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Mount Pleasant City Council

Meeting Minutes



Mt. Pleasant's city council records contain many interesting accounts. Here is a summary of the proceedings at a meeting. Notice the instructions for digging graves.

At a meeting of the Mayor and Councilmen-elect of the town of Mount Pleasant held at the Court House, on Monday, April 14th, being the second Monday in said month, all said officers being present. Mayor, William Thompson, Councilmen Titus V. Taft, Harpen Riggs, Alvin Saunders and John S. Green. Recorder, Henry H. McMillan. Officials took the oath of office.

An Ordinance:

Be it ordained by the Mayor and Councilmen of the town of Mt. Pleasant that an election shall be held by the qualified voters on Monday, the 28th day of April for the purpose of electing a marshal, assessor and treasurer. And be it further ordained that said officers shall hold office for one year.

This ordinance to take effect and be in force after its publication in either of the two papers published in the town. Passed April 14th, 1851. Milo C. Shaw was elected marshal, John S. Bartruff, treasurer and Chas. M. Snyder, assessor. At the regular meeting of the council, May 5th, 1851, they were sworn in and the council passed an ordinance defining their duties.

Regular meeting June 2nd, 1851, several ordinances were passed, it shall be the duty of any person or person who may extend to exhibit or show any animal, wax work or other figures, rope or wire dancing, circus riding, theatrical performance, sleight of hand shall pay a license of $50.00 per month.

The office of sexton was created, “whose duty shall be to prepare suitable graves for all deceased persons. Shall prepare a grave five feet deep for adults and four feet deep for all persons less than four feet long.” Sexton shall “furnish temporary headstones, keep a record of burials, keep the graves in good order and for compensation shall receive the following fees: for digging graves, attending funeral, filling up grave, furnish temporary stone, $2.50; for setting up permanent stone, $1.00.” Oliver Miller was appointed sexton.

["Mount Pleasant News", Tuesday, September 25, 1934]


Excerpts – Minutes of Mount Pleasant City Council Meetings – 1857

April 30th, 1857.
A petition was presented asking for a road leading southerly from the public square, which at a later meeting was granted.
John F Baker was elected street comm. at $2.00 per day.
A petition of certain people on N Main Street asking that the new plank side walks be laid so as to not injure the trees that have been set out was granted.
Claim of White & Bros of Burlington for City Seal was allowed.

Meeting of June 4th, 1857.
Alderman Lash presented the petition of Col Dewey asking that the citizens of Mt. Pleasant subscribe $50,000.00 stock in the Keokuk, Mt. Pleasant & Muscatine Railroad.
Claim of Samuel McFarland for printing was allowed. Also $50 was allowed [sic] Bradish on his contract for McAdamizing Jeff St.

Meeting June 8th, 1857.
Ordinance for paving around the square was repealed.

Meeting June 18th, 1857.
Street Comm. ordered to construct approaches to county bridge on W Wash St. extension and to improve the extension on W Clay St thru Coles Add. And to employ such persons that are willing to work out their taxes and to obtain money from those that are willing to advance it on their taxes. He was also ordered to remove that portion of VanVosts & Howes building that projected over the sidewalk on Jefferson St. The Marshall was ordered to build a pen in which to lock up all hogs found running at large.

June 22, 1857.
Porter & McDowell addressed the council on the subject of a loan for city improvements. Ald. Arms offered the following resolution: …that it is inconsistent with the city charter to levy a direct tax for the benefit of any RR Co. and therefore can not grant the petition of S.L. Howe and others for the council to submit a proposition to the citizens of MtP. to levy a tax of $50,000.00 for the benefit of the K., MtP. & M. RR Co., Adopted. Ald Lash offered the following resolution which was laid on the table: …that the city take $50,000.00 worth of stock in the K., MtP. & M. RR provided the money be expended within Henry Co.

June 24, 1857.
Council again took up the matter of taking stock in the K., MtP. & M. RR and on motion of Ald. Arms, the council walked out to see the grade staked out by the engineer. On their return the RR committee offered an ordinance … an order for a special election, giving the council authority to subscribe to the capital stock of the RR, and to make a loan for city improvements.

June 30, 1857.
The following men were appointed as night watchmen: Jas. B Lynch, A.G. McCormick, H.J. Penny, Thos. Stockton, Wm. P. McClure.

