History of the Recorder's Office

Learn about the history of the county Recorder's Office.

The Office of the County Recorder was created by the first legislative assembly of the territory of Iowa in 1839. Your county Recorder maintains official records of documents affecting real estate in order to protect innocent third parties in real estate transactions.  In 1857 the law provided that Recorders should maintain the books for town lots and other real estate and set fees for recording deeds and mortgages. In 1860 the law was revised to say that “each organized county” should elect a recorder. At this time, the Recorder also acted as Treasurer for the county. These duties were separated in 1864.

A significant portion of the information acquired by other county offices results from the work performed by the County Recorder because every real estate transaction that takes place in the county starts in the Recorder’s Office. For example, after a deed is recorded it is sent to the Auditor’s Office so the real estate can be changed to the new owner’s name for tax purposes. The Assessor receives a copy of every deed and real estate contract, along with the completed Declaration of Value form. The changes that take place in the Auditor’s and Assessor’s offices subsequently show up on the tax records and receipts in the Treasurer’s Office. The Recorder interacts with the Clerk of Court’s office through changes of title from estates being probated and various recordings concerning mortgage forfeiture actions.

Real estate records are brought to us by lending institutions, law firms, title abstract companies, and electronically filed. Citizens bring their deeds, real estate contracts and other legal documents for recording.  Citizens can also record or obtain a certified copy of military discharges, birth, death, and marriage certificates as well as apply for marriage licenses. The Recorder’s Office sells hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses as well as deer and turkey tags. They also register and title ATV’s, Snowmobiles, ORV’s, Dirt Bikes and Boats.

The Recorder’s Office serves as an acceptance facility for passport applications. Passport applications can be filled out and passport photos taken with an appointment.  They also assist Genealogy researchers that want to obtain information on where their ancestors settled and how long they lived in a particular county.