If official activity is a safe guide, there was a universal demand for roads in pioneer days. Both legislatures and county commissioners took action. There was a reason. It was the necessity of getting to trading places for supplies, to mills for meal, flour and lumber, and to the county seat for various purposes connected with the administration of law. While it is true, geometrically, that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, in this new and undeveloped country the shortest practicable line was quite likely to be a long way round. There were rough ground, dense thickets and dangerous bogs to be avoided, and safe and easy fords to be found across the streams. The chief need of travelers was to be able to find readily the best available course. To this end roads were located across wide stretches of unoccupied lands at the time in no wise affecting the interests of private ownership.
The several legislatures established roads to connect places of importance and to serve common interests. The tide of immigration stadily sweeping in required them. They were termed territorial roads. A number of them crossed Jefferson County, or began or terminated within its bounds. These were seventy feet wide. The county commissioners established the local roads essential for advantageous intercourse. These were sixty feet wide. The expense of laying out the territorial roads within the county and the county roads was borne wholly by the county; the expense of opening them was borne by the respective road districts which they traversed.
These roads were surveyed and marked under the direction of three men designated indifferently as commissioners or viewers, and were simply routes of travel defined in timber by blazed trees and in prairie by stakes. These stakes on territorial roads were "set at 300 yards' distance," a requirement due to rank vegetation. Mile posts were erected and numbered in regular progression from the place of beginning. At angles also were placed posts marked to indicate "The bearing from the true meridian of the course." Once laid out little labor was bestowed upon a road. An obstructing bush would be cut away, a few poles thrown across a mire to provide a substantial footing, and at the crossings of streams the banks cut down to make them less steep and difficult.
The first Legislature authorized in 1839 four roads related to Jefferson County. One of them commenced at West Point, in Lee County, ran thence to Salem, in Henry County, and thence to the county seat of Jefferson County. Alfred Wright was resident commissioner. As the enactment was not complied with, the second Legislature authorized in 1840 a road to run from Fort Madison to West Point, in Lee County, thence to Salem, in Henry County, and thence to Fairfield, in Jefferson County. There was a provision, however, that if there were such a road already established from Fort Madison to West Point, then this road should commence at West Point and proceed. J. D. Stark was resident commissioner. Several years later its legal establishment was questioned. To remove the doubt Daniel Sears, who in 1840 was chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, made affidavit on October 19, 1846, that the plat and survey had been duly received. It was then recorded.
One road ran from Burlington, in Des Moines County, to Trenton, thence to Joseph Yorke's, thence to Lee's, and thence west to the Indian boundary line. Yorke operated a ferry over Skunk River, where Merrimac now is. Lee's was in the Pleasant Prarie, a name then applied to the northwestern part of the present Township of Walnut. The terminal point was Mount Starling. The plat of this forgotten town acknowledged on September 29, 1837, before Samuel Nelson, J.P., is recorded at Mount Pleasant. Its proprietors were William Searcy and Archibald Knerr. Its location was next the Indian boundary line not far north of its forty-third mile post, and probably near the northeast corner of the present Township of Penn. On June 29, 1839, the commissioners who were from the counties of Henry and Des Moines, completed the survey. This was the first road legally laid out in Jefferson County after its organization.
One road ran from Mount Pleasant to Rome, in Henry County, thence to Lockridge, thence to Smith's Crossing on Big Cedar, in Jefferson County, and thence to Iowa City, in Van Buren County. George W. Fry and John Sullivan were resident commissioners. On account of the refusal or inability of one of these to act, the county commissioners, on November 28, 1839, appointed Samuel Shuffleton to the vacancy.
One road ran from Keosauqua, in Van Buren County, on the nearest and best route to the county seat of Jefferson County. Isaac Blakely, resident commissioner, did not serve. The survey was made late in March, 1840, by Uriah Biggs as surveyor under the direction of William B. Goodale and John M. Whitaker, all of Van Buren County.
