HISTORY OF O'BRIEN COUNTY
county governmental affairs are administered and managed through
the offices of the
county auditor, county treasurer, clerk of courts, county
recorder, sheriff, coroner, county attorney, county superintendent of schools,
county surveyor, the hoard of supervisors and sundry town, township and
school officials. The terms of all
county officials are now for two years and
all elections take
place in the even numbered years, except that the county
superintendent will hereafter assume his duties on September 1st and all
other officials on
January 1st of the odd numbered years. We will review
each of these offices in this
chapter or in the chapter on "The Courts," both
as to their duties and the
particular duties as performed in this county, and
policies with which they have dealt from time to time.
Joseph B. Stamp is the present county auditor. The proceedings of the
supervisors are transacted in his office and recorded by him. He
carries out all orders of the board. It is the most important office in the
county. In fact, it handles practically every business item in which the
county is interested. The auditor makes the tax lists from the returns of the
assessors and the tax levies from the various
reports from the township and
town and school boards. He deals with
every official in the county, town,
township and school board and with the state officials, and including town
mayors, justices of the peace, assessors, trustees, road supervisors,
school directors, clerks and treasurers. The board of supervisors is judicial
in some of its
proceedings, and appeals may be taken from many of its actions
to the district court. The auditor, with the county treasurer, holds the tax
sales, and receives the
money when redeemed. He, with the clerk and county
recorder, draws the grand and petit juries. He enters all deeds for taxation,
part becomes an abstract of title to all lands and lots in the county.
He sells the school lands, and issues certificates to the
governor calling for
patents on same. He loans the funds or proceeds from these sales. He executes the county bonds, with the chairman of the board. With the board, he
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 109
they act on all the financial policies of the county, the treasurer merely
paying out on the warrants or orders of the board. He manages the purchases and sales of all school books under the uniform text book
system. He issues licenses to
peddlers and hunters and keeps the record of estray
manages sundry items relating to the old soldiers, with its
sundry humane connections. He deals with all matters relating to elections
and their returns. His office has certain relations with the insane and the
prisons, and must make reports to various state and federal authorities. In
fact, this is an all-around office and equal to a bank in management.
He issues all orders
passed by the board. His entries are in a sense a duplicate of the treasurer and a check on that office. He issues bounties for wolf
scalps. This office, which was created in 1870, deals with more separate
any other in the county. Inasmuch as the two officers, county
judge and county auditor, performed much the same duties, we will treat it
under one head.
ACTUAL TERMS OF AUDITORS AND COUNTY JUDGES.
following have been the terms as shown by the records, first of
I.C. Furber, from February 6, 1860, to November 11, i860.
Archibald Murray, from November 11, i860, to January 1, 1862.
J.R.M. Cofer, from January 1, 1862, to March 1, 1863.
John L. McFarland, from March 2, 1863, to January 2, 1865.
Moses Lewis became county judge January 2. 1865, and the record shows him to be filling that office up to
June 6, 1868. However, in the latter part of 1865 it shows that John Moore
was county judge, though the records are not sufficiently definite either as to
any election or his dates of service.
Archibald Murray qualified as county
judge June 6, 1868, and held same until January 1, 1870, when the office was
abolished and he then became
county auditor and held that position until January 1, 1872.
Andrew J. Edwards followed from January 1, 1872, to January 1, 1876;
George W. Schee from January 1, 1876, to January 1, 1880;
J.L.E. Peck from January 1, 1880, to January 1, 1884;
T.J. Alexander from January 1, 1884, to January 1, 1888;
Charles H. Winterble from January 1, 1888, to January 1, 1895;
John T. Conn from January 1, 1895, to January 1, 1899;
Frank C. Wheaton from January 1, 1899, to January 1, 1903;
John P. Bossert from January 1, 1903, to January 1, 1913,
B. Stamp from January 1, 1913, and is the present incumbent. We will
commence with Archibald
Murray, for the reason that he and Henry C.
Tiffey did practically all the record work of the first ten years. The other
110 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
county judges merely carried out and became a part of that early looting
which is sufficiently noted elsewhere.
Archibald Murray was born in Lewiston, Niagara county. New York, in
1830, in which place he was raised, attending the district and higher schools
of the town. He came west in
1885 and went into the land business in
Winnebago county, Iowa, where he remained three years. About this time
he entered into the Indian service and was for several
years in the One Hundred and
Ninety-sixth Iowa, and served in western Iowa and other places.
As will be seen elsewhere, it was on a petition signed by Hannibal H. Waterman and seven others, and by this company of soldiers, that secured the
county organization, though the names of the soldiers seems not to have been
by the court. Mr. Murray participated in the organization, and
his was one of the seven votes at the election of organization, and he became
its first district clerk and
surveyor. It has at times been claimed for Mr.
Murray that he was not in the business of organizing western counties, like
Bosler, Cofer, Tiffey and others, but after reading his many earmarks left,
together with his name appearing in sundry other counties in like manner as
in O'Brien, this charity can hardly be extended to him. For thirteen years
participated in all the public business and doings of this pretended county,
acceptable to that official few who were the sole inhabitants until
1872, and filled every office in the county except county superintendent. He
was judge at its first election. He and Tiffey did most of the record work.
He built the "old
log court house," as likewise the "not-to-be-over-eighteen feet-square court house."
