Acts of the
Board of County Commissioners
The first meeting of
the Board of County Commissioners was on the 6th day
of October, 1838, at Prairie La Porte, now
Guttenberg. No business was transacted save that of
organization, and the appointment of Dean Gay, Clerk
of the board. An adjournment was then had till the
13th of October, when they re-assembled at the same
The first business transacted by the board was the
appointment of John W. Griffith, Assessor for the
ensuing year, and George W. Jones, Allen Carpenter
and Baldwin Oldstead, Road Commissioners.
The county was divided into four election precincts,
the first commencing at the southeast corner of range
one west, thence west to the southwest corner of
ninety-one, thence north to the northwest corner of
said town, thence east to the channel of the
The second "commencing at the southeast corner
of fraction range two, thence west to the southwest
corner of four west, thence north to the northwest
corner of four west, ninety-three north, thence east
to the channel of the Mississippi line." The
third commencing "at the southeast corner of
range three west, ninety-four north, thence west to
the southwest corner of fraction six west,
ninety-four north, thence following the Black Hawk
line to the obtuse angle of six west, thence
following the purchase line to the Mississippi
River." The fourth commencing at "the
southeast corner of four west, thence west on the
county line to the southeast corner of six west,
thence north to the purchase line, thence following
said line to the southwest corner of fraction six
west, thence east to the northwest corner of four
west, ninety-three north, thence south to the
southwest of four, ninety-two north, thence east to
the northeast corner of range three west, ninety-one
north, thence south to the county line."
The court ordered all elections in the first precinct
to he held at the house of Henry Holtzbecker; in the
second precinct at the house of Harman Graybill; in
the third precinct at the house of Jesse Daudly; in
the fourth at Boardman's mill. The court left it to
the discretion of those living in any precinct not of
sufficient number to organize an election to cast
their votes at the nearest precinct adjoining their
place of residence.
Ambrose Canada was appointed Commissioner of Common
Schools for the first precinct, Harman Graybill for
the second, Jesse Daudly for the third, Mr. Downie
for the fourth.
The first proceedings do not give the names of the
county commissioners, who were Robert Campbell,
William D. Grant and George Culver.
The third meeting of the court was held at Prairie La
Porte, Nov. 20, 1838, Robert Campbell and William D.
Grant being present. A tax was levied upon the
property of the citizens of the county, and the
collector ordered to collect the sum by the first day
of January following.
David Springer, Henry F. Lander and Henry Holtzbecker
were appointed judges of election for the first
precinct; John Gillett, Patton McMullen and Baldwin
Olmstead for the second; Jesse Daudly, Allen
Carpenter and C.S. Edson for the third. For the
fourth precinct no judges were appointed, it being
probable that there were not a sufficient number of
voters living within its boundaries to organize an
The fourth meeting of the board was held at Prairie
La Porte, Jan. 7, 1839, all the members being
A new election precinct was found to include the
townships of ninety-one and ninety-two, range four
west, to be known as the fifth election precinct, the
elections to be held at the house of George Culver,
the judges of election to be George Culver, William
W. Wayman and Baldwin Olmstead.
On the 21st of January the commissioners again met,
but transacted no business of public interest.
During vacation the first application was made for
license to retail "ardent spirits," and the
clerk entered upon the records of the court the
"Peter Legree made application for permit to
retail ardent spirits on the 19th of March, and I
granted the same according to the last act of the
Wisconsin Legislature. Done at Prairie La Porte,
March 19, 1839.
Dean Gay, Clerk of Board County Commissioners.
Why the permit was granted according to the act of
the Wisconsin Legislature is unknown, and it can only
be surmised that the clerk did not have access to the
Iowa statutes, and that his act must be done
according to some law made and provided, and the
Wisconsin law was as good as any.
Needham Dudley was appointed Assessor for 1839, but
not qualifying, George Culver was appointed and
performed the duties for the year.
On the 29th of May, W.D. Grant and Robert Campbell
met and surveyed the lands for the location of the
county seat. At the same time they appointed judges
of election for each of the five precincts.
L.B. Tomkins was appointed Clerk of the Board of
County Commissioners, and entered upon the discharge
of his duties, vice Dean Gay.
