Under the organic law of the Territory of Iowa and of the State of Iowa the primary disposal of the soil and the right to provide the necessary regulations to secure its title in bona fide purchasers were reserved to the United States.
The settlers early perfected and employed a system to protect themselves in holding and transferring the lands they improved until the time arrived when they could acquire legal titles. It was an essential feature of the development of the country. Real estate was bought and sold with the same freedom and formal regularity that now prevails. The conveyances were in the form of quit claims. It was understood in these transactions that the consideration represented only the values of the advantages in location and the improvements made and did not include anything for the interest of the government. The deeds in fact conveyed nothing but an asserted right of priority in purchasing the land when offered for sale by the United States, a right maintained by the entire community.
In June, 1838, Congress acted. Two land offices were then created in the Iowa district. One was located at Dubuque, one at Burlington. For the latter Augustus Cæsar Dodge was appointed and confirmed as register, and Ver Planck Van Antwerp as receiver of the public moneys. For his clerk the register selected Bernhart Henn.
All three of these men are prominently identified with the early history of Iowa. Henn was twice honored by election to Congress from the first district. Van Antwerp was an active figure in affairs affecting the future of the state, profoundly influenced its constitution, and was named as worthy of a senatorship. Dodge filled various high positions and was chosen as the first senator of the state.
On July 6th, was issued the proclamation of the first public sale of land within the Territory of Iowa. Twenty-five townships, running from number sixty-seven to number seventy-seven and from range one to range ten, were named, three of which were in the County of Jefferson. On August 4th, Dodge entered upon the duties of his office. The first purchase was made on October 1st by John H. Murphy of Des Moines County. Prior to the public sale there were in all 220 preemptions. Three of these were secured by citizens of Jefferson County. On the 16th of October, Isaac L. Whitaker purchased in section twenty-nine of township number seventy-one north range nine west; on the 29th, John R. Parsons purchased in section thirty of township number seventy-two north range eight west; and Rhodham Bonnifield in section four of township number seventy-one north range eight west. The 19th of November was the date set for opening the public sale. Not only were the settlers directly interested present, but many others also.
"Before the land sale commenced," says an account in the Burlington Patriot, "Governor Lucas addressed the People from the Register's and Receiver's office(.) In the course of his remarks he hoped there would be no collision among the settlers -- that the preemption law was inadequate -- that it was necessary for them to enter into some agreement to secure their natural rights -- that this was doing to our neighbor as we would wish him to do to us. We have no doubt that through his influence many disputed claims were arbitrated satisfactorily to the parties which might otherwise have caused much trouble and disturbance."
Coming from the governor, this was encouragement of a reassuring kind. His advice no doubt lessened their anxiety as it clearly pointed to approval of their well known purposes. Upon the main issue at least the settlers were agreed. The manifest intent of the law was that the lands should be sold to the highest bidder. This meant ruinous competition and success to the longest purse. In this lay the opportunity of the speculator to obtain with his ready cash valuable improvements at slight cost. Possessing little money and few means of getting it, the settler viewed this trading upon their necessities as robbery. The houses, the fences, the soil cleared and broken for tillage, the making it habitable and productive, were the products of their energy and toil and self-denial. They held on account of these things they were entitled to a prior right of purchase at the minimum price fixed by the Government. They properly reasoned that to permit competitive bidding was to compel the actual settler to lose, if unable to pay the higher price, or to purchase the values he had created. They were determined this should not be.
At this time it is probable the organizations of the settlers were largely informal. They were effective because unified by the stress and excitement of the moment. (sic) Events soon crystallized the movement, which became deliberate and formal. The unit of organization was the township.
Settlers' organizations were too common to suppose there were none in Jefferson County, although there appear to be no existing records of their meetings. The action taken in township number seventy-one north range seven west adjoining the present Township of Round Prairie on the east may be taken as a typical example. On August 17, 1839, a meeting of the settlers in that township was held at Ristine and Wamsley's mill. This mill was situated on Big Cedar Creek. Thomas O. Wamsley was called to the chair. Thomas D. Thompson was appointed secretary. A preamble and resolutions were adopted, which express their views of the situation, set out the rights and duties involved, and establish machinery for the protection of their interests.
