The first, or old log court house, was built on the farm of Hannibal House Waterman, on the northeast quarter of section 26, by Archibald Murray in the early part of 1860, and after the election of February 6, 1860, which organized the county. But this log court house was not the only county building at Old O'Brien. There were several offices or buildings used. For instance, to start with, the election which so organized the county was held in the private residence of Mr. Waterman. In that sense his farm house was the first county building or court house.
Archibald Murray was at once on the job in court house building. He built or supervised it. It all run along for months, even the building of a moderate, usual-sized cabin log house. The record made about it all is meager.
Negotiations were had with Mr. Waterman to purchase forty acres of his land for a county seat. They finally paid Mr. Tiffey two thousand dollars for forty acres from him, and at a time when land at best was not worth five dollars an acre. This probably explains why Mr. Waterman did not sell his land. Mr. Tiffey was one of the powers that be. Mr. Waterman was not. Mr. Waterman was trying to farm, and they were farming the county.
This old log court house was moved down from Mr. Waterman's place, about three-quarters of a mile to the forty acres purchased of Henry C. Tiffey, namely, the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section 36, in Waterman township. Mr. Tiffey made the deed June 25, 1861, but did not draw his warrant until September 2, 1861.
On August 28, 1861, the Hon. A. W. Hubbard, judge of the district court, held a term of court at Old O'Brien and appointed Lemuel Parkhurst, of Cherokee county, Edward Smeltzer, of Clay county, and James Gleason, of Buena Vista county, to select the county seat. They located it as stated. (Judge Hubbard was the father of the late Congressman Elbert H. Hubbard, who died a congressman in 1912.) We will give the exact wording of the record relating to these county buildings:(9)


"Office of the County Judge.
"October 20, 1860.
"O'Brien county, by its judge, has this day entered into a contract with James W. Bosler to build an office at the county seat, and to be of good material. Size not more than eighteen feet square, and to be finished by the first day of May, 1862, for which he shall receive the sum of two thousand dollars, which amount the court now issues on order to the treasurer. "I. C. FURBER,
"County Judge."

"Office of the County Judge.
"November 5, 1860.
"Ordered that Henry C. Tiffey be allowed the sum of fifteen hundred dollars to build an office for the district clerk, at the county seat; said office to be built in connection with the office of treasurer and recorder.
'County Judge."

"Office of the County Judge.
"November 30, 1860.
"'Ordered that A. Murray and I. C. Furber be allowed the sum of three hundred dollars for building temporary office for the county judge and district clerk, and that same be paid.
"I. C. Furber,
"County Judge."

"September 21, 1861.
"Archibald Murray allowed $2,000 for building county building.
"Henry C. Tiffey allowed $2,000 for forty acres land."

"October 17. 1865.
"Charles C. Smeltzer allowed $3,000 for services as attorney for services rendered during the year 1860."

"September 21, 1861.
"I. C. Furber, for office rent $300.00
"J. H. Cofer, wood furnished offices 500.00
"James H. Bosler, wood furnished office 200.00
"Henry C. Tiffey, office rent 300.00
"A. Murray, office rent 300.00
Total office rent $1,600,00"
Above mainly relates to the old court house or rentals.


It is quite impossible to determine from the record what the above $2,000 for county building is for, whether to finish up the log building, or whether to tear it down and remove it from Mr. Waterman's farm or not.
It is one curious fact that up to November 30, 1860, that the bills allowed were all small and ordinary bills, being one, the largest, for $100, then one for $50, one for $32, and the balance below $20, out of forty bills allowed up to that time. But after that it commenced with these court buildings and all else.
The temporary office spoken of was none other than the old log court house. Just how much business was actually transacted in that building is hard to determine. A bill had been allowed Charles C. Smeltzer, an attorney at Fort Dodge, for $27.50 on April 7, 1860, for county books, which was evidently the county and bridge warrant books, and which, owing to the distance to Fort Dodge and getting them printed, did not get around until along in the fall. These first forty warrants or small ones were issued on common blank paper, but when it come to issuing warrants in the large sums, which they were now ready to commence issuing, they wanted a printed warrant bonk, as the warrants could not well be cashed or sold to purchasers unless they were printed in good form. This accounts for the fact that this old log court house was not paid for until November 30, 1860.
In the meantime, the other offices were under way. From the above it will be seen that four items were paid on court houses, namely, three items of S300. $1,500 and $2,000, in the fall of 1860, and an additional $2,000 September 2, 1861, to A. Murray. The record recites that the two other buildings than the log court house were built "in connection" with each other. This so that when done they were one building in result.
At all events, this old log court house was soon needed for a school house and a little later on was used as a residence by Moses Lewis and family, still later by A. L. Bostwick and R. G. Allen as a blacksmith shop, and still later by Clark and Lem Green as a stable. As nearly as can be determined, this log building did service as a county building at intervals only. The above additional $2,000 allowed A. Murray September 2, 1861, for a building was probably for tearing down the log building and removing it to Old O'Brien, which was done; indeed, the log building could not well be removed as a whole bodily. The above office rents were also allowed. Just why they needed so much office rent in addition to the palatial log court house would be impossible to determine from the records, but outside facts indicate that during these interims of providing school house and buildings of these other parts of offices, that these respective gentry, Tiffey, Murray


