To the readers of local history the chapter relating to the early settlement, the first events and beginning of the history of a Country, is of general interest. Especially is this the case with pioneers themselves; those who have witnessed the changes that have been made; who have seen a trackless wilderness or prairie transformed into a beautiful country, and filled with an enterprising and happy people: He reads here slowly and critically, every word recalling memories of the past, which for a generation have been buried among a host of recollections which now arise before him like a dream. His old associations, deeds, the trials and battle against hunger and cold, while settlers were few and far between and wolves howled about the little log cabin, sending a chill to his heart; and the wind driving the sifting snow through the crevices-all arise now vividly before him. Often it is with pleasure he can recall the recollections, viewing with satisfaction the thought that he lived through it all to see a thrifty and wealthy land, dotted with schoolhouses and churches, and villages and cities.
But again it will be with sadness, that the past is recalled, as thoughts spring up of the dark and painful side of weary days. How a wife, whose virtues, bravery and simplicity will always be remembered, or a child, prattling in its innocence being called from earth to its eternal home, was laid away under the cruel sod in solemn quietude, by the rough and tender hands of hardy pioneers. Time had partially allayed the sting but the wound is now uncovered by the allusion to days gone by, and the cases are not a few, where a tear of bitter sadness will course down the cheek in honor of the memory of those who have departed.
Notwithstanding the many disadvantages, and even sorrows attendant upon the first steps of civilization, and the adversities to be encountered the pioneers led a happy life. The absence of the aristocratic and domineering, power of wealth and position must have been a source of comfort and satisfaction. Merit alone insured equality, and this could not be suppressed by tradition. The brotherhood of man was illustrated in a sincere and practical way, and hospitality, was not considered so much of a christian trait as a duty to humanity.
To learn with any degree of accuracy the first actual settler of a locality that has been settled for a generation is a more difficult task than would be imagined. There is only one rule which can be adopted, and that is to state the arrivals in the order in which they came, giving the date as given by the parties themselves, and let the reader judge for himself. For years past there has been controversy over the question as to who was really the very first settler in Tama county. The historian does not dispute a single claim, but presents the statement of each claimant. The matter was submitted to the General committee appointed by the Old settlers Society for the revision of the history, and they decided that full credence should be given the statements of the settlers themselves. As there was no way of either proving or disproving the claims.
According to the dates given the historian, the first to locate in the territory now comprising Tama county, with a view to secure a permanent home, was the Vandorin party, who came from Henry county, and settled in York township May 21, 1849. The principal part of the little colony was William Riley Vandorin, his wife Rachel and two children. With them came two hired men, James Vandorin and Isaac McKern; Ephraim Whittaker also came with his wife and two children. William Riley Vandorin and his wife's brother, Isaac Smith, came to Tama county in the fall of 1848, and took the claims upon which they afterward settled, and then returned to Henry county, where the family had been left. In Henry county Smith was taken sick, and delayed the party starting until May 9, 1849. When they finally got started, Smith was left to follow in June, as he was still unable to travel. Vandorin had five yoke of cattle, and Whittaker four, and the mud was so bad that often it took the whole drove of nine yoke to pull one of the wagons. They were obliged to leave their breaking plows by the wayside. Vandorin settled upon the place he had selected in section 22, York township, where he had erected a cabin, upon the low lands. In 1851 the hard rains came, flooded the cabin and surroundings, and Vandorin built another one upon the bluffs, where he moved his family and stock. Ephraim Whittaker took a claim south of Irving, in what is now called Salt Creek township, about 5 miles from Vandorin's. He stayed until fall, but thought the country was "too new" for him, and returned to Henry county. The first furrow of land was turned by Vandorin and Whittaker June 3, 1849. The men planted it in pumpkin seed and corn, and nearly a hundred wagon loads of pumpkins. Vandorin's claim was entered away from him in 1854, and he took up another quarter. In 1883 he was living in Coon Rapids, Carroll county, Iowa. In a chapter upon "Reminiscences" will be found an interesting account of the settlement of this party, by Mrs. Rachel Vandorin.
James VANDORIN and Isaac McKERN, who have been mentioned as being hired men, only remained until fall, returning to Henry county. They both took "squatter's claims."