"Whereas, Congress has by repeated acts of preemtion (sic) encouraged in the western pioneer the privilege of settling on the unsold lands of the Government of the United States, a policy to which the western country owes much of its present worth and prosperity.
"And whereas, the late preemption laws do not suit our various and diversified necessities, and believing it to be the wish of Congress that every man should have a spot of land to call his own,
"We therefore feel it to be our duty to organize and associate ourselves together, so that there will be no misunderstanding among the settlers of this township at the ensuing land sales,
"Therefore, be it Resolved, That individually and alone we can do nothing, but experience has taught us that a body acting together in concert for the accomplishment of a legal and beneficial object, can perform wonders; it therefore becomes our duty to unite upon some plan of action to give force and efficiency to our measures.
"Resolved, That the organization of the claimants now existing in this township be continued and extended, so as to secure to all claimants their just rights.
"Resolved, That for the adjustment of all disputed claims, there shall be a committee of five disinterested men, residents of the township, appointed by the president of the township, whose duty it shall be to examine and decide between the disputants and report their decision to the president of the township; and there shall be no appeal from their decision.
"Resolved, That it shall be the duty of each claimant to report to the president of the township by the 20th of October next the amount of land claimed by him, with its exact situation, number and boundaries, in order that it may be properly adjusted and registered upon the township record.
"Resolved, That there shall be a township president and a township register appointed to attend to the various duties assigned them.
"Resolved, That there be a bidder and assistant bidder appointed for this township to attend the ensuing land sales at Burlington.
"Resolved, That it shall be the duty of the bidder of this township to meet in convention with the bidders of other townships, if any should be instructed so to do, for the still better and more effectual security and defense of the settlers of this township."
Thomas O. Wamsley was chosen president; Dr. Paschal Watson, register; Barnet Ristine, bidder; and Elisha B. Bell, assistant bidder.
The method of conducting the land sale was a simple one. The bidder, provided with a map of his township showing the names of the settlers and the exact location of their claims was stationed near the register. That official, taking the sections in numerical order, called the several subdivisions. The bidder, if there were no claiming, was silent; if there were a claimant, he named the minimum price. The register responded, "sold," and entered the settler's name. There was no delay to invite interruption. No bids were anticipated save those previously arranged for. Only in a few instances were there attempts at overbidding. Happily these resulted in little actual violence. The offenders quickly realized the seriousness and possible danger in such efforts and withdrew their offers.
In the articles of compact in the ordinance of 1787, it is declared that "religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." In partial fulfillment of this declaration section sixteen in every township was reserved for school purposes and was not subject to entry. This reservation placed those settlers who honestly but unintentionally had located in this section at a disadvantage. The territorial Legislature memorialized Congress for their relief. The act of June 12, 1840, relieved them to the extent that they were then authorized "to enter at the minimum price any other quarter section of the public lands lying in the same land district, to which no other person had the right of preemption."
Not the least difficult problem confronting the settlers was securing ready money against the day when their claims had to be paid for. There was almost no market for their products. If a difference in value called for money, then a gold or silver piece, or Spanish coin, or bank note of questionable worth occasionally would appear. Under such conditions, some managed it by long and careful saving, some by disposing of their stock at a great sacrifice, and some by agreeing to an incredible rate of interest. The Government would accept in payment only the gold and silver, the Spanish coin, and the notes of certain designated banks. Having other paper, if it were not altogether worthless, meant at best a heavy discount. Yet the first public sale at Burlington netted $295,495.61 obtained from these impecunious pioneers. In a substantial way it expressed that longing and desire to own their homes which characterized all their efforts.
