, Iowa