A Record of Settlement, Organization,
Progress and Achievement
Volume 1
Chicago, Illinois
The Pioneer Publishing Company




At first Dickinson County was attached to Woodbury County for judicial purposes and was nominally a part of that civil division. In the fore part of the year 1857 the settlers began to talk of organizing the county of Dickinson, electing their own officers and deciding here the questions which arose among them. The August election was decided upon, which election was held the first Tuesday in the month at the home of J. S. Prescott. It was necessary for the voters to send a petition, signed by fully two-thirds of the legal voters, to the county judge of the county to which Dickinson was attached, and permit him to pass upon the question as to whether or not they were entitled to separate county organization. Twenty voters signed the petition and delegated C. F. Hill to carry the document to Judge John K. Cook, of Woodbury County. After perusing the petition Judge Cook issued an order for an election, which was held on the date above designated. The first officers were: O. C. Howe, county judge; M. A. Blanchard, treasurer and recorder; B. F. Parmenter, Prosecuting attorney; R. A. Smith, clerk of the district court; C. F. Hill, sheriff; Alfred Wilkins, county surveyor, W. B. Brown, coroner ; R. U. Wheelock and R. A. Smith, justices of the peace. The next step was the carrying of the returns to Sioux City. Also, either the county judge, clerk of the district court or district attorney, had to appear before Judge Cook and give bonds for approval and be sworn in. R. A. Smith,


the newly elected clerk of the district court, was chosen for this hard journey. He writes: "These trips to Sioux City were no holiday affairs. The route by which they were made was to strike out in a westerly direction to the head of the Floyd and follow the stream to Sioux City. There were no settlements on the route until within eight miles of the city. The time required for making the trip was seven days; the distance one hundred and twenty miles each way, or two hundred and forty miles in all. Let a person imagine himself taking a trip that distance alone on horseback, drinking from the streams he might chance to cross, eating a dry lunch from his portmanteau, at night rolling up in a saddle blanket with the saddle under his head as a pillow, his horse picketed by his side, and with no probability of seeing a human being for the next three days, and he can form some idea of what those trips were. Add to this the ever-present danger of roving bands of Indians were continually hovering along the border, ready at any moment to waylay any luckless adventurer who may have ventured beyond the line of the settlements, and it will be understood that no slight amount of courage and hardihood were exhibited in their successful accomplishment."


The following letter, written by the first sheriff of Dickinson County, was originally published in the Sioux City Journal of June 10, 1900, and later by R. A. Smith:

"Hazleton, Pa., June 4, 1900.
Neil Bonner,
Sioux City, Iowa.
Dear Sir:
Yours of May 30th, referring to my early visit to Sioux City, is received. In the spring of 1857 I located at Spirit Lake, shortly after the massacre took place under Inkpadutah, and I helped bury some of the dead that had been overlooked by the soldiers sent down from Fort Ridgley. About the month of May, 1857, the settlers at Spirit Lake decided to organize Dickinson County, which before that had been attached with all northwestern Iowa to Woodbury County, and I was designated to go to Sioux City and get an order from the court there to hold an election and organize the county.

"I started out on my mission mounted upon an Indian pony which had both ears badly burned in a prairie fire, and accompanied by a young man by the name of Barnum a relative of P. T. Barnum, the great showman. Barnum was on foot, and as he was a good fellow, I shared my pony with him and allowed him to ride half of the time. After we left Spirit Lake we did not see a white man until we reached the Floyd River in Plymouth County, where we met a party of surveyors, who were staking out Plymouth City. Barnum and I were glad to meet these men, and we begged the privilege of camping near them, which they reluctantly


granted. The next day we reached Sioux City, and put up at the Sioux City House, a story and a half building, and to my great surprise I found it kept by the Trescott brothers, Wesley and Milo, who were from near Shickshinny, Pa. I knew them well, but I had some little trouble in making myself known to them, as my camp life, my leggings, Indian pony and other Indian fixings led them to believe that I was a half-breed, which amused my companion very much.

