No attempt was made to found a town in the area that was to become Jesup until word was spread that a survey had been made for a railroad and that it was pushing westward into the township. Reports of rich farmland being available also sparked the westward movement of the time. In 1858 the site where Jesup sprang up was an unbroken prairie. 78 miles of railroad was constructed between Dubuque and Jesup from 1856-1863. Jesup was named for Morris K. Jesup, President of that line of the railroad, at that time. The Jesup station became a focal point for picking up supplies and shipping, not only for the community but for the persons living beyond the end of the rails. Passenger cars were the main source of cross-country transportation with service continuing until 1969. The first school house was built in 1865 and a stone elevator was built in 1867 at the east end of Main Street, along the railroad tracks.
Hotels, taverns and boarding houses played a great roll in the community's early history. They not only served the travelers, but also the general public as social centers and meeting places. The original hotels served as stagecoach and mail stops.

After the Civil War there was in influx of settlers, not only of veterans, but from the eastern section of the nation. Westward migration continued in the 1870s and more of the wanderers homesteaded upon the Perry Prairie and the village of Jesup.  Residents were convinced to incorporate in January 1876.  With the influx of residents the economy expanded quickly.  Farmers were producing more corn and raising more cattle which resulted in an increase in business for the merchants.  The upswing in farm production led to a boom in dairy milk production and the establishment of the Jesup cooperative creamery, the largest at that time in the State.

Until after the turn of the century, Jesup was considered a “dry” town as far as the sale of liquor was concerned and became known as the “banner temperance town of the country.”  In 1881 the Buchanan County Bank on west Young Street merged with Farmer’s Bank. Crime followed close on the heels of prosperity.  A protective association or vigilance committee was organized.  The object of the group was to capture thieves. As there was no police protection, the businessmen later hired a town marshal. A jail was built in 1885 and was in used until 1940.  In 1890 Jesup’s population was 573.

The gradual shift of the business district from Main Street to Young was completed as new owners took over. Along with the national trend, the people of the community took time for diversion in various forms. Businesses were assured of better fire protection by erection of a windmill over the town well on Young Street. Another big improvement came about in 1892 when street lamps were installed on Young Street.  A new bandstand was built in the park opposite the depot, currently the gazebo site. Women were allowed to vote on school issues.  Horse racing enthusiasts were drawn to Jesup because of its race track.  Ed Laurer established a ½ mile race track for trotting and running races.  The races were the highlight of the 4th of July celebrations until 1892 when Lauer moved to Independence to throw in his lot with famous race track promoter Charley Williams, owner of famous race horses Axtell and Allerton.

As the twentieth century opened, the community early in this decade was experiencing growing pains and the citizens began pushing for civic improvements. Sidewalks, water systems and fire protection were established.  The Telephone franchise carried about 100 customers. The first vehicle arrived in town in 1904. Several churches were established.  In 1902 a 312 foot well was drilled.

In 1911 there was an explosion in the water pump house on Hawley Street.  As a result of the explosion, a 108 foot water tower was built.  In 1918 a 3 story school building was built. Jesup’s basketball teams were very successful in 1921, 1936, 1937, and 1947. In 1930 Jesup’s population was 697.

In 1936 a blizzard closed school for six weeks. In 1937 the high school basketball team went undefeated. December 7, 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Young men from the community started leaving to take up the defense of their country early in 1941, many enlisting. Numerous projects were undertaken to support the war effort and serve on the home front. In 1945 the two Barger buildings built in 1892, south of Seventh and Young were torn down. In 1947 the basketball team won the county tournament. In 1949 the American Legion, Saint Athanasius School, Farmer's Mutual and Spahn and Rose opened.

In 1951, 1955, and 1959 three Jesup Community School additions were built. In 1951 the Texaco station opened on the corner of Sixth and Stevens Street and Frost oil was built on Main and Douglas Street. In 1952 the old Catholic Church was torn down. In 1953 the basketball team won the county tournament. In 1954 Farmer's State Bank was remodeled. In 1955 the Catholic Church was built. In 1956 Marv's Feed and Seed opened on Sixth and south Hawley Street. In 1960 Jesup's population was 1,488. In 1960 the Methodist Church was built. In 1960 Stan's Apco opened. In 1961 the trailer park was started and the Grace Lutheran Church addition was built. In 1962 the Presbyterian Church was built. In 1963 the zip code 50648 was assigned to the Post Office. In 1965 the American Lutheran church addition was built. In 1966 many trees were removed throughout the City due to Dutch Elm Disease. In 1967 the Post Office was moved from Seventh and Young to a new one at Young and Main and the Jesup School constructed an addition to the high school. In 1968 the coop built a 40-foot elevator. In 1969 the pool was built at the Jesup High School. In 1970 Jesup's population was 1,662.

In 1974 Jesup's population was 1,899. In 1975 the new City Hall opened at 534 Sixth Street. In 1976 the new water tower was completed and the old one was torn down. In 1980 Farmer's State Bank opened at 1310 Sixth Street and the library moved to the corner of Sixth and Young Street. In 1981 White Funeral Home was built at 1315 Main Street. In 1983 Stan's Apco closed and an explosion at Frost Oil Company rocked the City. In 2003 Jesup's population was 2,212.

A memorial in front of the Jesup American Legion Hall was dedicated in honor of all the men and women who served honorably in the Armed Forces. Jesup reacted to the terrorist attacks on the nation on September 11, 2001 in the same manner as the rest of the Nation  - stunned students gathered with their teachers as four commercial jet airliners were hijacked and then crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. Voters approve a 6.5 million bond issue for a new elementary and middle school building at Jesup Community schools. City Hall was determined unsafe and evacuated and relocated in a temporary building on school grounds.  In 2008 heavy flooding throughout Iowa caused the president to declare several Cities disaster areas.  Jesup fire and rescue responded after an F-5 tornado struck Parkersburg and surrounding communities.  In 2010, construction was started on the new City Hall and police station. The population in the 2010 census was 2520. Numerous capital projects were completed by the City to improve streets and infrastructure from 2005 - Present.


This is the official website for the City of Jesup, Iowa