|Muscatine County, Iowa|
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
31 May 1940
Section 3 - Page 15 & 16, Submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, May 4, 2012
Housed County Records
Photo of Building
Muscatine countys second courthouse, as it appeared 74 years ago, is pictured above. The building is shown here as it was rebuilt after a fire the night of Dec. 16, 1864 had practically destroyed Muscatine countys original courthouse. The age of the present trees on the courthouse lawn may be estimated by comparing them with the trees which appear in this view. This building subsequently gave way to the present courthouse, the contract for which was awarded by the board of supervisors Sept. 26, 1907.
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Agencies Have Varied Early Transactions Of Commissioners,
Court Hold Interest
During the 103 years of its organized existence, Muscatine countys governmental administration has been in the hands of five different types of governing agencies. No change has been made in the past 43 years, however, during which time the present five man board of supervisors has continued to function.
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The eras of the other types of governmental set-ups are shown in the following table:
1837 Commissioners court of three members.
1851 County judge system.
1861 Board of township supervisors.
1871 Three-member county board of supervisors.
1897 Five-member board of supervisors.
The first election held in the county following its organization was in the spring of 1837 when Arthur Washburn and Edward Fay were chosen as commissioners. It is possible that a third commissioner was also named, but available records fail to disclose his name.
S. Clinton Hastings was elected clerk of the commissioners court; James Davis, sheriff; John G. Coleman and Silas Lathrop, justices of peace; and Samuel Shortridge, S. C. Hastings and James R. Struthers, assessors of the county.
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The first session of the court was held in a room furnished by Samuel Parker, presumable at his home. Personnel of the court had changed by the following year when the second session was held on Feb. 17, 1838. Members at that time were John Vanater, Err Thornton and Aaron Usher. Mr. Vanater (the name is sometimes spelled Vanatta in historical records, although his own signature reveals it to be Vanater) continued to hold office as a member of the court for seven years.
It was in 1839 that the board provided for a county jail, and later in the same year proposals for the building of a court house were ordered printed in the Bloomington Territorial Gazette.
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Faced with the problem of relief almost from the start, the county commissioners court levied a tax of two mills for the purpose of purchasing and establishing a poor farm, in July, 1848.
Jurisdiction of the commissioners court was almost without limitation, and this system continued in operation until 1851 when as a result of considerable criticism from counties throughout the state, the county court system was substituted.
This court was given equal power to that of its predecessor in all business matters of the county, and had coordinate jurisdiction with justice courts.
The first person who served as county judge in Muscatine county was Arthur Washburn who was elected in 1851. He served until 1856 when he was succeeded by George Meason who was replaced in 1857 by Edward H. Thayer.
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But the county judge set-up proved far from satisfactory, and after 10 years trial it was discarded in favor of a supervisor plan the forerunner of the present board of supervisors. Many of the early taxpayers claimed that the judge of the court had entirely too much power and that the general interests of the community were continually in peril because of the vast authority vested in one man. Under the first supervisors plan inaugurated in 1861, each township had one representative as a member of the board.
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Members of the first board were John B. Dougherty, Evans B. Burgan, Elijah Younkin, Silas Ferry, Joseph Crane, Vernet Tracy, Michael Price, John Ziegler, John R. Merritt, R. H. Patterson, J. E. Robb, Henry Resley, Andrew Heberling and William C. Evans.
Apparently the township plan proved too unwieldy for effective governmental action, for in 1870 we find that the system was again changed by the state legislature which passed an act making it optional with the people whether they were to elect a three or five man board.
Muscatine county originally chose to have the smaller unit, and retained the three-member board until 1897 when the change was made to the present five-member set-up. Members of the first three-man board elected in 1871 were William Stewart, Byron Carpenter and James E. Robb.
The proposal to change from three to five members was first put to a vote in the fall election of 1894, but no action was taken on the matter at that time because of the very light vote cast which favored retention of the old plan. The following year the proposal was again submitted at an election and this time it passed by a slight majority.
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As a result, in 1897 three candidates were elected to fill the new quota of the board, and these then upon the first organization meeting of the board drew straws to determine which would receive the long and the short terms.
H. M.Zeidler and M. Bernick secured the three year terms, and J. I. Nichols the two-year tenure. The two hold-over members at that time were Ira Hendrix and S. M. Hoskins.
Many and complex were the various problems which confronted the members of Muscatine countys governing agencies during those early and trying days. They had no precedent to guide them, and the rapid growth of the new community continually presented new questions and issues, the decision of which rested in their hands. An idea of the matters which came before the original commissioners court can be gathered from a few motions picked at random from early minute
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County Operated Under 5 Types of Government
books still on record at the court house here:
Sept. 3, 1841.
