Primghar, Iowa

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Primghar is a city in and the county seat of O'Brien County, Iowa, United States, United States.[1] The population was 891 at the 2000 census.



In a brief history of O'Brien County, Arthur M. Schierholz states: "the courthouse location in (the village of) O'Brien in the extreme southeast corner of the county became a growing issue. To resolve the matter, an election was held on November 11, 1872, to determine the location of the courthouse." A total of 360 votes were cast, with 307 voting to move the courthouse to the exact geographical center of the county. Another historian wrote, "Probably the only case in Iowa, perhaps anywhere, where a bare spot of raw prairie was actually voted to be the county seat." This eventually became the town of Primghar. The name Primghar was received from the first letter of eight people who had a major part in platting the town.[2]


Primghar is located at 43°5′16″N 95°37′40″W / 43.08778°N 95.62778°W / 43.08778; -95.62778 (43.087722, -95.627892)[3].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.4 square miles (3.6 km²), all f it land.


Elevation is 1520 feet. This area of northwest Iowa is gently rolling. Today fields are marred by few boggy areas and much of the land is terraced to reduce erosion. Until fill was hauled in, the south side of the courthouse square was a "boggy, muddy slough." When the first settlers arrived there were few trees and almost without exception prairie grass grew to six foot.

In the immediate vicinity of Primghar the topsoils and subsoils are silty clay loam. (Galva, Marcus, Primghar, and Sac soils by name.) Clay loam glacial till is at a depth of 30 to 60 inches in most places. There are no mineral assets of commercial value save rock and gravel. Back in 1873 this dearth of underground wealth was yet to be decided. There was a $1000 reward posted for anyone finding mineable coal reserves. No one claimed the prize.

There is an abandoned rock quarry a mile SSE of Primghar which was donated by the Tjossem family to Primghar in 1989 and is now known as Tjossem Park, a fishing area and public picnic/camp ground.


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 891 people, 391 households, and 233 families residing in the city. The population density was 643.9 people per square mile (249.3/km²). There were 437 housing units at an average density of 315.8/sq mi (122.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.20% White, 0.11% Native American, 1.12% Asian, 0.11% from other races, and 0.45% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.79% of the population.

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