Kirkwood was first platted on September 19, 1854 under the name of Young America, and was incorporated under that name in 1865. It was in 1866 that the first school, the “Old South School” was erected, with W. W. Pease appointed as the first teacher. With the construction of the railroad through the village in 1855, the town had started to develop. The first building in Young America was a hotel and restaurant built by the railroad for its construction crews. A post office was established on January 1, 1856. On May 22, 1874 the citizens voted to change the name to Kirkwood, honoring Governor Kirkwood, Civil-War Governor of Iowa, who was greatly admired by area residents.