On November 21st, township number seventy-one north range nine west, as it is technically described, (Cedar) was placed on sale. As has been noted, Isaac L. Whitaker had already secured a claim at private entry. James L. Scott was bidder. The first purchaser was W. G. Coop, who entered a part of section one. The other purchasers at this time were James L. Scott, James Manning, Rice Duncan, Richard F. Barrett, Sulvenus Herrington, Thomas Hardisty, Wm. McIntyre, John H. Armstrong, Charles Hutton, Lyne Sterling, Arnold Bonnifield, Bernard S. Merrian, Benj. B. Johnson, Jarius Fordyce, Isaac L. Whitaker, Wm. S. Whitaker, Samuel Taylor, Solomon Redman, Jehu Carter, Hosea Hall and Wm. Green. It lacked but a few months of seventeen years before the last piece of land remaining unsold after this sale passed to private ownership. This was purchased on April 7, 1855, by David E. Eckert, and was forty acres in section twenty-three. On July 30, 1864, the state issued its last patent to land in section sixteen to Wm. Daugherty.
On November 23d, township number seventy-one north range eight west, (Round Prairie), was placed on sale. As previously noted, Rhodam Bonnifield had already secured a claim at private entry. Frank Gilmer was bidder. Lewis Benedict purchased eighty acres in section one. The other purchasers at this time were Wm. Bonnifield, Rolly Taylor, John R. Parsons, Richard F. Barrett, Samuel Ritchey, Rice Duncan, John Huff, James Lanman, Lewis Doolittle, James Henderson, Stephen Sumner Phelps, Alfred Wright, James Oliver Kirkpatrick, Jacob Elliot, Daniel Sears, Joseph Parker, Richard Stewart, Thomas N. Johnston, Wm. Walter, Alexander Kirk, Richard Warfield Jones, John Stout, Wm. Stout, Daniel Riggs Stout, James R. Westfall, Eli Jones, John Newton Gilham, Wm. Cline, John R. Reager, Harding Butler, Benj. D. Workman, Cager Litton, James Henry Walker, James Tilford, Thomas Lambirth, Jonathan Hoskins, Dillon Hoskins, Wm. Andrew, Ezekiel Gilham, Charles Hutton, and Lincoln Goodale. From the date of this sale to the date of the final sale of the public land remaining was not quite seventeen years. The last purchased was made on July 30, 1855, by Christopher Watkins and was forty acres in section twenty-eight.
Also on November 23d, township number seventy-two north range eight west (Lockridge), was placed on sale. Before this, as already stated, John R. Parsons had secured a claim at private entry. The first purchase at this time was made in section one by Richard F. Barrett. The other purchasers were Henry Boardman, Elijah Adams, Samuel Taylor Berry, Archer Green, Jonathan Turner, Henry Adams, Sanford Berry, John H. Berry, Charles Stice, Sullifand S. Ross, Lewis Benedict, Gregory Bonnifield, William Green (sic - Greer) Coop, Robert S. Parsons, Isaac Tebay, Joseph Hickenbottom, Samuel M. Harris, Rhodham Bonnifield, Samuel Bonnifield, Joseph S. Chandler, Conrad Beck, Wm. Hopkirk, John Hopkirk, David Hopkirk and John Phillips. Of the lands then unsold the final purchase was made fifteen years later, on December 9, 1853, by John Jacobsen. It was about seventy acres in section four.
Not all the settlers in these township were able to pay the minimum government price for their claims. These were for safety compelled to borrow. The principal money loaners were Lewis Benedict of Albany County, New York; Richard F. Barrett of Sangamon County, Illinois, and Lyne Sterling of Franklin County, Ohio. They made the entries in their own names, but executed bonds to deed the lands to the claimants at the end of two years on payment of double the entry cost. These names, therefore, represent pioneers who were willing to assume a burdensome debt in order to acquire a little ground to hold as their very own. It was the irony of fate that Barrett, having himself borrowed a large sum from the Bank of Illinois, was partially repaid after the bank's failure in its depreciated paper which cost his debtors but one-half its face.