July 16, 1857.
Ald. Arms offered a res. to increase the city watch to 12 men, four on duty every night and be allowed $1.50 per night. Adopted. The proposition of W.P. Brazelton for a contract with the city for construction of a sewer was referred to the comm. on improvements. Thos. Stockton, Jas. Lynch, Wm. T. McClure, Henry Penny, David Fischer, John Taylor, O.H. Price, O.K. Service, T.T. Tarbot, J.S. Stockton, Edward Dougherty, … Swan were sworn in as night police.

July 20, 1857.
Comm. on sewers declined entering into contract with W.P. Brazelton for the construction of a sewer… “it is inexpedient for the city to construct any sewer until in possession of means to construct a general system of sewers.”

August 15, 1857.
Ald. Arms offered a resolution directing the city treas. to deposit the city funds with the Banking House of Jas. Craig. Adopted.

September 3, 1857.
Street Comm. was instructed to suspend all work on all improvements until the council could find means to pay for what had been done.

October 1, 1857.
J.B. Shaw resigned as city clerk and Theron W. Woolson was elected in his place. Complaint was made of a nuisance in the shape of a slaughter house on S. Main St. by the cemetery, belonging to Ketchum and others. Bill of Hotchkiss & Richardson for sidewalk lumber.

November 5, 1857.
Claim of Allen & Renshaw for a keg of nails, H. Ambler for work on streets and D. E. Elliott for city printing were allowed.

November 21, 1857.
The following names appeared on the city payroll: Wm. Torrent, Sam Holland, Mike Gahen, Tim Nolan, Jerry Sullivan…

1863 - 1883


The following are additional interesting facts concerning early Mt. Pleasant history [taken from City Council Minutes] as given by Mrs. A.M. Van Allen in a paper read recently:

On Feb. 23, 1863,
Dr. Wellington Bird presented a bill of $14.50 for vaccinating 58 persons and J.S. Pennebaker $11.57 for vaccinating 57 persons. M. Robinson $8.00 for nursing sick was allowed $5.

On March 6, 1863,
Dr. John Irwin was allowed $12.75 for vaccinating 51 persons and Dr. E.G. Van Cise $8.00 for vaccinating 32 persons.

Nov. 13, 1865,
An ordinance was passed fixing a license for saloons and eating houses, same not allowed open after 10 P.M.

Jan. 1866,
McClure and McGregor were allowed $12 for burying two persons that died with small pox.

On Jan. 4, 1869,
The width of North Broadway was fixed at 70 feet. The committee reported they were unable to fix the width at 100 feet, as they had hoped to do, as this street passes the college grounds which in time will be improved and will be one of the beauty spots of the city.

Nov. 6, 1871,
Owing to a crime wave, six additional night police were put on.

The first street lights were kerosene lamps on tall poles. Then later A.E. Swift, Neil Swift and Capt. J.D. Felton, husband of our Mrs. Felton, formed a company and started a gas plant where the present plant is located, and on April 13, 1871, an ordinance was presented providing for lighting the city with gas. The company to furnish gas at $5.00 per 1,000 feet until the number of consumers reached 400, then $4.50 per 1,000 feet when the consumers reached 500. The rate for street lamps to be $1.00 less.

June 7, 1875,
The mayor was instructed to hire as many policemen as he deemed necessary to protect the inmates of the Female Seminary and the adjacent citizens from the improper and boisterous conduct of the persons frequenting the beer garden east of the city.

Sept. 3, 1877,
A committee inspected the new sewer around the square, which was completed by the contractor, Chas. Martin. In January of the same year the city engineer was ordered to prepare a plat showing the connections on the new sewer. This was just a storm sewer and it is still in use. It would be of great interest to all of you to visit the new sewer disposal plant south of the park.

January 7, 1878,

Alderman Hampton offered a resolution saying that since the question of licensing saloons had been one of contention and disagreement in the council for some time, that the whole matter should be turned over to the people to decide. Vote stood 320 in favor of saloons, 439 against the license.

July 18, 1878,
A Mr. Cavanee was allowed to let his shooting gallery and ball alley remain open until 11:30 p.m.

August, 1878,
Gas burners were installed on the street posts and one gas meter was installed on a pole in front of the Mayor’s office. The amount registered here was multiplied by the number of poles in use and thus the amount of gas ascertained.