The second Legislature, in 1840, provided for three roads affecting Jefferson County. One ran from Fairfield to Jefferson, in Henry County, thence to the territorial road running from Mount Pleasant to Wapello, in Louisa County. David Cowan was resident commissioner. One ran from Keosauqua by way of Philadelphia and Rising Sun to the seat of justice of Jefferson County. Samuel Moore was resident commissioner. One, commencing in Washington County, north of English River at the most suitable point of intersection with the national road leading from Iowa City to Mount Pleasant, ran thence on the most suitable route to Washington, the seat of justice in Washington County; thence to Fairfield the seat of justice in Jefferson County; thence to the southern boundary of the territory in the direction to the Town of Sandhill in Missouri. Andrew Kennedy was resident commissioner, but refused to serve. The county commissioners, on October 5, 1840, appointed Martin Meeker to the place. Whether any part of this road was established is doubtful. It certainly was not laid out in its entirety, for in 1842 the fourth Legislature authorized again the establishment of that part of it running from Fairfield to Portland and to the northern boundary of Missouri in a direction toward Jefferson City. In June of that year it was surveyed. Green B. Savery was resident commissioner. One ran from Mount Pleasant to Rome, in Henry County; thence to Fairfield, in Jefferson County, and thence to the Indian Agency. The plat returned shows the Indian boundary, then the county line, about nine miles west of Fairfield. George W. Troy and John W. Sullivan were resident commissioners.
The third Legislature authorized, in 1841, but one road which touched Jefferson County. This began where the north line of Washington County crossed the territorial road leading from Iowa City to Mount Pleasant, proceeded thence to Washington, thence to Brighton, thence to Fairfield, thence to Iowaville, in Van Buren County, and thence to a suitable point on the southern boundary of the territory. It was located in November. The distance covered within Jefferson County was 24 miles and 126 poles. The cost of surveying this portion was $89.50. Alexander Winsell was resident commissioner. The part connecting Brighton and Fairfield did not give satisfaction, as it passed to one side of the new Town of Pleasant Plain. It was good ground for complaint, as a town without roads is as useless as a wagon without wheels. The fourth Legislature, in 1842, authorized a review, which was made in June of the same year. This one was run through Pleasant Plain. B. F. Chastian and James F. Chambers were resident commissioners.
[Transcriber's note: A 'pole' is synonymous with a 'rod', i.e.: a length of 16.5 feet.]
The fourth Legislature authorized, in 1842, three roads connected with Jefferson County. One ran from Keokuk on the nearest and best route to Ambrosia, in Lee County; thence to Winchester, in Van Buren County, and thence to Fairfield. Ira Tillotson was resident commissioner, but took no part in the survey, which was made in May. One ran from Deed's Mill on Skunk River, by way of Brighton, the house of Beriah Haworth and Western City, and thence on the nearest and best route to the western boundary of the territory. This was laid out in September. Thomas W. Small was resident commissioner. One ran from Fairfield to the southeast corner of Hadley's Farm, thence to Richland, thence to Western City, and thence to the forks of Skunk River in Washington County. This was located in June. Two days, at an expense of $28, were employed on the portion in Jefferson County. Charles Negus served as "marker." Henry Hardin was resident commissioner. He was negligent in making the return. In consequence a special act was passed by the Legislature in 1843 to enable him legally to report.
The fifth Legislature authorized, in 1843, only one road of interest to Jefferson County. It ran from Birmingham by way of the colony to the agency. The colony is now at Libertyville. The name was bestowed because a large number of settlers made their temporary home there while waiting for the opening of the new cession to settlement. The survey was made in December. Although so recently abandoned, the Agency is referred to in the report as the old Agency, so quickly do adjustments follow changes. John J. Mudgett was resident commissioner.
The sixth Legislature authorized, in 1844, several roads which were concerned with Jefferson County. Three of them led into the lands but lately acquired from the Indians. One, commencing at Fairfield, ran thence to Bennet's Point, in Keokuk County; thence to the county seat of Mahaska County, thence to the Indian boundary, in the direction of the Indian Agency at the Racoon fork of the Des Moines River. Samuel Harrow and Abraham Fleenor were resident commissioners. On the return of the survey, Stephen Bonnel, E. and A. Humphreys, William Alston, John T. Baldwin and Neffel Leech presented claims for damages, whereupon James G. Crocker, Sylvenus Herrington and James A. Galliher were appointed to make proper assessment. The county commissioners, holding the awards excessive, refused to pay them, and concerning this road declared "therefore it is not considered a public highway." One commencing at Mark's and Bushe's Mill on Cedar, in Jefferson County, ran thence to Agency City and to Autumwa, so it is spelled, in Wapello County; thence to Eddyville; thence to Harrisburgh; thence up the Des Moines River to Lake Prairie, opposite the mouth of White Breast, in Mahaska County. John Sheilds was resident commissioner. One ran from a point on the old Indian boundary line in Des Moines Township, where the territorial road from Fort Madison terminated, to Agency City; thence to Dahlonega, in Wapello County, and thence to the county seat of Mahaska County. This survey cost the county $3.75. John Spurlock was resident commissioner.