On March 18, 1840, township number seventy-three north range eight west (Walnut), was placed on sale. Prior to this there had been some preemptions. On October 19, 1839, a claim was purchased in section thirty-six by Joseph York. On March 7, 1840, claims were purchased in section twenty-five by Thomas W. Small and by Andrew Turner, and in section thirty-six by Joseph Hampton. The purchasers at the sale were Josiah Smart, Daniel Creegan, Elias Buell, Zachariah Williams, Nathan W. Bond, Sexton Mount, John G. Mount, Charles W. Wood, Jonas Reed, Ebenezer Cherry Eddy, Gilbert Walker Tuel, John Lewis, John Beals, Josiah Lee, Thomas E. Purrington, Jacob Spainhowr (sic), John Oswalt, Peter Jones, John Wiatt, Margaret Lyon, Jonathan J. Morris, Adam Stever, Hugh Johnson, John Pheasant, John Park, George Hanawalt, Thomas Allington, Andrew Johnson, David Courtney, Cephas Fisher, Benjamin Mount, Asbury B. Porter, and David Williams. Of the lands unsold at this time, the last forty acres, located in section nineteen, were bought on June 25, 1854, by Mathias Steffany.
On June 30, 1842, the land office was closed at Burlington and on August 1st opened again at Fairfield with William Ross as register and John Hawkins as receiver. For a dozen years it made Fairfield an important center. Ross died in office. The position was then filled in turn by Arthur Bridgeman, Bernhart Henn, George Wilson, Francis Springer and James Thompson. Hawkins was succeeded by V. P. VanAntwerp, W. H. Wallace and J. W. Culbertson in the order named. In 1856, the land office was removed to Chariton.
In 1840 and again in 1841, Congress enacted amendments to the preemption laws to the advantage of actual settlers. The immediate consequence of the more liberal provisions was a considerable increase in the number of preemptions. The effect was noticeable in the private sales made in township number seventy-one north range ten west (Liberty). The first purchase was made in section six on June 4, 1842, by Isaac McCleary. Between that date and the date of the public sale, purchases were made by Elijah Smith, Samuel Kirkpatrick, John Mitten, Wm. Precise, Charles Purvine, Daniel Rodabaugh, Thomas Porter Cameron, Daniel Carter, Wm. Dustin, Joel Arrington, John Miller Cameron, Job Clinkenbeard, Fielding Clinkenbeard, John Jackman Smith, George Fisher. Jr., and David Noggle. On February 8, 1843, the township was put on sale. Most of the preemptors made additional purchases. Other purchasers were Peter Andrew, Henry Terril, Levi Mossman, Joseph A. McKemey, Wm. Harrison Pool, Carlisle Smith, Peter Avery, John J. Mudgett, Michael F. Peebler, Wm. Keech, John Jewett, Wm. Low Peebler, Wm. Buzick, Hiram Smith, James M. Slagle, Isaac B. Power, Jonathan Dyer, John White, George W. Smith, Daniel Clark, Thomas H. Prather, Israel Burgoyne, Solomon Redmond, Wm. Loomis, John Harrison, Edwin Manning, John Steel, Eleanor Steel, Abraham Schwartz, James McGuire, George W. Johnson, John Cassiday, David Laughlin, Joseph McClintic, Joseph Stanley, Minor Hotchkiss, Christian Rodabaugh, Hezekiah Robertson, John Day Robertson, James Alexander Robertson, John Harrison, and L. M. Boggs. Of the land then unsold the last piece to be disposed of was a part of section twenty-nine. It was bought on September 13, 1854, by James J. Walker.