January 1, 1865, he became treasurer and
recorder. He was
county judge from November 1, 1860, to January 1, 1862,
and was sheriff also
part of that year, and again county judge on June 6,
1868, and in November, 1868, also became district clerk. On January 1,
1870, he became the first county auditor. It is thus seen that he was the only
one of the
original organizers of the county (except Mr. Waterman, who
became a member of the board in
1870) handed down to the period of substantial settlement and who succeeded in
engrafting himself into the good
will of the homesteaders. There was a reason. He was a whole-souled,
generous man, both individually and with the public funds, and was, in fact,
a man whom
people liked. He was a man of "de peoples," for honest old
Dutch Fred, who declared himself to be "de peoples," died with the request
that he might be buried by his side. When Dr. L.E. Head, county superin-
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 111
tendent, was consumptive and sick, Mr. Murray promptly contributed to and
raised a fund to send him west for his health. O'Brien
county cannot excuse
Mr. Murray's public doings as this history shows that public business was
transacted, but all the old settlers looked upon him with over generous impulses and as everybody's friend. He must have had a better side to his life,
else the old settlers who had
gotten control in 1870 would not have elected
county auditor. He was a tall, light complexioned, full-bearded, consumptive man. He died in the early part of the year 1873 and was buried at
Old O'Brien, and George Rising was his executor, though his estate comprised no property and was dropped. He had married Phebe Morrow, later
the wife of W. W. DeWitt,
long a resident of Peterson. He was a man of
industry beyond his strength. He was very attentive to details, but was
simply a handy man for those looters, as these records show. He was rather
a bookkeeper than a man with a policy. This was what was wanted. He
evidently never inquired much about whys and wherefores. In the main he
filled the office of
county judge and auditor until 1872. His being a delicate,
sickly man may perhaps partially account for some of his relative situations
with those first men. They did the real business and he simply kept the
record of what
they did. He probably signed more warrants, bonds, coupons
and orders and other vouchers in face value than
any other man ever in the
county offices, in either the earlier or later years. However, unlike
those other "seven," he was a real homesteader, but we do not get away from
the fact that he was immediately on the ground the very clay of this organization. He could not have
signed all those warrants and vouchers without
direct knowledge that bad business was on deck. He probably signed three fourths of the warrants and other evidences of debt that made
up the colossal
county debt left as a legacy for the later settlers to worry with. He submitted to their manipulation and participated therein.
ANDREW J. EDWARDS, COUNTY AUDITOR.
J. Edwards became the second county auditor on January 1,
1872, at Old O'Brien, and served four years. He was born at Sidney, Ohio,
20, 1813. His father, William Edwards, born in 1762, lived to be
years old. The son was married in 1843. He left nine children,
most of them raised in the
county, George, Frank, Charles, Mary, Susan,
Anna, Arminta, William and Frederick. He enlisted in July, 1861, at Sidney,
Ohio, as captain of Company C, Twentieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, First
Brigade, Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, and was discharged July 17,
112 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
1863. He homesteaded in O'Brien county on section 24, in Grant, in 1867.
every inch a soldier, tall, straight as an arrow, long black beard, a
distinctly military bearing. Mr. Edwards was auditor during four
years in its darkest period, and individually passed through the roughest experiences of the pioneer, not merely in county affairs, but through the grasshopper scourge and all else endured by the homesteader.
oft-repeated expression, "Dod blame it, boys," fully states the tumult
of both record and actual life in which by this time the settlers were trying
to take a hand, as otherwise herein shown, but in which during his term not
much headway was made. That day indeed had not yet arrived. The one
conspicuous item during his administration was the gopher scalp bounty,
which was ordered
by the board under Archibald Murray, and in the four
years of Mr. Edwards' official term assumed proportions even unto a swindle
and farce, comparing with those earlier bad items we have detailed. A
bounty of five, then seven, then ten cents was offered. The real wrong lay
in that, as it developed, it was not so much the ridding of gophers as the
thought and fact that the people were dreadfully hard up incident to homesteading and baffling of grasshoppers, and everybody seemed to yield to the
current hand-down for those
years that county warrants being about the only
money in circulation, each party wanted some share, and this placed them in
easy access to all. The reader will judge the extent to which the homesteader
partial excuse. It evidently got clear away from its legal intentions.
They were brought in by the hundreds and many jibes were thrust at Captain
Edwards in his dilemma in
counting stale scalps, and (as was the joke) hides
up into scalps. The people finally, as this debt question was discussed,
insisted on its being abolished. The interest on this debt itself during his
term, at ten per cent, was nearly twenty-five thousand dollars per year. They
simply despaired at the outlook and kept right on issuing county warrants.
It all resulted, however, at the election in 1875 of the people demanding a
candidate for that office who would
go into those matters and all matters
relating to the troubles of the county, and to probe and ascertain its real conditions, which was accomplished in the candidacy of George W. Schee, his
election, and his assumption of the office on January 1, 1876. The county
questions solved out during his term will be found elsewhere, and also in his
biography, as will likewise be found the continued questions in this office
under the administration. The reader is also referred to the
J.L.E. Peck and other items hereon reciting the policies of his administration
of the office of county auditor from 1880 to 1884.
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 113
THE COUNTY TREASURY AND ITS OFFICIALS.
general way we have divided the county affairs into two periods.