Two roads little more than crossed the eastern boundary line of the county. One led from Deed's Mill to the old trading house on Crooked Creek in Henry County and thence to Crippen's Mill in Washington County. This survey cost the county $10.75. One passed from Wilson's Mill, in Henry County, by way of Watson's Mill on Big Cedar to Glasgow. Daniel Sears was resident commissioner. The survey was rejected because the report was not filed within the stipulated time.
The seventh Legislature passed in 1845 no direct enactments pertaining to particular roads which concerned Jefferson County.
The eighth Legislature granted, in 1846, a relocation of the road between Fairfield and Agency City, so that it would run to William P. Holmes'. It authorized, also, three roads touching Jefferson County. One, commencing where the territorial road from Mount Pleasant to Fairfield, crossed the western line of Henry County, passed in the nearest and best route to S. S. Ross'; thence between the farm of Caleb Cooper and Lewis'; thence on the nearest and best practicable route to a point on the middle fork of Walnut Creek, where the road from Fairfield to Richland crossed; thence to a point on Rock Creek, in Keokuk County, where the territorial road from Richland to Oskaloosa crossed. S. S. Ross and Stephen Heard were resident commissioners. One began on the north bank of Big Cedar Creek at Bushe's Mill, ran thence to Enos Ellmaker's, thence to Reuben Ellmaker's, thence to Cutting's and Gordon's storehouse, thence southeast to the section line, thence south on said line to the northeast corner of the lands of George Fisher, thence to Peter Walker's in the County of Van Buren, thence north of the Widow Baker's farm, thence passing on the east of the said Widow Baker's house, and thence to Jesse Sutton's on the Des Moines River in Van Buren County. Enos Ellmaker was resident commissioner. The portion of this road in Jefferson County survived its usefulness and was vacated in January, 1853, by the seventh General Assembly. One ran from Fairfield to the territorial road leading from Keokuk to Manchester, which it was to intersect at or near the residence of E. S. McCulloch in Lee County. This and the road to Keosauqua as far as the Jefferson County boundary line are identical, but the plats returned for the different surveys materially differ. The later survey without doubt followed the traveled way. The variations show how this, for convenience or directness, had turned from the route first selected becaused it had been unconfined by fences, and perhaps because the original stakes and posts marking it had been destroyed by prairie fires. It illustrates the constant shifting in lines of travel in the open country. H. B. Notson was resident commissioner.
Most of the territorial roads remain, though seldom as originally located. The establishment of county roads proceeded with even greater expedition. On July 29, 1839, the Board of County Commissioners ordered the first one. It naturally commenced at Fairfield and ran "from thence nearest and best rout (sic) to John J. Smith's ford on Big Cedar, from thence the nearest direct rout (sic) to Frederick Fisher's, from thence the most eligible rout (sic) to the county line on the direction to Iowa City, or Keokuk's old village on the Des Moines River." The importance of a connection with Iowa City was due to its being the place from which the money of the Indians passed into local circulation. George W. Troy, James L. Scott and John Morgan were named as the viewers. They made the survey and returned their report in August. In September the board divided the road into three sections, bounded three districts, and appointed three supervisors for them. Charles Coleman had charge from Fairfield to the crossing of Cedar; John W. Sullivan, from Cedar Ford at J. J. Smith's to the east bank of Lick Creek, and Adam Winsell, all west of that. The road crossed Winsell's land in entering Van Buren County. These supervisors were instructed in opening the road to make the points called for by the viewers, but elsewhere they were permitted to deviate, if that were advisable, forty rods from the route laid out.
On September 2d a road was ordered from Fairfield to Troy's Point; from thence the nearest and best route to the southeast corner of the county. Troy's Point refers to the claim of George W. Troy, which was in the north part of the present Township of Cedar. James Lanman, James Kirkpatrick and Cyrus Olney were named as viewers. Some fault was found with their choice of location. A remonstrance was filed. This was rejected for reasons naively stated to be because the petitioners had not followed law and because a territorial road had been granted which would probably meet their wishes. This road was also divided into three sections. James Westfall was appointed supervisor of the part running through township No. 71 north, range 8 west, Round Prairie; George W. Troy of the part running through township No. 71 north, range 9 west, Cedar; and Sylvenus Herrington of thepart running from the line dividing townships No. 71 and No. 72 north to Fairfield.
On September 10th a road was ordered leading from Lockridge to the northwest corner of township No. 73 north, range 8 west, Walnut. This probably ran to Lee's, connecting there with the territorial road. Josiah Lee, Samuel Berry and Rolly Taylor were named as the viewers.
