Mills County, Iowa


1881 Mills County History
SOME EARLY LEGAL DOCUMENTS

      The earlier records of this county, like those of most others, are in a most unsatisfactory condition. Deeds and mortgages were little cared for, evidently, and the first business of the county officials, after receiving the instruments and their fees, seemed to be to appropriate the latter and lose the former. Some of them were honest but not capable men, and the manner in which the records of those early days were kept, betray a most criminal ignorance of the nature of the demands the various offices made upon their incumbents. To enter upon a book the title of a deed and the date of its execution was hardly enough in view of the importance of the transaction.

      Years passed after the county was organized, before a proper place and manner were devised for caring for these all important legal documents. When at last it became necessary, as it several times has in the history of this county, to examine the earlier records they were not to be found, and still their whereabouts are unknown. Of the earliest deeds nothing whatever is known, the instruments having long since disappeared, perhaps have been used as a substitute for the tinder box.

      The subject matter of the first mortgages having been lost, there can only be presented to the interested reader the nature of those instruments, together with such information as the recorder who entered them saw fit to add to the entry. The first real estate mortgage was dated November 23, 1851, and filed December 10, 1851. It was executed by W.W. Noyes to Tootle & Fairleigh. The description is as follows:

L.C. in B. 20, 30, 41, 33, 40, 14, 26, 35, 38, 13, 24, 25, 36, 37, in Coonville; also claim south of C; also lot 14 in B. 16.


The next instrument is of similar import, and is called by the recorder a "mortgage deed". This paper was dated November 23, 1851, and filed December 11, 1851. It was executed by W. W. Noyes to J. Beason, the property being thus described:
Se. c. of B. 16, n. 36 ft. w. 3/4 length of lots to street in Coonville, to place of beginning.



Six days after the filing of the above, the following "deed" dated December 16, 1851, was filed. It was executed by W.W. Noyes to A. Ford and is thus described:
Daily claim adjoining C---ville north; also Davenport claim c. 1/2 L. 4, B. 21` L. 4, B.16, Dally's Interest in said town except L. 14, 2, B. 1, L.2, B.3.


The first quit-claim deed is to be found in an old dilapidated book, made of foolscap and ornamented with a paper cover on which is marked in letters large if not attractive, the word "entry." The first part of this interesting document is devoted to the simple record of the deeds made, when and to whom. The latter portion is devoted to a transcript of the original documents, among which appears the following:

Know all men by these presents:

That I, James Hobson of Coonville and state of Iowa, in consideration of the sum of two hundred dollars to me paid by Jesse Painter of Mills county and state of Iowa, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have remise and release and forever quit-claim unto the said Jesse Painter, his heirs and assigns, forever, to the one-half of block No. 33, Lot No. 4, to have and hold the same, together with all the privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging to him, the said Jesse Painter, heirs and assigns forever in witness whereof I set my hand and seal, this 3d day of October, 1851. (SEAL)
JAMES R. HOBSON - L.W. ROGERS
STATE OF IOWA; COUNTY OF MILLS (ss.)
I hereby certify that it has been satisfactorily proven by the statements of L.W. Rogers, that James R. Hobson executed the above deed and for some cause did not acknowledge the same at the time of the execution thereof.
Given under my hand, 23d day of July, 1851.
J. L. Sharp
Prosecuting Attorney and Acting County Judge

The instrument must therefore be acknowledged as the earliest one now appearing on record. It is one of several that seem to have been recorded during the first half of the year, 1852.


The first quit-claim deed now on record in the books of the county appears to have been transcribed from the paper-covered volume above mentioned. A comparison of the two instruments shows the slight errors that are unavoidably made, when legal documents are to be copied. The date of the deed is later than that of the foregoing.

