It is hardly possible to give a perfectly accurate list of the officers of Benton County. There is no record of the election in 1848, and from 1852 to 1863, the records have either never been kept or have been lost. But from all sources of information accessible the following list has been compiled, which will probably be found very nearly correct:
County Commissioners. 1846 (April to August) Edwin B. Spencer, Stedman Penrose and Samuel K. Parker 1846-7 Samuel M. Lockhart, Charles Cantonwine and L. F. North 1847-8 Samuel M. Lockhart, L. F. North and Thomas Way 1848-9 Samuel M. Lockhart, Thomas Way and L. F. North 1849-50 Samuel M. Lockhart, Thomas Way and L. F. North 1850-1 Samuel M. Lockhart, L. F. North, James Rice Commissioners' Clerk. 1846-8 David S. Pratt 1848-9 Elias H. Keyes 1849-50 W. R. Johnson 1850-1 James T. Beckett 1851 George W. Vardaman (Office abolished in 1851.) County Surveyors. 1846 (April to August) I. D. Simison 1846-7 Francis Rigaud 1847-51 I. D. Simison 1856 (May 1) Newell Colby, resigned 1856 Wesley Whipple 1862-7 Peter B. Smith 1868-77 James A. Brown 1877 G. W. Smith School Fund Commissioners. 1847-8 John Royal 1848-50 Elias H. Keyes 1850-2 James F. Beckett Irwin D. Simison 1855 Jacob S. Hunt (Office abolished in 1858.) Clerk of Courts. 1846 William J. Berry 1846-7 J. R. Pratt 1847-50 Irwin D. Simison 1850-1 C. W. Buffum 1851-2 G. W. Vandaman 1852-4 James C. Traer 1854 David Robb (resigned April 21, 1856) 1856 W. C. Stanberry 1856-66 James Chapin 1867-74 Buren R. Sherman 1875 H. E. Warner Sheriffs. 1846 (April to August) John Royal 1846-7 James Downs 1847-8-9 John Royal 1849-52 Cyrus C. Charles 1853-7 William Remington 1857-9 Elmyrrh Howard 1860-3 A. H. Sebern 1864-7 Ezra Bigelow 1868-73 Henry M. Wilson 1874 Peter S. Smith Prosecuting Attorneys. 1846-7 James Mitchell 1847-8 Samuel Lockhart 1848-50 John Alexander I. M. Preston Norman W. Isbel 1852 James Harlan 1854 John Alexander 1856-8 Edwin Humphreville Recorders. 1846 (April to August) Irwin D. Simison 1846-7 Lester W. Hayes Treasurers and Recorders. 1847-8-9 David S. Pratt 1849 Joseph Rouse 1849-53 James Johnson 1853 James Chapin 1853 W. R. Johnson 1855 J. W. Filkins Alexander Runyon James H. Shutts Treasurers. 1865-6 James H. Shutts 1870-73 S. A. Marine 1874-7 Othniel Horne 1878 Philip M. Coder Recorders. 1865 Milton P. Adams 1866-8 Frederick Lyman 1869-72 Philip M. Coder 1873 James W. Smock Auditor. 1870 Edward M. Evans Superintendents of Schools. 1858 J. Dysart 1864-5 L. M. Holt 1866-9 Amos N. Dean 1870-73 H. M. Hoon 1874-5 S. T. Shortress 1876 Miss Salina Blackburn Judges of Probate. 1846 (April to August) Jonathan R. Pratt 1846-7 James M. Denison 1847 (March to August) James Mitchell 1847-9 David S. Pratt 1849-51 John Alexander (Office abolished 1851.) County Judges. 1851-5 John S. Forsyth 1855-9 Samuel Douglass 1860-61 John Treanor 1862 John McCartney 1864-7 Buren R. Sherman 1868-9 George M. Gilchrist 1869-1870 (June) J. L. Geddes (Office abolished 1869.) District Judges. 1847-8 James P. Carleton 1851-3 James P. Carleton 1854-6 William Smyth 1857-8 Isaac Cook 1859-61 William L. Miller 1862-3 Norman W. Isbel 1864 James Bart 1865 C. H. Conklin 1866 N. M. Hubbard 1867-75 James M. Rothrock 1876 John Shane Circuit Judges. 1869-70 William E. Miller 1871 George R. Struble (resigned) 1871 William J. Haddock 1872 John McKean
For 1861: James McQuin, Chairman James Rice Jacob Springer H. Gwin Samuel Miskinim W. F. Kirkpatrick John Slattery Wm. C. Smith George Treanor John F. Forsyth Joab Austin J. R. Christie B. R. Dwigans E. W. Stocker D. A. Robinson S. G. Livermore Martin Mickey Stoughton Lamoree George L. Palmer J. M. Inman For 1862: James McQuin, Chairman S. G. Livermore W. F. Kirkpatrick W. C. Smith Joab Austin B. R. Dwigans D. A. Robinson H. Gwin Stoughton Lamoree J. M. Inman Jacob Springer James Rice Samuel Miskinim William Wallace George Treanor William Helm John Slattery Martin Mickey John Ruffcorn C. W. Stocker For 1863: James McQuin, Chairman Jacob Springer J. G. Burnett H. Guinn Simpson Welles D. A. Robinson M. Mickey E. W. Stocker J. M. Inman S. Miskinnin John Buffam W. C. Smith James Rice John Slattery Joseph Dysart Wm. Helm George Treanor Russell Bowe Thomas Gillett Wm. Wallace For 1864: James McQuin, Chairman Jacob Springer George Bergen John L. Burke Douglass W. Marsh Michael Smith W. F. Kirkpatrick James Rice E. W. Stocker Dickson Johnson S. B. Corning John Treanor W. C. Smith J. M. Inman T. Gillett S. T. Wells I. G. Burnett D. A. Robinson H. Guinn R. Bowe For 1865: James McQuin, Chairman W. C. Smith W. F. Kirkpatrick John Knapp Henry A. Shaffer W. S. Snow H. Sheldon Alex Runyon D. A. Robinson Alexander Johnson John Treanor D. W. Marsh James Rice Jacob Springer George Bergen M. Smith E. W. Stocker J. L. Burke S. B. Corning For 1866: James McQuin, Chairman John Treanor Jacob Springer George Bergen D. Johnson James Rice M. Smith J. L. Burke N. Hawley A. Beaman William Wallace W. C. Smith W. S. Snow H. Sheldon D. A. Robinson Alex Johnson W. F. Kirkpatrick John Knapp Alex Runyon H. A. Shaffer For 1867: James McQuin, Chairman W. F. Kirkpatrick Amos Dean John Knapp E. Trueblood W. C. Pogue C. L. Summers S. McGranahan Isaac N. Chenoweth Thomas Lewis Thomas Ryan John Treaner W. Wallace D. Johnson J. Rice J. Springer George Bergen J. L. Burke A. Beaman N. Hawley For 1868: James McQuin, Chairman Jacob Springer E. G. Brown J. L. Cobb J. M. Van Meter Samuel Mahin Nelson Hawley John B. Reeve James Rice George Buchan David McNie A. J. Wyckoff Amos Dean C. L. Summers S. McGranahan W. F. Kirkpatrick W. C. Pogue Thomas Lewis John Knapp I. N. Chenoweth For 1869: E. G. Brown, Chairman D. L. Webb J. Blackman J. M. Inman W. A. Tanner C. L. Summers W. W. Hamilton D. B. Ramsdell A. W. Burnison David Landon A. D. Ryan David McNie J. L. Cobb S. Mahin James Rice J. B. Reeve Jacob Springer A. J. Wyckoff George Buchan N. Hawley For 1870: E. G. Brown, Chairman Amos Dean John L. Burke David McNie L. Brooks H. T. Elliott A. H. Heldenbrand J. T. Ravenscroft J. R. Christie J. T. Austin M. Smyth S. M. Dinlkin C. M. Summers J. M. Inman D. L. Webb D. B. Ramsdell A. W. Burnison W. A. Tanner W. W. Hamilton J. Blackman