We have recited the
early debt and its attending results. These results did
not end in a
day. First, then, the period from the organization of the county
up to January 1, 1884, at which time the people had practically solved these
old matters and decided
upon its policy of payment of the debt and had placed
county on a cash basis. These twenty four years were indeed the troublous
years of the county. Second, the period from January 1, 1884,
present time, or the prosperous period.
following is a list of the county treasurers during this first twentyfour
Hannibal H. Waterman, from February 6, 1860, to November 11, 1860;
I. C. Furber, from November 11, 1860, to January 1. 1862;
James W. Bosler. from January 1, 1862, to June 1, 1862;
J.R.M. Cofer, from June 1, 1862, to March 2, 1863;
David Carroll from March 2, 1863, to June 2, 1864;
John L. McFarland, from June 2, 1864, to January 1, 1865;
Archibald Murray, from January 1, 1865, to January 1, 1868;
Chester W. Inman, from January I, 1868, to January 1, 1870;
Rouse B. Crego, from January 1, 1870, to February 25, 1871;
John R. Pumphrey, from February 25, 1871, to January 1, 1874;
J.C. Doling, from January 1, 1874, to January 1, 1876;
Stephen Harris, from January 1, 1876, to January 1, 1878;
T. J. Alexander, from January 1, 1878, to January 1, 1884.
During this first period the county had the old debt, the grasshoppers,
the first openings of farms, pioneer incidentals, and individual debts galore to
deal with. During this time also the whole east and south half of the county
had but one store and one bank, and that bank with no capital. They were
inadequate to meet the needed credits. The county treasurers had their troubles. It was about the one and
only place where actual money existed. The
county treasurers were all placed like unto the predicament of Clark Green
in his store in the dishing out of his groceries. It needed a heart of flint to
pitiful appeals to both storekeeper and county treasurer. It all
Chester W. Inman, who was county treasurer from January 1, 1868,
to January 1, 1870, was, after his term expired, cited before the board three
times to make
accounting by record resolution and suit was ordered.
Rouse B. Crego, who was treasurer in 1870 and part of 1871, was addicted to drink.
He bought four thousand dollars worth of horses, as was claimed, with the
114 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
public funds, shipped them to Sioux City, sold them and spent a lot of the
money, being absent several weeks.
The board, by resolution, declared the
office vacant, and appointed John R. Pumphrey to the office, he being Crego's
deputy. On Mr. Crego's return he brought suit in the courts to recover the
office back, but the courts sustained the ouster. Mr. Pumphrey held the office
until January 1, 1874, followed by J.C. Doling. Mr. Doling had no troubles
and filled the office two
Stephen Harris was the deputy of Mr. Doling two years, and then was
himself treasurer for two
years. Mr. Harris held the treasurer's office during
the four hardest
years of the grasshopper period. These conditions brought
discontent and discouragement with the people.
At the close of Mr. Harris'
term occurred one of the most
exciting political fights ever in the county,
between Mr. Harris and T.J. Alexander. Mr. Alexander was nominated in
against Mr. Harris by only one-seventh of a vote majority,
and was elected at the
polls by only seventeen majority.
figures brought on an election contest in a special court between these two candidates. As
provided by the statute, the court to hear
and determine such contests is made
up of three judges, one, the chairman of
the board of
supervisors, in this case B.F. McCormack. Each party under
the statute selected one
Mr. Harris selected William E. Welch, another member of the board from Baker
township, and Mr. Alexander selected
J.C. Elliott, of Sheldon, the three comprising the court.
Allen. O.M. Barrett and D.A.W. Perkins acted as
attorneys for Mr. Harris, and M.B. Davis and J.L.E. Peck for Mr. Alexander.
developed that in Carroll township they had used a cigar box
for a ballot box, as was often done in the
early day. It was proved during
process of voting at the election that they could see the ballots through
attorneys for Mr. Alexander had procured the affidavits of practically every voter in the township who had voted for him to that effect, and
the same voters were offered as witnesses at the trial to so
relating to the cigar box being used, and that the judge had taken it home to
dinner was introduced.
large crowd from all over the county was present, and the people
were much excited. It lasted three
days and its incidents and details centered around
many other items than the office itself. It was objected that the
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 115
voters should not be allowed to divulge how they voted, and that it was intended that a vote was sacred and secret, not only with the individual but
public, and that it was against public policy to allow it to be so
divulged. The arguments on this question aroused much public sentiment.
Two members of the court sustained these
objections, the other member voting that in his judgment the evidence should be heard. At all events this incensed the crowd
present, and the excitement was intense. The contest, in
its hearing and arguments, was enlarged to include all the then public agitations.
brought on one of the most dramatic scenes ever in the county.
Frank Frisbee, of Sheldon, jumped out into the center of the floor in the
court room and, in
very emphatic and vigorous language, read the riot act to
the court on all
past matters and intimated strongly what the crowd might
do. Many in the crowd on both sides were armed, and it seemed for several
physical violence would result, but fortunately it calmed down.
adjourned for three days. It never, in fact, reconvened in the
court room as a court. This item is cited as one of those stern
pioneer occurrences where a
public question was in effect decided in the public forum.
The evidence and trial
simply "quit." William E. Welch and J.C. Elliott,
two of the
judges, met on December 1, 1877, and signed the order awarding
the office to Mr. Alexander, as shown by the election book page 118. Mr.
McCormack did not
join. In all reality. B.F. McCormack, chairman of the
board and one of the
judges, was the real individual on trial. In effect he
was a judge trying his own case. The issue simply hovered around the
shoulders of the two candidates.
