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The First Road

The following is a chapter from "The History of Jefferson County, Iowa", Pages 400-401, published by the Western Historical Company of Chicago in 1879.



July 29, 1839, the first road survey was ordered in these words:

Ordered, That there be a road surveyed and laid out in the county of Jefferson, commencing at the town of Fairfield, in said county; thence the nearest and best route to John J. Smith's ford, on Big Cedar; from thence the nearest direct route to Frederick Fisher's; from thence the most eligible route to the county line on the direction to Iowaville or Keokuk's old village, on the Des Moines River. And that George W. Troy, James L. Scott and John Morgan are hereby appointed Commissioners to review and establish said road -- the Commissioners to meet at the town of Fairfield, and proceed to lay out said road as the law directs.

The time when the Commissioners should meet was not quoted -- an oversight, perhaps, in the Clerk.

At the same date with the above order, a second sale of lots in Fairfield was ordered to be held on the 10th day of "September next, which will be continued from day to day, if the Commissioners think it necessary; the condition of said sale to be the same as the first sale, or the sale on the 15th day of May last." And

Ordered, That Alexander Kirk be paid $2 for crying the sale of lots on the 15th day of May last.

The old journal shows that a meeting of the Commissioners was held on the 3d of August, 1839, at which session the Board made some changes in the Judges of Elections, as previously appointed, and audited and allowed sundry accounts. Daniel Sears, one of the Commissioners, was allowed $28 for official services; B. F. Chastain was allowed $12, and the Clerk was allowed $25 for services as Clerk of the Board, $4.84 for recording town plat, etc., and $5 for extra services in laying out the town of Fairfield. These several sums were ordered to be paid "on or before the 15th day of December next."

This was the last session previous to the regular election. Ad interim, licenses were granted to John W. Edwards for vending merchandise for the term of two months from the 4th day of August, and to Sullivan S. Ross for the same business for the term of six months from the same date. A peddler's license was issued at the same time to David Switzer for the term of four months. There are no entries or figures to show the amount of revenue accruing to the county from this source. Unquestionably, there was a price fixed, but from some cause the Clerk and Commissioners failed to make a record of the same. Among others licensed to keep "grocery" in the early days of Fairfield, was U. S. Senator Nesmith, of Oregon, who was then a young man, ambitious, but rather verdant.

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