The board of commissioners pursuant to adjournment, present a full board when they proceeded to the business for which they convened and first offered the job of cleaning the court house square at public outcry to the lowest bidder which was taken by H. Musgrave at $200 in orders on the county treasury.
Then the board pursuant to notice opened the sealed proposals for building a bridge across Pine river near its mouth. Two proposals only were presented, the one by St. Ores and the other by Eep Norton whose bid was accepted which was as follows: They will build the said bridge as specified for $545 to be paid as follows, $205 in individual subscription and the balance of $340 on the treasury of Muscatine county.
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D. L. Smith was employed by the board to superintend the repair of the jail and authorized to repair it in such manner as may make it secure.
Sept. 4, 1841.
George Baumgartner, late surveyor of the county, presented to the board the field notes of six trips which he requested the board to purchase, and they ordered that he be allowed $5 for each trip six in all, $30.
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Benj. Covall be allowed $19.50 for medical attendance, nursing and keeping a strange pauper by name of Phillips as for bill filed.
Oct. 5, 1841.
Henry Reece, esq., this morning presented to the board his resignation of the offices of judge of probate and justice of peace, whereupon it is ordered by this board that the clerk issue notice according to law for a special election to fill said vacancy, to be held Saturday, Oct. 30, 1841.
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R. P. Lowe be allowed $150 for six months services in the forepart of the year 1841 a prosecutor for the county.
Oct. 28, 1841.
Ordered by the board that Theo S. Parvin be appointed overseer of the poor for Muscatine county and that applications for relief be made to him in the future. It was also ordered that the clerk give notice that the board will contract with the lowest bidder on Saturday, Nov. 6, next, for a physician to take charge of the poor of Muscatine county.
Nov. 17, 1841.
A reward of $1 be paid by the county to any person who shall kill any wolf over six months within said county after the date of this order.
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In Service Over Span of 100 Years
Following is the personnel of the various boards in whose hands the county government has rested down through the years:
1840 John Vanater, R. Stewart, Benjamin Nye, with Edward Fay, clerk. 1841 John Vanater, William Leffingwell, Benjamin Nye, with Abraham Smalley, clerk. 1842 John Vanater, William Leffingwell, Benjamin Nye, with Abraham Smalley, clerk. 1843 John Vanater, William Leffingwell, Benjamin Nye, with Abraham Smalley, clerk. 1844 John Vanater, Milo Bennett, Charles Neally, with Abraham Smalley, George Earoll and William Leffingwell, clerks. 1845 Milo Bennett, John Ziegler, Charles Neally, with William Leffingwell, clerk. 1846 John Ziegler, Don L. Healy, John A. Miller, with Z. Washburn, clerk. 1847 John Ziegler, Don L. Healy, John A. Miller, with William Leffingwell, acting clerk. 1848 H. H. Garnes, D. L. Healy, William Beard, with N. Hollock, clerk. 1849 H. H. Garnes, D. L. Healy, William Beard, with N. Hollock, clerk. 1850 Amos Lillibridge, H. H. Garnes, William Keyes, with N. Hollock, clerk. 1951 1860 County judges took over the duties of the board of commissioners which was abolished by the legislature. 1861 (County board made up of one member from each township) John B. Dougherty, chairman; Evans F. Burgan, Elijah Younkin, Silas Ferry, Joseph Crane, Vernet Tracy, Michael Price, John Ziegler, John R. Merritt and R. H. Patterson. 1862 John B. Dougherty, chairman; E. F. Burgan, Elijah Younkin, Silas Ferry, Joseph Crane, Vernet Tracy, Michael Price, Marshall Farnsworth, J. E. Robb, William Hoyt, R. H. Patterson, William C. Evans, George W. Hunt and Andrew Heberling. 1863 Joseph Crane, chairman; Thomas M. Isett, E. F. Burgan, R. H. Patterson, John Fullmer, Silas Ferry, A. Heberling, E. Younkin, g. W. Hunt, William C. evans, J. E. Robb, William Hoyt, Vernet Tracy and Marshall Farnsworth. 