On November 15th an application for a road to run from the northern boundary of Van Buren County to Fairfield was rejected by the board; but one for a road leading from Hall's Mill on Big Cedar, by the way of Isaac Whittaker's, John M. Cameron's and John J. Smith's, to the territorial road was approved. Isaac L. Whittaker, William Precise and John W. Sullivan were named as the viewers. In January, 1840, three supervisors were assigned it. John Priest was given charge from Hall's Mill to Carter's Mill; Levi Wiley from Carter's Mill to Isaac L. Whittaker's, and Isaac L. Whittaker from his house to the termination of the road.
On December 21st a road was ordered to run from Foster's Point on the Agency Road to Troxell's Mill and thence to Fairfield. The Agency Road referred to was one from Fort Madison running across the county south of Cedar. It may be suggested here that there was generally, if not always, travel between places before the public asked for a designated way connecting them. Foster's Point, at a venture, was near Libertyville. Troxell's Mill was where the road from Fairfield to Libertyville crosses Cedar. David Pebler, Elijah Smith and William Olney were named as the viewers. In January this road was divided among three supervisors. John Troxell was given the part from Fairfield to the mill; Isaac McCleary from the mill half-way to Foster's Point, and James Wright the remainder.
Few petitions for roads were presented in 1840 to the commissioners. On January 6th they granted a road to commence at York's Ferry and to terminate at Fairfield by the nearest and best route. York's Ferry was later known as Vorie's Ferry. In this instance it was ruled that no person residing on the line proposed should be selected as a viewer. The viewers named were Ira Tillotson, Cyrus Olney and John R. Parsons.
On March 7th a road was granted "from Fairfield to Iowaville via Troxell's Mill until the same intersect the road now laid from Fairfield to Foster's Point." The phraseology of the order is somewhat mystifying. The intention probably was to extend the road leading to Foster's Point to the exisiting (sic) road running to Iowaville. Enos Ellmaker, Hugh Smith and Josiah Skelton were named as the viewers. On the same date a road was granted to run from Fairfield by way of William Richardson's to Mill's Bridge and thence to Sampson Smith's. Samuel Pebler, David Bowman and L. W. Saunders were named as the viewers. On the 31st a road was granted from Smith's Ford on the Big Cedar to the Van Buren County line, in the direction of Portland on the Des Moines River. Enos Ellmaker, William Brown and David Pebler were named as the viewers. Some hitch occurred to prevent action. On October 5th a similar order was issued for a road between the same points. The viewers named at this time were John Troxell, Osee Mathews and Daniel Carter. The survey was made in February following. On April 13th a road from Fairfield to York's Ferry via David Courtney's and Archibald Knerr's was granted. Joseph Dillon, Samuel Berry and N. R. Payne were named as the viewers. It was promptly laid out. On June 1st, William Kerr and David Courtney were made its supervisors. On this date also David Bowman and Sylvenus Herrington were made supervisors of Fairfield Precinct. The clerk was instructed to designate their respective districts.
On January 4, 1841, a road was granted to run from a point on the territorial road leading from Mount Pleasant to the Indian Agency at or near Stephen B. Parker's in the Locust Grove Precinct to the crossing of Cedar Creek at Leaming's Ford and thence to the territorial road in Lick Creek Precinct at Enos Ellmaker's. William S. Houghton, James Robinson and James Colwell were named as viewers.
On March 28th, two roads were authorized. One commencing at the Henry County line at a point southeast of the house of Sullifand S. Ross proceeded thence to the house of Daniel Vorhies, thence to Walnut Creek to the cabin formerly occupied by John Vorhies, thence on the ridge dividing Walnut and Burr Oak creeks until it intersected the territorial road leading from Burlington to the boundary line, thence along that to where it entered section sixteen in township number seventy-three north range eight west, Walnut, thence the nearest and best route to the Washington County line in a direction to the Town of Brighton. David Courtney, Andrew Johnston and Thomas A. Wilkes were named as the viewers. This survey cost $28.50. One ran from Fairfield to the Blue Point settlement on the section line to Horace Gaylord's in a direction to the forks of Skunk River in the attached part of Washington County. Blue Point was the northwest corner of the present Township of Blackhawk. Ira Tillotson, Henry Hardin and Horace Gaylord were named as the viewers and Samuel Shuffleton as the surveyor. The cost of the survey was $21.75. On the 29th, two more roads were authorized. One ran from Blue Point to the Agency road leading from Fort Madison to the Indian Agency. John Payton, Andrew Peebler and Jonathan B. Brown were named as the viewers and Robert Brown as surveyor. The cost of this survey was $31.62. One ran form Howard's on the Van Buren and Jefferson County line to Clinkenbeard's Mill on Big Cedar Creek. B. S. Dunn, James Robinson and James Colwell were named as the viewers. This survey cost $16.70.