For 1871: James McQuin, Chairman Isaac N. Chenoweth John Knapp For 1872: James McQuin, Chairman Isaac N. Chenoweth John Knapp For 1873: John Knapp, Chairman I. N. Chenoweth E. W. Stocker For 1874: John Knapp, Chairman I. N. Chenoweth H. Guinn For 1875: I. N. Chenoweth, Chairman H. Guinn Nelson Hawley For 1876: I. N. Chenoweth, Chairman N. Hawley H. Guinn For 1877: N. Hawley, Chairman A. A. Wentz William F. Atkinson For 1878: A. A. Wentz, Chairman W. F. Atkinson N. Hawley
Senate: 1856-9 George McCoy 1860-1 Thomas Drummond 1862-3 Joseph Dysart 1864-7 William B. King 1868-71 James Chapin 1872-7 John Shane 1878 John D. Nichols House: 1858-9 Thomas Drummond 1860-3 James McQuin 1864-7 Alexander Runyon 1868-71 John W. Traer 1872-5 Eli M. Stedman 1874-5 S. C. Burnet 1876-7-8 E. S. Johnson 1876-7-8 John McCartney
1857 James C. Traer
The first schools taught in Benton County were private or subscription schools. Their accommodations, as may be readily supposed, were not good. Sometimes they were taught in small log houses erected for the purpose. Stoves and such heating apparatus as are in use now were unknown. A mud and stick chimney in one end of the building, with earthen hearth, with a fire-lace wide enough and deep enough to take in a four feet back log, and small wood to match, served for warning purposes in Winter and a kind of conservatory in Summer. For windows, part of a log was cut out in either side, and maybe a few panes of eight by ten glass set in, or, just as likely as not, the aperture would be covered over with greased paper. Writing benches were made of wide planks, or, maybe, puncheons resting on pins or arms driven into two-inch auger holes bored into the logs beneath the windows. Seats were made out of thick planks or puncheons; flooring was made of the same kind of stuff. Everything was rude and plain, but many of America's greatest men have gone out from just such school houses to grapple with the world and make a name for themselves and names that come to be an honor to their country. In other cases, private rooms and parts of private houses were utilized as school houses, but the furniture was just as plain.
But all these things are changed now. A log school house in Iowa is a rarity. Their places are filled with handsome frame or brick structures. The rude furniture has also given way, and the old school books, the "Popular Reader," the "English Reader" (the finest literary compilation ever known in American schools), and "Webster's Elementary Spelling Book," are superseded by others of greater pretensions. The old spelling classes and spelling matches have followed the old school houses, until they are remembered only in name. Of her school system Iowa can justly boast. It has sent out a large number of representative men whose names are as familiar to the nation as they are in the histories of the counties and neighborhoods in which they once lived. While the State has extended such fostering care to the interests of education, the several counties have been no less zealous and watchful in the management of this vital interest. And Benton County forms no exception to the rule. The school houses and their furnishings are in full keeping with the spirit of the law that provides for their maintenance and support. The teachers rank high among the other thousands of teachers in the State, and the several County Superintendents, since the office of Superintendent was made a part of the school system, have been chosen with especial reference to their fitness for the position.
It is impossible to find correct reports of educational matters in this county prior to 1858, when the Seventh General Assembly passed "An Act for the Public Instruction of the State of Iowa," and organized the present school system. By this act, which went into force March 20, 1858, each civil township was made a school district, and the number of districts and district officers was thus greatly reduced. By the same act, the office of County Superintendent of Schools was created, and appropriations made in aid of Teachers' Institutes.
Some of the townships in Benton County were among the first in Iowa to adopt the plan of forcing non-resident land owners to assist in building school houses. When a sub-district was organized, it was usually found to be an economical scheme to attach several sections of land owned by parties living in the East, and the Assessor would value it almost as high as improved land. When a new district was organized the wild land would be included in its bounds, and so on, till perhaps it would be made to help build three or four school houses.
