Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 3 - Page 15 & 16, Submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, May 4, 2012

Page 15

Housed County Records
Photo of Building

Muscatine county’s 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 county’s 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 county’s 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.

* * *

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 commissioner’s 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.

* * *

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 commissioner’s 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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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 county’s 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 commissioner’s court can be gathered from a few motions picked at random from early minute …

(Continued on Page 16)

Page 16

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.”

    * * *

    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.”

    * * *

    “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.”

    * * *

    “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. Ogilvie’s 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 firm’s 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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