Stephen Harris was a highly educated man and had been county superintendent of schools. He at once
engaged as principal of the Primghar high
school, which position he held for several years. He later organized and
became cashier of the Farmers Bank of Paullina, which he conducted for
many years and handed down to its present cashier, George W. Harris, his
son. Stephen Harris was one of those men who in the years built up instead
T.J. Alexander became county treasurer January 1, 1878, with the
highest hopes and best wishes. Regretable as it may seem, and which later
became an admitted fact, Mr. Alexander became short in his public funds
in the sum of about eleven thousand dollars. The amount was later made
up and the county lost nothing. The office was not yet on a banking basis.
Sad as it
may be to record, we must add the further fact of the pathetic
death of his wife, Mrs. Martha Alexander, who had withstood the hard
116 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
neering of O'Brien county, only to meet her fate in a gasoline explosion,
from a stove, burning her so badly that she died the same day. On that very
day they were to move into the later and modern home they had provided for
A SECOND PERIOD OF AUDITORS AND TREASURERS.
We will now notice the second
period referred to, from January 1, 1884,
present time, and contrast situations. We have treated the auditor's
and treasurer's offices
together as, with the board of supervisors, constituting
county government. The people were getting themselves loose from
many of their troubles. The investigation into the whole back matters of
county by George W. Schee was commenced January 1, 1876. The
policies of that office then decidedly changed. The whole county was solving
itself out. The reader is referred to the several
sundry items and articles
showing the gradual uplift of the county. It will be a pleasure to the reader
to realize the gradual changed conditions in the county generally. The following is a list of the county treasurers since January 1, 1884:
Frank X. Derby, six years, from January 1, 1884, to January 1, 1890;
Henry Rerick, six years, from January 1, 1890, to January 1, 1896;
Chriss R. West, two years, from January 1, 1896, to January 1, 1898;
Perry A. Edington, two years, from January 1, 1898, to January 1, 1900;
Lester T. Aldinger, four years, from January 1, 1900, to January 1, 1904;
Alex Stewart, five years, from January 1, 1904, to January 1. 1909;
Lester T. Aldinger, four years, from January 1, 1909, to January 1, 1913;
Harry C. May, present incumbent, from January 1, 1913.
COUNTY TREASURY ON A BANKING BASIS.
Henry Rerick, who became county treasurer January 1, 1890, was the
first treasurer to
put this office and its large funds on a strictly banking basis
in its methods of business, and which has been firmly sustained by each of
the treasurers since. The reader can see why former treasurers were not
able to so
place it prior to this time. The county during all that first twenty four
years, in a greater or less degree, as the people got control, was in the
dregs following the great debt and its attendant mischiefs. Small
partial payments on the multitude of outstanding warrants and bond coupons
added much to the troubles of those
early treasurers. Add to this the hard
times and the
grasshopper scourge referred to, and still added were the individual debts of the
people, which were harrassing and which all mingled
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 117
public affairs. It permeated all avenues, county, town, township and individual. But let us keep in mind all the time that O'Brien county
kept on correcting her situations, on these several troublous lines, until it
now reached a
point where it could be said that they were no longer repeated.
Relating to the policies of the county during the terms of J.L E. Peck and
George W. Schee, as connected with the board and public matters, the reader
is referred to articles under sundry other chapters and to the biographies of
each. Having thus been gone into fully they need not be here repeated.
CHARLES H. WINTERBLE, COUNTY AUDITOR.
Charles H. Winterble became
deputy auditor in 1886 under T.J. Alexander. Inasmuch as Mr. Alexander was also county treasurer, we will make
his items cover both offices, and which have been dwelt upon in various articles. Mr. Alexander removed to Sutherland, to engage in the mercantile
business, in the middle of his term, and hence Mr. Winterble became virtually county auditor at that time and was himself continued as auditor from
January 1, 1888, until January 1, 1895. Many of the main policies related
to the resumption on a cash basis and the old debt, and its rebonding of 1881
and then reduction of the interest from the
prior ten to seven per cent, later
to six and five and
finally to four and one-half, and many of these questions
had been settled. But
they were not all settled and could not be settled in a
day. It was during Mr. Winterble's term that the debt was reduced to and
a rebonding had of one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars at six
per cent. The present court house was built just at the time in 1886 that he
deputy auditor. His long term, however, may be said to have been
among the building years that had now gotten under full headway. During
his term the
county paid off all the way from five to ten thousand dollars per
year, and which was continued until now (1914) there is no debt of any
description against the county. While he was deputy and under Mr. Alexander's term the
county, on October 19, 1887, purchased the half section of land
of the Milwaukee road for a
county home at four dollars per acre. The
board, with a larger levy to draw on, began to advance into the better grade
bridges, building of culverts, making of roads, and all public improvements. It was during these four terms of county management under Mr.
Schee, J.L. E.Peck, T J. Alexander and Mr. Winterble that the county
was gradually looking up and out into a greater O'Brien county. During
these vears and later on and now, this office has become largely administra-
118 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
tive rather than tumultuous, though this emerging from these old matters of
necessity was a growth.
OTHER COUNTY AUDITORS.
early troubles mainly ended as we have recited; it has remained for
succeeding county auditors, with the boards of supervisors and other public officials, to
pursue this administrative routine in large part. The list of
those auditors and their terms are
given above, namely, John T. Conn, Frank
C. Wheaton, John P. Bossert and now Joseph B. Stamp. When we use this
term administrative, it means largely the same proposition in various forms
we have heretofore mentioned, relating to the treasurer's office, namely, that
in the first twenty-four years practically all the county treasurers had serious
troubles with funds, and in the later thirty years not a shortage has occurred.