One non-resident, named Eastman, who had several tracts in Kane, came to see it in 1856 or 1857, and complained to a resident of that township that he had paid taxes enough, he thought, to build two or three school houses. The settler thereupon instructed him as to the method pursued with regard to organizing school districts; and furthermore told him that sometimes the people changed their minds after the tax was levied, and would borrow the money back instead of building.
One instance is mentioned where a keen Yankee organized a school district and employed his wife to teach the school at a fine salary, the only pupil in the district being their own child. This is regarded, however, by the historian as somewhat apocryphal.
A Teachers' Association was organized at Vinton, in 1857, which held two or three meetings and then died out.
The first Teachers' Institute ever held in Benton County began its session on Monday, Aug. 29, 1859. Prof. D. G. Wells, Amos Dean and Dr. J. L. Enos gave the address. An Association was formed, with Julius Stevens as President, Miss Kiddoo and James Irving, Vice President; A. E. McQuaid, Secretary; J. Austin, Treasurer. Those attending were: Salina Blackburn, Frances Scott, Mary A. Brooks, Margaret C. Jenks, Jane L. Wilson, Flora Wilson, Mary L. Shutts, Jane Hudson, Anna Matthews, Sarah Meskinens, Mrs. Ann Reed, Mary Spafford, Ann Brown, Margaret Pyne, Salina Heddin, Mary Kirkpatrick, Sarah Simson, Jennie Kiddoo, Maria Dickenson, Ellen Boyden, Mary Ann McCamron, Daniel Wood, Andrew Martin, Amos Rogers, James Hellar, W. C. Parmeter, L. Clingham, John F. Pyne, Nathan Rice, N. C. Keys, W. C. Connell, A. C. McQuaid, George L. States, F. D. Dean, S. Stickney, R. L. Rose, J. S. Eberhart, A. Eberhart, M. Hartwell, G. B. Gill, J. L. Davis, S. Wood, J. K. Thompson, B. F. Page, Amos N. Dean, Joel J. Long, Sherman Tracy, Syreno O. Eaton, Jacob Austin, A. J. Dickinson, S. Rowe, David Martin.
Eighty teachers attended the second session of the Institute, which was held at Vinton, in September, 1860.
From this time forward annual meetings have been held, which are always well attended by teachers, who are behind none in acquirements and competency to teach.
The instructors at the Normal Institute for 1878, held at Vinton, were L. T. Weld, of Cresco; W. H. Sisson, of Eldora; J. McCarty, of Blairstown; W. H. Brinkerhoff, of Shellsburg; Mrs. N. M. Rich, and T. Tobin. Addresses were given by J. L. Pickard, President of the Iowa University; H. Sabin, President of the State Teachers' Association, and others. The enrollment of teachers in attendance on the third day was 146.
The first Superintendent of schools was Joseph Dysart in 1858; but there are no records in the office to show the progress of the educational interests of the county. Miss Salina Blackburn, in her last annual report to the State Superintendent, said:
I have used every available means to secure correct data for this report; but I find upon comparison, that the amount "on hand" as reported last year, in many instances, does not correspond with the same item this year. But I have no means of determining which statement is erroneous. With three legal divisions of the school fund, and the frequent changes of school officers, it is simply impossible to make a correct financial report.
Quite a number of school houses have been erected during the past year, most of them after improved plans, and all of them seated with good patent seats. Many of the old buildings have been repaired, and the old seats replaced by new and comfortable ones.
A course of study was prepared and submitted to the people and teachers about a year ago. It met with quite general favor. I think its best result has been a tendency toward uniformity of work among teachers.
A system of monthly reports by teachers has been adopted, which not only proves a valuable aid in supervision, but is a great incentive to excellence in punctuality and attendance.
Number of district townships................................................10 Number of independent districts.............................................99 Number of sub-districts.....................................................86 Total number of districts..................................................185 Number of ungraded schools.................................................179 Number of graded schools.....................................................5 Average number of months taught..............................................7.33 Number of male teachers....................................................121 Number of female teachers..................................................243 Average compensation per month to male teachers............................$33.90 Average compensation per month to female teachers..........................$27.50 Number of male pupils between 5 and 21 years of age......................4,921 Number of female pupils between 5 and 31 years of age....................4,467 Number of pupils enrolled................................................6,990 Total average attendance.................................................4,194 Average cost of tuition for each pupil per month............................$1.35 Number of frame school houses..............................................183 Number of brick school houses................................................3 Number of stone school houses................................................2 Total value of school buildings...........................................$133.051 Total value of apparatus.................................................1,841 Number of volumes in libraries.............................................194
Total receipts during the year.........................................$20,712.51 Paid for school houses and sites........................................12,652.09 Paid on bonds and interest...............................................1,813.98 Amount on hand...........................................................5,715.64
Total receipts during the year.........................................$23,834.10 Paid for rent of school houses..............................................77.00 Paid for repairing school houses.........................................3,372.68 Paid for fuel............................................................3,865.40 Paid secretaries...........................................................848.55 Paid treasurers............................................................959.35 Paid for records and apparatus.............................................457.09 Paid for various purposes................................................8,064.17 Amount on hand...........................................................6,489.86
Total receipts.........................................................$74,231.02 Paid teachers...........................................................48,889.22 Amount on hand..........................................................25,341.80 Number of professional certificates issued...................................4 Number of first grade certificates issued..................................138 Number of second grade certificates issued.................................211 Number of third grade certificates issued..................................--- Total number of certificates issued........................................353 Number of applicants rejected..............................................118 Number of applicants examined..............................................399 Average age of male applicant...............................................20 Average age of female applicants............................................18 Number of teachers who have had no experience...............................52 Number of teachers who have taught less than one year.......................72 Number of schools visited by County Superintendent.........................163 Number of visits made during the year......................................171 Appeals......................................................................2 Amount received by County Superintendent for services from October 1, 1876 to October 1, 1877........................................$846.00 Number of private schools....................................................4 Number of teachers employed in same..........................................9 Number of pupils attending.................................................235
This academy was founded in A. D. 1862, by Rev. A. A. Sawin, formerly of Massachusetts, a Baptist minister of eminent ability, of high refinement and thorough scholarship.