      For the consideration of the sum of five thousand dollars, we, Abraham Hendricks and Russel R. Homer, members of the firm of S Reoundy & Co., and agents for the other members of the said company, hereby sell and convey, and by these presents forever quit-claim unto L.F. Sharp and his assigns, all our right and interest to the town of Bethlyham and the claim thereunto attached, and the rear claim owned by said company situated on the northwest quarter of section thirty-six, the west half of section twenty-five and fractional section twenty in township seventy-two north, and of range forty-four west of the fifth principal meridian, also the claim known as the Old Agency claim, situated upon the west half of section eighteen (18), in township seventy-two north, range forty-three west together with improvements, rights and privileges thereunto belonging, the right of peaceable possession being hereby acknowledged.

Witness our hands and seals, March 26, 1852.
ABRAHAM HENDRICKS, (SEAL)
STATE OF IOWA; MILLS COUNTY. SS.

On the twenty-sixth day of March, A.D. 1852, personally appeared before me Abraham Hendricks and Russel R. Homer, whose names appear to the foregoing quit-clain deed personally known to me to (be) the identical persons who signed the same and acknowledged that they have executed the same purposes therein set forth.
ISAIAH COX,
Justice of the Peace



Among some of the more curious legal documents of the earlier days appears the following, power of attorney, which, for some reason, was deemed of sufficient importance to warrant recording.

Know all men by these presents:

That I, George Mayfield, of the county of Mills, the State of Iowa, have made, constituted and appointed, and do by these presents make, ordain, constitute and appoint Issac Mayfield of the county of Owen, in the State of Indiana, my true and lawful attorney for me, and in my name and for my use ask, demand, sue for, recover and receive all such sums of money, debts, goods, wares and other demands whatsoever, which is or shall be due, owing and payable to me in any manner or by any means whatsoever, and I hereby give my said authority, full power and authority, in and about the premises, to have, use and make all lawful ways and means in my name for the purposes aforesaid, and upon the receipt of such debts, dues or sums of money to make, seal and deliver acquitances and other sufficient discharge for me and in my name, and generally to do and perform in my name other acts and things necessary to be done in and about the premises as fully and amply to all intents and purposes as I myself could or might do if personally present. And attorneys, one or more under him, for the purpose aforesaid, to make and constitute and again and at pleasure to revoke, and I hereby ratify and confirm all and whatsoever my said authority, shall lawfully do in my name, in and about the premises, by virtue of these presents.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fifty day of December, in the year of our Lord, 1952.

GEORGE MAYFIELD (SEAL)
Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of
WILLIAM J. MAYFIELD
JOSEPH RAWLES
STATE OF IOWA, MILLS COUNTY ss.

Be it remembered that the within named George Mayfield, came this day and personally appeared before me the undersigned clerk of the district court of the county aforesaid, and acknowledged that he did sign, seal and deliver the within power of attorney as his act and deed, for the purposes therein specified.

Given under my hand and the seal of said court at office, in the town of Coonville in the county aforesaid, this the seventh day of September, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and fifty-two.

WILLIAM A. SCOTT
C.D.C. Mills County, Iowa
By SOLOMON J. SCOTT D.C



Perhaps the following may fairly be considered as among the most unique documents preserved in this quaint old book.
NOTICE:
All persons interested are hereby notified that I, Ann McCabe, of the county of Mills county, and State of Iowa, wife of James B. McCabe, of the same county, do hereby claim as my own separate personal property, the following described articles and securities, to-wit: The house in the town of Coonville, in Mills County, Iowa, known as the Hillman house, one bay mare, one sorel colt, one pided cow, one bureau and press, one table, one stand, six chairs, one stove, two bedsteads, two feather beds with the bedding thereto attached, including all the bedding now used in the house of the said James B. McCabe, one clock, one Looking Glass alot of pictures. The Cup board ware in use about the House one note of hand dated 25th December 1853 on Edward Crouch calling for fifty-nine dollars and that I intend holding said property above from the debts of my husband.

Coonville, Mills County, Iowa,
Sept. 15, 1852.

