IAGenWeb Project

Adair County Iowa

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Adair county was at one time a portion of the county of Des Moines, and the northern tier of townships, from December 31, 1837, until July 30, 1840, a part of Keokuk county.  It was created as now existing by an act of the third general assembly, approved January 15, 1851, and name Adair in honor of General John Adair, an officer of the war of 1812-5, and sixth governor of Kentucky.  By chapter 8, acts of the fourth general assembly, the county was made a township of Cass county, for election and judicial purposes, but the county of Adair was fully organized shortly afterward, the first election being held at the house of Alfred Jones.

At the time of the organization the powers of the present board of supervisors was vested in a county court.  This consisted of a judge, prosecuting attorney and the sheriff, although it generally devolved upon the county judge to transact the main part of the business.  The judge had entire jurisdiction in all matters which could not properly be brought before the district court, and was, therefore, to a certain extent, supreme ruler in local matters.  The office was the most important one in the gift of the people.

The first meeting of the county court was held on the 6th of May, 1854, at the house of Judge George M. Holiday.  The only business before the court at that time was the granting of a marriage license to William Stinson and Elizabeth Crow.

At the July term it was ordered that "the county of Adair be divided into two election precincts, the center line running north and south to be the dividing line, the east half to be known as Harrison precinct, and the west half Washington precinct."

At the September term the court made the first levy of taxes in the county, which was at the following rate:  For state revenue, three mills on a dollar; county fund, six mills; school fund, one-half mill; road tax, one mill and one dollar poll; county poll tax, fifty cents.

At the time of the organization of the county, Elias Stafford and George B. Hitchcock were appointed commissioners to locate the seat of county government, by the general assembly of the state of Iowa, and upon the 1st of May, 1855, the following report of the same was returned to the county judge, and by him ordered to be transcribed upon the records:

State of Iowa,  
County of Adair

In pursuance of an Act of the General Assembly of the State of Iowa, approved January 15th, 1855, for the location of the seat of justice of the aforesaid county of Adair;  We, G. B. Hitchcock and Elias Stafford, two of the Commissioners appointed by the aforesaid act to locate the seat of justice of said county; have met at Adair post-office, on the 24th day of April, 1855, and proceeded to locate the seat of justice of said county of Adair, on the southwest quarter of section 17, in township 75 north, range 32 west, as above directed by the aforesaid act.  We, the said Commissioners have been duly sworn as above directed.  This done in Adair county, this April 27, 1855.  The name of the county seat above described shall be Summerset.

Elias Stafford,
George B. Hitchcock,

This town is that now known by the more euphonious name of Fontanelle.

In these early days the officers of the county were not inclined to grow rich from the salary or emoluments arising fro their offices, as instance the following entry, made upon the records of the county court, on the first Monday in July, 1855:  "Ordered, that John Gibson, county clerk, be allowed in all for fifteen months' salary as clerk, sixty-two dollars and fifty cents.  And that G. M. Holiday be allowed fifty-two dollars and fifty cents as his salary for fifteen months, from the first of April, 1854, to the first of July, 1855."

At the July term of the county court a new township was set off, consisting of congressional townships 74 and 75, ranges 30 and 31, which was called Grand River.  Robert Wilson, Charles Wilson, and William Swears were appointed trustees of the same.  Also, townships 76 and 77, ranges 31, 32 and 33 were set off and formed into a civil township under the name of Jefferson township and M. Hollingsworth, Samuel Miner and William Tingbe were appointed trustees thereof.

On the first of August, 1855, J. J. Leeper became county judge and de facto the county government, who ordered that the court be held at his house, until the necessary county building, at Summerset, were erected.  At the session of the court, held January 7, 1856, the following order was made:  "Ordered, that there be a court house built in Summerset, Adair county, Iowa; and ordered further, that the said house be advertised to be sold to the lowest responsible bidder on the tenth day of February, 1856.  The said house to be twenty-six feet wide, thirty-six feet long, ten feet high, and to contain three rooms, all to be finished in good style."  In accordance with this order the contract was let to James Ray, upon the above date, who undertook, for the sum of twelve hundred and fifty dollars, to have the court-house ready for occupation by the first of October, 1856.

At the March term of court, of this year, congressional townships 74 and 75, of range 32 west, and township 75, range 33, were made a civil township under the name of Summerset.

The first petition for a road was presented to the court, as far as the records show, by Mr. Cutler, in October, 1856.  The judge appointed James Walker as a commissioner to view the same and report.

On the 25th of August, 1857, the court met, when Manning Drake, the newly elected county judge, handed in his resignation, which was accepted, and while D. M. Valentine, the prosecuting attorney, acted as judge, the office was declared vacant.  Mr. Valentine held the position as acting judge and judge until April 13th, 1858, when a successor was sworn into office.  This gentleman was F. M. Corr, who assumed the judicial ermine and entered upon the duties of office with considerable ardor.