On February 9, 1843, township number seventy-two north range ten west was placed on sale. (Fairfield and Center). The only preemptions taken up prior to this were in section twenty-five. In 1842, on April 25th, John A. Pitzer and Samuel Shuffleton purchased the northwest quarter; on May 12th, as trustees, Daniel Sears, E. J. Gilham, and B. S. Dunn, purchased the southwest quarter; and on October 24th, Samuel S. Peebler purchased the east half of the southeast quarter. For the remainder of the section, on the day of sale, the west half of the northeast quarter was purchased by Andrew Jackson Dane, the west half of the southeast quarter by Michael F. Peebler, and on March 18th following the east half of the northeast quarter by Samuel Mealey. Under a Congressional grant to the territory of Iowa in 1840 of seventy-two sections of land for the use of a university sections eight and twelve were reserved. Henry B. Mitchell was bidder. Besides the two already named purchasers at this sale were Lot Abraham, Thomas Foster, Charles Friend, Casper Snook, Samuel Zeigler, Frederick Troxel, Peter Haley, Jacob Plough, Wm. Vincent, Sampson Smith, Elisha King, Isaac Sharp, William Lamb, Benj. F. Tillotson, John T. Moberly, Daniel Hammock, Peter Hale, Joseph S. Burnan, Thomas Mitchell, James Dorson Spearman, Wm. Alston, Daniel McLean, Joel Arrington, Lorenzo Chapin, Henry B. Mitchell, Alexander Bryant Young, John Koons, George W. Smith, Robert Gardiner, Isaac McCleary, James L. Scott. John A. Pitzer, Charles David, Charles R. Hitchcock, Julius Alexander Reed, Joseph Alison McKemey, Hugh Culbertson, Joseph Gardner and Andrew Louden. The last parcel to be sold of the land remaining after this sale was in section nine. It was bought on December 27, 1851, by Newton Lamb.
On February 10, 1843, township number seventy-three north, range ten west (Blackhawk), was placed on sale. But one preemption was taken. On the 11th of January previous, Joseph Hickenbottom purchased his claim in section three. Only four buyers appeared. They were Joseph Hadley, George Shelley, Wm. Bowman and Michael Shelley. Because the lands were prairie, there was little desire to acquire them. Subsequently, a few entries were made annually for a period of some years. Up to 1848 not more than one-half of the township had been sold. The first purchase in section one was made on February 16, 1844, by Mahlon Heston; the last purchase in the township was also made in section one on August 25, 1853, by James P. A. Lewis.
On February 11, 1843, township seventy-two north range nine west (Buchanan), was placed on sale. There were several preemptions. On May 14, 1842, Sylvenus Herrington purchased his claim in section thirty-two. Others who purchased their claims later but before the public sale were Alexander Wheeler, Morgan Keltner, Henry Keltner, Wm. Smith, Ransom Coop and Joseph Cole. Most of these preemptors bought additional lands at the sale. Other buyers then were John Long, Benj. F. Chastian (sic - Chastain), Jacob Fore, Isaac Blakely, Nelson Green, William Young, Wiley Jones, James J. Murray, Wertly J. Green, Thomas Allinder, Archer Green, James Chandler, David Coop, Samuel Coop, Anthony Downing, Nathan Coop, John Harris, David Keltner, John R. Parsons, Joseph Hickenbottom, Andrew Kennedy, Samuel Mealey, David C. Brown, Jacob L. Myers, Samuel S. Walker, David Van Winkle, and Abe Van Winkle. The final purchase of the land remaining after this sale was made on August 9, 1853, by Daniel Rider. It was located in section five.
On February 13, 1843, township number seventy-three north range nine west, (Penn) was placed on sale. There were four preemptors. The first to purchase was James J. Murray. On June 21, 1942, he secured a claim in section thirty-three. The other preemptors were John Jones, Martin Cassada, and Edward K. Hobson. At the public sale the buyers were Joseph Hadley, Isaiah Hinshaw, Benj. W. Hinshaw, John Andrews, Robert Pringle, Wm. Jay, Phineas Heston, Alexander Bell, Isaac Ellis, Hugh Brown, Hugh De France, Wm. G. Coop, Stephen Heard, Lewis Cox, Wm. Harrison, Henry Hicks, Alexander Wheeler, Martin Lee, Wm. Young, Nelson Green, Henry Keltner, Jacob Fore, Alexander Blakely, and Samuel Ridinger. The last piece of land left from the sale was bought on August 13, 1855, by Wm. B. Garrison. It was forty acres in section seven.