On May 8th, a road was ordered laid out from Fairfield via Martin Meeker's to the Washington County line in a direction to Pickerell's Mill. It terminated at R. Prngle's. W. Nelson, Amos Lemmons and William Galbraith were named as the viewers. The cost of this survey was $35.25.
On October 1st, William Williams, Samuel S. Peebler and L. W. Sanders as viewers and Samuel Shuffleton as surveyor returned a plat and report of a road meeting the Mount Pleasant and Fairfield road near Joseph Cole's house and running to Samuel Peebler's field. On the 4th a road from Fairfield to Locust Grove was granted. This "Locust Grove" was the location of William Vinson's house, the voting place of the township. John Mathews, V. D. Delashmutt and David Sears were named as the viewers and Samuel Shuffleton as the surveyor. Permission also was given Stephen Parker to change at his own expense so much of a road passing through his farm as to make it run from the house of D. Meigs to the mill on Big Cedar owned by Juda Leming, provided the route was approved by Peter Hale, Michael Peebler and John J. Smith who were named as the viewers.
The action taken on Parker's request marks the beginning of a new stage in the development of the county's system of roads. It was brought about partly by the improvement of lands and party by an increased population. A land owner planning to prepare a field for tillage, preferred that the highway cutting across it should follow the line of the survey. A settler whose claim did not touch a line of travel naturally felt one should come to him both to serve his needs and to connect him with the social and commercial worlds. Out of these two situations sprang many demands to alter the course of existing roads. The mode of procedure was slow and cautious. The preliminary requirement was a petition signed by at least twelve householders living in the vicinity. Before this could be acted upon by the commissioners notice of the proposed alteration had to be posted for thirty days at the place of holding their court and at three public places in each township where change would occur. Private advantage was denied surreptitious privileges. It was also necessary to file a good and suffcient bond to secure the payment of all costs in case the route was found unsatisfactory. "Three disinterested householders" and "a skilful surveyor" were then appointed to lay out the road in conformity with the proposals, "taking into consideration the utility, convenience and inconvenience and expense" which would result to individuals as well as to the public. The return of an unfavorble report ended the proceedings. A favorable report was publicly read in the commissioner's court on two different days of the first regular session following its return. If then there was no legal application for a review or for damages before the second day of the next stated session of this court, the report, survey and plat were to be recorded and the road thenceforth was to be a public highway. In case of a review on account of general objections, "five disinterested qualified voters of the county" were selected to examine the route. Their decision, whether for or against, was final. In case of a claim for damages, "three disinterested householders of the county" were chosen to determine both the public importance of the road and how much less valuable the land of the complainant would be rendered by opening it. In the actual contingency the practice of the commissioners was to hold that any damages assessed exceeded the value of the road and consistently to refuse to establish it unless these were paid. In case they were not paid all costs incurred were collected under the bond.
On July 6, 1842, at the expense of William Galbraith, Benjamin W. Hinshaw and Evan Jones, the commissioners authorized a road to extend west from Pleasant Plain to William Galbraith's and thence to the county line to meet a road running from Richland in Washington County. Richland was not properly in Washington County, but in unorganized territory attached to it for jurisdictional purposes. John Wyatt, Rawleigh Humphrey and Stephen Heard were named as the viewers.
On October 3d, at the expense of Thomas Standifird, the commissioners granted a road from Fairfield to the crossing of Parker's Branch below its forks, thence to Goodspeed's Mill on Big Cedar Creek, thence south to the county line. James M. Reed, Jefferson Chitwood and Reuben R. Harper were named as viewers and James F. Chambers as surveyor. Permission was also given to straighten a part of the road from Brighton to Fairfield. Commencing at the south end of a lane between Stephen Heard's and David Pierson's, it was to pass thence on a line between Pierson's and Lewis Cox's and thence straight to Fairfield. Pierson "agreed for himself and others to pay all expenses of viewing, surveying and putting in good order for travelling on." William G. Coop, Abel Russell and Charles Russell were named as viewers and David Switzer as surveyor. On the 28th, two petitions were presented the court. One coming from Alexander Kirk and forty-one citizens asked for the relocation of the road lying between Lockridge and Glasgow so that it would pass by or near John Whitaker's and intersect at Glasgow the road leading from Fairfield to Salem. Hardin Butler, John Stout and John R. Parsons were named as viewers and David Switzer as surveyor. The survey was made in November at a cost of $10.50. On January 2, 1843, John Cochran and William G. Coop brought in bills for damages. On March 28th, Linchfield Grady, James M. Reed and Benjamin F. Hutton were appointed to make the assessment. Their finding is unknown. The other petition, signed by seventy-two citizens, was presented by Cyrus Olney. It prayed for the establishment of a road beginning at the northwest corner of section twenty-five in township number seventy-two north range ten west, Fairfield, and running thence west along the sectional lines until it intersect the road from Fairfield to Locust Grove. Without more formailty this as described was declared a public highway. The vacation of the latter road from Farifield to the intersection was also asked for. This part was again "read aloud in open court and continued until the next regular session." The irregular action later proved troublesome. On November 11th, there appeared a remonstrance signed by eighty-seven citizens. As "a great majority" were in favor of the old road, the commissioners "disannulled" their order. It was just as difficult then as now to please all the people all the time.