On the first of July "James A. McClellan made
application for vending goods and liquors, and it was
granted according to the last act of the Iowa
The jurisdiction of Clayton County extended a great
distance, as will be seen by the following order of
the commissioners under date July 13, 1839:
"On the petition of F. Andros, license is hereby
granted Lewis Massey, of St. Peters, to keep a ferry
across the Mississippi one mile above Fort Snelling,
for one year from date hereof, for the sum of
The license of a tavern and grocery keeper was higher
than in many other counties in the Territory at this
time, as Herman Greybill was assessed in the sum of
$55 for keeping the same one year at Prairie La
At the August election, 1839, Patton McMullan, H.F.
Lander and William W. Wayman were elected County
The first meeting of the new board was held Aug. 12,
1839. No business was transacted save organization.
Charles E. Bensell was appointed Clerk of the board,
"during the option of the commissioners,"
at a mutiny held in September.
S.B. Olmstead, William Walker and Herman Greybill
were appointed Road Commissioners for one year, and
the following named School Commissioners for the same
time: Precinct No. 1, Ambrose Kennedy; No. 2, Harman
Graybill; No. 3, Jesse Daudly; No. 4, John Downie;
No. 5, Horace Mallory.
On the 8th day of October, 1839, the following order
was entered upon the records of the court.
"Ordered. That notices be circulated and posted,
for the purpose of letting out the building of a
court-house and other buildings at Prairie La Porte,
the county seat."
This order was annulled at a meeting held October 19.
The commissioners were determined, if possible, to
have good roads, and to that end "it was ordered
that each free male white citizen of the county of
Clayton be compelled to work five days on such roads
as the supervisor of each precinct they reside in
At a meeting of the board held Nov. 12, 1839, Charles
E. Bensell resigned, and H.D. Bronson was appointed
to fill the vacancy as Clerk of the Board.
On the 5th of December the following order was made:
"It is ordered that there be a court-house built
on the public square at Prairie La Porte, by the
first of September next, size and quality of building
to be hereafter mentioned. Also, that the sale of
town lots take place on the first Monday in April
next. Also that the furnishing materials and building
said court-house on the public square in Prairie La
Porte to be finished by the 15th of September.
"Resolved, Further, That the sale and
building be advertised in the Iowa News for
The citizens of what is now the State of Minnesota
desired to have a part in the government of the
county, and vote at such election as might be
ordered, therefore the following orders were made:
"Ordered, That the settlement at the outlet of
Lake Pepin compose an election precinct, to be called
the sixth precinct, and that Charles Sweet, Oliver
Cratt and James Wells be appointed the first judges
"Ordered, That the settlement at the mouth of
the St. Peters River compose an election precinct, to
be called the seventh precinct, and that A.J. Bruce,
Franklin Steele and H.H. Sibley be appointed the
first judges of election."
The third election precinct, the boundaries of which
have heretofore been given, was abolished by the
board, and a new district formed, comprising
townships ninety-four and ninety-five north, of range
three and four west, to be known as the third
The commissioners could not wait for the completion
of the court-house, and therefore the following
appears upon its records:
"The board having taken into consideration the
necessity of erecting a building to be used as an
office for the county, and in which the books and
papers of the county can be safely deposited."
"Resolved, That the erection of such
building is necessary, and that the board proceed to
make the contracts for the erection thereof."
The board then proceeded to contract with Robert
Hetfield for the delivery of the stuff necessary for
the erection of a county building, and with David
Hastings for the construction thereof."
On the 10th of July, 1840, H.D. Bronson resigned the
office of Clerk of the board and Alfred Northam was
appointed to fill the vacancy.
At a meeting of the board held Aug. 3, William Walker
applied for a license to keep a ferry across the
Mississippi River, at or near the mouth of Turkey
River. A license was granted, and the board fixed the
each person ...
For each horse or mule ...
For each wheel carriage, for each wheel ...
For every head of cattle ...
For every head of swine or sheep ...
For every cwt. of freight over five cwt ...
Thomas P. Park was
also granted a license for a ferry across Turkey
River, at a point where Mead's branch entered the
same, and authorized to receive the following rates
each person ...
For each horse or mule ...
For wheel carriages, each wheel ...
For every head of cattle ...
For every head of swine or sheep ...