ANNA MCCABE



The first mortgage of real estate entered on the county records bears date of April 16, 1853, and is as follows:
This indenture, made this sixteenth day of April, A.D. 1853, between Joseph H. D. Street and Ementy Ann, his wife, of the county of Wapello, and State of Iowa, of the first part, and Achilles Rogers, School Fund Commissioner for the county of Mills, in the State of Iowa, of the second part, witnesseth that the said party of the first part, for, and in consideration of the sum of one hundred (100) dollars to him in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, has granted, bargained, sold and conveyed, and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell and convey unto the said party of the second part, and to his successors in office, the following described tract or parcel of land situated in the county and state aforesaid, (to-wit;)

The north half of the southeast quarter of section sixteen (16) in township seventy-two (72) north, and range forty-two west, from the fifth principal meridian, to have and to hold the land aforesaid, together will all the singular the improvements, privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining to him, the said party of the second part, and to his successors in office forever, subject nevertheless to the following express reservations and conditions, (to-wit): Wheras, the said party of the first part have borrowed of the said party of the second part the above sum of one hundred dollars, payable on the 1st day of January, 1854, with interest thereon at the rate of ten per centum per annum, payable the first day of January next, and annually thereafter until paid, for which said sum, with interest as aforesaid, the said Joseph H.D. Street and wife have given their obligation bearing same date herewith.

Now, if the said party of the first part shall well and truly pay to the said Achilles Rogers, School Fund, Commissioner as aforesaid, or to his successors in office, the said sum of money, with the interest accrued thereon as aforesaid, then this conveyance shall be utterly null and void, but if default shall be made in the payment of said sums of money, principal or interest or either of them, the party of the second part may proceed by foreclosure, or in any lawful mode to make the amount due, together with costs, including collection fee, out of the aforesaid real estate.

In testimony whereof the said Joseph H.D. Street and Ementy Ann, his wife, hereby relinquishing her dower in the real estate herein mentioned, subject to the above reservations and conditions, have hereunto set their hands and seals the first date above written.

JOSEPH H.D. STREET (L.S.)
EMENTY A. STREET
Executed in the presence of
BOLA WHITE,

WILLIAM SNUFFIN

STATE OF IOWA, MILLS COUNTY ss.

Before me, William Snuffin, justice on the peace in and for the county and state afore-said, or of Iowa, personally appeared the above Joseph H.N. Street and his wife, personally known to me to be the persons whose names are subscribed to the aforesaid deed parties, and acknowledged the signing and sealing of the above conveyance to be their voluntary act and deed, and the said being acquainted with the contents of the above conveyance acknowledged on an examination apart from her husband that she executed the same and relinquished her dower in the real estate therein mentioned, free, by and without compulsion or undue influence of the said husband, this 16th day of April, A.D.,
WILLIAM SNUFFIN,
Justice of the Peace


I, Achilles Rogers, mortgagee on the foregoing mortgage, hereby acknowledged payment and full satisfaction of said mortgage this 26th day of December, A.D., 1854.
ACHILLES ROGERS
School Fund Commissioner of Mills County


On the same day this first mortgage of real estate was recorded appears the first warantee deed, of which the following is an exact transcript.
This indenture, made and entered into this 16th day of April, A.D., 1853, by and between Daniel Herreford and Elizabeth his wife, of the county of Mills and state of Iowa, of the first part, and Peter A. Sarpy of the county of Mills and state of Iowa, of the second part, witnesseth, that the said party of the first, for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred dollars in hand paid the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged as having been paid by the said party of the second part. Do hereby sell, convey Alien and confirm unto the party of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever, the following described real estate, to-wit: The south half of the southeast quarter of section twenty-five, in township seventy-three north of range forty-four west, to have and to hold, the foregoing described premises, with the appurtenances, unto the said party of the second part, and to his heirs and assigns forever, and the said party of the first part, the foregoing premises unto the said party of the second part will forever warrant and defend, against the claim or claims of all or any person, whomsoever, claiming by, through, or under me, the said party of the first part, my heirs and assigns forever. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this sixteenth day of April, A.D., 1853.