"Next day I looked up his honor, the judge of Woodbury County, and in a day or two had matters all arranged to start the wheels of government for Dickinson County. While I remained at Sioux City I heard much talk that the remains of Sergeant Floyd were exposed by the action of the Missouri River, and the citizens were about .to remove the remains to another bluff, where the aggressive Missouri River could not reach them. A man by the name of Brughier, a Frenchman, lived at the mouth of the Big Sioux River, and he had two squaw wives.

"Sioux City at that time was an unpretentious village of one story and one story and a half frame houses. The town was hemmed in closely by bluffs, which were so numerous and so close together as in some cases to admit only of a wagon road between them. I remember many interesting incidents while in the city, regarding the Indians who came there. I remember a one-story clothing store on the wharf which had a large picture on canvas of an elephant, which the boys called the 'land elephant.' The land elephant was the great animal of those days, and woe to the fellow who indulged in too much land and allowed the elephant to lie down upon him.

"Having completed the object of my mission, I made arrangements to return to Spirit Lake, and was directed to a saloon, restaurant and grocery store, where I could purchase a supply of provisions for my return. While selecting my outfit a band of Indians and half-breeds entered. They seemed to have plenty of money and one of the braves called up the drinks for all hands. They were all well armed and in a state of carousal that would have laid 'Pat in a Grog Shop' in the shade in his palmiest days. The brave who was treating stepped up to me and in an animated tone asked: 'Are you my fren'?' I replied, 'Oh, yes, I am your friend.' Then come and take a drink wi' me.' I declined with many apologies.' Then you no my fren'. 'I thought I saw trouble just ahead and I quickly changed my mind, as I had just discovered that I did want a drink, and I stepped up to the bar and took a ration of Missouri corn whisky. I proceeded with preparing my outfit, when a second brave asked me to take a drink with him. This invitation followed the first in such quick succession that I was forced to decline, when he sang out, 'You drink wi' him ‐ you no drink wi' me — eh?' So I was in for a second ration, and so it went on, growing more lively. At no time was it long between drinks, and I devoted the


brief time between drinks to collecting my purchases and completing my outfit, and at the first opportunity that offered I made a straight coattail out of the door. And as I walked up the street I wondered how that poor bartender expected to get out of that green corn whisky dance alive. He, however, had a six-inch Colt's revolver lying on the bar behind him within easy reach. It was wonderful what a respect a Colt's revolver inspired for its owner in that day.

"Well, I was happy. I escaped that drunken, carousing band of Indians and was pleased with my little outfit, which contained a bottle of raspberry syrup, one can of peaches and a box of good cigars. Mr. Trescott was very kind to me and asked for my pocket compass, which he compared with a surveyor's instrument and it was pronounced correct. This was the last thing done. I was now ready to start for Spirit Lake alone, as Barnum did not return with me.

"Sherman's Battery had passed through the country a few days before, en route from Fort Scott to Fort Ridgley, in Minnesota, and it had left a well beaten trail along the Floyd River. The battery suffered severely in the first battle of Bull Run, July 22, 1861. On my way back I decided to follow the trail as far as I could north and then I left it in a right line for Spirit Lake. I left this trail in either Buncombe (now Lyon) or Osceola County. In the following day, while riding under a hot noon-day sun, I became very somnolent and slept while riding. In fact, I fell off my pony, and then I tied my pony to my foot with a lariat and lay down and slept it out. When I awoke, to my great surprise, the sun was in the north. I now had to resort to my pocket compass to discover, if I could, what had gone wrong with the sun. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my compass was as erratic as the sun. It now began to dawn upon me that my idea of direction was muddled and I was lost. The question now arose ‐ where am I? Which way have I been traveling? Which way shall I go?

"I, however, took a course and while riding along suddenly came upon what seemed to me to be a camp of Indian teepeees on the prairie. My first thought was to turn back, and then I was afraid if I should be discovered the Indians would give chase, so I decided that the best thing I could do was to move right on, which I did, and when I neared the supposed camp, to my great surprise up jumped a herd of elk and ran away over a divide. The elk horns which I saw were so magnified by the clear atmosphere that I mistook them for teepees.

