POLITICS AND POLITICIANS OF THE PIONEER DAYS
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
Last updated 10/7/2015
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