The funds for the erection of the buildings, amounting to between $5,000 and $6,000, were chiefly raised in the vicinity by subscriptions in land, money, materials and labor. The largest donors were Levi Marsh, $1,050; George S. Williams, $370; J. M. Yount, $300; Andrew Hale, $290; S. W. Hutton, $275; T. G. Arbuthnot, $170; Martin Smith, $150; Samuel Miles, $120; I. R. Compton, $120; E. Thompson, $100. Levi Marsh was, by the subscribers, appointed Trustee.
A. A. Sawin entered into bonds to maintain a high school for ten years, or refund to those who had donated real estate.
The school was opened in Marsh Hall, in the Spring of 1862. In 1863, Mr. Sawin moved the school into a frame building, erected by himself on the institute grounds.
The foundation of the brick building was laid in the Spring of 1863, and everything pertaining to the enterprise was prospering finely, when the smallpox broke out in the neighborhood and Eld. Sawin was called suddenly to finish his fondly chosen work on earth.
Mrs. Sawin, and her brother, Lauren A. Scott, A. B., of Vermont, agreed to fulfill the contract made by Rev. Mr. Sawin, the subscribers being anxious for the continuance of the school.
The responsibility of collecting the funds and superintending the building now devolved upon L. Marsh, Trustee.
A substantial and commodious building was erected and completed, and the school continued by Mr. A. Scott and Mrs. Sawin.
In 1865, Eld. Whitman leased the buildings, and for several years he and his wife kept a good school.
Again Mrs. Sawin and Mr. Scott took charge and continued the school until 1872.
At that time, Prof. J. G. Craven, A. M., became Principal and proprietor, and, assisted by various members of his family, has since conducted the school. Prof. C. began teaching in 1840, graduated in Miami University in 1845, was, during thirteen consecutive years, successfully engaged as Principal of a high school in Indiana, and has taught in various places in Minnesota and Iowa, and, probably, has prepared a greater number of young gentlemen and ladies for teaching and for college than any other teacher in Benton County.
Superintendent Shortiss had rejected 40 per cent of applicants for certificates until he held an examination in Irving. Eleven of the pupils of the Institute were examined, two received first-class certificates and nine second-class.
Supt. Sterrett, of Tama County says, "The uniform success and ability with which the pupils of Irving Institute have taught in the schools of this county, prove that they have had thorough and careful training."
The pupils of this school, who have gone to college or to the State University, have uniformly taken high positions in their classes.
Beauty of location, thoroughness of instruction, the low rate of board and tuition, the absence of saloons and places of vice are strongly in favor of Irving Institute.
The original projectors and most liberal contributors to the institution bearing the above name, were Rev. George Herring, Uriah Keck, Henry Miller, Caleb Carter, Isaiah Morris, G. B. Crandall, Henry Bell, Amos Dean, and Jas. Brain.
The first Board of Trustees was composed as follows: Rev. George Herring, Uriah Keck, Henry Miller, James Brain, Rev. W. J. Hahn, and G. B. Crandall.
Four acres of ground were procured in the southeast part of the town for a building site, in 1868, and the construction of the building was begun in the Spring of 1868. The structure, which is 75x90 feet in size, and two stories high, was enclosed and roofed during the Summer. The building, which had cost $4,200, was formally dedicated to the cause of education October 1, 1872, Amos Dean, Esq., of Blairstown, making a suitable address on the occasion, followed by remarks from Rev. Mr. Shoutz, of Tipton, this theme being "Christian Education."
The first term began about the same time, with Rev. W. J. Hahn, an Evangelical minister, as Principal, and Loyd Fording as Assistant.
It can only be stated in a general way, that the attendance at the first term was excellent, but this bright augury of success was only illusory.
A considerable indebtedness had been left on the building, and the Evangelical Society, which had assumed the oversight of the school, proved to be unwilling or unable to relieve the incubus of debt. Accordingly, the Sheriff became the custodian of the property, and it was sold to W. S. Shon, in 1870, who owned it about a year, during which time no school was held.
In 1872, Rev. Mr. Raile, of the Classis of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, bought the property in behalf of that body, and the building was remodeled at a cost of about $3,000. Rev. Mr. Raile remained at the head of the school till 1875, when he withdrew, and was succeeded by Profs. Faulk and Martin, who conducted the school for about a year, but with indifferent success.
Growing weary of a property that was proving burdensome to them, the Classis, in 1876, disposed of the building and grounds to Prof. John McCarty, under whose skillful and business-like management, the Academy has steadily grown in favor and prospered as well. The attendance during the Winter term of 1877-8 was 76.
It is a pleasure to be able to state that the utmost cordiality of feeling exists between the people of Blairstown and the Principal of the Academy. With this important help to support him, it is safe to predict prosperity to the school while it remains under his control.
Prof. McCarty was born and partly educated in Ireland. He completed his studies in Fort Edward Collegiate Institute, in New York State, wherein he taught for a year before coming West. He was Principal of the public schools of Vinton three years, before taking charge of the academy, and left the Vinton schools much improved by his administrative ability.
Four teachers assist Prof. McCarty in the Academy: Mrs. Perthemia McCarty, Preceptress; John Janss, German and Telegraphy; Miss Mary A. French, Vocal and Instrumental Music; Mrs. Elsie Spier, Instrumental Music.
The following testimonial, given to Prof. McCarty in 1877, by citizens of Blairstown, indicates the esteem in which the Academy is held by those who are best acquainted with its management:
The undersigned, residents of Blairstown and vicinity, take pleasure in giving their testimony to the satisfactory success with which Prof. McCarty and his excellent wife have conducted the academy under their proprietorship and management during the past year. And we would recommend the institution a worthy the patronage of such parents as desire to give their sons and daughters an education to fit them for the various spheres of usefulness that lie open before them in our growing country. The patrons and friends of the school cheerfully accord to Prof. and Mrs. McCarty the merit of first class educators. And we have no hesitancy in saying that all pupils entrusted to their guardianship will not fail to receive thorough instruction in all branches of learning they may pursue, and proper care for their good morals.