"After the herd ran over the divide I heard several shots fired, and as there were no white men in that country, as I believed, I made up my mind that the shots had been fired by Indians. I did not want to meet any Indians, yet I was curious to know whence the shots came, so I dismounted


and crept cautiously to the top of the divide; the elk had disappeared, but I saw a man going in the opposite direction to which I was going, and I, for the time, was greatly relieved. After going a few miles I was hailed by two men coming towards me, whom I took for Indians and I tried hard to avoid them and they tried as hard to intercept me. They finally waved their hats and I then knew they were white men and turned to meet them. When we met these two men simply exhausted their vocabulary upon me. They were members of a party of government surveyors and said they had not seen a white man for so long that they almost had a mind to shoot me for trying to evade them. They soon informed me that their chief surveyor, Alfred Wilkins, was lost and they were trying to find him. I then related the incident of the elks and how I saw a man going in the opposite direction. They then put one of their party upon a horse and started him after Wilkins with a large tin horn. He returned to camp during the night with the surveyor all right.

"I camped with the party and at our mess I shared with them some of the delicacies I had brought with me from Sioux City, which they enjoyed, especially the cigars. They now informed me that I was in Osceola County, and in the morning gave me the direction to take to reach Spirit Lake. I was glad that I had not wandered away farther than I did, for had they told me that I had wandered into the then unceded territory of Dakota, I would scarcely have been prepared to dispute it. However, I consoled myself with the thought that if I was lost the government surveyor had undergone a similar experience. 'Misery loves company.'

"I reached Spirit Lake the next day and soon posted the notices for the election in Dickinson County. The election came and we elected a full line of county and township officers. I had the honor of being elected the first sheriff. The election over, we held a jollification, made speeches, etc. O. C. Howe, in a speech, said we had the most independent set of officers he ever knew, that each man in the county had an office of some kind, and we owed no thanks to anyone, as we had elected ourselves. The election passed off very quietly. There were no charges of ballot box stuffing and no contests. It certainly was an honest eection and I know of no election since of which I have had the same good opinion. Every man had an office and the harmony that followed was great."

Although the foregoing letter contains much information irrelative to the government and organization of Dickinson County, it throws a clear light upon the first efforts of the settlers to form a government of their own. Another writer is authority for the statement that the beaten path left by the Sherman's Battery, mentioned by Hill, aferwards became a noted trail and was much used by travelers to Sioux City. Later, it is said, the route to Sioux City passed by way of Peterson and Cherokee, then


across prairie land to Melbourne. The prairie stretch covered fifty miles without a habitation.


The election of August, 1857, was followed by another in October, when state and legislative officers were chosen. The elections were then held under the old constitution. Dickinson County was in the Fort Dodge representative district and C. C. Carpenter and John F. Duncombe, both of that city, were candidates for representative. Dickinson County gave practically all of its votes to Carpenter. R. A. Smith was chosen to carry the returns to Fort Dodge, but fortunately for him he met R. E. Carpenter at the Des Moines River, the latter on his way to the lakes tor the same returns. Carpenter carried the vote by a small majority.

The first election under the new constitution was held in the fall of 1858. In the Fourth Judicial District, of which Dickinson County was a part, A. W. Hubbard, of Sioux City, was chosen district judge and O. C. Howe, of Spirit Lake, district attorney.

The first term of the district court in Dickinson County was held in Spirit Lake in the month of June, 1859. Judge Hubbard was in the chair, O. C. Howe acted as district attorney, Jareb Palmer was clerk of the district court and Alfred Arthur sheriff. The attorneys at this session were: B. F. Parmenter, this county; Patt Robb, Woodbury County, and C. C. Smeltzer, Clay County.


In the old days the county judge was no less than a potentate. All affairs of the county in question were decided by him. When a man inclined to be dishonest held the office the county government was about as bad as possible, but where a straightforward, conscientious man held the position the government was even better and certainly cheaper than the present form. However, the county judge system was much abused in Iowa and fell into ill repute. It was abolished in the year 1860 and the supervisor system inaugurated in its place.