For every cwt. of freight over five cwt ...
The claim of Robert
Hetfield for material for the county building
amounting to $73.50 was allowed, and of David
Hastings for erecting the same, $23, was also
allowed. Thus Clayton's first county building cost
At a meeting of the board held Feb. 1, 1841, the
assessor was ordered to assess the people at St.
Peters, and at all intermediate points between the
county seat and that place.
Daniel Justice, at the April term of the
Commissioners' Court, was fined the sum of $2 for
contempt of court.
Under date of July 6, 1841, the following was placed
upon the records:
"We, the undersigned, through the medium of the
records of the Board of county Commissioners, do
declare and make known that we herewith resign, each
of us, the office of County Commissioners of Clayton
County, reserving the right to perform the duties of
said office until our successors are duly elected,
and qualified for said office according to law.
No reason is assigned
for the act of the commissioners, and so far as the
records go one is left in the dark as to why their
resignations were given.
On the 23d of August the court assembled, and after
discharging some business it was "ordered that
the court adjourn that their successors may enter
upon the discharge of the duties of county
commissioners." Their successors were Eliphalet
Price, A.S. Cooley and Thomas C. Linton. Charles L.
Lagrave was appointed Clerk of the board.
The new board, desiring to have a full nderstanding
of the financial condition of the county, had the
books "posted," as will be seen from the
"Whereas the books of the Board of County
Commissioners have been posted up to this date from
the 8th day of October, in the year 1839, it is
herewith declared by record that the expenditures
amount to the sum of $3,054.72, and the receipts for
the same period of time to the amount of $2,096.59,
making the indebtedness of the county $959.13, at
this present date."
At the October term of the court the assessor was
instructed not to assess any property more than fifty
miles beyond the bounds of Clayton County.
At the February, 1842, term E.B. Lyon was appointed
Clerk of the board.
The first bounty offered for wolf scalps was at the
March, 1842, term; $1.50 was offered for black or
gray wolves; under six months, 75 cents; prairie
wolves, $1.00; under six months, 50 cents.
In April, 1842, E.B. Lyon resigned the position of
Clerk of the board and Robert R. Reed was appointed
to fill the vacancy.
The following enactment bears date July 4,
"Be it enacted by the Board of County
Commissioners of Clayton County, that from and after
the passage of this act, the polls in Boardman
precincts shall be opened at the house and residence
of Elisha Boardman and not at the Dry Mill as
At the February term in 1843 the indebtedness of the
county was found to be $625.28.
On the second day of October, 1843, the board met for
the first time at the new county seat, Jacksonville,
The indebtedness of the county was found by the board
to be $1,040.99.
By a record of the board, under date April 3, 1844,
it is learned that James King has a contract for the
erection of a court-house, that he had completed the
same, and it was accepted by the commissioners, the
amount paid being $675. Neither the articles of
agreement nor the specifications are a matter of
At a sesion of the board held April 4, 1844, the
boundaries of the various precincts were defined as
follows: "Millville precinct (No. 1), commencing
at the northeast corner of the county line on the
Mississippi River, thence running due south to the
southeast corner of said county, thence due west to
southwest corner of township ninety-one, range three
west, thence due north to the northwest corner of
said township, thence due east to the channel of the
Mississippi River, thence down said river to the
point of beginning." The elections of said
precinct were directed to be held at the school-house
in Millville. "Jacksonville precinct (No. 2),
commencing at the southeast corner of fractional
township ninety-two, range two west, thence due west
to the center of township line dividing townships
ninety-one and ninety-two, range four west of the
fifth principal meridian, thence due north to the
center of township ninety-four, range four west,
thence due east to the Mississippi River, thence down
said river to the place of commencing." The
elections were appointed for the court-house at
Jacksonville. "Bloody Run precinct (No. 3),
commencing on the Mississippin River at the southeast
corner of the center line of township ninety-four,
range three west of the fifth principl meridian,
thence due west to township line dividing township
line ninety-four, range four and five west, thence
due north to northeast corner of township
ninety-four, range five west, thence due west to the
neutral line, thence running northeast on said line
to the northwest corner of township ninety-five,
range four west, thence due south two miles, thence
due east on section line to the Mississippi River,
thence down said river to the place of
commencing." The elections, it was determined,
were held at the house of Lowdowick Mirale, in said
precinct. "Yellow River precinct (No. 4),
commencing at the Painted Rock on the Mississippi
River, thence down said river to the corner of
township ninety-five, range three west of the fifth
principal meridian, thence down said river two miles,
thence due west on section line west side of township
ninety-five, range four west, thence due north to the
neutral line, thence following said line to the place
of commencing at the Painted Rock." The house of
Thomas C. Linton, on Yellow River, was designated as
the place for holding elections. Boardman precinct
(No. 5), commencing at the center of the south side
of township ninety-three, range four west of the
fifth principal meridian, thence due west to the
northh-east corner of Fayette County, thence due
north to the neutral line, thence following said line
until it intersects Bloody Run precinct (No. 3),
thence due east to the northwest corner of township
ninety-four, range five west, thence due south to the
center of said township line, thence due east to the
center of township ninety-four, range four west,
thence due south to the place of commencing."