This same substantial
cleaning up, this same systematic and business-like
developed in all official acts in the county. Its early troubles
have been of benefit and held
up as a warning, turning attention of the people
to a rightful and definite demand for a strict accounting on all lines of public
affairs. It was not done in a
year. Indeed, as we have seen, those tumults
sundry men of better and good intentions. This has now become so generally accepted and established that we doubt if any county in
the state in its
public affairs as well as its general public business and merchandising and trade is based on any higher moral standard than now in this
county in all its departments. This does not mean that its present officials
have or need no
policies. But it does mean that those policies are now
policies of growth and business and not of tumult. In all its departments,
public, private, farming, merchandising, modes of living or the general welfare, all are
up to the modern ideals of the best situations. The
county speaks out its own uplift. The public business is now largely routine
and administrative. It means that we have reached the
period of the regular
and the better of
everything, a period of independence on the part of the
people of the county generally and that they have got out and away from the
judgment-fearing period. It has reached the period of high-grade
farming, instead of simply doing what they could. It all means better roads,
modern culverts, bridges, houses, barns, fences, school buildings, clothes,
comfortable conditions, better grades of stock, safer and sounder business,
the certain instead of the uncertain.
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 119
COUNTY RECORDER'S OFFICE.
J. Beers is the present county recorder and the only lady
ever holding that office in the county. This office is almost strictly routine,
recording and indexing of the sundry instruments filed for record. The
recorder does have, however, a few other duties, one, to examine the abstracts of title to town
plats filed and to pass upon their sufficiency, becoming a
quasi judicial duty. The recorder, with the clerk of courts and county
auditor, draws the grand and petit juries. The book of original entries of
homesteads certified and made
up at the United States land office at Des
kept in this office.
The recorder's office in O'Brien
county now contains a little over three
hundred record books, of about six hundred and forty pages each, or, in other
words, there have been recorded since the organization of the county about
one hundred and
fifty to two hundred thousand instruments of all kinds. The
following records are found in this office:
Indexes of Land Deeds 17
Corporation Records 2
Indexes of Mortgages 15
Physicians' Record 1
Indexes Town Lot Deeds 7
Farm Names Record 1
Indexes Town Lot Mortgages 6
Affidavits and Powers of Attorney 1
Indexes Chattel Mortgages 16
School Fund Mortgage Records. 3
Land Deed Records 45
Town Plat Record 1
Land Mortgage Records 59
Miscellaneous Records 3
Town Lot Deed Records 26
Other Records 20
Town Lot Mortgage Records 17
Chattel Mortgage Records 66
Original Entry Record 1
The deeds that were recorded on O'Brien
county lands prior to the organization of the county in 1860, were copied and certified to by John P.
Allison, county judge of Woodbury county, to which it had belonged, on
July 21, 1860. The first deed was recorded in May, 1857, Andrew M. Hunt
to Elijah Bent. Samuel H. Cassaday was county recorder of Woodbury in
1857 and Charles E. Hedges for 1858-59-60.
following is a list of the county recorders and their terms:
Hannibal H. Waterman, February 6,1860, to November 11, 1860;
I. C. Furber, November 11, 1860, to January 1, 1862;
James W. Bosler, January 1, 1862,
120 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
to June 1, 1862;
J.R.M. Cofer, June 1, 1862, to March 2, 1863;
David Carroll, March 2, 1863, to June 2, 1864;
John L. McFarland, June 2. 1864, to January 1, 1865.
Each of the
following officials of this office served full calendar years
McAllen Green, 1871-1872;
C. Longshore, 1877-1878;
J. Hinshaw, 1879-1880;
William H. Noyes, 1883-1886;
Isaac Clements, 1887-
Frank D. Mitchell. 1891-1894;
Frank L. Herrick, 1895-1898;
James S. Beers. 1903-1906;
William H. Brown, 1907-
Bessie J. Beers, 1911.
county surveyor's office was much more in importance in the early
than in the later
years. This was true from the fact that the early homesteaders had to locate their claims, their lines and their corners. School sites
were required to be measured off, and roads established and squared up. This
practically completed in 1897, J.B. Frisbee served for about six years
1898. From this time there was practically no surveyor, so little business was there to be done and
parties elected did not qualify. The following
is the list: Archibald
L. McClellan, 1862-1867;
J. F. Schofield, 1870-1871;
A. J. Brock, 1872-1876;
H. Riddell, 1877;
Ed A. Smith, 1878-1879;
Chas. M. Griffith, 1880-1881;
Jesse A.. Smith. 1882-1890;
Frank E. Wade, 1891- 1897;
J. B. Frisbee,
MEMBERS OF BOARD OF SUPERVISORS.
give below the names of the several men who have served as members of the several boards of
supervisors, giving them in the order of their
elections, as near as may be, and separating them in the decades. Several of
the men below
given have served at different periods, and on different boards,
but will give below the decade they first became a member.
1860-1870 John H. Cofer, I. C. Furber, D. Clark, Moses Lewis, John
L. McFarland, John Moore, Asa Tyler, Daniel W. Inman, Rouse B. Crego,
and W. H. Baker.
1870-1880 Chester W. Inman, John W. Kelly, Hannibal H. Waterman, Obediah Higbe, Isaac L. Rerick, T. J. Fields, B. F. McCormack, Z. P.
