The City of Dysart

History of Dysart

“It took courage and faith to establish a new community in 1873. The founders of Dysart had those qualities—none more so than Joseph Dysart himself. He had fallen in love with Iowa as a 19-year-old visitor from his native Pennsylvania when Iowa territory had just been born. Joseph Dysart’s strength and public spirit were matched by his fellow builders of this town.  Their charge to us rings clearly through the decades: Nothing great is ever achieved without enthusiasm. Nothing is ever completed, but everything is forever on the march. Every time is a time to build.”

- Robert D. Ray- 38th Governor of Iowa.

Back in the early…

1800’s, Dysart was merely a water hole surrounded by a slough bounded by acres of prairie grass which was once part of the French Province of Louisiana. The founder of Dysart, Joseph Dysart, was born in 1820, but did not get the opportunity to buy his land until 1855.

By the 1850′s, a few families had come to the area of present-day Dysart. In 1855, Joseph Dysart bought a section of land which was bordered on the north side by present-day Sherman Street, and he finally settled on his farm in 1863.

The first home was built in Dysart in December, 1872, and in January, 1873, the first store, which was a general merchandise establishment, was built on the northeast corner of Main Street. A hotel was built in 1874 and a town hall was built in 1878 on the corner of Wilson and Tilford Streets. The first Dysart Reporter was published on March 27, 1878.

After the Civil War, the railroad proposed to build a rail line west from Vinton. The site for a depot was chosen on land owned by John Crisman who also donated land for business sites. The new town was named “Dysart” after Joseph Dysart. The first train arrived in Dysart on December 27, 1872. The Dysart area’s fine farmland drew many settlers, and by 1879 Dysart’s population had grown to 600. The town was incorporated in 1881.

Dysart’s first industry was the Dysart Brick and Tile Company which was located in the northwest part of town along Liberty Street. Many local buildings were built of the locally manufactured bricks, including the present Dysart Historical Museum. Other early industries included a cement block company and a canning company

On July 4, 1889, Joseph Dysart presented a park to the town and planted the park trees himself. We enjoy the shade from these trees in the park yet today.

Cement sidewalks were installed on Main Street in 1909, and Main Street was paved to the park in 1928. A downtown improvement project took place in 2007, and Dysart now has new sidewalks, stylish lighting, and an improved street in the business district.

The first school was established in the wagon wheel factory in 1873, and the first actual school building was built in 1878-1879. In the early 1890′s, the Bell Company installed forty private phones and by 1909 there were 350 phones in town. The first bank opened in 1877 and the first Dysart Post Office opened on January 3, 1873. The Dysart Reporter was the first newspaper and was first published on March 27, 1875. Electricity became available in 1914. Prior to that time, the streets were lit by kerosene lamps. A water tower was built in 1910, and a city sewage system was completed in 1921.

The first library was established in 1882, and the books were kept in the doctor’s office. A public library was opened in 1931. The beautiful new Norma Anders Public Library was built in 2003 and is a busy, beautiful addition to Main Street.

The new Dysart Aquatic Center was completed in 2004, becoming a popular attraction for both residents and visitors. The Aquatic Center, the City Park, C.R. Roberts Trail and Dysart Country Club all provide leisure activities

Dysart has continued to progress since its beginning in 1873 and is a community that meets the expectations of the residents and visitors. Dysart definitely lives up to its slogan, “A City on the Grow.”




CloseInformation obtained from the Dysart Quasquicentennial book and the late Pearl Kullmer

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