(SEAL)
DANIEL HEREFORD
ELIZABETH HEREFORD

Signed, sealed and delivered in presence of W.R. English

STATE OF IOWA, MILLS COUNTY ss. Personally appeared before me, H.P. Bennett, the undersigned acting county judge of said county, Daniel Hereford and Elizabeth Hereford his wife, who are to me personally known to be the persons described in, and who executed the foregoing instrument of writing, and acknowledged the same to be their free act and deed for the uses and purposes therein expressed. And the said Elizabeth Hereford having been examined separately and apart from her said husband, and the contents of said deed having been made known to her by me, did acknowledge that she executed the same voluntarily and freely, and relinquished her dower to the premises therein conveyed, without the fear of compulsion of her said husband.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this sixteenth day of April A.D., 1853.



FIRST RECORDED CHATTEL MORTGAGE

For the purpose of securing to C.C. Stringfield the payment of one hundred and forty, forty-six one hundredths dollars, on the first day of February, A.D. 1859, and for the consideration of one dollar to me in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged I, Susan Anthony, hereby sell and convey to C.C. Stringfield the following described personal property, to-wit: one two horse wagon; also one bay horse, eight years old; also two brown cows; color, one white-speckled and the other dark red; and four calves. Now, the said sum of money to-wit: one hundred and forty and forty-six one hundredths dollars so secured, is not paid to the said C.C. Stringfield, of Mills County, Iowa, on or before the said first day of February, A.D. 1857, I.S. Anthony hereby authorize the said C.C. Stringfield to take possession of said personal property above described, and sell the same for cash in hand to the highest bidders, first giving ten days notice of the time, ---place of sales and of the property to be sold by posting up three written notices thereof is the more conspicuous places of the township of Glenwood, and State of Iowa, and pay himself the said sum of one hundred and forty and forty-six one hundredths dollars, so secured with the costs of sale, and to hold the remainder subject to my orders.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this eighty day of October 1858.

SUSAN ANTHONY, Her Mark X

State of Iowa,
MILLS COUNTY ss.

Be it remembered that on this the eighth day of October, A.D. 1858, personally appeared before me, a justice of Silver Creek township, Mills County, Iowa, the above named Susan Anthony, personally known to me to be the identical person whose name is subscribed to the foregoing chattel mortgage, and acknowledged the same to be her act and deed for the purposes therein mentioned.

S.H. STRINGFIELD,

Justice of the Peace



Though the reader may be wearied with these quaint old documents since they throw so much light on the legal business and habits of the early settlers, it is deemed best to add a few more of the various nature. It is not the object to hold the authors up to ridicule, but to simply quote these documents as interesting relics of a time long since gone, and as indices to the legal talent of the various authors. They are given without remark.

CERTIFICATE OF QUALIFICATION

This is to certify the Jefson Marton was swore in to office as cool detcr (school director) this September the 25th day, A.D. 1852.

ISAIAH COX

Justice of the Peace



This day personally appeared before me, a justice of the peace in and for the county of Mills and State of Iowa, Lucas Tarpning of said county and state aforesaid and being after having been first duly sworn by me, deposeth and saith, that on the twenty-third day of October, 1854, there came an estray horse to his house in Rawles township and county aforesaid, which he took up, and he further saith that the marks or brands have not been altered by him or any other person to his knowledge, either before or after the same was taken up.

LUCAS TARPNING (SEAL)

Sworn and subscribed to before me the undersigned justice of the peace, this the 31st day of October, 1854.

WILLIAM KESTERSON,

Justice of the Peace.

On the reverse to this document appear the following:
We the apprasors, who was duly sworn to apprise an estray horse taken up by Lucas Tarpning, living in Rawles township, Mills County, Iowa, the said horse is a black when shed off is fifteen and a half hands high, supposed to be six years old last spring, which, with both hind feet white half way to the back, and his right fore foot white to the paster joint, a star in his forehead with a tip on the nose and a white spot on the left side of his flank, with a few white hairs on his back, supposed to have been done by a saddle; also his ankles are larger and has the appearance of being interfeared with his feet; appraised to ninety dollars.