Freeman, Harley Day, John M. Royer, H. E. Hoagland. William E. Welch,
Benjamin Jones, Charles F. Albright, Warren Walker, John F. Burroughs.
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 121
Johnson, Joseph Rowland, Ralph Dodge, Thomas Holmes,
Oliver, Ezra M. Brady, Jacob H. Wolf, Emanuel Kindig.
1880-1890 George Hakeman, John L. Kinney, Daniel M. Sheldon.
Henry Hoerman, W. W. Reynolds, Oliver M. Shonkwiler, John W. Gaunt,
J. E. Wheelock, George O. Wheeler, J. A. Warner and H. P. Scott.
1890-1900 John Bowley, Ed C. Parker, John Warnke, James K. AleAndrew, John Rhodes, Henry Appledorm, Charles Youde. John Warnke,
Henry J. Merry and William Klein.
1900-1910 Joseph Shinski, D. M. Norton, Tom E. Mann, John Sanders, E. H. McClellan, George J. Smith, Theodore Zimmerman, C. L. Rockwell and Peter Swonson.
1910- 1914—W. C. Jackson, M. P. McNutt, Ralph Jordan and William Strampe.
PRESENT MEMBERS OF THE BOARD.
Peter Swenson, chairman, M. F. McNutt, W. C. Jackson, Ralph C. Jordan and William
following is a list of the county attorneys who have served since the
creation of that office
January 1, 1887: James B. Dunn, 1887-1892;
T. Conn, 1893-1894;
D. A. W. Perkins, 1895-1896;
C. A. Babcock, 1897-
A. J. Walsmith, 1899-1902;
Joe Morton, 1903-1906;
Roscoe J. Locke,
OLD AND NEW BOARDS OF SUPERVISORS.
Reforms did not come in a
day. It was hard to remove a whole board
with elections three
years apart. One member went out for re-election with
argument, "See here, I've robbed this county all I need to. Put in
a new man and
you will have to do it all over again. I can do this county a
good." And he showed them how. The change came, cog by cog.
Boldness doth disarm in meantime, however. Bills and bills became harder
get passed. A new set of remarks began to be heard. Some one would
"The gopher scalp days are over,
Good by, Old Bridges, good by,
122 O BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
or some one would
snap out snarlingly: "Ralph Dodge will cut your bill
down," or "Uncle Jaky is on the board," this time referring to Uncle Jacob H.
Wolf, a new member. Some one else would
say, "Old honest John L. Kinney,
of Sheldon, can see through that bill with his blind eye." Or the expression
would be used when a bill would be
rejected that, "the stuff's off." Or it
Deputy Clerk Lon F. Derby, who would rip out a string of profanity reaching clear around the court house, in righteous condemnation of
the earlier and later
humbugs. Mr. Derby's honest and blunt profanity put
backbone into more than one item.
county has indeed been fortunate in its boards of supervisors since it once
got onto its feet from the old doings. For instance, when
Daniel M. Sheldon, of Sutherland, and William W. (Bill) Johnson, an old
homesteader, and Ben Jones, of Sheldon, got onto the board they were
referred to as the "Triumvirate of
Stability." It was remarked of Ezra M.
Brady when on the board, "That when he sat down on those old bad things,
that he sat down two hundred
forty hard," which was his weight. Thomas
Holmes was dubbed "Honest Tom" Holmes.
B. F. McCormack still on the board, however, and not yet ready to
give up the ghost on behalf of his "old regime," as he proudly called it. would
sarcastically recite, with a punctuation point on each word, "Boys, behold,
things have passed away, and all things have become new"; "we
must fulfill our election
pledges to the dear cattle, the people"; "I've reformed
and am now reforming this board."
finally O'Brien county got onto its feet, and was actually walking
around with a lantern, looking for an honest man and hunting for a day of
prosperity. The morning light was breaking. An acre of blue sky had appeared above the horizon. A star in the east had arisen. The wise men were
taking action, and bringing gifts of frankincense and myrrh to the child
It would extend this item too
long to review the above long list of members of the boards of supervisors in detail. We can only illustrate. The very
fact of the
county being in and moving out of such throes of badness, seemed
spur on each board and member, as it did likewise the people, to watchfulness. We
give a full list of the members of the several boards, and must
content ourselves with
allowing the general mass of good results to serve as
the monument to these several new members and new boards of supervisors
clear down to date.
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 123
COUNTY FARM AND COUNTY HOME BUILDING.
June 25, 1913, occurred the dedication of the county home building.
19, 1887, the board of supervisors made the payment of principal
and interest in the sum of one thousand four hundred and
seventy cents to secure a deed to the half section of land they had purchased at four dollars
per acre, namely, the north half of section 5, township
95, range 40, Highland township, located one and one-half miles east of
Primghar, for a county home. It was purchased of the Chicago, Milwaukee
& St. Paul Railroad, and was a
very fortunate purchase. Today the land itself
fifty thousand dollars, not considering the new modern, fireproof,
building built in 1913, at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars.
purchased the land was raw prairie. Soon afterwards a fine
grove of ten acres was planted. Unlike the older homestead groves, consisting and limited to mainly cottonwood, maple and willow, the county thus
later was not thus hampered, and succeeded in securing a great variety of all
classes of hardy and ornamental trees. At the dedication this grove had
just reached its fine shade condition in size of trees. A large open space of
about two acres was left for a lawn, which slopes from the front of the new
building on a fine proportionate grade. This tract is one of the finest
half sections in the
In comparison with other articles herein relating to the actual homes
or shacks and troubles of the decade in the seventies, it all seems like a fairy
tale, but nevertheless true and refreshing to pen the true fact that in 1913
county erected a county home for God's unfortunate, and that, too,
levy for the purpose. It was built from surplus funds that had
accumulated from our new
It is modern in
every particular. We but bespeak the pride of the
county and we add the high-grade humanity of its people, when we say that
it is among the finest in the state. Like all other modernisms, the methods
caring for the poor have developed and been studied out on practical lines.
beginning its construction, the members of the board. Peter Swenson,
chairman, Ralph C. Jordan, W. C. Jackson, William Strampe and M. F. McNutt, went themselves as committees and with architects to visit other
lately building such structures, to study the most approved methods.