In the Summer of 1858, an effort was made by the people of Vinton to secure an institution of learning in their midst, it being understood that the Presbytery of Iowa were looking for a site for a college. Cedar Rapids had got a little ahead in the race, and Parsons' Academy was located there.
The people of Vinton were not quite disposed to abandon the project entirely, for in September, 1858, a meeting of the stockholders of the Vinton Collegiate Institute was held, at which time Rev. N. C. Robinson, President; Joseph Dysart, Secretary; Trustees, John E. Palmer, David B. Keys, J. C. Traer, John S. Tilford, Dr. H. B. Clingan, Joseph Young and John Shane.
The second term began November 30. In the prospectus, the announcement was made that instruction would be given in algebra, geometry, surveying and bookkeeping.
A. C. Williams was the Principal of the school, which was continued a term or two longer, but the stockholders became indifferent to the enterprise, and no attempt was made to erect a building. Noting further was done toward founding an advanced school until the Winter of 1870-71, when Mr. J. S. Tilford, who had a heavy mortgage on the grounds of the Agricultural Society, proposed to donate the grounds to be occupied by an educational institution . Some negotiation had already taken place with Mr. Tobin, and in March, the arrangement was consummated by the Trustees of the Agricultural Society uniting in a deed transferring the grounds owned by them to Mr. Tobin, on the condition that he would build thereon and conduct an academy for the term of five years.
The foundation was completed in may, and 525 trees had been set in the grounds. So rapidly was the work prosecuted, that the dedicatory exercises were held on Saturday evening July 30, Rev. S. A. Knapp giving the address on that auspicious occasion.
At the close of the dedicatory exercise, which included a chorus form the oratorio of "Creation," and prayer by Rev. G. W. Brindell, Mr. White, the master-builder, presented the keys of the building to Prof. Tobin in a few fitting words, the latter accepting the trust in a graceful address.
The dimensions of the building are 32x48 feet; the basement has a height of 10 feet; the first story, 11 feet; the second story, 12 feet an the third story, 9 feet seven inches. In the first story is the main hall, a room 32x40 feet, lighted by eight large windows. In the second story is another room of the same dimensions as the one below. The music-room and studio are in the third story. The exterior appearance of the building is very pleasing, the third story being a mansard, and a high belfry surmounting the edifice.
The subsequent progress of Tilford Academy is noted in Mr. Tobin's biography, in another place, to which the reader is referred.
The Vinton Eagle. – January 10, 1855, number one of volume one of the Vinton Eagle made its appearance. It was published by Lyman & Co., Frederick Lyman, editor; Stanley C. Foster was the "Co." Its motto: "Independent in everything;" its price, $1.50 in advance. It was a six-column quarto. The editor, in his salutatory says: "After realizing innumerable, unexpected, vexatious delays of time, and a consequent waste of money; after shifting from pillar to post for want of better Winter quarters, liable at every turn to be cut loose and turned adrift from our temporary moorings, we have at last been successful in securing, three-fourths of a mile from town, an excellent, though temporary halting-place, by which arrangement we have actually stolen time sufficient to ‘catch breath,' and, by close application during the hours of daylight (our office is transformed into a church and lodge-room evenings), succeeded in presenting to the public this first, but imperfect, specimen of an Eagle. * * * We shall more than fulfill all former promises embodied in our prospectus, by excluding from our columns either Democratic, Whig or Abolition lies and bombast."
The second volume commenced with Lyman & Traer, editors and publishers, but the partnership only lasted for a short time; it was dissolved February 13, 1856, when W. W. Hanford purchased Lyman's interest and assumed the editorial and business management. August 6th, J. C. Traer withdrew from the concern, and Mr. Lyman took some interest in the office, it is not quite clear what. February 4, 1857, Messrs. Hanford & Lyman disposed of the Eagle to Stoughton & Dysart, both citizens of Vinton. June 13th, Mr. Stoughton vacated his half of the tripod to Thomas Drummond. August 29th, Mr. Hanford returned to the office, and Mr. Dysart withdrew. Soon after, Mr. Drummond became editor, and remained for about three years. Mr. Hanford continued most of the time as sole owner, until January 1, 1871, when J. W. Rich purchased the interest, which he still retains. In 1876, Bernard Murphy, who had learned his trade in the Eagle office, purchased Mr. Hanford's interest. The Eagle, it is seen, has existed for twenty-two years, and has been a sound concern since its first establishment. It has been a Republican in politics, except during its first year.
Benton County Democrat – This paper was ushered into existence October 2, 1856, with D. B. Pyne as publisher; Nathan Bass, political editor; and James Wood as local editor. But soon after, the paper collapsed; for of the thousand dollars that had been promised to pay for the material nothing had been paid, and of the 200 subscribers, only forty had paid their subscriptions, while Judge Douglass, who had been active in soliciting Mr. Pyne to start the paper, was "hedging" by giving a large share of his patronage to the Eagle. Pyne held the material till toward Spring, when he started the paper again, but soon after sold the office to James Fowler and Henry Price. July 3, 1859, Price took his share of a big tax list and withdrew. May 21, 1859, Fowler sold the concern to John Alexander and I. Van Metre, who conducted it with much ability, Van Metre doing the editorial work. August 11, 1859, Alexander sold his share to D. B. Pyne.
This was in the heat of a bitter political canvass, during the progress of which a pugilistic encounter took place between Van Metre and Drummond, in which the latter is said to have been worsted. Just prior to election, the Democrat occupied a whole page in reciting the wrong-doing of the Republicans, as viewed from the opposition stand-point. In the article is a spirited cartoon of a messenger started for Marengo, riding face backward on a mule. But spunk and sarcasm could not save the election, and October 20th the editor "threw up the sponge," remarking that "events have transpired," etc. A nearly complete file of the Democrat has been preserved at the Eagle office, and those who were active in politics twenty years ago, will find much to interest and amuse them by turning over its pages for an hour.