During the fall of the same year, 1849, another party made their appearance and became citizen of Tama county. These where the WILKINSONS, consisting of the mother, three brothers, Anthony, Robert, and William, and three sisters, who all settled in township 82, range 13 - now Salt Creek. Their arrival in Tama county was on the 14th day of October, 1849; they came from Coshocton county, Ohio. Anthony and William had been soldiers in the Mexican war and had just received their "land warrants," which they in due time located. The brother Robert purchased land near them in the same township. They immediately commenced building a hewn log cabin on the southwest quarter of section 21, which was then owned by Robert. In the "Reminiscence Chapter" will be found an interesting account of their settlement by Anthony Wilkinson. Anthony and William still live in Salt Creek township, the oldest living settlers in Tama county.
Anthony WILKINSON was born in Ireland, July 28, 1817. At the age of fourteen he came with his parent to America, spending the first three years clerking in a store in Prince George county, Maryland, after which he joined his parents in Ohio, where they had settled on a farm. Shortly after, he commenced work at the carpenter trade and followed that business the greater part of the time until coming to Tama county in 1849, as stated. Here he located land on sections 19 and 20, where he still resides. November, 1850, he married Miss Sarah A. Graham, a native of Ohio. They have a family of seven children - Milton B. Albert A., Lincoln P., Grant, Thomas, Mary A. and Edith. In 1846, Mr. Wilkinson enlisted and served under General Taylor in the Mexican war. After eight months of active service he was taken prisoner by the Mexicans and suffered untold distress and exposure for seven months. After the siege and surrender of the City of Mexico, he was liberated on parole. He now owns a fine farm of 357 acres, but pays special attention to the raising of fine stock. He is highly respected as a man and citizen.
WILLIAM WILKINSON, also a native of Ireland, was born August 3, 1820. When fourteen years of age, he came with his parents to America, and located on a farm in Ohio, where he remained until 1847, when he enlisted and went with General Scott to Mexico, participating in the Mexican war. He served eighteen months and on receiving his discharge, returned to Ohio. In 1849, he came to Iowa, finally locating in Salt Creek township, Tama county, on section 21, where he has since made his home. In 1852, he married Miss Sarah Hollepeter, of Ohio. They have had a family of twelve children - Theressie J., Harriet I., Francis E., Charles A., William E., (dead) Josiah A., Martha E., Harry O., Robbie (deceased) Kate A., Mabel E., and Reeba A. He has a large farm and is highly respected as a citizen.
The next to arrive in Tama county with a view to securing a home, was ISAAC ASHER, who passed through the fertile territory of the Iowa Valley, during the year 1847. In his meanderings he finally arrived near the present site of Indiantown, just over the line in Marshall county, on the 18th day of May of that year, and made a temporary settlement. Isaac Asher was a native of Tennessee, but when a young lad, removed to Shelby county, Indiana, where in 1823 he was married to Martha Greer. In 1845, with his wife and family of nine children, he started for the great west, and on the last day of the year named, they crossed the Mississippi river at Burlington. Here they remained for eighteen months when they again pushed westward, and on the 18th of May, 1847, halted just over the line, in Marshall county, as stated. Here on June 13, 1848, Elkanah Asher was born - the first birth in that county. The family remained upon that place until November, 1849, Mr. Asher often traversing many parts of Tama county in quest of game. At the time mentioned - in November, 1849, he moved his family into Tama county and located on section six, of what now comprises Indian Village township. A few years later he removed to section eight, in the same township where he remained until the time of his death, which occurred in 1860. His widow still occupies the homestead.
This comprised all the arrivals up to the year 1850. Many had in the meantime came this far west and then turned back disheartened and discouraged by the newness of things, and some even had pushed on westward in hopes of coming to some more beautiful spot, but they were merely transients, whose names if they were learned at all, have long been forgotten.
At this time the law favored "squatters claims" and some of these roving, restless pioneers, would, while passing through, drive a stake, on which were carved their initials. Markets were far from them, traveling tedious and hard, and when a trip was made, a good deal of study was had so as to be sure and get all that was required for the next six months. Between the different settlements there was little or no communication, and, in fact, for several years after the time they were made in 1849, to one, the other was hardly known to exist. The Vandorins, on Salt Creek, in what is now York township; the Wilkinsons on the Iowa river, in what is now Salt Creek township, and the Ashers in the western part of the county, for several years never once heard of each other, and lived in almost seclusion, having only the society of themselves, and the transients who chanced to pass through. A little garden truck and some corn was raised, but they mostly lived upon what game they procured, and fared sumptuously, for game was plenty and a good share of the time was spent in hunting.