1864 Joseph Crane, chairman; E. Younkin, Vernet Tracy, George Chase, John Fullmer, M. Farnsworth, R. T.Thompson, Richard Musser, J. E. Robb, William D. Viele, Thomas M. Isett, George W. Hunt, William D. Cone and E. F. Burgan. 1865 R. F. Thompson, chairman; J. D. Walker, William F. Tolles, William D. Velie, M. Farnsworth, George Chase, J. A. Purinton, Michael Price, Wiliam H. Stewart, Richard Musser, A. Cone, William H. Hazlett, George W. Hunt and Thomas Baggs. 1866 James E. Robb, chairman; Stephen Herrick, Nathan Brown, R. F. Thompson, Charles Page, Andrew Dobbs, C. M. McDaniel, William H. Hazlett, J. A. Purinton, A. Cone, M. Price, J. D. Walter, W. H. Stewart and --- 1867 J. E. Robb, chairman; N. Brown, G. Chase, A. Cone, Charles Cope, Andrew Dobbs, W. H. Hazlett, S. Herrick, Charles Page, J. A. Purinton, Jacob Snyder, W. H. Stewart, J. E. Walter, and James A. Eaton. 1868 J. D. Walter, chairman; A. Cone, B. S. Cone, Charles Cope, A. Dodds, J. A. Eaton, E. E. Edwards, Caleb Elliott, W. H. Hazlett, C. C. Horton, George Metz, J. A. Purinton, J. Snyder, and W. H. Stewart. 1869 W. H. Stewart, chairman; C. Cope, J. A. Eaton, E. E. Edwards, C. Elliott, H. S. Griffin, Don Harker, W. H. Hazlett, J. A. Purinton, C. C. Horton, Mathew Porter, Joseph Nelson, J. S. Riggs, and A. Dobbs. 1870 J. A. Parvin, chairman; Byron Carpenter, J. A. Eaton, Daniel Harker, H. S. Griffin, William Fultz, W. H. Hazlett, C. C. Horton, J. Nelson, J. A. Purinton, M. Porter, J. S. Riggs, W. H. Stewart, and Alonzo Shaw. 1871 (change to three-man county board system) William H. Stewart, chairman; Byron Carpenter, and James E. Robb. 1872 Stewart, chairman, Carpenter, and Robb. 1873 A. F. Demorest chairman, Carpenter and Robb. 1874 Demorest, chairman, Carpenter, and Robb. 1875 Demorest, chairman, Thomas Birkett and Robb. 1876 J. E. Robb, chairman, Birkett, and I. L. Graham. 1877 Robb, chairman, A. Cone and Graham. 1878 Graham, chairman, Cone, and Thomas E. Birkett. 1879 Birkett, chairman, Cone and Cornelius Cadle. 1880 Birkett, chairman, Cone and B. H. Garrett. 1881 Birkett, chairman, Cone and Garrett. 1882 Birkett, chairman, Garrett, and W. P. Crawford. 1883 Birkett, chairman, Grarett, and Crawford. 1884 Garrett, chairman, Crawford, and Henry Will. 1885 Garrett, chairman, Frederick Huttig, and Will. 1886 Will, chairman, Huttig, and Harvey Baker. (Huttig resigned Aug. 23, replaced by Charles F. Kessler.) 1887 Ira Nichols, chairman, Baker, and J. K. Scott. 1888 Baker chairman, B. F. Neidig, and Nichols. 1889 Baker, chairman, Neidig and John Hooley. 1890 Baker, chairman, Neidig, and Hooley. 1891 Baker, chairman, Hooley, and Neidig. 1892 Neidig, chairman, Hooley, and Alfred Tunison. 1893 Neidig, chairman, Tunison, and Charles Schulte. 1894 Tunison, chairman, Schulte, and John W. Rice. 1895 Rice, chairman, Schulte and Ira Hendrix. 1896 Rice, chairman, Hendrix, and S. M. Hoskins. 1897 (Change to five-man board voted) Ira Hendrix, chairman, S. M. Hoskins, J. I. Nichols, H. W. Zeidler, and M. Bennick. 1898 Hoskins, chairman, Zeidler, Bennick, Nichols, and Hendrix. 1899 Hendrix, chairman, Zeidler, Bennick, Hoskins, and Nichols 1900 Hendrix, chairman, Nichols, Hoskins, Bennick, and E. P. Day. 1901 Nichols, chairman, Bennick, D. D. Webster, Day, and Hoskins. 1902 Bennick, chairman, Day, Webster, W. H. Fishburn, and R. T. Shannon. 1903 Bennick, chairman, Webster, Fishburn, Shannon and Day. 1904 Bennick, chairman, Day, Webster, Shannon, and Fishburn. 1905 Webster, chairman, Bennik, Day, Fishburn, and Shannon. 1906 Fishburn, chairman, Shannon, A. C. Noble, George J. Long, and M. J. Shellabarger. 1907 Fishburn, chairman, Shannon, Noble, Long, and Shellabarger. 1908 Fishburn, chairman, Shannon, Noble, Long and Shallabarger. 1909 Shannon, chairman, Fishburn, Noble, Long, and Shellabarger. 1910 Shannon, chairman, Fishburn, Noble, Long, and Shellabarger. 1911 Shellabarger, chairman, Noble, long, John W. Flater, and H. B. Phillips. 1912 Flater, chairman, William Daut, Charles Ehrecke, Phillips, and Shellabarger. 1913 Flater, chairman, Daut, Ehrecke, J. D. Buser, and Phillips. 1914 Flater, chairman, Ehrecke, Daut, Buser, and Phillips. 1915 Buser, chairman, A. J. Wood, Joseph Nyehuis, Flater, and Phillips. 