Mount Pleasant, Iowa

Mount Pleasant is a city in and the county seat of Henry County, Iowa, in the United States.[5] The population was 8,668 in the 2010 census, a decline from 8,751 in the 2000 census.[6][7] It was founded in 1835 by pioneer Presley Saunders.

Mount Pleasant, Iowa
Mount Pleasant, Iowa
Pursuing excellence
Location of Mount Pleasant, Iowa
Coordinates: 40°58′1″N 91°33′4″W
Country United States
State Iowa
IncorporatedJuly 15, 1856 [1]
  MayorSteve Brimhall
  Total8.53 sq mi (22.09 km2)
  Land8.51 sq mi (22.04 km2)
  Water0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)
715 ft (218 m)
  Density1,019/sq mi (393.3/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
  Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)319
FIPS code19-54705
GNIS feature ID0459328
WebsiteCity of Mount Pleasant


The first permanent settlement at Mount Pleasant was made in 1833.[8] Mount Pleasant was incorporated as a town in 1842, and again in 1851.[9]

In 1869, Mount Pleasant was the site of a solar eclipse expedition, under the command of James Craig Watson and sponsored by National Almanac. The total solar eclipse occurred on August 7, 1869.[10]

In the Union Block building in 1869, Arabella A. Mansfield became the first woman in the United States to be awarded a license to practice law. She had passed the bar exam with high scores and won a court case for entry to the bar. The legislature changed its statute.

The third floor of the Union Block housed the Opera House or Union Hall, a gathering place for the community. It attracted national speakers on tour, including abolitionists Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Anna Dickinson. James Harlan also spoke there, as he was president of Iowa Wesleyan College in the town, and later was elected several times to the United States Senate. This building had been considered one of the most endangered historic sites in Iowa.[11]

The Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute was built in 1861. However, in 1936, a fire did great damage to the building. The hospital had to be closed, as little of the facility survived the fire.[12]

On December 10, 1986, Ralph Orin Davis, a resident, walked into a city council meeting and shot Mayor Edward King and two council members. Mayor King died of his wounds after being shot point blank in the head. The 69-year-old gunman had attended a couple of previous meetings, complaining about a backed-up sewer and wanting the city to pay for damages to his house. The two council members were seriously wounded.[13] Tom Vilsack was the replacement mayor, later becoming governor for 8 years, and then Secretary of Agriculture for 8 years.[14]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.53 square miles (22.09 km2), of which, 8.51 square miles (22.04 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.[2]

Mount Pleasant's population density is estimated at 1123 people per square mile which is considered low for urban areas.[1]


Historical population
Est. 20188,737[4]0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]

2010 census

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 8,668 people, 3,127 households, and 1,935 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,018.6 inhabitants per square mile (393.3/km2). There were 3,365 housing units at an average density of 395.4 per square mile (152.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 85.7% White, 4.3% African American, 0.4% Native American, 4.4% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 2.4% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.7% of the population.

There were 3,127 households of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.1% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.1% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.94.

The median age in the city was 37.3 years. 21.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.5% were from 25 to 44; 24.8% were from 45 to 64; and 15.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 52.7% male and 47.3% female.

2000 census

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 8,751 people, 3,119 households, and 1,940 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,137.3 people per square mile (439.4/km²). There were 3,355 housing units at an average density of 436.0 per square mile (168.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.46% White, 3.19% African American, 0.32% Native American, 3.53% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.73% from other races, and 1.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.79% of the population.

There were 3,119 households out of which 31.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 3.01.

Age spread: 22.5% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 110.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 113.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,558, and the median income for a family was $46,063. Males had a median income of $31,524 versus $22,628 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,824. About 8.3% of families and 10.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.5% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Mount Pleasant is also home to the Midwest Old Thresher's Reunion which attracts a crowd numbering over 100,000 admissions annually during an extended five-day weekend which ends on Labor Day. The reunion dates back to 1950 and pays tribute to the agricultural heritage of the American Midwest in an extensive, highly interactive manner, with live-action exhibition-style displays centering on restored mechanical equipment, particularly steam engines, farm tractors, stationary gas engines, antique and classic cars, the narrow-gauge Midwest Central Railroad, and electric trolleys. Country music shows featuring top-name performers, an expansive modern campground with transportation to the main grounds, and an extensive food court and numerous other offerings (run entirely by local churches and nonprofit organizations) are some of the amenities Old Threshers guests enjoy.


A meat processing plant operated by West Liberty Foods is located in Mount Pleasant. South of the city is the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility, a medium-security state prison that in the year 2010 housed approximately ±875 male and ±100 female inmates, and employed ±340 staff.[17] The Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute was located on the same campus.


Public schools

The public school system in Mount Pleasant is administered by the Mount Pleasant Community School District. The district oversees the high school, middle school and four elementary schools, Harlan, Lincoln, Salem, and Van Allen. The WisdomQuest Education Center serves as an alternative high school for the district.[18]

Advanced education

The city is home to Iowa Wesleyan University, which, founded in 1842, ranks as the oldest coeducational college/university west of the Mississippi River. The P.E.O. Sisterhood, an international philanthropic organization for women, was founded on the campus in Mount Pleasant by seven Iowa Wesleyan students.


Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Mount Pleasant, operating its California Zephyr daily in both directions between Chicago, Illinois, and Emeryville, California, across the bay from San Francisco.

U.S. Route 34 bypasses Mount Pleasant to the north, while U.S. Route 218/Iowa Highway 27 bypass the city to the east. These highways' former routes through the city are now designated as business routes.

The Mount Pleasant Municipal Airport (FAA Identifier: MPZ) is at an elevation of 730 ft (222.5 m) and is located 3 miles (4.8 km) southeast of the city. The airport started operations in March 1945. As of May 2014 it has 2 runways: Runway 15/33 is hard surfaced (asphalt) and is 4001 ft long × 75 ft wide (1220 m × 23 m) with runway edge lights; Runway 03/21 is turf and is 1965 ft long × 120 ft wide (599 m × 37 m) marked by yellow cones.[19]

Notable people


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  2. "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2011-02-20. Retrieved 2012-05-11.
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  4. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  5. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2015-05-09. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
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  7. "Data from the 2010 Census". State Data Center of Iowa. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  8. "Mt. Pleasant, Iowa". Amtrak. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  9. The History of Henry County, Iowa: Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns, &c. Western Historical Company. 1879. p. 504.
  10. Wikisource:''Popular Science Monthly''/Volume 19/September 1881/"Sketch of James Craig Watson"
  11. It reopened in August of 2014 housing businesses on the first and second floors. The ballroom was restored and updated on the third floor making it a beautiful hall used for a variety of community gatherings, events, and private parties. "2008 Most Endangered Properties" Archived 2016-01-05 at the Wayback Machine, Preservation Iowa,
  12. "Mayor killed, 2 hurt in meeting gunfire", Kentucky New Era, 6 December 1986
  14. "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
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  17. "Mt. Pleasant Community School District". Homepage. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  18. "KMPZ Mount Pleasant Municipal Airport". AirNav, LLC. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
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  20. Okamoto, Lynn (2009-10-15). "Vilsack biography". Des Moines Register. Archived from the original on 2012-07-24. Retrieved 2010-12-16.
  21. "JRank". Arabella Mansfield - A Commanding Presence. Retrieved 2010-12-16.
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  23. "Oklahoma State University". Athletic Department. Archived from the original on 2010-09-07. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
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