and Fnrber, took their few books from their offices to their homes and then allowed themselves $300 each for office rent for same. At all events, it all rounded up in O'Brien county footing the bills at both ends of the line.


But all this did not end the building of county buildings at Old O'Brien. The records are meager. It cannot even be determined how much it cost. Archibald Murray built it, and when it was done he lived in one end of it with his family and had his auditor's office in the other. The record does not even make allowance of bills for same. The record calls it a court house. However, at another session the board had given Mr. Murray, as auditor, authority to issue warrants on all indebtedness, which accounts for the meagerness of the record. We will give the several motions made. It is evident that part of the discussion before the board related to trying to move it and repair it and get along with the old one. Under that authority given the stub book would be the only record. The following is the record:
"September 6, 1869, Motion carried that job be let to lowest bidder to move the court house to the center of the square and repair and plaster same in good condition, and to do all other work to make it comfortable." "November 8, 1869, Motion carried that the resolution of moving the court house to the public square be rescinded."
"November 8, 1869, Motion carried that the court house be moved from the present site out of the road on a line fronting" south."
"November 8, 1869, Motion carried that the auditor be empowered to procure a lease from Rouse B. Crego to put the court house on to use as long as the county uses the building for public use."
"January 18, 1870,Bond of J. G. Parker accepted and with contract on office or court house approved."
"December 20, 1860, A. Murray allowed $150 for office rent."
"July 20, 1870.Motion carried that the court house be accepted as completed."
Whatever was left of the court house was, on moving to Primghar, sold to A. J. Edwards for forty dollars.
We here call attention to the contract in rentals and buildings as above set forth with the building in 1887 of the present wooden court house. While it is not an up-to-date court house, it, with everything connected, was built for six thousand dollars, and that the people of Primghar contributed all


hauling from Sanborn to Primghar of material free of cost to the county. The county was later looking up to better conditions. It could not be built today, with its vaults, for the money expended.
We have woven into these various subjects items relating to other questions, to show conditions. The above and other items given of old matters are but samples of many other situations that could be given in detail, but to do so would extend this history to much too great length. We might also mention here, that Archibald Murray and Rouse B. Crego, much mentioned herein, were both badly addicted to intoxicating liquors, which may explain many things in a degree.


The second court house of the county was built by Stewart & Healy at a cost of two thousand dollars. This unless you count those several buildings at Old O'Brien each a court house. The contract was dated February 2, 1874, and the building was completed and finally paid for April 6, 1874, and shortly afterward occupied. Its size was about thirty-five feet square. It had four offices below, of about equal size, with a small hall eight feet wide, which left the officers well cramped as can be seen. A stairway on the outside led to the court room, through a small ante room.
Two large iron safes, perhaps fire proof, were purchased of the D. S. Covert Safe Company, Chicago, at a cost of two thousand seven hundred dollars and shipped to Sheldon. George J. Hill and A. P. McLaren were awarded a contract to haul them down to Primghar for three hundred dollars in warrants. We mention these prices as showing the handicap even up to this date on the cost of everything measured in warrants at thirty to forty cents.
While the election to move the county seat to Primghar was held November 11, 1872, it was not until April 29, 1873, that the then board, B. F. McCormack and Chester W. Inman (third place vacant), passed a resolution that the county officers remove the records as soon as practicable. A few days after this, Capt. A. J. Edwards, county auditor, himself hauled the first load, being his auditor's records, and received ten dollars for it or equal to about three dollars, a natural day's work. A few weeks later John F. Hollibaugh hauled two more loads and in June brought the balance of the records and received twenty dollars in warrants for it.