In 1843 the attention of the settlers was diverted from their public needs to the opportunities for acquiring lands in the new cession. Little thought in consequence was given to roads. Only two roads in fact were established. On March 27th, in response to a petition presented by Samuel Harrah, one was granted to start where the road from Fairfield to Goodspeed's and Standifird's Mill crossed the middle of section fifteen in Cedar Township and proceeded thence east a distance of about three miles on the middle of the section line until it interescted the Madison road running to Fairfield. Joel Bradshaw, John Harper, Sr., and Thomas Standifird were named as viewers. The petitioners were required to pay all expenses. On the 28th in response to a petition of many citizens, a road was granted to commence on the street south of the courthouse and to run thence west on the best possible route to Mark's Mill on Cedar Creek. Within city limits this is identical with West Burlington Street. Alfred Seevers, M. D. Springer and Stephen Cooper were named as viewers and Samuel Whitmore as surveyor.
In 1844, changes were made in the road running from Fairfield to Junkin and Pitkin's Mill, in the road running from Fort Madison to Fairfield between James A. Galliher's and Daniel Sears', in the road from the Van Buren County line to Clinkenbeard's Mill in order to put it on a township line, and in the road from Fairfield to Pringle's. These illustrate the process of development already outlined. The viewers to relocate the road from Fairfield to Junkin and Pitkin's Mill were Grinder Wilson, William Vinson and Alexander J. Majors. To the route they selected Rolly Taylor filed a remonstrance. Daniel Carter, George Moffit and Alexander Fulton were appointed to assess the damages. For their services they received $1.50 each. They estimated the damages at $30 which were promptly paid by the petitioners. The new route was then declared a public highway and the original survey void.
On July 15th, the survey of a road was authorized to run from Benjamin McCleary's claim in a northeasterly direction across Cedar Creek near Joseph Clinkenbeard's to intersect the Agency road near Benjamin Gordy's. Enos Ellmaker, Charles F. Alden and Horace Gaylord were named as viewers and Robert Brown as surveyor. On October 7th, two petitions received favorable consideration. David Brown, Martin Byerly and David Carter were appointed viewers and David Switzer surveyor to locate a road commencing near the house of George Bond, thence running partly on the section line through the farm of John Koons, thence to William Marlow's, crossing Competine Creek below the mouth of Coon Creek in Locust Grove Township. John Howell, Samuel S. Walker and Abram VanWinkle were appointed viewers and William Bonnifield, surveyor, to locate a road commencing at Glasgow, thence running east to James Gilmore's, thence to the section line between sections fourteen and twenty-three, and thence east on or as near this line as practicable to the line dividing the counties of Henry and Jefferson at the corner of sections twenty-three and twenty-four to intersect a road in Henry County.
This year also marks a stage in local road development. In the beginning "all male persons between twenty-one and fifty years of age who had resided one month in this territory," except those exempt by law, were liable yearly to perform in person or by substitute three days' work on the public roads. In 1842 this requirement was reduced to two days' work where it yet remains. At the same time, provision was made to permit county commissioners to levy for road purposes a tax on all property taxable by the revenue laws. This tax could not be less than five cents nor more than twenty-five cents on the hundred dollars' valuation. The purpose of this legislation was rightly to place a part of the burden upon nonresident land owners who would profit most by the "unearned increment." While they were given opportunity to work out this tax as residents were, they could not hope to avail themselves of the privilege. That they would be found delinquent and so compelled to pay in money was anticipated. All moneys received from this source were to be applied "to the making or repair of bridges or improvement of roads." These funds, it will be noticed, could not be employed in opening roads. Naturally as values rose they automatically increased both the labor and the money that were available for these specific purposes. Advantage was now taken of this law. On July 18th, a tax of ten cents on the hundred dollars was laid for road purposes in the respective road districts.