The latter system, when first adopted, provided for a supervisor from each township. This proved too cumbersome and the present system of three supervisors was adopted. In this connection it may be said that the office of county judge was maintained in Dickinson County until the year 1868, but after 1860 the power was so diminished that the position was merely an honor. Judge Leonidas Congleton was the last county judge before the supervisors assumed control.

The first board of supervisors was composed of the following: J. S. Prescott, Okoboji; Rosalvo Kingman, Spirit Lake ; William Barkman, East


Okoboji, or Tusculum. The clerk of the district court acted as clerk of the board, the office of auditor not being in existence at that time.


The first government survey in Dickinson County was made in 1857 by Surveyor Wilkins from Van Buren County. This survey, though, was found to, be faulty, and a second one was made by C. L. Estes, in 1858-9. All the government surveys were completed in 1859. This gave the settlers their first chance to definitely establish their boundaries and secure title to their claims.


Following is a roster of the different county officers of Dickinson from the organization in 1857 until the present time:

County judges: O. C. Howe, 1857-8; Leonidas Congleton, 1858-62; J. D. Howe, 1862-4; Ludwig Lewis, 1864-6; H. C. Owen, 1866-8; Samuel Pillsbury, 1868-70. The fate of the office of county judge has been described in preceding paragraphs.

Treasurer and recorder: M. A. Blanchard, 1857-9; W. B. Brown, 1859-61; James Ball, 1861-5; A. Kingman, 1865-7; A. Jenkins, 1867-9; M. J. Smith, 1869-73. In 1872 the state legislature separated the offices of treasurer and recorder, making each a separate position, beginning January 1, 1873.

Treasurers: G. S. Needham, 1872-5; A. W. Osborne, 1875-86; 0. Oliver, 1886-94; D. N. Guthrie, 1894-8; J. C. Davis, 1898-1903; E. C. Carlton, 1903-16; A. R. Davison, 1916 .

Recorders: R. L. Wilcox, 1873-5; A. A. Mosher, 1875-1881; C. C. Perrin, 1881-89; Harvey Wood, 1889-95; C. W. Price, 1895-1906; Emma Owen Town, 1906-12; Opal J. Hamilton, 1912 .

District Court Clerks: R. A. Smith, 1857-9; Jareb Palmer, 1859-61; John Smith, 1861-3; R. A. Smith, 1863-5; Orson Rice, 1865-7; A. A. Mosher, 1867-71; W. B. Brown, 1871-3; J. A. Smith, 1873-9; W. F. Pillsbury, 1879-87; J. S. Everett, 1887-93; V. A. Arnold, 1893-7; W. A. Price, 1897-1906; W. C. Drummond, 1906.

Auditors: Samuel Pillsbury, 1870-82; W. F. Carlton, 1882-90; C. T. Chandler, 1890-3; W. C. Drummond, 1893-7; S. L. Pillsbury, 1897-1902; C. C. Hamilton, 1902-10; John S. Blow, 1910-16; Angus McDonald, 1916.

Sheriffs: C. F. Hill, 1857-9; A. D. Arthur, 1859-62; the records of the office from 1862 until 1870 were lost in the burning of the court house, but it is known that Daniel Bennett held the office most of this time; W. S. Beers, 1869-72 ; L. A. Litel, 1872-3 ; L. E. Holcomb, 1873-4; A. L. Saw‐


yer, 1874-6; Daniel Bennett, 1876-80; P. S. Mott, 1880-8; A. D. Inman, 1888-92; P. E. Narey, 1892-8; J. C. Guthrie, 1898-1900; Fred Jones, 1900- 12; B. K. Bradfield, 1912.

County attorneys; B. F. Parmenter, 1857-9. The office was abolished by the legislature of 1858, and a district attorney for the judicial district substituted, but in 1888 the office of county attorney was revived and has had the following incumbents since: William Hayward, 1889-91; A. W. Osborne, 1891-5; L. E. Francis, 1895-1901; V. A. Arnold, 1901-4; L. W. Owen, 1904-8; W. J. Bock, 1908-12; H. E. Narey, 1912.