During the year 1850, a few actual settlers moved in, although a number of those who afterwards came and located permanently came and secured claims there. Many passed through, along the Iowa river, which was a thoroughfare for emigrant travel, and many of these stopped for a short time.
Rezin A. REDMAN came in the fall of 1850, brought a load of goods and put up a shanty. He then left William Boaz with the stock and returned to Indiana.
W. L. BRANNAN and family, SAMUEL J. MURPHY and family, JAMES UMBARGER and family came in the fall of this year but only remained a few weeks.
ROBERT ARBUTHNOT came early in 1850 and settled in Salt Creek township.
In 1851, the southern part of the county received a number of settlers, among whom where Rezin A. Redman, William BLODGETT, the CARTERS, Eli CHASE, Anthony BRICKER, Levi and D. D. APPELGATE, Newell BLODGETT, William TAYLOR, Eli and John DAILY, John DOOLY and Mr. WARNER.
Rezin A. REDMAN, who is first mentioned was a well-known early settler. He came from Jackson county Indiana, making his first trip to Tama county in the fall of 1849, with J. C. VERMILYA, and locating land warrants in timber land, in what is now Tama township. In the fall of 1851 he moved his family to his new home, and remained for several years. He was a tailor by trade, but desired to go into the mercantile business. When he left Tama county he went to Marengo and opened a general merchandise store; was not very successful, as he was visionary, his notions too high flown and extravagant, and he soon failed. It is said that Redman erected the first cabin in Tama county north of the Iowa River.
William BLODGETT came from Jackson county, Indiana, from whence came a number of the early settlers of Tama county. He came west in 1851, and on the 1st day of August of that year, settled upon a claim where Tama City now is. He is a brother-in-law of Judge J. C. VERMILYA and is still living near his original claim.
Eli CHASE settled with his family in what is now Columbia township in March 1851.
Early in the spring of 1851, Anthony BRICKER, and family and Levi Appelgate, came from Indiana. Appelgate settled in what is now Carlton township, while Bricker crossed the line and settled in Marshall county for a few months when he moved into Tama county. Here he remained for a number of years, and now after having made his home in several states, lives in Idaho Territory. Levi Appelgate divides his time between Tama county and Nebraska.
David D. APPLEGATE came in the fall of 1851, and made his home with his brother Levi. He still lives in Toledo, has served the county many years in an official capacity and is now engaged in the practice of law.
Newell BLODGETT came during the summer of this year and located in Indian Village township, where he still remains.
William TAYLOR located at Indiantown in May, 1851, and still lives in the same township. He is a native of Ohio, but came to Iowa directly from Illinois.
Eli DAILY came with his family from Jackson county, Indiana, in the summer of 1851, and located near Indiantown, where he opened a farm and remained until the time of his death, in 1860. He had been one of the associate Judges of the county from whence he came and was a man of worth and intelligence; a quiet, good citizen and an honest man.
John DOOLEY came at about the same time, from Jackson county, Indiana and settled near Daily with his family. He only remained a few years. He is spoken of as a plain, good, sociable and honest man.
The man WARNER was a German, who settled near Indiantown in 1851 but not much is remembered of him.
By this time the southern part of the county contained quite a settlement, but there was still room for more, and arrivals with a view of settling were received with cordiality. The year 1852 witnessed many additions, among the new settlers being CHRISTIAN and David F. BRUNER, J. C. VERMILYA, J. H. HOLLEN, W. T. HOLLEN, the MORRISON family, William POTTS, Thomas EVERETT, widow CROSKREY and sons, William H. WESLEY, John, Joseph and Jacob and one girl, Mr. BEABOUT, Peter OVERMIRE, William SCHAMMERHORN, B. W. WILSON, Thomas SKILES, William CRUTHERS, Washington ABBOTT, J. H. VOORHIES, LANCE, Richard PODMORE, John GOLWITZER, Zebedee RUSH, Isaac BUTLER, Samuel GIGER and family.
Christian BRUNER and his son David F. BRUNER and their families came to Tama county from Ohio in 1852, the former arriving in the summer and the latter in the fall, and making permanent settlements. Both had been here in the fall of the previous year. Christian settled in Howard township where he erected the first sawmill in the county; was largely interested in the platting of Monticello, and was otherwise a prominent man in early times. David F. Bruner settled in Toledo township, where he still lives. He was the first treasurer and recorder of the county elected, and in the chapter upon "Representation" a sketch of his life will be found.