In 1845 changes in the locations of a number of roads were authorized. It would be difficult and tedious to follow them in detail. Several new roads were projected deserving of mention. On January 6th, Philander Chandler, George W. Weyand and John Park were named as viewers and Sexton Mount as surveyor to locate a road, limited to forty feet in width, beginning on the eastern line of the county eight rods south of the northeast corner of section twelve, crossing Skunk River at Shiverly's Ford near the northwest corner of the section, running thence west on the line between sections to the northeast corner of the northwest quarter of section nine, thence south eighty rods, thence in the direction of Fairfield passing between H. K. McCalla's and John Hodgins' until near Alexander Blakely's it intersect the road leading from Fairfield to Deed's Mill. This was in Walnut Township. It will be observed the description is largely in terms of the survey. The cost of laying it out was $43. On the 7th, Joseph M. Parker, Benjamin McCleary and Adley Hemphill were named as viewers and John Snook as surveyor to locate a road to run from Fairfield to the county line of Wapello at or near the center of the east side of township number seventy-three north range twelve west "on the nearest and best ground that a road can be got without damaging any person's farm." The cost of laying it out was $53.75.
On April 8th, John Rager, John Pheasant and John Clinton as viewers and Robert Brown as surveyor were appointed to locate a road commencing at the northwest corner of section twenty-six in township number seventy-two north range ten west, Fairfield, running south to the Agency road and thence on the best route to Depew's Mill, having due respect to private property. Depew's Mill was earlier known as Troxell's Mill. Daniel McLean, E. S. Gage and William Alston asked damages. The assessment made by George C. Parker, Nelson J. Herring and Elijah Smith, caused the commissioners to refuse to grant the road. Horace Gaylord and others on the bond were then required to pay the costs. On this day also Joseph M. Parker, Jonathan Turner and Abraham Landers as viewers and Sexton Mount as surveyor were appointed to mark a road from Deed's Mill on Skunk River to cross Walnut Creek at the old fording in section twenty-eight of township number seventy-three north range eight west, Walnut, and from thence to the Town of Fairfield "so that the same may be legally recorded." On the 9th, Alfred Wright, Jonathan Dyer and John Davis were named as viewers and John Snook as surveyor to locate a road running from Junkin and Pitkin's Mill to Greenup Smith's, thence on the nearest and best route until it struck the half mile corner between sections twenty-six and twenty-seven in Liberty Township, thence south on the section line until it struck the line of Van Buren County. On the same date, James Lanman, Samuel Cornell and M. T. Shelton were named as viewers and John Cassiday as surveyor to locate a road to run from the territorial road west of Jonathan Wolgamott's "by John Steel's and to the northeast corner of John Cameron's orchard," and thence to Smith's Ford. This also was in Liberty Township.
On July 7th, George W. Troy, Jacob B. Smith and David Laughery were named as viewers and John Smith as surveyor to locate a road beginning at a point on the Fairfield and Brighton road between sections fourteen and fifteen in township number seventy-three north range nine west, Penn, and proceeding by Caleb Cooper's, James A. Galliher's and the residence of the widow Parker to Goodspeed's Mill on Cedar Creek. This road passed through the land of Alexander Blakely, who deemed it an injury. Benjamin Mount, John R. Parsons, and Samuel J. Bonnifield were appointed to assess the damages. They were found to be $15, which amount was paid by W. D. Clapp, thus removing the difficulty. On the same date, Noah Wright, Samuel Harrow and William Dunham were named as viewers and David Switzer as surveyor to locate a road to run from Troy's Point about seven miles west to Depew's Mill.
On October 6th, Henry Hardin, William G. Coop and David Bowman as viewers and John Snook as surveyor were appointed to locate a road from the northwest corner of the town plat of Fairfield north to the northwest corner of section thirteen in township number seventy-three range ten west, Blackhawk, thence to the north line of the county in the direction of Richland in Keokuk County. On the 7th, Isaac Blakely, S. G. Finney and John W. Culbertson as viewers and Samuel Whitmore as surveyor were appointed to locate a road commencing at the northwest corner of section twenty-five in township number seventy-two north range ten west, Fairfield, and running thence west on the sction line until it intersect a road at William Vinson's. Although Hial Spicer and William Stilwell asked for damages, their objections in some manner were removed or satisfied.