Surveyors: Alfred Wilkins, 1857-8; largely vacant from 1859 to 1870; W. B. Brown, 1871-3; W. F. Pillsbury, 1874-6; Emmet F. Hill, 1876-8; R. A. Smith, 1878-82; Fred Diserns, 1882-4; C. E. Everett, 1884-6; R. A. Smith, 1886-8; J. A. Smith, 1888-90; R. A. Smith, 1890-94; J. M. Johnson, 1894-1906; A. H. Parker, 1906-10; W. L. Cottingham, 1910-13.

In 1913 the office of county surveyor was abolished and that of county engineer substituted, the officer to be appointed by the board of supervisors. C. S. Arthur was appointed to the place and is at present active.

School superintendents: Prior to 1870 the office of superintendent of schools was a minor one, with few duties, and James Ball, John Smith and one or two others held the position. Since then there have been regular incumbents, as follows: A. W. Osborne, 1870-5; H. C. Crary, 1875-80; R. A. Smith, 1880-6; W. H. Armin, 1886-8; R. B. Young, 1888-94; H. A. Welty, 1894-1904; W. T. Davidson, 1904-6; F. T. Tompkins, 1906-10; Jennie R. Bailey, 1910.

Coroners: The first coroner of Dickinson County was W. B. Brown, elected in 1857. From this time until 1872 the records are missing, probably destroyed in the courthouse fire. From 1872 until the present time the coroners have been as follows, with the date of their election: E. O. Baxter, 1872; W. S. Beers, 1873; D. Bennett, 1874; Isaac Ames, 1875; J. F. Dare, 1876; Charles B. Edmunds, 1879, also 1881; Thomas Little, 1883; J. E. Green, 1885; Thomas Little, 1887; J. B. Stair, 1889 and 1891; C. B. Fountain, 1893; A. E. Rector, 1901; E. L. Brownell, 1904; Charles L. Stoddard, 1906; G. G. Fitz, 1908; J. D. Geissinger, 1910; J. L. Farr, 1916.

Supervisors: R. Kingman, William Barkman, J. S. Prescott, 1861; Thomas Wyckoff, Henry Meeker, Addison Arthur, 1862; Thomas Wyckoff, Henry Meeker, Eben Palmer, 1863-1864; L. A. Stimpson, H. W. Davis, D. Bennett, 1865; L. A. Stimpson, H. W. Davis, Phillip Doughty, 1866-1867; G. Blackert, G. W. Pratt, Phillip Doughty, 1868; J. Sperbeck, G. W. Pratt, W. D. Morton, 1869; G. Blackert, W. D. Morton, J. Palmer, 1870; same for 1871; R. A. Smith, J. Palmer, W. D. Morton, 1872; C. H. Ayers, R. A. Smith, G. S. Randall, 1873; G. S. Randall, W. A. Richards, R. A. Smith, 1874; J. R. Upton, G. S. Randall, W. A. Richards, 1875; W. A. Richards, J. 278 EMMET AND DICKINSON COUNTIES

R. Upton, A. D. Foster, 1876; J. R. Upton, A. D. Foster, L. W. Waugh, 1877; L. W. Waugh, W. F. Carlton, A. S. Mead, 1878; L. W. Waugh, W. F. Carlton, A. S. Mead, 1879; same in 1880; same in 1881; I. S. Foster, O. Olive, H. Brandon, 1882; I. S. Foster, O. Oliver, W. H. Bailey, 1883; same in 1884; I. S. Foster, G. P. Wodell, R. S. Hopkins, 1885; same in 1886; same in 1887; J. Austin, G. P. Wodell, R. S. Hopkins, 1888; I. S. Foster, J. Austin, D. B. Smith, 1889; I. S. Foster, J. Austin, D. B. Smith, 1890; C. C. Gregory, H. Calkins, D. B. Smith, 1891; same in 1892; C. C. Gregory, H. C. Wiley, D. B. Smith, 1893; same in 1894; C. C. Gregory, H. C. Wiley, P. Rasmussen, 1895; C. C. Gregory, 0. S. Jones, P. Rasmussen, 1896; P. Hagerty, O. S. Jones, P. Rasmussen, 1897; same in 1898; same in 1899; O. S. Jones, C. C. Gregory, P. Rasmussen, 1900; O. S. Jones, C. C. Gregory, A. W. Bascom, 1901; C. C. Gregory, A. W. Bascom, Don B. Smith, 1902; same in 1903; D. B. Smith, C. C. Gregory, W. C. Edmunds, 1904; J. T. Webb, C. C. Gregory, W. C. Edmunds, 1905; same in 1906; J. T. Webb, W. G. Adkins, David Wood, 1907; W. G. Adkins, D. Wood, Mike Nece, 1908; D. Wood, Mike Nece, H. C. Curry, 1909; same in 1910; D. Wood, J. H. Gregory, W. A. Brunemeier, 1911; same in 1912, 1913 and 1914; J. H. Gregory, A. W. Bascom, H. E. Albert, 1915; same in 1916. In the November, 1916, election, W. A. Brunemeier and A. Hurd were elected supervisors, to take office January 1, 1917.