The elections were to be held at the school-house in
Poney Hollow. "Wayman precinct (No. 6),
commencing at the southeast corner of township
ninety-one, range four west of the fifth principal
meridian, thence due west to the neutral line, thence
following said line with its angles until it
intersects the corner of Boardman's precinct (No. 5),
opposite the north corner of Fayette County, thence
due east to the center of township lline dividing
townships ninety-two and ninety-three, range four
west, thence due south to the township line dividing
townships ninety-one and ninety-two, range four west,
thence due east to the northeast corner of township
ninety-one, range four west, thence south to the
place of commencing." The house of W.W. Wayman
was designated as the place for holding elections.
April 10, 1845, a new precinct was established,
called the Bemis precinct, with the following
boundaries: "Township ninety-one north, range
five west, and the west half of township ninety-one
north, range four west." All elections held in
said precinct were to be held at the house of Horace
Bemis, in said precinct.
Jan. 7, 1846, another precinct was established, and
bounded as follows: "Said precinct includes
fractional township ninety-two north, range two west,
and township ninety-three north range two west of the
fifth principal meridian." The house of
Christian Wise was designated as the place for
holding the elections, and the name of Guttenberg was
given to the precinct.
Instead of an assessor for the entire county, one was
appointed for each precinct.
In October, 1844, John Baufill was allowed $200 for
lathing and plastering the court-house.
On the 5th day of November, 1845, the county
commissioners resolved upon the erection of a
"public gaol," according to the following
specifications: "It shall be built of hewed
square oak timber, laid close together; the walls are
to be one foot thick and twelve feet high; the room
fourteen feet square in the clear on the foundation,
and nine feet in the clear between the floors; the
floor to have a trap door three feet long and two
feet wide; the oak planks on the sides, and the
bottom floor the same way. These planks are to be
filled with nails not more than one inch and a half
apart on the side next to the wall, then spiked fast
to the the wall with four-inch spikes, the spikes not
more than fourteen inches apart; the bottom floor to
be finished in the same way. There are to be two
grates fourteen inches square to be put in the walls
of the room as high as the upper floor will admit, to
be made of one-inch bar iron, the frame of the grate
to be made of heavy flat bar iron; there is to be
left on the frame of the grate a zell, or tenant, of
three inches above and below to sink it in the
timber, and then to be well spiked on to the wall.
The upper floor is to be laid with one-inch plank;
the trap-door is to be made of double two inch oak
plank doubled and rivieted together with twenty-four
rivets, fastened to the floor by long, stong staple
hinges, a bolt three-fourths of an inch thick to run
through the floor riveted to the hinge, the hinge to
extend across the door, then to fasten by two staples
and two substantial locks, the keys to fit their own
locks only. The house is to be sided up or inclosed
with good oak or basswood siding. It shall be
shingled with good oak or pine of fourteen-inch
shingles, not laid more than four and a half inches
to the weather. The gable ends and roof are to be
close sheeted before siding or shingling. there is to
be a god door in the gable end with a clasp staple
and lock. There is to be a good stong flight of
stairs to be built on the out-side at one end,
leading to the door of the gable end, running by the
side with railing and a platform to be left at the
top of the stairs, three feet square. The above
building is to be well under pinned with a stone
wall, at least one foot thick; the corner or end of
each round of timber is to be pinned with
one-and-a-half inch pins, and the plates are to be
pinned in fur places in each log."