Belle Plaine Transcript – This paper was established about the middle of December, 1866 by N. C. Weiting. It was a folio sheet, with seven columns to the page, and was Republican in politics. February 14, 1867, he sold the office to W. W. Yarhan and William Nixon. A few months afterward, the concern passed into the hands of S. S. Farrington, who improved the paper very much in the local department. March 4, 1869, Mr. Farrington disposed of the Transcript to D. H. Frost, who had formerly been a partner in the ownership of the Vinton Eagle. Mr. Frost changed the name of the paper to the Belle Plaine Union. The paper has ever since remained under the exclusive management of Mr. Frost, who has the deserved reputation of being one of best informed and most finished political writers in the State. The Union has a good circulation in Southern Benton, and in Tama, Iowa and Powesheik Counties. The Union is Republican in politics.
Belle Plaine Review – This journal was established by S. S. Farrington, October 9, 1874. For a few weeks he had a partner, but the latter soon retired leaving Mr. Farrington sole owner. The Review is a five-column quarto paper, and has done an excellent business since its beginning. Mr. Farrington is still the proprietor. The paper is Republican in politics.
Blairstown Independent – The Herald was the first paper established at Blairstown. The first number was issued about March 1, 1869, by W. H. Wheeler, the paper being printed, however, at the People's Journal office, at Vinton. It is remembered that Mr. Wheeler and the publisher of the Journal differed diametrically as to the propriety of sending ex-Gov. Stone to Congress in 1870, much space being occupied in the Herald by matter that Mr. Wheeler could not indorse. The Herald ran along about a year, when it was suspended by Mr. Wheeler's removal from the place. The Independent was established by S. P. Grover, about Jan. 1, 1876, who soon after transferred it to L. H. Barnes, who did not develop into a thorough-paced financier. He failed. J. P. Wallace soon after bought the property, which has proved to be a good investment in his hands. The paper is a five-column quarto sheet, and enjoys the respect of its patrons.
People's Journal – The early history of this paper is somewhat out of the ordinary run. The Benton County News was first published at Vinton, early in the Spring of 1865, by Frank & Weed, who conducted it for about one year, when they failed and the office passed in to the hands of James Wood, Trustee. In May or June, 1868, one Berry, who had gone to Pike's Peak, some years before, and there acquired a competence, came back to Benton County desiring above all things to go to the Legislature. He arranged for the purchase of the dormant News, and it was revived as a Democratic paper and called the Standard. Berry got his nomination without difficulty, and although he made an energetic canvass and ran ahead of his ticket, he did not attain the object of his ambition. The next year he went to Kansas, and when last heard of, he was a member of the Legislature of that State, and in a position to dictate terms to would-be United States Senators. The Standard, with J. F. Pyne as publisher, floated six months, when it was sold to Alfred H. and George Brown, who began the publication of the People's Journal, an eight-column folio paper, Republican in politics, which made its appearance December 19, 1868. In 1871, it was changed to a six-column quarto and a semi-weekly established, which was continued for about two years, most of the time with A. H. Brown as sole proprietor. This gentleman had sacrificed an arm in the service of his country and adopted editorial work as a vocation. The paper proved to be a successful venture under his control. April 1, 1872, he disposed of the concern to C. R. Wilkinson & Co., and removed to Nebraska. The People's Journal has grown steadily in business and popularity in the hands of its present owners, who have approved themselves as first-rate managers.
Iowa Fine Stock Gazette – This monthly journal, whose object is indicated by its name, was established by C. R. Wilkinson & Co., in July, 1874, and proved to be a success from the first number. It was sold to a Cedar Rapids firm a year or two afterward, and is now published in that city.
Benton County Herald – This paper, which was established by J. F. Pyne & Sons, July 2, 1878, has met with gratifying success so far. It is Democratic in politics, the only paper of that faith in Benton County, which ought to afford a paying field for a venture of this kind. The paper is an eight-column folio sheet, and is published Wednesdays, at Vinton.
Bible Truth Depot – This establishment (at Vinton) is engaged in the printing and distribution of tracts and religious pamphlets, and has been organized two years. A large variety of tracts have been published, and the number is being constantly increased. T. O. Loiseaux has charge of the office work. Paul J. Loiseaux is business manager.
Post Offices in Benton County and Dates of Their Establishment
The first offices in Benton county were:
Vinton, established October 1, 1846; Stephen Holcomb, postmaster.
Marysville, established September 21, 1848; John S. Forsythe, postmaster.
Potato Hill, established October 20, 1851; Loyal F. North, postmaster; changed to Buelah, November 5, 1852.
Burk, established October 31, 1853; Lewis W. Bryson, postmaster.
Benton City, established December 15, 1854; Wm. C. Stanberry, postmaster.
Taylors Grove, established January 31, 1854; Geo. T. Hendricks, postmaster.
Gwinnville, established February 29, 1856; John E. S. Gwinn, postmaster. Changed to Belle Plaine, August 6, 1862.
Linwood, established August 30, 1856; Anson T. Wilkins, postmaster. Discontinued May 19, 1863.
Shellsburg, established November 24, 1856; David Robb, postmaster.
Woods, established July 30, 1857; Geo. W. Young, Postmaster; discontinued September 5, 1863.
Pickaway, established September 1, 1857; Isaac T. Van Metre, postmaster. Discontinued February 27, 1865.
Urbanna, established November 27, 1857; Wm. W. Bartholomew, postmaster.
Williams, established June 19, 1858; John Tanner, Postmaster; discontinued March 23, 1865.
Unity, established June 19, 1858.
Gomersal, established November 13, 1858; J. Emrick Flickinger, postmaster. Discontinued May 24, 1864.
Daggett, established December 1, 1860; John F. Daggett, postmaster. Discontinued October 17, 1862.
London, established January 17, 1861; Levi Gassett, postmaster. Changed to Robin April 9, 1864.
Blairstown, established July 21, 1862; Leonard E. Watrous, postmaster.
Buckeye, established July 28, 1862; Joseph H. Carry, postmaster.
Mount Auburn, established February 16, 1865; Thomas D. Lewis, postmaster.
Florence, established October 2, 1866; Wm. F. Atkinson, postmaster.