Under the Act of 1841, it was provided that a settler could file within a stated period a written statement describing the land it was his intention to claim, and by so doing have it reserved from sale for a twelvemonth. Many declatory statements were filed, not all in good faith. In some cases, the purpose was to keep the land out of market for a year in order to gain time to obtain the means to pay for it, and in some cases to secure a right to cut the timber on it without hindrance. Out of this abuse of the law grew another, productive of great loss to persons who could ill afford to lose. It began in the acceptance by the register, William Ross, of application from others desiring to purchase lands so reserved. For a time at the expiration of the year he would sell the claim for which there were several applicants to the highest bidder among the number. Under this system the first applicant sometimes lost the land. Apparently to retain for him a prior right to purchase without criticism, the register then adopted a rule by which the one who first deposited the purchase money for a particular tract would be allowed to enter it without competition when it again became subject to entry. On the 11th of October, 1844, Ross died. It was then learned that he had acted without authority of law and that both the lands and the money were lost to the trustful depositors as no relief could be hoped for from his estate which was insolvent. In 1846, Congress called for information. The affidavits submitted show that the register gave due consideration to official form. A receipt was always issued. One of these, which may be of some local interest, will throw light on the transaction.
"Fairfield, Iowa Territory, June 29, 1844.
"I have received of Sylvester Green one hundred dollars, to be applied to the purchase of the SE. quarter of the NE. quarter, and the NE. quarter of the SE. quarter of section No. 2, township No. 72 north, of range No. 9 west, now held as a preemption right by Miles Driskill under the act of Congress of the 4th September, 1841, which right will expire on the 1st day of December, 1844; but it is expressly understood that should said Driskill prove up his preemption, then the one hundred dollars to be returned to said Green.
William Ross, Register."
It was estimated that he received in this way something between four thousand and seven thousand dollars. In their report, Bernhart Henn, register, and V. P. Van Antwerp, receiver, with large knowledge of the facts, expressed the opinion that there resulted "peculiar hardship upon many of the settlers," that they "believed they were acting in compliance with the requirement of law," and that "having been led into this error by no fault of their own, it would seem most clearly that they should not be made to suffer from the acts of others -- those others being the agents of the government, whose duty it was to protect their rights." Commissioner Sheilds concurred with this opinion. What action, if any, was take for their relief does not now appear.
On May 20, 1846, townthip number seventy-two north range eleven west (Locust Grove), was put on sale. there were a large number of preemptions. The first one was that of James Duane Stark, who on December 11th, 1844, purchased a claim in sections twenty-five and twenty-six. Between that date and the date of the public sale, those who preempted were Andrew Grover, Samuel Bowman, Alexander P. Benn, W. L. S. Simmons, John Phebus, Reuben Dill, Thomas W. Gobble, Wm. Smith, Sampson Smith, George Huffstutter, John F. Ingram, Commodore Ingram, Samuel Scott Warwick, Samuel Robb, Martin Byerly, David Eller, Joseph Sketo, John Young, Wm. Yocum, David Sears, Sr., Wm. P. Holmes, Thomas Clark, Joseph Koons, David Sears, Jacob Sears, Dillon Koons, Wm. Vinson, John Vinson, Abraham Samuels, John Koons, Elijah Collins, Jacob Collins, Hiram D. Gibson, Henry Crees, Samuel Hughell, Katharine Wood, Frederick Boysal, John Jordan Smith, and Seth Hayes. Purchasers at the sale included some of these preemptors and Tinly Missick Brooks, Lot Abraham, Henry Hite, John Jackson Smith, Benjamin Robinson, Wm. F. Latting, John McCullough, Myres Huddleston, John Downey, Henry A. Miller, Reuben Harris, John Sears, Fielding T. Humphrey, Jonathan Laughlin, Levi Humble, Charles Abraham, Abraham Newland Fleenor, Christopher Cannady, Nicholas Riley Greenwood, Thomas Moorman, Wm. Judd, Thomas Martin, Jacob L. Sears, Harvey Price Laughlin, John Linder, John Turner, Michael Cassel, Joseph Scott, Claiborne Tinsley, John L. Cottingham, Samuel Whitmore, David Caldwell, George Humphrey, Robert D. Caldwell, Wm. Stilwell, Joseph Hudgell, Francis D. Richardson, Elisha Collins, David Impler, John M. Glenn, Elijah O. Bannon, Joseph Gibson, James W. Holmes, Reuben Ellmaker, Isaac H. Bush, John D. Chester, Benjamin McCleary, and Simpkin McCleary. The last piece to be sold of the land remaining after this sale was forty acres in section nineteen. It was bought on February 19, 1855, by Isaac McBarney.