 At the July term, 1859, the judge, on a petition to that effect, set off a township consisting of townships 74 and 75, range 31, which was to be known as Greenfield, and ordered that W. G. Bagg be appointed organizing officer.

During the administration of Judge Corr, upon the 18th day of October, 1860, a petition was presented asking that township 76, range 32, and sections 31, 32 and 33, in township 77, range 32, be set off and made into a new civil township under the name of Grove; which the court granted and ordered that the first election therein be held at the general election in November following.

But little was done by these county courts during the latter years of their existence, except the auditing and paying of claims against the county and the granting of marriage licenses.

The first regular session of the board of supervisors was held at Fontanelle, the county seat of Adair county, on the 7th of January, 1861.  There were present the following gentlemen who were sworn into office:  Mathew Clark, Greenfield township;  R. W. Champlin, Washington township;  Benjamin Minet, Richland township;  L. C. Elliott, Harrison township;  John Loucks, Jefferson township;  James Thompson, Walnut township:  Jacob Bruce, Grove township:  L. J. Wilson, Grand River township;  Azariah Root, Summerset township.

After all had taken their seats, the board proceeded to organization by electing Azariah Root chairman for the ensuing year and drew lots for the term of office of each member.  Much of the business before this board seems to have been the straightening up of old matters.  At their meeting upon the 4th of June, however, they, in answer to a petition to that effect, set off a new civil township which they called Lincoln township.  This comprised congressional township 77 north, range 30 west.  Zimri Horner was by the same act made organizing officer, and the election for the first offices was set for the 2d of October, 1861, and was to be held at the house of Dominick Nunon.

The board of supervisors for the year 1862, was composed of the following-named:  James C. Gibbs, Summerset:  Azariah Root, Jackson;  S. C. Vance, Greenfield;  L. C. Elliott, Harrison;  Jacob Bruce, Grove:  John Loucks, Jefferson;  A. J. Ross, Washington;  Benjamin Minert, Richland;  L. S. Wilson, Grand River;  James Thompson, Walnut;  Milton Mills, Lincoln.

 These parties met at the court-house in Fontanelle, on the 6th day of January, and elected James C. Gibbs as chairman, and proceeded to the transaction of the regular routine of business.  In October of the same year, James C. Gibbs resigned his position as member of the board, and Azariah Root, having removed from Jackson township to Summerset, made a vacancy in the representation of the former sub-division of the county.

On the 5th of January, 1863, the new board for the year assembled at Fontanelle, and the following gentlemen took their seats:  Benjamin Minert, Richland;  S. C. Vance, Greenfield;  S. W. Armstrong, Summerset;  Milton Mills, Lincoln;  A. J. Ross, Washington;  John Loucks, Jefferson:  Jacob Bruce, Grove;  Abner Root, Jackson;  L. J. Wilson, Grand River;  James Thompson, Walnut; Fielden Key, Harrison.

On organization, Benjamin Minert was elected chairman for the year, and the board proceeded to business.  Jacob Bruce was appointed by the board as supervisor, to fill the vacancy occasioned by there being no election in Grove township.  But little of any interest seems to have transpired at this term except the following action in relation to the support of the families of the volunteers:  At the fall election of 1862 a special tax was voted by the people of the county for the above purpose, and the board of supervisors, at the January term, appointed Messrs. Vance, Minert and Key a committee to attend to the distribution of the same.  At the June term the board passed the following resolution:

Resolved, By the board of supervisors of Adair county, Iowa, that resolution No. 13 appropriating the special tax voted for the relief of families of volunteers, be so amended that the committee therein named shall not, in making said distribution, be confined or limited to families of volunteers who enlisted in Adair county, but that they shall act in good faith and relieve all families of volunteers residing, or that may reside in the county, to the extent of the funds provided;  acting in their discretion in making the distribution.

At the October term of this same year a resolution was adopted, giving to each patriot who enlisted in the "services of the United States government against the so-called Confederate States of America, between the 14th of December, 18653, and the 4th of January, 1864, from Adair county, under the call of the three hundred thousand men to fill up the old regiments now in the field, to fill the county of Adair's quota," under the same, the sum of one hundred dollars as a bounty;  said sum to be paid in county warrants on the treasurer of said county, when the said volunteer shall have been mustered into the United States service and rendezvous set.  On the 4th of January, 1864, the new board of supervisors met at Fontanelle, and the following mentioned, after due qualification of the new members, took their seats:  S. C. Vance, Greenfield;  Benjamin Minert, Richland;  Jacob Bruce, Grove;  John Loucks, Jefferson;  A. J. Ross, Washington;  John Augustine, Grand River;  Milton Mills, Lincoln;  S. W. Armstrong, Summerset;  J. W. Stinman, Jackson;  James Thompson, Walnut;  Fielden Key, Harrison.  Benjamin Minert was chosen chairman for the coming year.  The various committees coming forward to report, among them was the committee on relief to families of volunteers, which filed the following account of receipts and expenditures:


Received from special tax of 1863 $224.57
Received from road fund by transfer 200.00
Received from bridge fund by transfer   24.00
Am't expended to date $326.00
Am't on hand $122.59

The swamp lands of the county were at this time sold by the county to B. F. Allen, of Des Moines, for the sum of fifteen hundred dollars, which was appropriated toward paying the bounty of the soldiers.  In October, 1864, the board passed a resolution to pay the same bounty of one hundred dollars to each and everyone who had volunteered in the service of the United States, and who was credited to Adair county, or to his heirs if he was dead, thus equalizing the bounty.  At the same time a resolution was passed, that instead of the relief to the families of volunteers, being in the hands of a committee and irregular in its action, that twelve dollars per quarter be allowed to the wife of a volunteer; and six dollars per quarter to every child of the same, under twelve years of age.  Besides this, provision was made for any others who were dependent upon any volunteer, so that none might suffer in their absence.

The first meeting of the board of supervisors for the year of 1865 met at Fontanelle, on the 2d of January, when the following parties took their seats, after due qualification:  Benjamin Minert, Richland;  S. C. Vance, Greenfield;  J. W. Stinman, Jackson;  S. W. Armstrong, Summerset;  Fielden Key, Harrison;  Moses P. Stockwell, Walnut;  Milton Mills, Lincoln:  F. M. Corr, Washington;  John Loucks, Jefferson;  John Augustine, Grand River.

Grove township had no representative on account of there being no poll book sent from that precinct.  And to fill the vacancy the board appointed James McMasters as supervisor for that township.  Mr. Minert was chosen chairman for the year.  In June S. W. Armstrong removed from the county, and making thereby a vacancy on the board from Summerset, and it was filled by the appointment of A. J. Ross.

It was upon the 1st of January, 1866, that the board of supervisors for that year assembled at Fontanelle, when the following gentlemen took their seats:

F. M. Corr, Washington;  T. M. Ewing, Richland:  J. W. Stinman, Jackson:  A. P. Littleton;  Greenfield:  A. J. Ross;  Summerset:  M. P. Stockwell, Walnut:  John Loucks, Jefferson:  James McMasters, Grove;  Fielden Key, Harrison:  Jacob Bally, Grand River;  and J. R. Short, Lincoln.  J. W. Stinman was made the chairman.

At the September meeting a vacancy was made on the board by the removal from the county of J. R. Short, of Lincoln township, and Barnett Mills was appointed to fill the place.

The board for the year 1867 was composed of the following gentlemen:  J. W. Stinman, Jackson;  F. M. Corr, Washington:  James C. Gibbs, Summerset;  A. P. Littleton, Greenfield:  F. M. Ewing, Richland:  Barnett Mills, Lincoln;  John Louck, Jefferson,  R. H. Marshall, Walnut;  James McMaster, Grove;  Jacob Bally, Grand River;  Solomon Garrett, Harrison.

The board met on the 7th of January, 1867, at Fontanelle, and proceeded to organization by the election of A. P. Littleton as permanent chairman.

In 1868 the board of supervisors met on the 8th of January, at Fontanelle, with the following membership:  J. W. Stinman, Jackson;  James McMasters, Grove;  R. H. Marshall, Walnut;  S. C. Vance, Greenfield;  T. M. Ewing, Richland:  B. F. McMullen, Jefferson;  John J. Hetherington, Summerset;  Jacob Bally, Grand River;  Orin Dinsmore, Lincoln;  Robert Snodgrass, Washington;  Solomon Garrett, Harrison.

On organization, J. W. Stinman was chosen chairman for the year.  In June supervisor McMaster resigned his position on the board, and Harrison Allspaugh was elected in his place.

The board of supervisors for the year 1869 met at Fontanelle on the 4th of January, and the newly elected members being duly sworn, took their seats.  There were present the following named:  S. C. Vance, Greenfield;  Robert Snodgrass, Washington:  T. M. Ewing, Richland;  Orin Dinsmore, Lincoln;  R. W. Marshall, Walnut;  John Shreves, Summerset;  Joseph Smith, Grove;  J. W. Stinman, Jackson;  L. C. Elliott, Harrison;  Jacob Bally, Grand River;  B. F. McMullen, Jefferson.

L. C. Elliott had the honor of being elected chairman for the ensuing year on the organization of the county.  At the June meeting, in the absence of Orin Dinsmore and Robert Snodgrass, their places on the board were filled by the appointment of Ambrose Jenkins and William Stevens.  At this same time township 74, range 31, now known as Orient, was set off from the civil township of Greenfield, and the board ordered the county auditor to place the necessary papers for the organization and election therein, in the hands of Reinhart Schweers, and naming the Schweers school-house as the place of holding the election.  This new township was to be known by the name of Dayton.

