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Guide to Buena Vista County, Iowa ancestry, family history, and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.


Buena Vista County, Iowa
Map of Iowa highlighting Buena Vista County
Location in the state of Iowa
Map of the U.S. highlighting Iowa
Location of Iowa in the U.S.
Founded November 20, 1851
County Seat Storm Lake
Address Buena Vista County Courthouse
215 E. 5th St.
P. O. Box 1186
Storm Lake, IA 50588-1186
Phone: (712) 749-2546


County Information

Buena Vista County, Iowa Record Dates

Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1880 1877 1880 1840 1869 1871

County Courthouse

Buena Vista County Courthouse
215 E. 5th St.
P. O. Box 1186
Storm Lake, IA 50588-1186

(712) 749-2546


Parent County

1851--Buena Vista County was created 15 January 1851 from unorganized territory. It was attached to Woodbury County prior to organization 20 November 1858. County seat:  Storm Lake [2]

Boundary Changes

For animated maps illustrating Iowa County boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Iowa County Boundary Maps" (1816-1872) may be viewed for free at the MapofUS.org website.

Records Loss

January 1, 1877-- Courthouse burned and many records were damaged. For a list of record loss in Iowa Counties see: Iowa Counties with Burned Courthouses

For further information on researching in burned counties, see the following:


Town/city records in the FamilySearch Catalog

Populated Places

For a list of cities and townships go to hometownlocator.com or wikipedia.org.

Neighboring Counties

Calhoun • Cherokee • Clay • Ida • O'Brien • Palo Alto • Pocahontas • Sac

Buena Vista CountyPocahontas CountyCalhoun CountySac CountyIda CountyCherokee CountyO'Brien CountyClay CountyPalo Alto CountyHumboldt CountyWebster CountyGreene CountyCarroll CountyCarroll CountyMonona CountyWoodbury CountyPlymouth CountySioux CountyLyon CountyOsceola CountyDickinson CountyEmmet CountyKossuth CountyIABuena Vista.JPG



  • Gravestone pictures I have in my collection (e-mail me).  Barnes Township Cemetery Buena Vista Memorial Park Cemetery, Cooke Cemetery, Daily Burial Ground, Elk Cemetery, Fairfield Cemetery, First M E Church Cemetery,Garton Graveyard,Hayes Township Cemetery, Lincoln Township Cemetery, Little Sioux Valley Cemetery, Lone Tree Cemetery,Maple Valley Cemetery, Newell Catholic Cemetery, Newell Cemetery,Plainview Cemetery,Poland Cemetery,Saint John's Cemetery, Saint John's Lutheran Cemetery, Saint Johns Church Of Christ Cemetery, Saint Joseph's Cemetery, Saint Mary's Cemetery, Scandinavian Cemetery, Smith Cemetery, Storm Lake Municipal Cemetery, Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, Varina Cemetery, Woodlawn Cemetery, Zion Lutheran Cemetery I will look up any gravestone from the list. Please provide full name, cemetery and DOD if possible.


Iowa recorded not only the federal census but state census through out the years too. The state census contains very valuable genealogical information. Where the census information can be found, what years it was taken, mortality schedules, census substitutions and much more is discussed in the very informative Iowa Census article.


Most church records are held by individual churches. For contact information, check a phone directory, such as SearchBug or Dex Knows. Some denominations are gathering their records into a central repository. For more information about these major repositories, see Iowa Church Records.


Buena Vista County

  • Records of the American Lutheran Church, Buena Vista County, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at Archives.com ($).

Trinity Lutheran Church, Linn Grove

  • Records of the Trinity Lutheran Church, Linn Grove, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at Archives.com ($).



Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See Iowa Land and Property for additional information about early Iowa land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse, where records are currently housed.

Local Histories 

Local histories are available for Buena Vista County, Iowa Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the wiki page section Iowa Local Histories.

  • Eilers, Tom D. Buena Vista's part in the world war : one Iowa county's record of service and sacrifice. Storm Lake, Iowa : Tom D. Eilers, 1920.
  • Wegerslev, C. H. Past and present of Buena Vista County, Iowa. Chicago, Illinois : S. J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1909.




Wikipedia has more about this subject: List of online newspaper archives

NewspaperArchive.com ($) has a large collection of digitized Iowa newspapers online. This database is sometimes free at libraries.


Online Probate Records

In most counties in Iowa, probate records have been kept by the county judge. They include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate ticklers, and dockets. The records are available at the county courthouse.

The FamilySearch Catalog lists films of probate records. To find the records for this county, use the Place Search for Iowa - Buena Vista - Probate records.


Iowa tax records complement land records and can be used to supplement the years between censuses. Tax lists were usually made every year, however, there may be gaps of several years. For more information, see the wiki page Iowa Taxation.

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Iowa Department of Public Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred. See also How to order Iowa Vital Records or order electronically online.


Societies and Libraries

Buena Vista County Genealogical Society
221 West Railroad
Storm Lake, IA 50588
E-mail: famhisbv@ncn.net

Buena Vista County Historical Society
214 West 5th Street
Storm Lake, IA 50588

Family History Centers

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See Family History Center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.

Web Sites


  1. Alice Eichholz, Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, Revised ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992), 225-231. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 1992
  2. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).


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  • This page was last modified on 24 October 2015, at 02:39.
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