September 2, 1878,
The Mayor was instructed to call a mass meeting of the citizens for the purpose of rendering aid to yellow fever sufferers of the south.

Nov. 4, 1878,
W.S. Shepp was employed to light the street lamps at $25 per month. Street lamps were lighted at half hour after sun down and burned until 10 p.m.

February 3, 1879,

The question of licensing saloons again submitted to people. Result – a majority of 155 against license.

April 7, 1879,
The ladies of the White Ribbon Club asked the council to pass an ordinance prohibiting the sale of ale, wine and beer within two miles of the corporation limits.

June 2, 1879,
A communication from Mrs. E.M. White asking the council to take into consideration the buying of Forest Home cemetery. The just mentioned Mrs. E.M. White lived in what is now the Dr. Farr residence on West Washington street. She was the grandmother of Mae Broadhead, wife of Henry C. Wallace, who served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Harding-Coolidge administration and now Henry A. Wallace, her son, is serving in the same capacity for the Roosevelt administration. I noticed in the paper the other evening that Mrs. Wallace, Jr., was the handsomest lady in the cabinet, so I thought, “Hurrah for Iowa.”

July 7, 1879,
Forest Home cemetery was purchased from Mrs. White for $1,500.

Jan 5, 1880,
Again the licensing of saloons bobs up, this time the votes stood 411 for saloon license, 462 against. You see more and more votes are cast favoring saloon license.

May 1880,
Sixteen new lamp posts were ordered installed.

March 8, 1880,
Presley Saunders purchased the circle in the Old City Cemetery, and it was platted by Mr. Van Allen’s father.

Finally, in the summer of 1880 the ever occurring saloon question comes up again. This time the people wanting the saloon paid election expenses and the saloons were licensed for $600 per year, and they had to put up a bond of $1,000.00.

Nov. 8, 1880,
The college band asked for a donation from the city to buy instruments.

Feb. 14, 1881,
City Physician A.W. McClure, reported an epidemic of small pox in the city.

On Feb. 24, 1881,

The council offered a reward of $500 for the murderer of Chas. Gillis and $100 more to hire a competent detective. This murder occurred on West Monroe street in the house now occupied by Mr. McCabe. One evening Mrs. Felton, who lived across the street, heard two pistol shots, then a man scream, “murder”. She was too frightened at first to go to the door, as she was alone. Again another scream, then another, and she heard voices in the street , so rushed to the door and found out that her neighbor had been murdered. As quickly as they could, a group of men was organized, Mr. Van Allen’s father among them. They searched the town for the assassin, but to no avail. Years and years passed, and Mr. James Gillis, a cousin of our Mr. Gillis, received word that a man near St. Louis wanted to see him in regard to the Charles Gillis murder. Here he found an elderly man, on his death bed, who confessed the murder and said he, by mistake, had killed the wrong man, that the bullets had been intended for the city marshal, a Mr. McClure, who had locked him up with some negroes in the city calaboose.

In March, claims amounting to $276, resulting from the small pox epidemic were allowed. At this same council meeting, the Female Seminary was exempted from taxes.

In May of 1881,

A well was dug on the old cemetery grounds and some hitch racks erected. S. Willeford presented a claim of $50 for the use of his house for small pox patients. The council allowed bills to the amount of $725.00 as a result of the small pox epidemic.

In January of 1882,
The Sanitary Committee was ordered to enforce vaccination throughout the city.

Aug. 7, 1882,
The new council repealed the ordinance covering the saloon license.

Jan. 8, 1883,
The Ladies Library Association asked the council to submit the question to a vote at the next election whether they shall avail themselves of the new law permitting a tax of 1 mill for the support of a free public library. This law was made over 50 years ago. Now we point with pride to our library, and I am sure all our ladies join me in thanking Miss Budde and Miss Van Hon for their patient, efficient and tireless help in the library. As you all know, the library had a very humble beginning, and a meager existence, but through the hard work of a small group of devoted women, in the early years, and later the persistent, untiring work of Mr. Kopp in securing the Carnegie gift, the constant effort of the L. L..A. and the library board, the library has developed into a vital force in this community, and has become an inspiration to, and a delight for, numberless people, who but for its facilities, would be wholly without many of the finer things of life.

[“Mt. Pleasant News”, Tuesday, April 4, 1933, page 4]
Transcribed and contributed by Pat White, Aug 2019, updated Sep 2019.
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