At a meeting held Jan. 6, 1846, bids for the erection
of the "gaol" were opened. The following
were the bids: Alfred Kinney, $557; Benjamin F.
Forbes, $385; Abraham Vandoren, $500; David Clark,
$248. The last was accepted by the board, Mr. Clark
taking one-half the amount in town lots, and the
other half in cash from the sale of lots.
The books being posted, it was found the indebtedness
of the county, Jan. 8, 1846, was $2,306.69½.
In 1847, at the April term of the County
Commissioners' Court, the county was divided into
townships in order that it might avail itself of its
share of the school fund of the State. The following
is the record of boundaries:
Township No. 1, Millville. --Fractional
Township 91 north, range 1 and 2 west, and fractional
Township 91, range 1 and 2 east.
Township No. 2, Mallory. --Township 91
north, range 3 west and the southeast quarter of
Township 91 north, range 4 west.
Township No. 3, Lodomillo. -- The west half
of Township 91 north, range 4 west, and Township 91
north, ranges 5 and 6 west.
Township No. 4, Hewitt. -- Township 92
north, ranges 5 and 6 west, with Fayette County
attached thereto, east half of township 92 north,
range 5 west, attached to Volga Township.
Township No. 5, Volga. -- Township 92 north,
range 4 west, northeast quarter of Township 91 north,
range 4 west, southwest quarter of Township 92, range
3 west, and the east half of Township 92 north, range
Township No. 6, Jefferson. -- Southeast
quarter of Township 92 north, range 3 west, and
fractional Townships 92 and 93 north, range 2 west.
Township No. 7, Garnavillo. -- North half of
Township 92 north, range 3 west, Township 93 north,
range 3 west, the south half of Township 94 north,
range 3 west, and the east half of Township 93 north,
range 4 west.
Township No. 8, Boardman. -- The west half
of Township 93 north, range 4 west, Township 93
north, ranges 5 and 6 west, the south half of
Township 94 north, range 5 west, the southwest
quarter of Township 94 north, range 4 west, and the
southeast quarter of Township 94 north, range 4 west.
Township No. 9, Mendon. -- The north half of
Township 94 north, ranges 3, 4 and 5 west, and the
south half of township 95 north, ranges 3,4 and 5
Township No. 10, Monona. -- The north haof
of Township 95 north, ranges 3, 4 and 5 west, and
Township 96 north, range 3 west.
At a meeting held April 11, 1848, the east half of
township 92 north, range 5 west, was ordered stricken
from Hewitt Township and added to Volga Township. At
the same meeting sections 1, 2, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of
township 92 north, range 3 west, and sections 1, 12,
13, 24, 25 and 36 of township 93 north, range 3 west,
were taken from Garnavillo and added to Jefferson.
At the same time the townships were formed the county
was divided into commissioners' districts. The
townships of Millville, Mallory, Lodomillo and Sperry
formed District No. 1; Volga, Jefferson and
Garnavillo, No. 2; Boardman, Mendon and Monona, No.
At the April session, in 1848, a new jail was
resolved upon, the first having been burned, and
plans and specifications entered upon the records. At
the May term the contract was awarded to David Clark,
for the sum of $1,480. the building included a house
for the use of the jailor.
At the January meeting, in 1849, the indebtedness of
the county was found to be $1,533.60. This
indebtedness was further increased to $3,412.06½.
From this time until the commissioners were
legislated out of office but little business was
transacted by the board, save auditing bills,
establishing new roads and changing boundry lines of
old ones. The following named served as Commissioners
for the time mentioned:
|1838-9. -- William D. Grant,
Robert Campbell, George Culver.
1839-40. -- William W. Wayman, H.F. Lander,
1840-1. -- Same.
1841-2. -- William F. Wayman, H.F. Lander, Elisha
1842-3. -- Eliphalet Price, A.S. Cooley and Thos.
1843-4. -- A.S. Cooley, James King and Daniel M.
1844-6. -- A.S. Cooley, James King and Luther
1846-7. -- A.S. Cooley, John Downie and Joseph B.
1847-50. -- A.S. Cooley, James Tapper and John W.