In 1857 both parties held conventions and nominated full tickets for the October election. It was really the first convention of the republican party well organized. They named Thomas Downing for county judge, W. B. Hamilton for treasurer and recorder, W. R. Bostwick for sheriff, and H. S. Hoover for surveyor. The democrats named George W. Maxfield for county judge, Chas. C. Allen for treasurer and recorder, J. G. Ellis for sheriff, and A. S. Funston for surveyor.

The result of the election was the election of the democratic ticket, except treasurer and recorder, where Hamilton won out over Allen and Hoover won over Funston for surveyor. At that time the county judge filled the place of the present supervisors, handled all probate business and was auditor of all accounts--the most important office in the county. The treasurer was ex officio recorder.  The clerk of the courts was elected in the off year and the superintendent of schools in the spring.  The law was changed in 1858, making the election of the county superintendent at the general election in the fall, instead of the spring.

In pioneer days promises made to candidates were just of as little value as they are in these later days, as an instance that I will relate will show. Dave Clark was seeking election to some local office in Waverly and had the unqualified and absolute promise of support from 14 of  the voters.  As there were no more than about 28 legal voters in the town, he felt he had the office nailed, as these 14, with his own vote, would give him a certain majority.

You can imagine his surprise when the votes were counted and it was discovered he had just one vote beside his own. But he was still more surprised when on the next day each of the 14 men emphatically declared he had cast the one vote. Dave did not dare to call any of them a liar for  fear  he  would  hit  his  own  friend. The matter worried Dave exceedingly and he was wont to say that even Solomon would never have been able to discover which were the 13 liars.

In 1859 both parties were eager to try their cause before the people by an election. Conventions were held and their strongest men put forward.  W. P. Harmon was  the  general  who  managed the republican forces, supported by G. W. Ruddick, M. Farrington, Louis Case, Matthew Rowen, O. C. Harrington, D. P. Walling, S. H. Curtis, Thomas Downing, Samuel Jennings and many other such strong men. At their convention they placed Thomas Downing for county judge, Lyman J. Curtis, of Dayton township,  for treasurer and recorder, Nelson Smith for sheriff, H. H. Burrington  for super­ intendent of schools, and H. S. Hoover for surveyor. It was a well­ balanced ticket, and made up of good men.  Mr. Harmon said it was invincible, and so it seemed.

On the democratic side the fine Italian hand of Geo. W. Matthews appeared in the game.  He assumed  command  and  mapped  out  his plan  of  battle.  He insisted  that  no  Waverly  man  but  Ellis  should go on the ticket. W. B. Kipp, who had a store about opposite to the present county office building of Bremer avenue, was a candidate for treasurer. Like Matthews, he was from Pennsylvania, and was  a trained politician.  But Squire Matthews  was looking for victory  and not for men.  He cared more for location  of  the candidates  than  for the candidates themselves. He and Kipp  argued  the  question  until their friendship was strained to  the  limit.  Kipp  was  determined  to have  the  Waverly  delegation,  which  meant  a nomination .

When all hope of a compromise was ended, both sides began a campaign for the pending caucus, which was called to meet in the old stone school house.  John J. Smith was Matthews' whip, and for days he was as busy as a bee tallying up the democrats. O. P. Haughawont and Elias Grove were Kipp's active men. The result of the caucus, it was understood, would decide the nominations, hence the struggle for the delegation. It was agreed that Geo. R.  Dean should be the chairman, for he was conceded to be a good parliamentarian and fair-minded; he was a Kipp man, and the concession that he should preside pleased Kipp so that he believed he had Matthews down, and about all he had to do was to name his delegates.
He had not reckon on the activity and persuasive eloquence of John

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Bremer County, Iowa
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Last updated 10/12/13
Pioneer Days of Bremer County -- Chapter I