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History of Cass Co. 1877


Chapter 8, of the Acts of the fourth General Assembly, which met at Iowa City, December 6th, 1852, provided for the organization of a large number of new counties in the western part of the State, and among others, the county of Cass. The following appears in the Act in reference to Cass:

SEC. 2. That Robert McGaven, of the county of Pottawattamie, Thomas G. Palmer, of the county of Mills, and Milton Richards, of the county of Fremont, be, and they are hereby appointed Commissioners to locate the seat of justice of the county of Cass.

The act provided that the Commissioners should meet on the first Monday in March, 1853, and that they should receive two dollars per day for their services, to be paid out of the proceeds of lots in said town; and further that the County of Cass "is hereby organized from and after the first Monday in March 1853; and the inhabitants of said county shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges, to which by law the other counties in this State are entitled. That there shall be a special election held on the first Monday in April 1853, at which time there shall be elected county and township officers as provided by law." The act further provided:

SEC. 10. That the county of Cass shall be composed of three civil townships, for the present organization, that is, all the territory embraced in Cass county shall constitute one civil township; that which lies in the county of Audubon shall constitute one civil township, and all that which lies in the county of Adair shall constitute one civil township, the three for revenue election and judicial purposes, constituting the county of Cass. The first election to be held at Bradshaw's store in Cass county, at Mr. Hamlin's in Audubon township; at the house of Alfred Jones, in Adair township.

The first election was held "at Bradshaw's store" at Indiantown as provided in the Act. No official record of the election is to be found in any of the county offices; nor are any poll books to be found. The earliest record kept by the County Judge, J. W. Benedict, is not to be found in the County Auditor's office, and as it wasn't much of a record, not more than a hat would accommodate, it is presumed that Benedict took it away with him when he left the county, a number of years ago.

Two only of the three commissioners appointed to locate the county seat acted in the matter, and the following is their report, as recorded in the County Judge's office:

State of Iowa,
County of Cass, ss.
May 2d, 1853.
    In pursuance of an act of the General Assembly of the State of Iowa, approved, January 12th, A. D. 1853, for the location of the seat of justice of the aforesaid county of Cass, we, Thomas G. Palmer and Milton Richards, two of the commissioners appointed by the act aforesaid to locate the seat of justice of said county, have met at Indiantown in said county on the 11th day of March, A. D., 1853, and proceeded to locate the seat of justice of said county of Cass on the East half of the south-east quarter of section 10 and the West half of the South-west quarter of section 11, in township 75 North of range (37) thirty-seven West, we, the said commissioners, having been sworn as directed by the aforesaid act. Done at Indiantown, this 11th day of March, A. D. 1853.


The town site of Lewis belonged to the county, and the selling of lots in the town rested with the County Judges. After the commissioners located the county-seat, the settlement of the town began, and people began to remove from Iranistan to Lewis, even moving their buildings in most instances. Although the first house was built in Lewis by S. M. Tucker in 1853, the public sale of lots did not occur until October, 1855. At that sale the following were the buyers: S. M. Tucker, C. E. Woodward, J. E. Chapman, Moses Martin, Bevington & Hutchings, James Queen, Aaron Dolph, J. W. Benedict, J. M. Watson, Cornelius Soper, S. K. Shields, Joshua Bales, R. E. Gordon, David Hitchcock, S. Wilson, Bowater Bales, Barton Garvin, Wm. S. Townsend, S. Mahan, S. H. Myers, Moses Shinn, W. B. Stone, the M. E. Church, J. S. Rand. The lots sold at from $10 to $76 a piece. The Methodist church and the pastor, Rev. J. S. Rand, paid $10 a piece for theirs. S. M. Tucker bought the first lot at $50.00 and built the first house in the then new county seat, which house still stands. It is a small frame building on the South side of the public square. The lots were sold and the money handled by the county judge. O. O. Turner cried the sale, for which he was paid $5.00. Within the ten years, from 1856 to 1866, Lewis grew to be a flourishing town. Two daily stage lines centered and connected there, one from Oskaloosa, the other from Des Moines during a number of those years, and the place was one of importance. After the commissioners located the county seat, Amos F. Vaughan, hied himself to Council Bluffs and entered the land on which the town was to be located, expecting to make a good speculation out of it, but he had to give the title up to the county, by simply getting his money back again. Mr. Vaughan was an old settler and built the farm house west of Lewis where H. B. Rozell now resides. Although the oldest town in the county that now has an existence, Lewis did not incorporate until June 1874. The first town officers elected in July of that year, were as follows: S. M. Stewart, Mayor; C. C. Reynolds, Recorder; L. O. Reinig, Treasurer; Henry Kriger, Marshal. Trustees, W. A. Terry, T. J. Allyn, George Kriger, C. S. Welty, Samuel Disbrow. In the same year Mayor Stewart resigned and removed to Detroit, Michigan and at a special election held October 8th, 1874, L. O. Reinig was chosen to fill the vacancy. The present town government is comprised as follows: C. W. Baker, Mayor; C. C. Reynolds, Recorder; R. C. Kennedy, Treasurer; T. J. Allyn, Marshal; Trustees: W. A. Terry, N. N. Jones, James H. Coe, Dr. L. M. Andrews, L. O. Reinig. The town officers are chosen without regard to politics, which is also true as to the two other incorporated towns in the county, Atlantic and Anita.

From the History of Cass County, Iowa Together With Brief Mention of Old Settlers
by Lafe Young, Atlantic, Iowa:  Telegraph Steam Printing House, 1877, pp. 26-29.
Transcribed for Cass County by Cheryl Siebrass, August 2013.

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