In March, 1852, J. C. VERMILYA came with his family and located in what is now Tama township, where he still lives. He was the first judge of Tama county after organization, and is noticed at length in the chapter upon "Representation."
On the 27th of April 1852, J. H. HOLLEN and family and W. T. HOLLEN, from Jackson county, Indiana, landed in Tama county, settling where Tama city now rests. They are still residents of the same township, and have taken an active and prominent part in the development of the county. J. H. HOLLEN was one of the first Justices of the Peace in the county.
The MORRISON family consisted of the old gentleman, William Morrison, his wife and two sons, George and Henry, together with a son-in-law, William Potts, also came in this year. They had taken claims and done breaking here in the fall of 1851, and in the spring of 1852 moved in, the Morrisons settling in Columbia township, and Potts in Richland, although at that time there were no township divisions. The old gentleman and wife are dead and buried there on the old homestead. George was a married man; he remained until 1871, when he removed to Missouri, where he has since died. George was quite a prominent man in early days, was one of the first Justices of the Peace in the county, was postmaster of Ola Post-office in 1853, and was a man of fair ability. His great fault was, that he was too good natured for his own good; being a man of strict integrity and too inclined to think all men like himself. Henry Morrison remained here until 1871, when he went to Kansas, where he still lives. He was an easy going, clever and genial man. William Potts died at an early day.
Thomas EVERETT came to Tama county, with his family from Ohio, in the fall of 1852, and settled in the territory which now comprises Columbia township. He remained there until the time of his death, which occurred a number of years ago. His family still live on the farm. He was a large, heavy man, a first rate farmer and had accumulated a large property before his death. Thomas EVERETT had been a soldier in the war of 1812, and participated in the battle of Lundy's Lane, under General Scott. He very much resembled General Scott.
Widow CROSKREY and her sons, William H., Wesley, John, Joseph, and Jacob, and one daughter, settled in township 82, range 15, in the fall of 1852. Mrs. Croskrey died there and the sons are still living in the county. The daughter married Geo. W. LOUTHAN, and now lives in O'Brien county.
Mr. BEABOUT settled in Salt Creek township in 1852 with his family. Not much is remembered of him more than that he was a native of Tennessee and left this county years ago.
Peter OVERMIRE came to Tama county in the spring of 1852, and located in Toledo township. He was a native of Ohio, born in Perry county of that State, February 1, 1814. He is a son of Jacob and Mary (Guima) Overmire, who emigrated to Ohio in 1810, being among the early settlers of Perry county. Here Peter grew to manhood, receiving an education in a log cabin. When eighteen years of age, he went to Sandusky county, where he became acquainted with and married Miss Elizabeth Hill on June 24, 1838. Five children blessed this union - Eve, John. F., Levi W., Silas and Mary C. Mr. Overmire left Ohio, went to Indiana, and in the summer of 1851, emigrated to Iowa City, where he spent the winter, emigrating in the spring of 1852, to Tama county, and settled on section 6, in Toledo township. About the time of his arrival, there was a heavy snow storm, the snow falling to the depth of eleven inches. Mr. Overmire went to work and soon erected a log cabin, one among the first in the township, here he remained four years, when he removed to the vicinity of Monticello. In the spring of 1860, he moved to his present farm, where he has since resided. His farm consists of eighty acres of land under good cultivation, valued at $40.00 per acre, and twenty acres of timber. Mr. Overmire is a member of the Baptist church and his wife of the Lutheran.
The MYERS brothers came from Indiana and located in Toledo township, Tama county, in June 1852. Noah was the principal factor of the party, his brothers being James, a young man, and Angelo, who was married. Noah was the first school fund commissioner of the county, and a prominent and influential politician in early days. He only remained in the county five or six years. He now lives in Missouri.
B. W. WILSON and Thomas SKILES settled with their families in what is now Salt Creek township, south of the river.
William CRUTHERS settled with his family north of the river, in the same township. He left the county some years ago.
Washington ABBOTT and William MARTIN settled with their families in the western part of the county in 1852.
Samuel GIGER, E. MOLER and R. A. RUNDLE all settled in the county during the year 1852. They are noticed elsewhere in this work.
