Fremont County, Iowa

Fremont's Early History

Excerpt from the "Sidney Herald", reprinted in the "Shenandoah World" newspaper
May 5, 1903
Transcribed by Pat O'Dell,

  • Marriage Licenses

  • The first marriage license in Fremont county was issued to Stuart Dixson and Mary Jane Champlin bearing the date of August 28, 1849.
  • Elections

  • The first election in the county was held in April 1849 which resulted as follows:
    • David Jones, Wm. K. McKissick and Isaac Hunsaker, county commissioners;
    • Milton Richards, clerk district court;
    • A.H. Argyle, clerk of county court;
    • David M. English, sheriff;
    • T. L. Buckham, treasurer
    • S.T. Cromwell, inspector of weights and measures.
The election of these officers was almost wholly nonpartisan.

The early courts of the county were held at the store of A. H. Argyle, in Austin, then the county seat about eight miles south of Sidney. The town consisted of less than a half dozen houses, the principal one being the store and residence of Mr. Argyle. In this building the county commissioners met and here the first term of district court was held.

Both of these tribunals, while of great importance were void of all pomp and circumstance and also free from dignity. The commissioners when in session occupied seats upon nail kegs or boxes or upon the counter. Everything was done in order and there were but few if any mistakes made either in legislature or in the execution of law.

But the glory of Austin departed, and the place that once knew it, will know it no more forever, although it was known far and near as the capital of Fremont county. There was a plain road running through the place from east to west and one from north to south, and Argyle operated a ferry across the Nishnabotna, in those days the only one for miles along that stream.

The present county seat was selected May 10, 1851. Dr. Wm. Dewey was appointed by the commissioners to plat the town site, which with the assistance of Henry Way, was finished May 27, 1851, and the sale of lots took place June 30, 1851, the first lot being sold to S. Cromell. (this says Cromell; this is not my typo - Pat)

  • Jurors

  • The first jurors were appointed by the county commissioners February 4, 1850, and composed the following name persons grand jurors:
    • Jacob McKissick
    • Giles Pusman
    • Elliott O'Neal
    • S.C. English
    • Chauncey Cowles
    • T.L. Buckham
    • James Bobbitt
    • John Gordon
    • Benjamin Rector
    • Robert Gordon, Sr.
    • Elijah Frost
    • George Lacey
    • Richard Iler
    • John Hughes
    • David C. Study
    • Wm. Wolfe
    • John Elllis
    • Rufus Peck
    • Wm. Lambert Sr.
    • Robert Quigley
    • Benjamin Bowman
    • Robert Russel
    • George W. Wilkinson
  • Petit jurors:

    • Daniel McKissick
    • Henry Watts
    • M.R. Skidmore
    • James Werk
    • R.C. Gordon
    • C.C. Fugitt
    • John C. Scott
    • Jeff Wade
    • G.B. Redd
    • Wm. M. Lovelady
    • Uriel Simmerman
    • Wm. Donahue
    • Wm. Friend
    • Geo. Friend
    • Wm. Frost
    • Martin Ewel
    • E.B. Gaylord
    • G.T. Jones
    • William Clark
    • Archilles Davis
    • Abraham Creamer
    • G.B. Gaston
    • David Near
    • Eli Slusher
The following incident may be of interest to those who like a variety of thought and refers to a specimen husking party. In early days, labor being plenty but the laborers few, it was customary when a job of considerable magnitude was to be performed, to invite the settlers for miles around to assist in the undertaking. The reader need not be told what a "husking bee" or a "wood-chopping" or a "brush cutting" is even if he has never seen one.*

In November 1852, John Cooper still a resident of Madison township, invited his neighbors, then composing about all of the citizens of the county, to assist him in husking out about 1,000 bushels of corn. By 10 o'clock in the forenoon of the day appointed fully 80 people were on the ground and surrounding the corn pile. To work they went and by evening the task was finished. There was plenty of entertainment for the frollicker and a right jolly time they had.

They devoured a good sized beef and a fat pig, besides other substantials, and washed the meal down with half a barrel of good old mountain dew whiskey, clear and pure as it came from the still, free from fusil oil and from he revenue officers hand likewise. At night a dance was held, and ah! how many were they, with love in their hearts, whiskey in their head and music in their heels the lads and lasses, welted the floor in fine shape. About 40 of the company stayed all night with Mr. Cooper. His cabin was only 14x16 feet in size, but there was plenty of room for all. Ah, those were rare old times. - Sidney Herald

***Note from Pat O'Dell: In 1903, maybe no one needed to be told what a husking bee was, but a hundred years later, there might be some of you who have never taken husk off ear corn.

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