The need of bridges over Cedar at Depew's Mill and at Junkin and Pitkin's Mill it seems was sufficiently felt in the spring of this year to occasion some agitation for them. On May 2d, the commissioners proposed to pay one-half the expense of building bridges at these places. They also instructed the clerk to post notices that on the 17th they would meet with subscribers of each district to consider the best plans. Possibly as a result of that conference a contract was entered into with A. H. Brown for the erection of a bridge at Junkin and Pitkin's Mill. On July 23d, an advancement of $50 was made him by the county. He proved unequal to the undertaking or at least failed to meet its obligations. After a dilatory year the commissioners with excusable impatience at their July meeting in 1846 allowed him ten days in which to arrange with C. C. Van or some other responsible person to finish the work. Despite this order and the arrangement, the delay continued. Having legally announced that they would receive "proposals for the completion of the bridge" if it did not progress to their satisfaction, on November 2d, they empowered H. W. Sample and B. B. Tuttle to go on with its construction, applying all the materials on the groud to that use, filling up the abutments with gravel or other suitable "substantials," and securing it from danger of flood. The filling was done by E. D. Skinner who was paid $92.50 therefor. On February 10, 1847, the commissioners made an examination of the bridge. It was then agreed by all parties that Joel Thorne, Stephen Bonnell and Jesse Byrket decide and report in writing whether it was finished according to the contract. They found it was. On October 13th, settlement in full was effected. The whole cost of the bridge proper, including fees, was $251.95.
In 1846, numerous alterations were made in existing roads, but little was accomplished in the establishment of new ones. On January 6th, John Howell, William J. Stout and James Reed were named as viewers and William Bonnifield as surveyor to lay out a road from the county line north of Ziegler's Mill in Van Buren County, thence north as near as practicable to intersect a road from Glasgow's Mill to Wilson's Mill by way of Wamsley's Mill in Henry County. On the 26th, Henry Terrell, Jacob Frederick and David Laughery were named as viewers and Robert Brown as surveyor to lay out a road "commencing at the town of Fairfield at the Public Square, thence on Robinson's survey to the corner of Baldwin's field, thence on the section line to the old crossing of a steep hollow hear the corner of Thorne's pasture, thence to a large cottonwood tree above the moth of Sharp's spring branch, thence to John Young's by way of Isaac Sharp's, thence through Trocksell's field on a line splitting two forty acre lots south of Neffell Leech's field, thence through Jacob Plough's lane to a small jackoak tree, thence the nearest and best route to intersect the old territorial survey by A. Fleenor's leading to Oscaloosa (sic) in Mahaska County by the way of Bonnet's Point to the county line." Uncertain as this description would seem to be, no doubt all the points referred to were then well known and even now could be determined from the field notes without much difficulty. This survey cost $33.62½. Damages were claimed in such amounts that the road was rejected as not of sufficient importance to the public.
In the ten years succeeding the admission of Iowa to the Union in 1846, the several General Assemblies established many state roads, so many in fact that they constituted an abuse of authority. Sixteen of these enactments related to Jefferson County. The curious may find them set out with minuteness in the various session laws of that period. To but two of them will particular reference be made. One was the relocation in 1847 of a part of a territorial road authorized in 1844 to run from Fairfield to the Indian boundary line in the direction of the Indian Agency at the Raccoon Forks of the Des Moines River. A county road proposed in 1846 was also essentially the same. As described it started at the northwest corner of the Town of Fairfield, proceeded thence north to the middle of the first lane running west; thence west one hundred and sixty rods; thence north to the first section line; thence west to a point thirty rods west of Henry Evan's house; thence the nearest and best route to the northeast corner of Sharp's farm; thence the nearest and best route to the northeast corner of N. Leech's farm; thence to the brick schoolhouse of school district No. 1, in Locust Township, in Jefferson County; thence to the most northerly corner of William Spurlock's prairie field; thence to or near Maylen Wright's; thence the nearest and best route to intersect the old survey where it crossed the Mahaska line. The commissioners were John Howell, George W. Troy and Samuel Shipley. As before there were claims for damages which, when assessed, were in the judgment of the county commissioners in excess of the value of the road. They therefore refused to declare it a public highway. This refusal to approve this road was brought to the attention of the next General Assembly and resulted in the passage of an act in 1848 declaring the county commissioner of Jefferson County shall not have power to change the relocation of the road from Fairfield to Fort Des Moines.
The second state constitution adopted in 1857 denied the General Assembly the right to pass special enactments relating to roads. Henceforth all roads were treated as a local institution. As permanency of location was secured, they were drained and graded. Their improvement proceeded as a gradual growth, at times hastened, and at times delayed by general needs and conditions.
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