The northern part of Tama county did not lie in the same path of travel as the southern part. It seems that the valley of the Iowa River was followed by emigrants mostly from Davenport, Muscatine and other points in that direction. Northern Tama laid directly in the path of those coming by way of Dubuque. Thus it was much later in receiving settlers. The Iowa river was an established highway for travel, and in many places 100 miles west of Tama county, there were settlers before any settled in northern Tama, ten miles from the river. The first settlers in the northern part of the county were Norman L. Osborn, David Dean and his two sons, Ira and Lewis, who arrived January 1, 1852. During the summer and fall of that year, the following named made their appearance, and swelled the settlement in that vicinity: Samuel DUNKLE, Mr. SPRINGMEYER, Nelson USHER, Volney CARPENTER, Patrick CASEY, John CONNELLY, Jonas P. WOOD, Joseph and John CONNELL, William D. HITCHNER, Joshua C. and L. E. WOOD, Wesley A. DANIELS, Daniel CONNELL, senior, Robert CONNELL and his sister Margaret, and Otto STORY.
Norman L. OSBORNE came to Tama county in January, 1852, and claimed the southeast quarter of section 26, Buckingham township. After a few months he sold this claim to Mr. Dunkle, and removing to what is now Perry township, entered the northeast quarter of section 10. In 1853 he again sold out to the Taylor brothers, and entered the northwest quarter of the same section, where he broke several acres and built a log house. Two years later he sold to Stephen Klingaman, and sought a new field for speculation. At last accounts he was in Missouri. Mr. Osborn was a good man, of more than ordinary intelligence. He and his family were well liked by his neighbors.
The same year David DEAN and family came and settled on the southwest quarter of section 27, Perry township. His son Ira entered the southeast quarter of section 28, and another son, Lude, settled on the northeast quarter of section 33. They all sold out in 1855, and went west. One of the sons is now at Goldfield, Wright county, where he keeps a grocery store and meat market. The Dean family came from Indiana, and went from her to Wright county some time in 1857 or 1858. They were good neighbors.
Mr. DUNKLE came to the county in 1852, and purchased the farm of Norman L. Osborne, but did not remain long, selling his farm and removing from the county. Another early settler who came in the year 1852, was Patrick CASEY, a native of Ireland. He settled on section 25, Buckingham township. In 1854 he sold his farm and went to Geneseo township, where he lived for a few years, and removed to Kansas. He is not living. Mr. Casey was a full-blooded Irishman, and like all the rest of his race was genial and warm-hearted.
Otto STORY came to Tama county with the Dean family in 1852, and made a claim of section 33, Buckingham township. He did not prove up his claim, but sold in 1854, and went to Wright county.
The same year Mr. SPRINGMEYER came and settled on section 26, Buckingham township, where he remained a short time; then went to Cedar county in this State.
Some time in June of 1852, Jonas P. WOOD, William D. HITCHNER, and Joseph and John CONNELL came together, and settled in what is now known as Perry township.
J. P. WOOD entered 400 acres of land in the northwest quarter of section 4, the north half, of the northwest quarter of section 5, in township 86, range 14; and the southeast quarter of section 3, in township 83, range 15. In October of that year, Mr. Wood returned to Ohio and brought out his family. He still lives here on section 4, Perry township. Two brothers of Mr. Wood, Joshua C. and Lyman E., came with him to Iowa, on his return from Ohio. J. C. now lives on section 33, Buckingham township, and L. E. resides on section 6, Perry. Sketches of them will be found elsewhere.
William HITCHNER, who settled in what is now known as Perry township, committed suicide in 1874. Details of this may be found in the chapter "Miscellaneous."
The CONNELL brother located on the north half of the southwest quarter of section 4, Perry township, and were joined in the fall of that year by their father Daniel Connell, now deceased; their brother, Robert, who died in 1876; and a sister Margaret. Joseph Connell died in September , 1854, while on a trip to Vinton; John Connell now resides in Toledo. Daniel Connell, Jr., came several years later.
W. A. DANIELS, also a settler of 1852, located on the wet half of the southeast quarter of section 33, Buckingham, where he still lives.
Nelson USHER and his son-in-law, Volney Carpenter, came in 1852, the former entering the sough half of the southwest quarter of section 4, and also a part of the northwest quarter of section 9, in Perry township. He sold in 1854, and went west. His son-in-law, Carpenter, followed him and at last accounts were both in Oregon.
This brings the settlement of the whole county up to January, 1853, after which time immigration set in rapidly. It is unnecessary to carry the settlement any further in this chapter, as this subject is treated at length in the history of the various townships, where the most of the pioneers who have here been briefly treated, and those who may have been omitted, will receive due and lengthy notice.
