DesMoines County was the
first settled in 1834 and was originally part of the Michigan Territory. Early
habitants of the territory were the Sac and Fox Indian Tribes. At the time of
its settlement, the County boundary included the territory just south of Rock Island to
the mouth of the DesMoines River, thence west along the Missouri line for fifty miles.
Middletown was among the early towns and settlements in
DesMoiens County. Middletown's first settlers was Josiah I. Smith, who came
from Ohio and settled on the land now occupied by the town. Smith was credited
with starting the town by laying a portion of the land into town lots. Other
lots were also surveyed and staked off as lots by
John B. Wright. the surveyor was Mr. T.L. Sargent.
Mr. T.L.Sargent was also among the first settlers of the northern part of the
At a meeting of settlers, John Sharp, a Pennsylvanian, proposed
the name of "Middletown," which was adopted. Besides being a
surveyor, T.L. Sargent, who owned a farm adjoining the town seems to have the principal
man of the community, and was the first store keeper, erecting a brick building in 1851.
In 1848, Sargent also built a sawmill in the town; however, the mill was
afterwards sold and moved elsewhere.
The town was supplied
with stores and other facilities for the satisfaction of the needs of the
community. The first house, a log cabin, in town was built by Theodore
Folensbe. Mr.Folensbe was also the first postmaster in the town.
In 1851, the First
Presbyterian Church of Middletown was organized. And in 1857, the United
Presbyterians built a church; however, the church was disbanded later on when the church
building was sold to the Methodist.
Savings Bank was incorporated in February 1907. The founders were George Beck,
E.A. Carden, F. Blakeway,
Willian Kassel, J.W. Westerbeck, W.H. Scott, and Thomas Sutton.
The capital stock was $12,000; undivided profits were $9,484.86.
In 1909, the DesMoines
County's first country home was built in the Union Township where the Iowa Army Ammunition
Plant is now located. Middletown is the home of the IAAP; which handles some
of the industries most challenging loading assignments.
Once called the Iowa
Ordinance Plant of Burlington, was brought back to active status due to the high demand
for ammunition by the Korean War. In 1950, under the Atomic Energy
Commission(AEC) management, the plant began to assemble atomic bombs; and in 1951 the
plant was enlarged. at peat production in employment 5,400 individuals. This
high production continued through to 1953. Operations at the plant reached a
low point in 1962; employment for the entire plant was 1,800 and over 1,000 of those
persons were assigned to the AEC contract. However, production gradually
increased in response to the growing American involvement in Vietnam. By 1965,
the Iowa Ordinance Plant of Burlington was known as the IAAP. The late 1960's
brought a combined Ordinance and AEC Plant population of 8,000; and accounted during times
of war for the one third (1/3) of all industrial workers in the Burlington area, which
required the hiring and training of approximately 100 new individuals per week to maintain
the work load.
In 1975, the army
designated IAAP as the core plant for warhead and heavy artillery loading. On
July 1,1975, the plant, except for equipment that would be used at the Pantex, Texas AEC
Plant was returned to the army.
Throught out the plant's
history, Middletown's population fluctuated with the employment of the plant.
Today the IAAP continues to assemble ammunition and has contracts with the armed services.
However, with the low number of employees, the plant gave away land
previously used for employee and army housing and recreation to the city.
In October of 1997, the
IAAP turned approximately 113 acres of land and 42 World War II era houses south of
Highway 34, to the city of Middletown. The City deeded the land and efforts
were started to sell houses, create a subdivision, and provide water and sewer to the
area. This added land has almost doubled the City's size, and given a
community a chance to grow.
Presently, the city is
working on the development of Pioneer Subdivision, selling the existing houses, extending
water and sewer, and creating options to reuse the old army recreational areas.
DesMoines County has five
incorporated communities that include Burlington, Danville, Mediapolis, Middletown, and
West Burlington. Each of the incorporated areas are expressing growth in their
housing, industrial, and commercial sectors. Major improvements of U.S. Highway 34
& 61 along which these communities lie, can be partially credited for the recent