The 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 various policies with which they have dealt from time to time.


Joseph B. Stamp is the present county auditor. The proceedings of the board of 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 councils, 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, which in 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


and 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 animals, and 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 items than 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.


The following have been the terms as shown by the records, first of county judge:
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,
and Joseph 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


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 considered 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 he participated in all the public business and doings of this pretended county, and was 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." On 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-


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 him 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 O'Brien 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 became the second county auditor on January 1, 1872, at Old O'Brien, and served four years. He was born at Sidney, Ohio, March 20, 1813. His father, William Edwards, born in 1762, lived to be one hundred 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,


1863. He homesteaded in O'Brien county on section 24, in Grant, in 1867. He was every inch a soldier, tall, straight as an arrow, long black beard, a man of 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.
His 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 had a 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 cut 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 biography of J.L.E. Peck and other items hereon reciting the policies of his administration of the office of county auditor from 1880 to 1884.



In a 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 the county on a cash basis. These twenty four years were indeed the troublous and vexatious years of the county. Second, the period from January 1, 1884, to the present time, or the prosperous period.
The following is a list of the county treasurers during this first twentyfour years:
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 withstand the pitiful appeals to both storekeeper and county treasurer. It all created a perplexing problem.
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 (8)


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 years.
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 the convention against Mr. Harris by only one-seventh of a vote majority, and was elected at the polls by only seventeen majority.


These close 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 judge. 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. Charles H. 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.
The facts 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 the process of voting at the election that they could see the ballots through the cracks.
The 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 testify. Evidence relating to the cigar box being used, and that the judge had taken it home to dinner was introduced.
A 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


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 with the 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.
This 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 hours that physical violence would result, but fortunately it calmed down. The court 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 of down.
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 pio-


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 old age.


We will now notice the second period referred to, from January 1, 1884, to the present time, and contrast situations. We have treated the auditor's and treasurer's offices together as, with the board of supervisors, constituting the county government. The people were getting themselves loose from many of their troubles. The investigation into the whole back matters of the 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.


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 throes and 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


themselves with 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 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 became 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 of 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-


tive rather than tumultuous, though this emerging from these old matters of necessity was a growth.


Its early troubles mainly ended as we have recited; it has remained for the 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 method has 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 carried down 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, whether 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 debt and 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.



Miss Bessie J. Beers is the present county recorder and the only lady ever holding that office in the county. This office is almost strictly routine, in the 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 sort of 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 Moines is 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
Total 307
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.
The 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,


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 thereafter:
Archibald Murray, 1865-1870;
McAllen Green, 1871-1872;
A. J. Brock, 1873-1876;
C. Longshore, 1877-1878;
J. Hinshaw, 1879-1880;
Hubert Sprague, 1881-1882;
William H. Noyes, 1883-1886;
Isaac Clements, 1887- 1890;
Frank D. Mitchell. 1891-1894;
Frank L. Herrick, 1895-1898;
Isaac L. Rerick, 1899-1902;
James S. Beers. 1903-1906;
William H. Brown, 1907- 1910;
Bessie J. Beers, 1911.


The 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 was all practically completed in 1897, J.B. Frisbee served for about six years from 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 Murray, 1860-1861;
L. McClellan, 1862-1867;
D. W. Inman, 1868-1869;
J. F. Schofield, 1870-1871;
A. J. Brock, 1872-1876;
W, 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, 1898-1903.


We 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.


William W. Johnson, Joseph Rowland, Ralph Dodge, Thomas Holmes, William 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.


Peter Swenson, chairman, M. F. McNutt, W. C. Jackson, Ralph C. Jordan and William Strampe.


The 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;
John T. Conn, 1893-1894;
D. A. W. Perkins, 1895-1896;
C. A. Babcock, 1897- 1898;
A. J. Walsmith, 1899-1902;
Joe Morton, 1903-1906;
Roscoe J. Locke, 1906.


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 the bold 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 lot of good." And he showed them how. The change came, cog by cog. Boldness doth disarm in meantime, however. Bills and bills became harder to get passed. A new set of remarks began to be heard. Some one would sing out:
"The gopher scalp days are over,
Good by, Old Bridges, good by,
Good by."


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 would be 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.
But O'Brien 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, the old 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."
But 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 O'Brien county.
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 to 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.



On June 25, 1913, occurred the dedication of the county home building. On October 19, 1887, the board of supervisors made the payment of principal and interest in the sum of one thousand four hundred and ninety-two dollars 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 is worth fifty thousand dollars, not considering the new modern, fireproof, brick building built in 1913, at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars. When 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 home building on a fine proportionate grade. This tract is one of the finest half sections in the county.
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 O'Brien county erected a county home for God's unfortunate, and that, too, without a levy for the purpose. It was built from surplus funds that had accumulated from our new prosperities.
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 of caring for the poor have developed and been studied out on practical lines. Before 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 counties 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


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 Cherokee. The 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 the 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 removed.
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 ten-acre grove.
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 the 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 honored 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 for 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 of the agricultural conditions and developments, and Judge Hutchinson on "The Home." Rev. Charles Richards, of Sutherland, gave the invocation.


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 farm 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.


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 and 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 and 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


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, electric 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 brought from Cherokee. In the basement we find a large kitchen, laundry, heating plant and electric 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 plans 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 the O'Brien county home and farm, and his wife, Mrs. Anna McGuire, as matron. Mr. and Mrs. McGuire have had three years' experience under Dr. M. N. 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.
The 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 is the people's farm and can be made a common meeting ground for practical farm education along many lines, as well as a fine place for public gatherings similar to the dedicatorv services and discussions.



One unusual incident relating to the improvements at the county home farm is worthy of mention. Peter Swenson, chairman of the board, has personally donated the sum of one thousand dollars for the installment of the electric 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, and 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.


The advance methods of farming, the now necessary automobile, the public safety and other items have, throughout the county, opened up many new and 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 bridges have been built in Chairman Peter Swenson's district, seven in the district of member Ralph C. Jordan, fourteen in that of M. F. McNutt, four in that of William 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 modern 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."


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 debts and 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 each 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 opportunity 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 modern 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 and 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.
In 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 management.

O'Brien County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project