EMMET AND DICKINSON COUNTIES 281
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.