The Sac and Fox nations lived on the land we today call Marion County, Iowa. They found the land fertile for hunting and fishing. By 1843, the first settlers had made their way west into Marion County and by 1845 the county was opened for settlement. During the early years, settlers often made heroic journeys for supplies. The first occupation of settlers was one of farmer. Early historic accounts detail the transformation of the land which happened during the first ten years of settlement. Prairie lands were transformed into fields and forests were cut down to build homes. Marion County was one of the best timbered counties in the state.
As railroad lines made their way west, Marion County was a key stop because of one thing..."black gold." Coal could be found everywhere in thick veins and towns began to sprout up everywhere. There were over 500 coal mines that operated in Marion County. By 1893, Marion County produced over 230,000 tons of coal. At the turn of the century, Marion County was one of the top coal producing counties in Iowa. But, by the 1920's new government regulations closed most of the coal industry in Iowa.
In 1914, there were 1,948 farms in the county with an average size of 144 acres. In the early years, there was not much manufacturing in the area. By the 1920's there were small towns which many businesses for milling wood, pottery, black smiting, general stores and professionals.
After World War I and II, industry started to take hold in the area. Pella Corporation was started in 1925, Van Gorp started in 1933 and Vermeer Corporation started in 1948. The 1970's were also a boom time for industry in the area with 3M and Hormel locating in Knoxville while the beginnings of Precision Pulley & Idler and Heritage Lace were happening in Pella.
Over the years, innovators in agriculture, mining and manufacturing have built quality lives and businesses within Marion County. Continuous improvement is not just a term...it is our way of life.