Given under our hands and seals, this, the thirty-first day of October, A.D. 1854

(SEAL)

GEORGE W. TRAITH
HIRAM KIETH
U.O. BURRELL EGGLESTON
Appraisors
Thereby certify that the foregoing is a correct transcript of the appraisment, this the 31st day of October, 1854.

WILLIAM KESTERSON,

Justice of the Peace




SCALP BOUNTY CERTIFICATE

STATE OF IOWA, MILLS COUNTY ss.



This day personally appeared Adam Campbell and made oath before Zachariah Buckingham, a justice of the peace for Lyons township, in Mills County, State of Iowa, and produced the scelp of a wild cat, and also the scelp of a woolf that he cild, the wild cat and the woolf in the bounds of Mills County, and in the limatation of ten days he is entitled to one dollar and fifty cents for each scelp out of the county treasury.

Given under my hand this the twenty-eight day of November, 1859.

ZACHARIAH BUCKINGHAM,

Justice of the peace



FIRST RECORDED WILL

Last will and testament of Nels S. Nelson, deceased, of Mills County, State of Iowa. I, Nels S. Nelson, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, and being desirous of selling my worldly affairs while I have strength and capacity to do so, do make and publish this, my last will and testament; that is to say, first I hereby make and appoint my beloved wife, Ingen Nelson, my sole executrix and administratix, to pay all my funeral expenses and just debts as soon after decrease as practicable out of the first moneys that shall come into her hands from any portion of my estate, real or personal; second, I give devise, and bequeath unto my wife as aforesaid, all my real estate situated in the county of Mills, and State of Iowa, to-wit: The east half (1/2) of the northwest quarter (1/4) of section number twenty-one(21), in township number seventy-three (73), north of range forty three (43) west, containing eighty acres, and also the west 1/2 of the northwest quarter (1/4) of section number twenty-three(23), in township seventy-three (73), north of range forty three (43) west, containing eighty acres; and also the northwest quarter (1/4) of the north-west quarter (1/4) of section number twenty-two (22), in township seventy-three (73), north of range forty-three west, containing forty acres; and also the east half (1/2) and the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter (1/4) of section number twenty-two (22), in township seventy-three (73), north of range forty-three west, containing one hundred and twenty acres. Second, I give, devise and bequeath to my wife Ingen as aforesaid, all the household furniture in my dwelling house, and also the dwelling house, also all my personal property, consisting of four head of horses, seven head of cattle, six head of sheep, and twelve hogs. Third, it is my intention and wish that the above grants, gifts and bequests to my wife, Ingen Nelson, shall be and remain as above written; that she, my wife, as aforesaid, shall have full control of all my estate, both real and personal, to have and to hold the same to her, her heirs and assigns forever, upon the following conditions. That is to say that she remain a widow and does not again contract matrimony, and in case she, my wife, Ingen, as aforesaid, should again contract matrimony, then the foregoing bequests to her are to be changed and altered as follows, to-wit: At the time of, or in the event of such marriage of my wife, as aforesaid, it is my wish and command that my remaining estate, both real and personal, be duly and fairly appraised by two or more disinterested persons selected for the purpose and after such appraisement shall have been fully and fairly made by the parties as aforesaid, the whole amount to be equally divided into two parts, one-half, or moiety thereof to be duly paid over by my wife, Ingen, as aforesaid, either in land or money, at her option, unto my brother, Lass Nelson, and in case of his death, to his children for their benefit forever, the remaining half moiety of my estate to be retained by my wife, Ingen, as aforesaid, to have and to hold and to do with according to her pleasure.

In witness whereof I, Nels S. Nelson, the testator, have hereunto set my hand and seal this eighteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-eight.

NELS S. NELSON (SEAL)

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the above named Nels S. Nelson, as his will and testament in the presence of us who have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses thereto in the presence of the said testator and in the presence of each other.

CHARLES GOVE

T.F.E. SAAR,

WM. KEMPTON

STATE OF IOWA, MILLS COUNTY SS.

