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The following is a chapter from "The History of Jefferson County, Iowa", Pages 300-301, published by the Western Historical Company of Chicago in 1879.



A lawful fence is fifty-four inches high, made of rails, wire or boards, with posts not more than ten feet apart where rails are used, and eight feet where boards are used, substantially built and kept in good repair; or any other fence which, in the opinion of the Fence Viewers, shall be declared a lawful fence -- provided the lower rail, wire or board may not be more than twenty nor less than sixteen inches from the ground.

The respective owners of lands enclosed with fences shall maintain partition fences between their own and next adjoining enclosure so long as they improve them in equal shares, unless otherwise agreed between them.

If any party neglect to maintain such partition fence as he should maintain, the Fence Viewers (the township Trustees), upon complaint of aggrieved party, may, upon due notice to both parties, examine the fence, and, if found insufficient, notify the delinquent party, in writing, to repair or re-build the same within such time as they judge reasonable.

If the fence be not repaired or rebuilt accordingly, the complainant may do so, and the same being adjudged sufficient by the Fence Viewers, and the value thereof, with their fees, being ascertained and certified under their hands, the complainant may demand of the delinquent the sum so ascertained, and if the same be not paid in one month after demand, may recover it with one per cent a month interest, by action.

In case of disputes, the Fence Viewers may decide as to who shall erect or maintain partition fences, and in what time the same shall be done; and in case any party neglect to maintain or erect such part as may be assigned to him, the aggrieved party may erect and maintain the same, and recover double damages.

No person, not wishing his land inclosed, and not using it otherwise than in common, shall be compelled to maintain any partition fence; but when he uses or incloses his land otherwise than in common, he shall contribute to the partition fences.

Where parties have had their lands inclosed in common, and one of the owners desires to occupy his separate and apart from the other, and the other refuses to divide the line or build a sufficient fence on the line when divided, the Fence Viewers may divide and assign, and upon neglect of the other to build as ordered by the Viewers, the one may build the other's part and recover as above.

And when one incloses land which has lain uninclosed, he must pay for one-half of each partition fence between himself and his neighbors.

Where one desires to lay not less than twenty feet of his lands, adjoining his neighbor, out to the public to be used in common, he must give his neighbor six months' notice thereof.

Where a fence has been built on the land of another through mistake, the owner may enter upon such premises and removed his fence and material within six months after the division line has been ascertained. Where the material to build such a fence has been taken from the land on which it was built, then, before it can be removed, the person claiming must first pay for such material to the owner of the land from which it was taken, nor shall such a fence be removed at a time when the removal will throw open or expose the crops of the other party; a reasonable time must be given beyond the six months to remove crops.

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