The outer wall is of matt face, hydraulic pressure brick made at St. Paul,
Minnesota, trimmed with Bedford stone, and is forty-eight by ninety feet
in size, with two full stories and basement. The stairs, walls and floors are
124 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
constructed of reinforced concrete. The rooms and
departments are in proportion to the needs in the care of such unfortunates.
The main contract for the
building itself was let to Lauritzen & Wasson,
of Waterloo. The
heating plant was put in by Swanson & Betzworth, of
county at this time has thirty-four patients in the state hospital at Cherokee, which is about the average for ten years last past. It is
present thought of the board that of this number the milder part can be
the better cared for in this
county home, and many have been accordingly
It seemed a curious coincidence or fact that the
greatest gathering during the year 1913 in the county, and at the climax in prosperity in its fifty eight years of history should occur in its dedication of a county home, costing twenty-five thousand dollars for the future unfortunate. The building then was about ten feet above
ground. It was a model day. It was estimated
there were from three, to four thousand
people present. In number, about
four hundred automobiles
passed the gate, besides more than as many more
other vehicles. It was a representative gathering from all over the county,
with old homesteaders and old soldiers in evidence, though the number is fast
dwindling. The crowd were passing judgment on all sides that they had
discovered the ideal
spot for future picnics and gatherings in that beautiful
William S. Armstrong acted as president of the day. These stately automobiles, and in such numbers, fit for the kings, and a twenty-five-thousand dollar
county home, located on a tract of land itself worth fifty thousand dollars, in the dignified presence of three court judges, Scott M. Ladd, judge of
supreme court of Iowa for now eighteen years, and ten years as judge of
the district court; Judge William D. Boies, of the present district court, each
products and early settlers of our own O'Brien county, and also
Judge William Hutchison, of the district court, the honored son of Sioux
county on the west, who has presided over the district courts of the county
eighteen years, was indeed a dramatic scene in comparison with the shack
shanties and other
early situations of which we have written. County Auditor
Joseph B. Stamp and Sheriff Henry W. Geister acted as marshals and kept
the crowds and automobiles
organized and moving without an injury. Judge
Scott M. Ladd laid the corner stone, as was declared by the chairman of the
day, judicially and legally. The three addresses were dignified and appropriate, Judge Ladd dwelling in the reminiscent, Judge Boies in a comparison
agricultural conditions and developments, and Judge Hutchinson on
"The Home." Rev. Charles Richards, of Sutherland, gave the invocation.
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 125
Rev. Andrews, of Primghar, led the large chorus, and Rev. P. E. Wells, of
Sanborn, pronounced the benediction. A very feeling letter was read, written by Rev. Father James McCormack, of the Catholic church of Sheldon,
who could not be
present. It was a dignified occasion. It was not merely
a gathering. It was a milestone, an historic event in the county.
It is the aim of the
present board of supervisors that this county home
and farm will
develop into more than a mere place, where are kept the unfortunate,
yes, more than a place where mere farming is done. This higher aim is
to make it a model
experiment farm, an actual farm, a farm that will test out
and become what all farms should be. a
profitable, self-supporting institution.
Yes, even still more, to make it a sort of experiment station on farm products
and crops in brief, to make it county wide, and to the extent that twenty-four
miles wide of an
agricultural country can make it, and to the full extent
that it can be made, to the people of the county, what the Ames Agricultural
College and farm is to the state, an educational center, for farming and
agricultural purposes. This will work a double purpose, even to the unfortunates, both a care and home for them, pointing out to them an uplift idea,
an idea of independence instead of dependence. Also, as stated, to make it a
testing center in which the people will look for suggestions. All this is
but making its start, but, as one of the members of the board remarked, that
he believed that with future good management, it could also be made self
supporting,a farm that would pay within itself.
PLATTED BY A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT.
Inasmuch as this farm will for all time be
required to accommodate from
thirty to fifty inmates (fifty being its capacity), together with its managers
help, it was foresight to have its buildings and equipments and grounds
planned systematically by a landscape architect for practical use in the various
functions both for the care of the unfortunates and with the further idea of
an experimental farm and center of an agricultural education. This the
present board, composed of Peter Swenson, chairman, and M. F. McNutt,
Ralph C. Jordan, W. C. Jackson and William Strampe, practical farmers
grainmen, have done. It was important that this should be done in advance, to the end that future expenditures would be made to solve it out.