THE COUNTY NAME
Tradition says that the name which Tama county bears, was given in honor or remembrance of the wife of the Indian chief "Poweshiek, " after whom the county joining Tama on the south was named. In the Indian tongue, the name signifies beautiful, pleasant or lovely. This is generally accepted and believed to be the true source from which came the name of the county. There is another theory advanced, however, which sets forth that the name was derived from that of an Indian chief "Pottama."
The occupancy of this territory by Indians is treated at length in another chapter. In 1845-6, the tribe was removed to the reservation assigned them in Kansas, but many of them wandered back to the old hunting grounds, and began settling upon the tract of land where they yet remain. Soon afterward the territory of Tama county was attached to Benton county for Revenue, Judicial and civil purposes, to accommodate the few settlers. A portion of the county was surveyed in 1843, and it was completed during 1845 and 1846 by A. L. Brown and his corps of assistants. In 1848 entries of land were made and soon afterward the pioneers began drifting into Tama county. In 1850 the U. S. census gave the county a population of eight, but in reality it was about double that number. This rapidly increased until the spring of 1853 there were a number of neighborhoods in various parts of the county, which made a total population of considerably over 200. Early in 1853 the settlers began talking of the need of having some political organization. After considerable agitation, the matter was brought to a culmination by the presentation of a petition to the county judge of Benton for the organization of the county into townships. This petition was signed by most of the inhabitants of the county; but who they were it is impossible at this late day to tell, as the petition itself has years ago been destroyed.
Upon receiving this application, the county judge of Benton
county issued orders for the organization of Tama county into
three civil townships. These orders have also been lost; but
Daniel Connell, of Gladbrook was thoughtful enough to make a
transcript of the one authorizing the organization of the
northern part of the county. This one reads as follows:
"State of Iowa, }
Benton County, } ss
To N. L. Osborne, John Connell and David Dean:
You are hereby notified that the County Court of said County has this day organized the following described townships into a Civil Township, for Judicial purposes, viz: Townships 85 and 86, in range 13; 85 and 86, in range 14; 85 and 86, in range 15, west, in Tama County, Iowa; and has appointed you the Trustees of said Township, and you are hereby authorized to call, according to law, and give necessary notice, and hold a election on the first Monday of April, A. D., 1853, as provided for in the Statutes.
(Signed) J. C. Traer,
Clerk of the Court.
By order of County Judge."
The order bore no date, but it is presumed to have been made some time in February, 1853. An informal meeting of the citizens was held to give name to the towns thus organized. The men failing to agree, it was left to Miss Margaret Connell, and she named it Buckingham, in honor of Gov. William A. Buckingham, of Norwich, Connecticut.
By this it will be seen that Buckingham embraced the territory now organized into the following civil townships: Geneseo, Buckingham, Grant, Crystal, Petty and Clark.
The other two orders mentioned heretofore where for the organization of Howard and Indian Village Townships. Howard embraced the territory now comprising Columbia, Toledo, Tama, Howard, Carroll, Otter Creek, Richland, Salt Creek, York and Oneida. Indian Village embraced all the balance of the county. The electors of Buckingham met at the house of Norman L. Osborn; those of Indian Village at the house of Eli W. Daily, and those of Howard at the residence of Rezin A. Redman. The townships were thus legally organized. Thus was the territory of Tama county first set apart from all else, and the wheels of local government started.
In the meantime a movement for a county organization had been set on foot, and in March, 1853, a majority of the citizens of Tama county petitioned the County Judge of Benton County for the necessary order for a county organization. The order was accordingly issued, commanding that an election be held on the first Monday in May, 1853, for the election of county officers, who should perfect the county organization, and serve until the ensuing regular election in August. On the day set the election was held, and resulted in the choice of the first county officers of Tama County, as follows:
County Judge, Tallman Chase; Prosecuting Attorney, John Huston; Clerk of the Courts, David D. Applegate; Surveyor, Wesley A. Daniels. For School Fund Commissioner, David F. Bruner and Anthony Wilkinson received an equal number of votes, so neither was elected.
