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First Election Precincts
June, 27, 1839, the Commissioners being in session, it was "Ordered, that a precinct be organized embracing Township 73 in Range 9 west, and also 73 in Range 8 west (now Walnut and Penn Townships), to be called the Pleasant Prairie Precinct." Elections were ordered to be held at the house of John Mellen. William Pickerell, Josiah Lee and John Mille rwere (sic) appointed to be Judges of Elections. "Also, a precinct embracing Township 72, Range 8 west, and also Township 72, in Range 9 west, to be called Brush Creek Precinct" (now Lockridge and Buchanan Townships). Elections were ordered to be held at the house of David Keltner, and Samuel Berry, John Parsons and Joseph Aikenbottom (sic - Hickenbottom?) were appointed to be Judges of Election. "Also, a precinct embracing Township 71, in Range 8 west, and 71, in Range 9 west, to be called Round Prairie Precinct" (now Round Prairie and Cedar Townships). The house of James Lanman was designated as the voting-place, and James Gilmer, James Lanman and Samuel S. Walker were appointed to be a "returning board" or Judges of Election. "Also, a precinct embracing Township 71, in Range 10 west, and Township 71, in Range 11 west (Liberty and Des Moines) to be called Cedar Creek Precinct." Elections were ordered to be held at the house of Frederick Fisher, and Joseph S. Roll, Greenup Smith and Frederick Fisher were appointed to be Judges of Election. "Also, a precinct embracing Township 72, in Range 10 west, and Township 72, in Range 11 west west (Fairfield and Locust Grove), to be called Locust Grove, the elections to be held at the house of William Vincent; and William Vinson, Reuben Root and John D. Glenn" were appointed to be Judges of Election. [Note: There is no mention of a precinct involving Black Hawk and Polk Townships, Township 73, Ranges 10 and 11 west, respectively.]
Two Justices of the Peace and two Constables were ordered to be elected in each of the precincts at the next general election. At the same session it was
Ordered, That Roger N. Cressup be paid $21 for services in locating the county seat of Jefferson County; and also, that Joshua Owens be paid $21 for services in locating the county seat of Jefferson County; and also, that Samuel Hutton be paid $24 for services in locating the county seat of Jefferson County.
John A. Pitzer was allowed $23.33 1/3 for "services as Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners up to the 18th day of May, to be paid by the 15th of November." Joseph Parker was allowed $1.50 "for carrying the surveyor's chain one day while locating the county seat of Jefferson County, to be paid six months after date." George W. Troy was allowed the same sum for the same kind of service, and payable at six months. Money was scarce, and the county was a "new beginner."
It was also "Ordered, that any person wishing to build in the town of Fairfield, is hereby authorized to build on lots that will not be reserved by the Commissioners, according to the manner of reserving lots as heretofore. Lots numbered 2, 4, 6 and 8 in each block will be so reserved. Persons building on those lots that are not reserved shall have them at an average price with those sold at public sale of a similar situation." It was also "Ordered, that any person making a selection of a lot shall have twenty days to commence improving said lot." The Board then adjourned.
Between this adjournment and the general meeting in July, following entry appears of record:
"This day came Andrew Kennedy, of the town of Fairfield, Jefferson County, Iowa Territory, and pre-empted Lot No. 6 in Block No. 8, according to an order of the Board of County Commissioners of said county, on the 8th day of June, 1839, authorizing persons to improve lots in the town of Fairfield, June 29, 1839. And Thomas H. Grey came on the same day and done as above.
"John A. Pitzer, Clerk."
Mr. Kennedy seems to have been the first person to pre-empt a lot in the new county seat. Whether Mr. Grey pre-empted a lot is not quite clear from the record quoted.
At the July session, James Gilmer was allowed "$44 for assessing taxable property, to be paid six months after date."
There are no records or books to be found in the county offices to show the value of the personal property assessed by Mr. Gilmer, nor is there anything on record to show when he was appointed. In fact, many of the early records and papers are lost. In the garret of the Court House there is a huge mass of papers relating to county affairs, but they are in mixed confusion. To attempt to find any particular paper would be like trying to find a needle in a hay-stack. Instead of having been carefully preserved, as the law and interests of the county demand, bushels upon bushels of the old papers have been bundled away in a dark, obscure place, to become nests and hiding-places for rats and mice. It is a condition of affairs that ought not to be tolerated. In the event the Court House should take fire, these records would become a total loss. The chances of such a loss ought to be removed by carefully overhauling the papers, assorting, labeling and filing them away. If the people of the county are wise, they will see that it is done, and done at once. This condition of affairs shows a gross and criminal carelessness on the part of the officials to whom the people intrusted the management of their public affairs.
On the 1st of July, the Board "Ordered, that in addition to an order authorizing citizens to improve town lots in the town of Fairfield, that persons making selection of lots in said town will be required to reasonably progress with with a building on said lot, or otherwise said lot, together with all the labor, if any be done, shall be forfeited."
On the 21st of July, it was further "Ordered, that the order authorizing persons to build on lots in the town of Fairfield, shall be amended by saying that Lots 1, 3, 5 and 8 in Block 4, will be subject to settling according to the order on the 8th of June, 1839."
Another order for $200 was directed to issue to William Olney, Court House contractor, payable on or before the 15th day of November.
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