In the county court of Mills County, setting as a court of probate. Be it remembered that on the fifth day of July, A.D., 1858, William Kempton and Charles Gove, two of the subscribing witnesses to the within and forgoing will, personally came before the said court, and being duly sworn, deposed and stated that they saw the within and foregoing named testator, Nels S. Nelson, sign the within and foregoing instrument of writing, which he published as his last will and testament, and that the said testator was at the time of so doing of sound mind and over the age of twenty-one years, and that they attested the same at the request and in the presence of said testators, which proof was deemed by said court sufficient to establish said will, which was then allowed and ordered to be certified and recorded.

In testimony whereof, I, William Snuffin, clerk of the district court, and ex-officio clerk of the county court, and register of probate of said county, have signed my name and affixed the seal of said court, this 6th day of July, A.D., 1858.

WILLIAM SNUFFIN, Clerk



While business of this nature was being transacted, there was also marrying and giving in marriage. The earliest marriage in the county is not, of course, recorded in the proper document, having occurred before its organization. The earliest recorded marriages are the following:

STATE OF IOWA,
MILLS COUNTY SS.

Jason Haws, of the aforesaid county, of the lawful age, and Sarah Hillman, intend marriage according to law; this is therefore to authorize any legal person to solemuize the aforesaid nuptials and make due return in twenty days from the date of said marriage. It witness whereof, I set my hand and affix the seal of my office, this sixth day of September, A.D., 1851.

WILLIAM SMITH,
County Judge
On the bottom of this license appears the following return:

This is to certify that I did on the seventh day of September, 1851, join in marriage the above named persons at Coonville, as witness my hand.
J.W. COOLIDGE,
Minister of the Gospel
STATE OF IOWA,
MILLS COUNTY SS.



D.T. Bowen, of the aforesaid county, of lawful age, and Mary Sillsby, of lawful age, intend marriage according to law. This is therefore to authorize any legal person to solemnize the aforesaid nuptials, and make due return according to law, from the date of said marriage. It witness whereof, I set my hand and affix my seal of said office, this eighth day of December, 1851.

WILLIAM SMITH,
County Judge (SEAL)
On the reverse is the return as follows:
This may certify that I solemnized the marriage of D.T. Bowen and Mary Sillsbury, this 16th day of December, 1851.
WILLIAM SMITH,
County Judge



Other early recorded marriages are those of:

Jacob J. Crocket and Elmira A. Anson, January 12, 1852; Joseph W. Coolidge, minister of the gospel, officiating.

Henry Fairbanks and Rhoda Ann Davis, February 12, 1852; Joseph W. Coolidge, clergyman, officiating.

Lewis Whitney and Ann J. Benedict, February 12, 1852; J.W. Coolidge, clergyman, officiating.

John Lovell to Elizabeth Smith, March 12, 1852; Jonathan Kerns to Mary Watson, April 1, 1852; John F. Windham to Eliza Rogers, April 1, 1852; A.J. Napier to Milly J. Yuzenburg, April 14, 1852; Abbot Hows to Maria Cox, April 14, 1852; B.T. Homer to Patience Bentley, April 31, 1852; Elijah Allen to Eliza Ann Bickmore, May 3, 1852; and Alexander Kidd to Phidelia Bickmore, May 3, 1852.

In applying for marriage licenses it often became necessary to produce the written consent of the parents to the one or the other of the parties to the intended contract. These "written consents" were in many instances preserved, and present some very interesting reminders of the manner in which business of this nature was then conducted. The two following will, perhaps, best illustrate this feature. The first document bears no date whatever:

Mr. Judge Bennet sir plas let Wm. A. Folden have a marriage license and oblige yours

JAMES FOLDEN



The other one reads as follows;

April 23, 1857

Nelson Rucker our son was born January 29, 1837 which will make him 21 next January as we under stand that he wishes to get married we have nothing against it therefore we

AMBROSE RUCKER
RACHAEL RUCKER
JOHN H. KOHB



Transcribed by Roseanna Zehner and Jennifer Miller; Copyright 2005 All Rights Reserved

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