The first courthouse in Dickinson County was begun in the year 1859 and partially finished in 1860. Harvey Abbott was the architect and over‐ saw the carpentry. William Lamont did the masonry. The work upon the structure was slow and when the troops took possession of it in August, 1862, it was yet in an unfinished condition. For three years the troops used the building for barracks. During this time further work was stopped. The board of supervisors realized during this period that the swamp land titles, by which they expected to realize sums of money for county improvements, would prove useless and accordingly they absolved the contractors and builders of the courthouse from their agreement and asked that the building be turned over to the county in its (then) present condition. Considerable discussion and hard feeling resulted from this action, but in the end the contractors won out and were released from their contract.

After the building was vacated by the troops it was not in a condition for use by the county officials and again the supervisors were confronted with the necessity of some sort of county building. They decided to continue the work upon the building as originally planned and this was done at different times, until in 1868 the structure was pronounced completed and ready for occupancy.


This old court-house had a very romantic history. Only the lower floor was used by the county officials, while the upper was used as both a court room and a school room. The school district, in fact, purchased the seats under the agreement that it could be used for school purposes as well as court. Meetings, dances, entertainments, political gatherings and everything of the kind were held in this upper story of the old court-house.

This court-house was destroyed by fire November 24, 1871. The fire was discovered about 5 o'clock in the morning and a portion of the county records saved. Smith's history of the county places the date as February, 1872, but this date is incorrect, as proved by the files of this Spirit Lake Beacon. For a time the county offices were kept in a store-room across the street from the court-house grounds. T. J. Francis, of Spirit Lake, was given authority to build a second county building, using the bricks which had been used in the construction of the first structure. This was done, but in the late '80s the building was condemned and plans made for the building of the present court-house. In September, 1889, the voters of the county decided by election to issue county bonds for the sum of $15,000 for that purpose. There was some technical error in the election and the courts decided that it was void, but upon the second vote upon the question a still greater majority of votes was cost in favor ot the bond issue. All arrangements were completed; T. D. Allen was the architect; Leonard & Wallace, of Sibley, and T. J. Francis, of Spirit Lake, were the contractors; and work was commneced October 4, 1890. In November, 1891, the building was finished and accepted by the supervisors of the county on the 24th of that month. The cost was close to $15,000. Although not the most pretentious, the Dickinson County courthouse, considering the price, is one of the best in Iowa. It is of brick and is both substantial and attractive. The bricks used in the first and second courthouses were mixed with the concrete for the foundations.

In writing the history of the Dickinson County court-house another correction must be made upon the story of the troops assigned here during the Indian troubles of 1862, as written in the Smith history of the county. It will be remembered that a company of Sioux City troops was sent to the border, divided into three parts, and stationed at Spirit Lake, Okoboji and Estherville. The detachment which arrived at Spirit Lake and took quarters at the court-house with the settlers was in charge of Lieut. James A. Sawyer and not Lieutenant Cassady, as stated. This correction is made upon authority of the adjutant-general's report of the period. Within a few days after the coming of the troops the settlers began to return to their claims, but the court-house remained in possession of the troops until July, 1865.

