Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick

Van Buren Continues Population Decline

Figures were recently released for the population of Iowa's incorporated places as of July 1, 2012 and as expected, the villages of Van Buren show continued decline.

As of the date given, Birmingham was at 440; Bonaparte 425; Cantril 220; Farmington 656; Keosauqua 993; Milton 418; Mt. Sterling 36; and Stockport 293. This totals 3481 for the incorporated places. The remaining population of Van Buren was 3968 for a total population on July 1, 2012 of 7,449 people.

This is the first time since the depression years of the 1930s that Keosauqua has fallen below the coveted 1,000 population mark. In 1930, Keosauqua had only 855 residents. The town's high water mark came in 1895 when 1,263 people were counted. In 1940 population had surged from 855 to 1,040 but the village has struggled to remain above 1,000 at times since then. In 1950 the population was 1,101; in 2000 was 1,066; and in 2010 was 1,006.

Meanwhile, all the other villages have declined from their zenith also. The largest population reached of any of the villages was 1,342 set by Farmington in 1905 at which time Bonaparte reached its high point of 968 and Milton had reached its largest total of 1107. Birmingham's high figure of 643 came in 1950 and 1960. Stockport's largest tally was 402 in 1925 and Cantril counted 465 in 1915. Mt. Sterling largest posting of 243 also happened in 1915.

Of the unincorporated places, Bentonsport counted 515 residents in 1867; Vernon was estimated at 300 in 1856; and Leando had 400 residents in 1856. These places are but shadows of their former selves.

The county as a whole has declined from a high water mark of 17,672 people in 1870 and counted 17,354 as recently as 1900. In 2000 the population had fallen to 7,809 and has continued the trend to its current level of only 7,449.

A new count will be made on July 1, 2013 and the recent downward trend for the county and all its villages is expected to continue.

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick