During the time span of 1671 to 1689, Nicolas Perrot, Robert Cavalier Sieur de la Salle, Daniel de Greysolon Sieur de Luth (Du Luth) and Sieur Saint-Lusson claimed the region in the name of France. In 1762, France ceded Iowa to Spain, but then it was given back to France in 1800.
Then, in 1803, the Louisiana Purchase put it under United States ownership. It was made part of the Illinois Territory in 1808 and then the Missouri Territory four years later. The first settlements started to pop up in the area in 1832. As of 1834, the settlers were considered part of Michigan territory, then became part of Wisconsin Territory two years after that. The area finally became Iowa Territory in 1838 and stayed that way until it gained statehood, in 1846.
The only residents in Iowa Territory before 1800 were the French and the Native Americans. Near what is now Dubuque, there was a lead mining operation started by Julien DuBuque, in 1788. He received a land grant in 1796 from Louisiana’s governor. Then, additional grants were granted by the government of Spain. In 1799, 6,000 acres were granted to Louis Honore Tesson in what is now Lee County. The next year, land in Clayton County was acquired by Basil Giard. In 1804, Louis and Clark visited the area, staying mainly near the Missouri River. Zebulon Pike flew the first American flag in the area on August 23, 1805, near what is now Burlington. In 1808, Fort Madison was constructed, but it was burned and abandoned within 5 years due to the War of 1812 and conflicts with Chief Black Hawk.
Fort Armstrong was erected on Rock Island, in 1816. Beginning in 1820, settlers came to the area from the eastern United States. In 1832, Danish immigrants came to the area and the next year pioneers from Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio all came to the area.
When Iowa Territory was established, in 1838, many settlers came to the area. The first capital of the Iowa Territory was Burlington. In the 1840’s, Dutch, Irish, Scots, Welsh, Germans and Scandinavians all came to the area. New Englanders also settled there in 1840, with Quakers following a year later and Mormons arriving five years after that, in 1846. The Pella area was settled by immigrants from the Netherlands the year after that. In 1854, there was a large migration of Ohio residents who moved to Iowa. Then, over the next thirty years or so (1850 to 1880) a large amount of German immigrants moved to Iowa. However, many Iowa residents actually left to go to California as a result of the 1849 Gold Rush.
From 1850 to 1877 it was the peak of the steamboat industry in the state, while the first railroad in the area was established in 1855. The population of Iowa as of 1860 was 674,913 and had grown to 1,194,020 by 1870.
In the late 1800s, most of the immigrants that decided to settle in the area were European. They found that land was cheap, but difficult to farm. It required cooperative drainage plans and heavy equipment, which turned farming in the area into a commercial business, not an individual or family-oriented business. The commercial farming industry led to the need for a large network of railroads in the area. Then came the financial depressions of 1873, 1893 and the 1930s. The community-owned Amana Colonies still exist today, as do other rural farming operations, but the twentieth century made farming much easier and commercialized it in much of Iowa, causing a lot of farmers to get out of farming and move to the cities.