The Dickinson County jail was constructed in 1902 by T. J. Francis.


Prior to this the room in the court house now used by the county agent served as a jail.


At a meeting of the board of supervisors in June, 1904, the question of a county poor farm, or home for the destitute, came before the meeting and all agreed that Dickinson County was badly in need of some organized method of caring for the poor. The decision was made to submit the question to the voters of the county at the regular election on November 8, 1904. This was done, in the form of a proposition to issue the bonds of the county for $10,000, the money to be used for the purchase of a suitable piece of property. The voters gave a handsome majority in favor of the project. The S. A. Holcomb farm on Section 18, Center Grove Township, was purchased and George Machesney appointed the first superintendent. In 1915 new frame buildings were constructed on the property.


At one time the question of swamp lands was a very perplexing one to the people of Dickinson County. The trouble began in 1859 when the voters stepped to the polls and voted almost unanimously to dispose of the swamp lands within the county and use the profits for public improvements. J. D. Howe, B. F. Parmenter and A. D. Arthur contracted with the county, the latter represented by the county judge, L. Congleton, to take over the swamp lands and in return erect a court-house according to the plans of the county, also three bridges, namely: one across East Okoboji Lake east of the town of Spirit Lake, one across the straits between East and West Okoboji Lakes, and another across the Little Sioux River. Shortly after these arrangements were concluded Howe, Parmenter and Arthur disposed of their contract to J. S. Prescott and Henry Barkman, receiving in return several thousand acres of land.

The start of the trouble may be said to have been in Washington, D. C, when Congress, heeding the requests of the states along the Mississippi River, passed a law turning over the question of swamp lands to each respective state. The body had been asked to make an appropriation for reclaiming swamp lands along the river, but had refused to do this. In turn, the state of Iowa granted the power of reclaiming these lands and using the proceeds for improvements to each county. In the slang vernacular of the day they "passed the buck" to the counties. Then came the task of selecting those lands which could be termed "swamp" lands and here arose the charges of fraud and graft heard so much at that time. There were no definite laws upon the subject, either state. or county. B. F. Parmenter and Andy Hood were the commissioners for selecting the


swamp lands in Dickinson County and they reported a total of nearly sixty thotisand acres, an amount palpably too large. Everything would have been smooth sailing for those interested in the lands had not the new administration at Washington ordered an investigation of the question and demanded that all claimants of the so-called swamp lands prove that they were really swamp lands and overflowed lands.

The contractors obtained quit-claim deeds and then sold the land for the purpose of proceeding with improvements, giving warranty deeds for the same. However, it soon began to dawn upon the commissioners that their title to the lands was hanging in the balance, with a strong probability that it would be declared void. Barkman started to compromise with the purchasers, but he had sold so much of the land to various purchasers that it was impossible for him to compromise. The result of this situation has been a badly mixed bunch of titles and to this day the question has not been solved to the satisfaction of everyone. There was finally certified to the county something over three thousand acres of swamp lands. This, of course, had been quit-claimed to the contractors at first, but when the county discovered that the submission of the question to the voters had not been in strict accordance with the law, a suit was brought in equity against the original contractors for the abrogation of the contract. The firm of Wilson & Dye, attorneys, represented Dickinson County. No defense was made by the defendants; in fact, Barkman was the only one left in the county. Consequently, the conveyances were declared to be void. However, the county had made another contract with Barkman, by which he was to receive the entire amount of swamp land certified to the county. The lawyers retained by the county were supposed to get their fee from the people interested in having the old titles changed, but after the case was over, they presented a bill for $4,000 to the county. This was contrary to understandings, but the county had no means of recourse and finally compromised with them for $2,500.

The results of this land trouble, aside from the ones previously mentioned, were: heavy expense to the county; loss of money to the contractors; loss to small purchasers who thought by buying these lands they could get a home cheaply, but later discovered their title was worth nothing; and the present difficulty in the county offices to make satisfactory and complete titles and description of these lands.

The history of the bridges and roads in Dickinson County is given in the chapter on Transportation and Railroads.