The first regular session of the board of supervisors for the year 1870, was held at Fontanelle, on the 3d of January, with the following old and new members in their places:

L. C. Elliott, Harrison;  J. W. Stinman, Jackson;  John Shreves, Summerset;  R. H. Marshall, Walnut;  W. M. Cady, Lincoln;  S. C. Vance, Greenfield;  Henry Fisk, Richland;  A. Jenkins, Washington;  L. R. McWhinny, Union;  J. A. Jennings, Dayton;  James McMaster, Grove;  Joel E. Savage, Grand River;  J. C. Hitchcock, Jefferson.

R. C. Vance was elected chairman to preside over this body for the year.  At the June session there was received by the board a petition from the legal voters of that territory;  for the formation of a new township, comprising all of congressional township 76 north, range 33 west, which was to be called Eureka.  The board listening to the prayer of the eleven signers, granted the petition, and ordered an election, to be held at the house of G. W. Snyder, at the time of the October election, 1870, and the warrant for the organization thereof was placed in the hands of H. Pangborn.  The board also passed the following resolution:

Resolved, That the County Auditor is authorized to issue a county warrant for one hundred dollars in favor of the first person that will deliver to the County Treasurer, for the use of the county, twenty bushels of good stone coal, dug from a coal bank in Adair county, Iowa, and that any person finding a vein of coal two feet thick, receive a county warrant for two hundred dollars;  three feet vein, three hundred dollars;  four feet vein, four hundred dollars;  five feet vein, five hundred dollars;  six feet vein, six hundred dollars;  and that sufficient evidence be produced to the satisfaction of this Board of Supervisors, that said coal has been found as above named and of good quality.

With the year 1871, a new order of things came into existence in regard to the composition of the board of supervisors.  The cumbersome machinery of one representative from each township being entirely done away with, and a board of three members elected at large by the county substituted in its place.  The new board for that year met on the 2d day of January, and was composed of the following gentlemen, who, after due qualification, took their seats;  A. P. Littleton, John J. Hetherington and A. Osborne.  A. P. Littleton was made chairman for the ensuing year.  At its April session, this board, township 77 north, range 33 west, was set off and made a separate civil township under the name of Summit, in response to a petition signed by twelve resident citizens.  The school-house on section 17 was designated as the place of holding the first election, and Azariah Sisson the organizing officer.

The gentlemen composing the board for the 1872, were A. P. Littleton, A. Osborne and T. M. Ewing, assembled on the 1st day of January.  Mr. Littleton having been re-elected, and was for a third time made chairman, after due qualification.

For 1874 the board was composed of A. P. Littleton, T. M. Ewing and J. W. Hastings;  Mr. Littleton occupying his old place as chairman.  It was during the term of office of this board that the petition was brought up to remove the county seat to Greenfield, and this board ordered the vote of the electors thereon.  A full account of this matter is given in the chapter devoted to county seat contests further on.

On the 4th day of January, 1875, the new board for the year met for the first time at Fontanelle, and was composed of the following parties:  A. P. Littleton,  J. W. Hastings and George A. Davis.  Mr. Littleton still occupying the chair.

The board of supervisors met for the first time in regular session in Greenfield, on the 6th of September, 1875, where they have continued to meet ever since.

The board of supervisors for the different succeeding years have been composed as follows:

1876 --- J. W. Hastings, George A. Davis and T. J. Graham, with J. W. Hastings as chairman.

1877 --- G. A. Davis, R. H. Marshall and J. T. Graham.  Mr. Davis was chosen chairman for this year.

1878 --- J. T. Graham, R. H. Marshall and Josiah Arnold.  J. T. Graham acting in the capacity of chairman by the votes of his colleagues.

1879 --- R. H. Marshall, Josiah Arnold and James H. Hulbert.  R. H. Marshall in the chair.

1880 --- Josiah Arnold, J. H. Hulbert and Thomas C. Neville.  Mr. Arnold chairman.

1881 --- J. H. Hulbert, T. P. Neville and B. F. Childs.  Mr. Hulbert was elected presiding officer for the ensuing year.

1882 --- T. P. Neville, B. F. Childs and J. H. Hulbert.  On organization, Mr. Neville was made chairman for the year.

1883 --- B. F. Childs, J. H. Hulbert and E. M. Ford, with Mr. Childs in the chair.

1884 --- J. H. Hulbert, E. M. Ford, and George Faga, with Mr. Hulbert as chairman.  On the 30th of May E. M. Ford resigned his position.  On the 4th of August, 1884, John McCrea was appointed to fill the vacancy until the next election.


Taken from "History of Guthrie and Adair County Iowa, 1884", transcribed by Carlyss Noland


Adair County

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