They therefore employed Paul Scherbe, landscape architect at Waterloo. He
126 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
accordingly made full plans and specifications of the grounds, including main
building, barns, groves, cattle sheds, sheep sheds, hog houses, paddocks, silos,
horse and cattle
yards, driveways, service lawn, carpenter shop, blacksmith
shop, ice house, cribs, granaries, gardens, flower beds, ornamental trees,
lighting plant, septic tank, with full sewerage plant as complete as in
a town, water works, similar to the systematic equipments with the main
buildings, namely of two wards on the first floor for the poor, each
accommodating about twelve, with individual rooms for the emergency sick,
and two like wards on the second floor for the mild insane to be
Cherokee. In the basement we find a
large kitchen, laundry, heating plant
light plant, with all modern equipments in the way of sanitary
beds, bathrooms, lavatories, toilets, elevator to carry up supplies, and all else
needed. The floors and
stairways being solid concrete cement, make this
building practically fireproof. All these in their relative proportions and sizes
as is believed will solve itself out
practically. In solving this out thus far,
the members of the board and architect have visited and studied similar
in other counties
recently solving out similar problems in the modern county
homes and farms.
On the line of this definite
purpose from two standpoints, the board of
supervisors have employed A. W. McGuire, to be known as the steward of
county home and farm, and his wife, Mrs. Anna McGuire, as
matron. Mr. and Mrs. McGuire have had three
years' experience under Dr.
Voiding, superintendent of the Cherokee State Hospital, and a still
prior experience at the State Hospital at Independence, which speaks their
equipment for this service. Mr. McGuire is also a practical stockman and
farmer. His brother has for several
years had the management of the county
home and farm at Mason
City, in Cerro Gordo county, where they have
made the farm and home
practically self supporting, aided by the labors of
the several sundry inmates. It is anticipated that at least within a few years
this farm will do likewise.
large public gathering of those four thousand people on June 25,
1913, at the dedication of this home building, has already enlisted the sentiments of the
people to this idea of the board that this county home and farm
people's farm and can be made a common meeting ground for practical
along many lines, as well as a fine place for public gatherings
similar to the dedicatorv services and discussions.
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 127
THE ELECTRIC LIGHTING PLANT.
One unusual incident
relating to the improvements at the county home
worthy of mention. Peter Swenson, chairman of the board, has
personally donated the sum of one thousand dollars for the installment of
lighting plant and equipments. This will light up not only the
county home building itself, but also the many barns and other buildings and
yards. This is all run by a twelve-horse-power Fairbanks & Morse engine,
equipped with proportionate dynamos, switch board and lighting fixtures.
It is unusual and commendable in this, that it is the
very opposite of graft.
It is the unusual case of a
public official adding to the public funds, and this
in a sum equal to what Mr. Swenson has received for his labors for several
years of his service.
OTHER COUNTY IMPROVEMENTS AND LARGE PROBLEMS.
The advance methods of
farming, the now necessary automobile, the
public safety and other items have, throughout the county, opened up many
larger problems for county officials to grapple with. The Legislature of the state has taken hold with additional requirements. The present
board, both in fulfillment of the law and likewise as a county need, has cooperated on all lines of road and bridge building, drainage and other work.
The board is
carrying this out in steel and concrete bridges and culverts, road
grading and drainage. These steel bridges are constructed with backing and
floors of concrete. Thus far five of these steel and concrete
been built in Chairman Peter Swenson's district, seven in the district of
Ralph C. Jordan, fourteen in that of M. F. McNutt, four in that of
Strampe and four in that of W. C. Jackson, with one additional
permanent bridge known as a slab bridge. Permanent concrete steel and concrete culverts to the number of about
eighty have been built, distributed over
the county, each with a twenty-foot roadway. The road grading has been
carried out on an equal scale. The county has purchased several mammoth
graders and engines, and has operated them in sundry places. The
county has adopted a system of permanent roads, under the later statutes,
connecting with like roads in other counties and working to the state-wide
contemplation of roadways. We have passed into the permanent building
age. We probably will pass through some experiments and perhaps some
misfits, but in a general way the roads and bridges and other improvements
will move on to the solid and substantial. It all
spells the word "permanence."
128 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
All this is
adding" much to the numbers of records and details of the
county workshop, the office of the county auditor, under the present management of the board and of its present efficient auditor, J. B. Stamp. The
details of records carrying out these plans and specifications of all this permanent
upbuilding are carried out in this office.
The writer has lived
through all the years of the shack, the pioneer, the
haytwister, the grasshopper, angling roads on the prairie, prairie fires, county
private debts and early troubles, and it is with much satisfaction
that he now lives in this
building age. After recording these many early
troubles, it certainly gives good cheer and causes the risibilities and cheerier
feelings to bubble up through the human heart to write of these better things.
The writer himself conducted this
county auditor's office for four years,
in the earlier court house, and has transacted hundreds of business items
year and each month in the present frame court house. It would have
been much of a satisfaction to the writer could he have had the
to have described in this
history the future and final capitol and court house
building, which, of necessity, must within a very few years be built in all its
proportions. Its necessity will solve its own building. The present
court house is but a wooden frame, though well provided with modern furniture within, and is the opposite of being fire proof. To realize that the
thousands of records of deeds and title
papers, covering every tract of land
every town lot and home in the county, and on which stand the homes
and roofs that cover our heads, are thus at stake and what a
burning of the
public records would mean to every citizen in the county, causes us to pause
and think and wish still more that we could in this
history write up a description of that final court house. But it being the people's building and the
people's public home for their records so vital to them, they will vote for it
in good time.
closing this chapter on County Government we may well lift up our
eyes in visions and wonderment as to what fifty years will solve out in this
wealthy county in its problems of public improvements and county government and
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