Luzerne, established August 2, 1870; Matthew L. Nismonger, postmaster.
Paul, established February 9, 1870; John Anson, postmaster.
Spencer Grove, established September 10, 1867; Abner N. Spencer, postmaster.
Summers, established February 8, 1872; Christian Dobel, postmaster. Discontinued October 22, 1874.
Garrison, established December 12, 1873; Edward M. Lewis, postmaster.
Watkins, established December 15, 1873; Chas. G. Turner, postmaster.
The first meeting to organize the Benton County Agricultural Society was held June 13, 1857; W. F. Kirkpatrick was made Chairman of the meeting, and Joseph Dysart, Secretary. A committee of six, composed of W. F. Kirkpatrick, John Alexander, Jacob S. Hunt, Albert Vannice, P. Adams and Joseph Dysart, was appointed to draw up constitution and by-laws, and to report the same on the 20th. The proceedings came to nothing, however, for no further action was taken, owing, probably, to the intense political excitement prevailing at Vinton for a year or so before and after the association was formed.
Better luck attended the next effort, for the Benton County Agricultural and Mechanical Society was organized in June, 1859, with J. H. Shutts as Secretary. Grounds were procured near Vinton, and fitted up for the first fair, which was held October 13 and 14. A very creditable display was made, especially of horses and cattle; and in the ladies' department the showing was excellent. On the 14th, officers were elected for the ensuing year, as follows: I. N. Chenoweth, President; G. F. Traer, W. C. Wiley, Vice Presidents; J. H. Shutts, Secretary; W. A. Guinn, Treasurer.
The receipts of the Society during the first year were: Memberships $219.00; admission fees, $76.83; sundries, $3.27. The expenditures were $380.38, of which $62.00 went for premiums.
The first fair was held back of the Asylum grounds.
The second fair of the Society was held in October, 1860. The total receipts, including $200 from the State, were $489.86, the amount paid for premiums was $161.30.
The Society went out of existence in March, 1871, the officers uniting in a deed of the Society's interest in the grounds to Professor Tobin.
Soon after, the Vinton Driving Park Association was formed, which succeeded for a year or two, when it died the death of its predecessors, and gave way for the existing society – The Benton County Agricultural Association – the present officers of which are: J. C. Traer, President; H. T. Smock, Vice President; W. T. Van Horn, Secretary; P. M. Watson, Treasurer; J. E. Cobbey, John Beebe, J. H. McDaniel, S. A. Knapp and G. H. Potter, Directors. Capt. S. H. Dixson, Chief Marshal.
Belle Plaine Union Agricultural Society
The association with the above title was organized at Belle Plaine in 1867, with E. G. Brown as President; and a very successful fair was held in the Fall of that year.
At the annual meeting of the Society, held in January, 1869, the cost of the grounds and fence was reported at $2,933.86, with an outstanding indebtedness of $2,136.52, protected by the reserve on stock subscriptions of $2,732.05.
A floral hall, 20x60 feet in size, was built for the fair of 1871.
The Benton County Medical Society held a preliminary meeting for the purpose of organization, at Vinton, January 26, 1871, which was attended by Drs. Wagner, of Blairstown; Lewis, of Florence; Horton, of Shellsburg; Lathroy, Boyd, Meredith, Griffin, Clingun and Bergen, of Vinton. A committee having been appointed to frame constitution and by-laws, the Society adjourned till February 16.
Patrons of Husbandry
This organization was introduced into Iowa in 1870, and in the next two years spread into almost every county in the State. In addition to the Granges established at Belle Plaine and at Blairstown, which have been mentioned elsewhere, other bodies were established in nearly every township, some of which are given herewith:
Plow Handle – Organized at Vinton, March 17, 1871, with W. B. Reynolds as Master; John Knapp, Lecturer; S. A. Knapp, Overseer; A. Kile, Steward; A. M. King, Assistant Steward; E. M. Steadman, Chaplain; J. P. Matthews, Treasurer; George Bergen, Secretary; John Shane, Gate Keeper; Mrs. M. H. Knapp, Lady Assistant Steward; Mrs. L. Reynolds, Ceres; Miss Bessie Whitlock, Pomona; Mrs. E. L. Slason, Flora.
Homer Grange – Organized in Homer Township, July 2, 1872, with E. Haat as Master; M. T. Houghton, Overseer; James Findley, Steward; James King, Assistant Steward; G. W. Copley, Secretary; N. S. Hoon, Treasurer; H. W. Gruwell, Chaplain; John Cupid, Lecturer; A. Wiles, Gate Keeper; Mrs. Louisa Houghton, Flora; Mrs. J. G. Nutting, Ceres; Mrs. E. Stamp, Pomona; Mrs. C. Bennett, Lady Assistant Steward.
Lone Tree Grange – Organized in Homer Township July 3, 1872, with P. Vandyke, Master; J. T. Hershey, Secretary; C. O. Byam, Overseer; John Johnson, Treasurer; Amos Lord, Lecturer; H. P. Sebern, Chaplain; William Morgan, Steward; James Hinkley, Assistant Steward; Milton Johnson, Gate Keeper; Miss Alice Sebern, Ceres; Mrs. Eliza Johnson, Flora; Mrs. Vandyke, Pomona; Miss Sallie Sebern, Lady Assistant Steward.
Eden Center – Organized February 5, 1873. J. M. Hill, Master; John T. Fairgrave, Secretary.
Canton Center – Organized February 17, 1873. Nathaniel Dice, Master; J. T. Robbins, Secretary.
Bruce – Organized February 18, 1873. T. J. Sloan, Master; J. B. Stuart, Secretary.
In 1872, James McDaniel, of Big Grove, was made County Deputy, and in the following year a County Council was formed.
The Order reached the summit of its growth and usefulness in 1874, and during the Winter of that year it proved a most efficacious means of collecting and forwarding supplies to the destitute population on the frontiers of Nebraska and Dakotah, whose crops had been devoured by grasshoppers. The people of Benton County, in common with the whole of Central and Eastern Iowa, collected of their abundance, both of food and clothing, to preserve the lives of the settlers in the settlements beyond the Mississippi River; and a very large part of the present prosperity of Western Nebraska and Southern Dakotah is due to the generous sentiment for brothers in distress manifested by the farmers in Iowa during the Winter of 1874-5.
