Home > History Home > 1906 Compendium

 1906 Comp. - County Gov't/Leg.


Ivy Border Divider


In the winter of 1863-4 the General Assembly of the State passed an act separating the duties of treasurer and recorder of the county, which had previously been performed by one official. At that time Isaac Dickerson was holding the dual office, and after the passage of the act chose the treasurership, thus becoming the first incumbent of the position in Cass county. He was a native of Pennsylvania, but passed his boyhood and young manhood in various portions of Iowa before settling in Lewis in 1856. He there engaged in merchandise and served as postmaster from that year until 1861, being the first of that office in Cass county to introduce pigeon holes. For six consecutive years, from 1857, he was county treasurer and recorder, and for two, treasurer, and upon retiring from office opened the first regular real estate business office in Lewis and Cass county. He was one of the proprietors of the town site of Atlantic, served on its Common Council and as its mayor, and was for many years a banker and real estate dealer.

In 1863 T. R. Chapel was chosen chairman of the Board of Supervisors; in 1864, C. S. Newlon; in 1865 and 1866, D. A. Barnett; and James L. Byrd held the chairmanship from 1867 to 1870, inclusive. From the sketch of Mr. Byrd, already given, it will be remembered that he was the first permanent settler of Pymosa township, and that both he and his sons were numbered among the first pioneers of northwestern Cass county.

The years from 1868 to 1870 were fruitful of incidents in the history of Cass county, for during that period the office of county judge was abolished, the county government was placed in the hands of three supervisors-at-large (instead of one for each township), the township organization was completely changed, and the county seat was removed from Lewis to Atlantic.


In the winter of 1868-69, by an act of the General Assembly, the office of county auditor was created in place of the abolished county judgeship. By this act the incumbent of the latter office became an ex-officio county auditor for the unexpired time of his term of office. Luther L. Alexander thereby became the first auditor of Cass county, and served by subsequent election until January 1, 1872. He was of Massachusetts birth, and first came to Cass county from Michigan, in May, 1855. After a short time he moved to New York, where he remained until 1859, when he returned to his farm in what is now Grove township. While in office he resided first at Lewis and then at Atlantic, and after his term as county treasurer had expired opened a grocery store at the county seat, where he remained until his death in December, 1879. Judge Alexander was an excellent business man, an honest and able official and a Christian, useful gentleman.


At the session of the Board of Supervisors held in June, 1869, William Waddell and others came before that body with a petition for the removal of the county seat from Lewis to Atlantic. Mr. Waddell had been a school teacher at Lewis, for a number of years clerk of the district court of the county, and was well known as a brisk and substantial young man. A few months before his appearance before the board he had abandoned Lewis for the rival town, and was now in the employ of Franklin H. Whitney, as a representative of the Atlantic Town Company.

R. G. Phelps, the leader of the remonstrators, was a young Illinois lawyer, who had been a resident of Lewis and Cass county but a few months, and who during the following winter with the removal of the county seat to Atlantic, became a part of the general stampede to the new town. His partner, L. L. DeLano, also accompanied him thither, the law firm of Phelps & DeLano flourishing until 1881. Mr. DeLano died in November, 1905.

The respective claims of Lewis and Atlantic, presented by Messrs. Phelps and Waddell, were referred to a committee of the whole, and the board sitting as such found that of the 841 legal voters of the county, 682 had signed the petition, and therefore resolved that the question should be submitted to the people at the general election on the 12th of October, 1869. On the 20th of that month the supervisors canvassed the votes, declared the town of Atlantic the seat of county government, and, through a committee, accepted block 52 from the Atlantic Town Company, which had been donated for county buildings and grounds. Upon the acceptance of the buildings, which the company agreed to erect within sixty days, the county officers were required to remove thither their offices, and records. This action settled the county seat fight and, with the coming of the railroad, established the position of Atlantic as the leading town of southwestern Iowa between Council Bluffs and Des Moines.


In 1870 the State Legislature passed the law by which the composition of the board was changed from a representation of one supervisor for each township to that of three members chosen at large. The first meeting under the new system was held at the recently constructed court house in Atlantic on the 2nd of January, 1871, the board consisting of William Waddell, W. W. Jameson and A. Teal.

During the previous October, in accordance with a report from the committee on reorganization, the township system had been changed so that the civil divisions should correspond with the Congressional. The seven original township, organized between 1851 and 1858, were Cass, Pymosa, Turkey Grove, Edna, Breckenridge, Lura and Brighton. The sixteen, created Grant, Benton, Franklin, Union, Edna, Noble, Bear Grove, Atlantic, Pymosa, Brighton, Washington, Cass and Pleasant--the enumeration, as above, commencing with the southeasternmost township and running alternately north and south through the four tiers of townships.

Since 1870 the civil government and territorial organization of Cass county has been substantially as at present, and sketches of those concerned in its development, officially or otherwise, will be found in other pages.

"Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pg. 72-74.
Transcribed by Cheryl Siebrass, August, 2018.


Site Terms, Conditions & Disclaimer