The entry upon the record books regarding this election is a curiosity. A third of a century has nearly obliterated the marks of pen and ink, but, as best it can be read, the entry is here presented verbatim:
"Be it remembered that on ___day of March 1853 a majority of the citizens of Tama county petitioned to the Judge of Benton county Iowa, to be organized, where upon receiving the said petition, an order was issued to hold an election on the first Monday in May 1853. Due notice was given, the election was held and the returns was made to Benton county, the following officers was elected: Tallman Chaise, Co. Judge; John Huston, Pros. Atty; David D. Applegate, Clerk of the District Court.
David F. Bruner and Anthony Wilkinson was tie for School Fund Commissioners. Wesley A. Daniels, Surveyor.
The following officers qualified in time prescribed by law:
John Huston, Pros. Atty.; David D. Applegate, Clerk of the
District Court and Wesley A. Daniel, Co. Surveyor.
Several of the officers did not qualify, as the emoluments of the office would not pay for the trouble, and the regular election for officers for the full term would take place the following August. A local writer says of it: "They realized that they might not be in office long enough to get their seats warm before being invited to step down and out." However, these were the first county officers ever elected, and as was the prevailing custom of those days, it is said they indulged, one and all, in a jolly time. Thus was the judicial life of Tama county "brought before the world."
Those officers who did qualify, went to Vinton, Benton county, to be sworn in by the county Judge of that county. Those who qualified afterward, were sworn in by the prosecuting attorney of Tama county.
On the fourth Monday in July, 1853, the first term of court was held, and, as Tallman Chase, who had been elected county Judge had not qualified, this term was presided over by the prosecuting attorney, John Huston. It was held at the house of Huston in Indian Village township. At this time David F. Bruner was appointed Treasurer and recorder to serve until the ensuing August election. Norman L. Osborn was appointed Sheriff as he had failed to qualify within the time set by law.
The tie for school fund commissioner was settled by the appointment of Noah Myers to the office.
On the first Monday in August, 1853, Tama county was permanently organized by the election of county officers for the regular term of two years. There were seventy-two votes polled, and from the returns it seems that politics did not enter into the campaign at all. There were three candidates for county judge, John C. Vermilya, James H. Hollen and J. P. wood, and former was successful by a majority of four votes. There were two candidates for Treasurer and Recorder, John Ross and David T. Bruner. Ross being successful by a majority of 20. For Sheriff, there were three. Miron Blodgett, W. F. Hollen and N. L. Osborn, and the first named came out ahead with eleven votes to spare. The "woods were full of candidates;" for coroner, there being Franklin Davis, who received 40 votes; Zebedee Rush, 15; J. H. Voorhies, 10; Franklin Vorn, 4; and Wesley A. Daniels, 18; Wesley A. Daniels was elected surveyor with but little opposition. This makes the list - county judge, John C. Vermilya; treasurer and recorder, John Ross; sheriff, Miron Blodgett; coroner, Franklin Davis; surveyor, Wesley A. Daniels. The board of canvassers at this election was composed of John Huston, Robert Wilkinson, and William Booher. There were three voting precincts, Howard, Buckingham and Indian Village.
LOCATION OF THE COUNTY SEAT
As soon as the organization of the county was permanently effected, the matter of the location of the county seat presented itself. Hon. James P. Carlton, Judge of the Fourth Judicial District, appointed Joseph M. Ferguson of Marshall county, and R. B. Ogden of Poweshick county, commissioners to locate a seat of justice for Tama county. They met at the house of John C. Vermilya, on the 20th day of October, 1853, and started out in quest of a location. They first examined a quarter section near Bruner Mill, in Howard township. At this time, this was about the most notable point in the county. The town of Monticello had been here platted, and a saw mill erected by Christian Bruner. The commissioners were strongly inclined to locate it at this point. David T. Bruner offered to give 20 acres from the north part of his farm, on section 4; Christian Bruner offered twenty acres of the town site of Monticello, and twenty adjoining it on the north. But this difficulty arose: Adam Zehrung owned one-half of the townsite of Monticello, and he refused to donate any of it, but insisted upon keeping the very center of the town. In lieu thereof he offered to give twenty acres of bottom land, belonging to his son, which was not fit to erect a house upon. The commissioners looked the matter over, and tried to persuade Zehrung to give it up, and all the neighbors joined, but to no avail. Christian Bruner offered to buy the land, proposing to give three times its value, but Zehrung refused to sell at any price, thinking the county seat would be located there any way. Then Christian Bruner offered 160 acres of raw prairie, lying near the present location of Howard cemetery, but this the commissioners refused to consider, because it was too far from water, and was not suitable. The Commissioners then moved on and examined other locations.