If the part taken by the Patrons of Husbandry, during that Winter, in loading hundreds of freight cars with the means of support for the sufferers further west, were all that Order had ever accomplished, its mission would be fully approved at the final settlement of accounts of the human race.
It must be stated, however, that the Order is now in a languishing condition, many subordinate Granges having surrendered their charters, and most of those yet active are only so on the records of the State Grange. The causes for this condition of things lie just below the surface, and can be easily stated.
In the first place, many persons with crude and shallow ideas, but with nimble tongues, obtained admission to the Order immediately after its formation. Some of these had been unsuccessful in politics, and hailed the organization as a means for their own advancement to positions of profit, and perhaps of plunder. These sought to drag the Order into politics, believing that the rapidly growing society could take and hold the balance of power as against the two great political parties. Others sought to make the Grange a means for disseminating crude ideas of reform in politics, finance and business. These people were honest enough and meant well.
The sober American sense of the membership of the Order was proof, however, against the schemes of the politicians who had sought an entrance within its gates with such ardor; and, except in a few instances, the members maintained their former political relations, and so the place-hunters fell off, much to the advantage of the society.
In business matters, the Grange failed to accomplish what it set out to do. The various ventures into which Granger capital was invited, were nearly all set on foot before the panic of 1873, and the stores and other enterprises found themselves doing business against a falling market. Had they made the difference between the buying and selling prices larger most of these ventures would have proved reasonably successful; but as a rule, the capital was largely encroached upon or entirely absorbed in the hard years of 1874 and 1875. These business houses, and more especially those engaged in selling farm machinery, were meet with the most unrelenting opposition from those who were already in trade; and, having long experience as well as ample capital, were in a situation to sell at figures that the Grangers could not successfully compete with.
The Grange Store at Belle Plaine, however, having been carefully managed from the start, has proved a decided success in the hands of its projectors, and is a notable contrast to the numerous stores started by the Order in Iowa, only a few of which now do business.
As an educational force the Order has been of great value. Those who have lost money in the business enterprises in which they have invested, have an experience that will be useful hereafter. The frequent meetings, relieving the monotony and loneliness of farm life, have been of immense benefit to the members, who have exchanged many valuable ideas with each other, some of which have been put in practice, whereby better crops have been raised, and labor-saving devices have been introduced, to the pecuniary benefit of thousands of members of the Order. For this reason alone the meetings should be constantly held, in order that a broader intelligence shall be secured; and to further this end, a system should be devised whereby each Grange can establish a small library; and when it has been studied, let it be exchanged for the books of a neighboring Grange.
On page 197 of this volume will be found some account of the origin of this noble charity and of its removal to Vinton, through the liberality of the citizens of that town, who contributed $5,000 for the purchase of grounds and the construction of the building.
There are about one hundred and thirty pupil inmates of the Asylum, two being from Wyoming Territory and one from Dakotah, the remainder being residents of Iowa.
The musical department is the leading feature in the educational department, and special attention is given to vocal, piano and organ instructions, and also to voice culture and harmony.
The following is a summary of the number of pupils in the musical department: In piano music, 80; organ, 14; voice culture, 4; clarionet, 3; horns, 7; flute, 8; violins, 28; violincello, 3; orchestra, 21; vocal music, 86; harmony, 39; New York Point System, 23.
Some of the more advanced students act as assistant instructors upon the piano and organ, and are thus the better qualified for the profession of teaching.
In the Industrial Department, broom-making is the principal trade taught. This trade for the blind has many advantages; it is easily learned, the material used is cheap and easily procured, and the machinery employed is inexpensive, and brooms being an absolute necessity will always be in demand.
Instruction is also given in the manufacture of mattresses; but this department is of necessity limited from the fact that there is but a limited demand for this article of manufacture in this locality. It has been maintained thus far without any expense to the State.
Special attention is given to bead-work, crocheting, knitting and other fancy work, and in these many of the young ladies become quite proficient. This branch of their education will not only serve to occupy spare time and relieve the tedium of life, but may also be made a source of profit.
Fifty-five young ladies are being instructed in this department.
Instruction is also given on the sewing machine. By patient and preserving efforts on the part of the teacher in this department, the young ladies learn to manage the machine with great facility, and to manufacture articles of dress with as much taste and beauty as those who have the use of their eyes.
As many of the pupils are clothed at public expense, the Principal utilizes this department in the manufacture of shirts for the young men and dresses for the young ladies. Hand sewing is also taught.
The following persons compose the Faculty: Principal, Rev. Robert Carothers, A. M.; Matron, Mrs. Emeline E. Carothers; Teachers: Thomas F. McCune, A. B., Penmanship, Grammar, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Rhetoric, Logic, Mental Philosophy; Miss Grace A. Hill, Grammar, Literature, English and American; History, Ancient and Modern; Astronomy; Mrs. C. A. Spencer, Moral Philosophy, Physiology, Physical Geography, Botany, Geology; Miss Mary Baker, Mathematics; Miss C. R. Miller, Intermediate; Miss Lorana Mattice, Second Primary; Miss A. M. McCutcheon, First Primary; S. O. Spencer, Musical Director; T. S. Slaughter, Orchestra, Violin, Piano.
May 18, 1873, Thomas Noland, a lad of 18, living in Kane township, was killed by the horse he was riding. The horse ran against a cow, throwing Noland to the ground, when the horse stumbled and fell upon him, breaking his neck.
A. Manuel, a German peddler, committed suicide at Big Grove, September 30, 1876, by firing a revolver at his breast. He had a small property, and no cause was apparent for self-destruction.
Judge William C. Smith died at his home in Union township, March 28, 1877, at the ripe age of 70 years. Judge Smith, before removing to Iowa, had been for a time a room-mate of Horace Greeley, and once in jest promised Greeley he would vote for him for President some day, a promise that he fulfilled the Fall before his death.