On May 2, 1846, township number seventy-three north range eleven west (Polk), was placed on sale. On November 11, 1844, Christopher Sears preempted in section thirty-five and Harvey S. Spurlock in section thirty-six. In 1845, preemptions wre made by John M. Forrest, Joseph Price, James Harris, Matthew Spurlock, David Smith, Wm. H. Brown, Harrison Smith, Daniel Morris, and David E. Edgar. Some of these also purchased lands at the sale. Other purchasers were Caleb L. Scott, Frederick Zugg, James G. Smith, Wm. Hall, Sr., Myres Huddleston, David Mowery, Wm. F. Latting, John Townsend, John W. Peters, John Jackson Smith, Isaac Peters, David Peters, Jesse C. Wear, Evin Fleener, Robinson Morris, Shelton Morris, Isaac Campbell, Benj. Robinson, and Ben J. McVay. Of the lands then unsold, the last tract to be disposed of was some seventy acres in section five. It was bought on January 2, 1855, by Ward Lamson.
On July 27, 1847, township number seventy-one north range eleven west (Des Moines), was put on sale. It was the last to be offered on account of the rejection of the first survey. There were numerous preemptions. The first was that of Alexander Wilson, who on October 8, 1844, purchased a claim in section twenty-three. On the 26th of November following, Benjamin McCleary purchased a claim in section one. In 1845, the preemptors were Samuel Hughess, Wm. Olney, Sarah James, John Jordan Smith, David Peebler, Asa Stoddard, R. Nimocks, Samuel Walker, Sr., Samuel Walker, Jr., Benj. F. Brown, Joseph Hall, Amos Vandever, Epenuetus (sic - Epernetus) Birdsall, Samuel Ford, Alexander Wilson, Moses Black, and Elias Fisher. In 1846, the preemptors were Michael Glotfelty, and Thomas Walker. In 1847, the preemptors were Wm. Beard, Jr., Austin L. Shipler, Abraham Stanford, Moses Pitman, and George Fisher, Jr. Under the act of August 8, 1846, Congress having made a grant to the state for the improvement of the navigation of the Des Moines River, sections seven, seventeen, nineteen, twenty-one, twenty-seven, twenty-nine, thirty-one, thirty-three, and thirty-five, except the parts already disposed of before their selection, were reserved for this purpose. The buyers at the public sale included several of the preemptors and Simpkin McCleary, Jacob Brown, Sr., John M. Ware, Andrew Peebler, Enos Ellmaker, Lewis S. Young, George Humphrey, Wm. Roberts, Levi Roberts, Goodman Graves, Christian M. Slagle, John U. Brown, Nicholas L. Bonnet, Reuben Ellmaker, Peter Lutz, James McElderry, Samuel Shipler, John M. Prichard, John D. Chester, John T. Given, John Croft, James Pattison, Jacob U. Brown, George U. Brown, Thomas J. Harrison, Edith Pumphrey, Andrew J. Davis, George W. Cutting, Samuel Imbler, Christian W. Burger, Wm. Brown, Abraham Lander, Hugh Wilson, Samuel Cassidy, Robert Wilson, Tobias Moore, Jacob Harmon, John Cloke, Tacy Conger, George Stump, Isaac Nelson, Wm. C. Morrison, John Winsell, Abner Beals, David Laughlin, N. Stokes, Calista Stokes, Sarah Stokes and James Stokes. Of the lands remaining after the sale, the last to be sold were eighty acres in section twenty. This piece was bought on December 6, 1854, by Nelson Sargent. In the several sections reserved save sixteen, all the unsold lands were transferred on May 3, 1858, to the Des Moines Navigation and Railroad Company.
Thus in seventeen years, beginning in 1838 and ending in 1855 the government title to all lands in the county was extinguished. The lands granted for special purposes and held in trust by the state were not taken up so readily because of the higher prices exacted, but by 1865 they were practically all disposed of.
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