1916 Buser, chairman, Flater, Nyenhuis, Phillips, and Wood. 1917 Buser, chairman, Nyenhuis, Wood, W. C. Addleman and A. B. Anderson. 1918 Buser, chairman, Nyenhuis, Wood, Addleman, and Anderson. 1919 Wood, chairman, Anderson, Addleman, Theo. Drake and Nyenhuis. 1920 Wood, hairman, Anderson, Addleman, Drake, and Nyenhuis. 1921 Nyenhuis, chairman, Wood, Addleman, Anderson, and Drake. 1922 Nyenhuis, chairman, Wood, Anderson, Addleman, and Drake. 1923 Nyenhuis, chairman, Wood, Addleman, Drake, and Shellabarger. 1924 Nyenhuis, chairman, Darke, Addleman, M. J. Shellabarger, and F. R. Kaufmann. 1925 Nyenhuis, chairman, Addleman, Drake, Shellabarker, and Kaufmann. 1926 Nyenhuis, chairman, Drake, Kaufmann, L. L. Birkett, and J. Henry Schafer. 1927 Drake, chairman, Kaufmann, Schafer, Birkett, and A. J. Altekruse. 1928 Drkae, chairman, Kaufmann, Schafer, Birkett, and Altekruse. 1929 Drake, chairman, Kaufmann, Schafer, Altekruse, and W. J. Barclay. 1930 Kaufmann, chairman, Drake, Schafer, Altekruse, and Barclay. 1931 Kaufmann, chairman, Schafer, Altekruse, Barclay and George Sauer. 1932 Kaufmann, chairman, Schafer, Sauer, Barclay, and Altekruse. 1933 Schafer, chairman, Sauer, Barclay, J. Herman Mundt, and Fritz Belter. 1934 Schafer, chairman, Sauer, Barclay, Mundt, and Belter. 1935 Schafer, chairman, Barclay, Sauer, Mundt, and Belter. 1936 Barclay, chairman, Schafer, Sauer, Belter, and Frank Wilford. 1937 Barclay , chairman, Schafer, Sauer, Belter, and Wilford. 1938 Sauer, chairman, Wilford, Belter, Evans, and John Foley. 1939 Sauer, chairman, Wilford, Evans, Foley, and J. J. Hoskins. 1940 Sauer, chairman, Wilford, Evans, Foley, and Hoskins.
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Merchant of 1837
Photo of Adam Ogilvie and Mrs. Adam Ogilvie
In the year 1837, Adam Ogilvie, who had gained experience as a merchant at Keith, Bauffshire, Scotland, opened a general store in a log cabin on Water street, the second mercantile house in Bloomington, counting the old trading post as the first. But the log cabin was soon supplanted by a substantial two-story structure, on the same street, with the lower story serving as a business pace and the upper story as a residence. Thirteen years later this building was removed to make way for a brick structure of much greater pretentions.
The mercantile business held Mr. Ogilvies interest throughout his lifetime, but in later years he also dealt some in real estate.
He was born at the manse of Glen-Gerrick, Keith Scotland in January, 1804, and married Isabella Milne, who was born in Scotland in 1808. The wedding took place in New York City on Aug. 9, 1837. Mr. Ogilvie lived until the year 1865 and Mrs. Ogilvie died Dec. 27, 1891.
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Photo of Thos. A. Isett
Banking was the major profession of Thomas M. Isett who in partnership with W. C. Brewster maintained a foreign and domestic exchange office in Muscatine in the middle of the 19th century. The firm made loans on bonds and mortgages, bought and sold land warrants and maintained an exchange on England, Scotland, Ireland, German and all the principal cities in the United States, according to one of the firms business announcements.
Born in Huntingdon county, Pa., in 1808, Mr. Isett came here in 18336 and then moved to New York City in 1865. His death occurred at that place on July 25, 1883.
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On the date of Jan. 25, 1872, Muscatine county was thrown into considerable turmoil with the discovery of a body snatching or graverobbing, case at Wilton. The body was traced to the medical department of the University of Iowa, which at that time paid $30 for bodies for purposes of dissection.
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Photo of Montgomery M. Berkshire
A tailor by trade, with his place of business at 168 Second street and his residence at 59 Second street, Montgomery M. Berkshire was born in Ohio in 1813, came here in 1837 and married Zerilda Palmer, daughter of Capt. James Palmer, here. His wife died in December, 1863, and his death is recorded on May 2, 1884.
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