We do not enumerate Paine's store as a distinct court house, as it was but a rented building. Mr. Paine had run a store in it for four years in Highland township. In May, 1874, it was leased to the county by John Pumphrey, who owned it, for five months for eighty dollars cash. Later on in the year he and W. C. Green, who had bought an interest in it later, leased it to the county for one year for six hundred dollars paid in advance. It stood on the block north of the public square. Here the first court was held in 1873. This Paine's store building housed the officials and records until April 6, 1874, when the new court house was ready. This Paine store court house was bought by Frank Teabout and moved to Sanborn in 1878 and used by him as a store house in connection with his merchandising there.
Prior to this actual building in 1874 the board had for a year wrestled with the question with many resolutions and rescindings of same. It was first ordered that sealed bids be received for a building not to exceed five thousand dollars, but that was abandoned for the lesser building. This court house was used until the summer of 1886, when it was sold for a residence now on Slocum, Turner and Armstrong's addition, in which year the third court house was built. Three exciting items in the county took place in this court house named elsewhere, namely, the exciting contest between Sheldon and Primghar on the county seat in 1879, the county treasurer's contest between Alexander and Harris in 1877, and the county seat raid in 1882.


The present court house, third in number in the county, was built in 1887 by Green Brothers (Lem C. Green and M. D. Green, brothers of Clark Green), under contract dated July 9, 1887, for the sum of six thousand dollars. It was originally fifty by fifty-four in size. At the November term of court for 1886 the grand jury, composed of George Hakeman, David Fife, J. W. Coleman, W. B. Webster, Ira Waterman, G. S. Morean, Robert Cragg, W. S. Castledine, George T. Wellman, J. A. Glenn, Charles I. Nelson, Fred Frisbee, T. J. Irutret, J. M. Vincent and W. A. Wasson, filed a very severe report condemning the court house as not being a safe place for the public records and the jail as unfit for prisoners. In fact, as the resolution of the board later recited, the grand juries for eight years at various sessions had condemned the jail, and during the year 1887 at each session repeated this condemnation. On January 3. 1887, the board, then composed of W. W.


Reynolds, chairman, J. W. Gaunt, Henry Hoerman, O. M. Shonkwiler and J. E. Wheelock, by resolution appropriated the sum of five thousand dollars for the erection of a new court house. This was the highest amount the board could appropriate without a vote of the people. It was scarcely sufficient. The lumber and material had to be hauled from Sanborn or Paullina. Its actual cost was six thousand dollars, with vaults added. The people of Primghar, however, signed a written agreement to the board to haul the material without cost to the county, and the bids were called for on that basis. It was accepted and so hauled. Bidders were invited to make sealed bids on January 28, 1887. The bid was for even six thousand dollars. It was finished in December, 1887, all with suitable fire proof vaults, and at once occupied. It being not quite sufficient in size, in the year 1902 an addition, twenty by thirty-two feet, was added to same at a cost of one thousand four hundred dollars. The old court house was sold for the sum of four hundred sixty nine dollars and ninety-five cents, and is now a residence in Primghar.


William Clark Green and wife and James Roberts, by deed dated September 5, 1872, deeded two acres to O'Brien county for a court house square, as they likewise deeded two acres for a school house square and two acres to the Trinity Methodist Episcopal church, where the Congregational church now stands.
The grove of maple trees in same was planted in 1878 by the county, under contract by William D. Slack, and the trees and ground cultivated during the summer by Emanuel Kindig, member of the board of supervisors. The first part of the summer was excessively dry and the little sprigs, being practically planted in the sod, did not leaf out until the rains began in August.
In 1891 the county, town of Primghar, George W. Schee and Charles S. Cooper combined or contributed in hauling down about two thousand yards of earth, from the grading of the hill at Mr. Schee's residence, and covered the square from six inches to eighteen inches of earth, and filling in the street on the west side of square from three to four feet deep. The south and west sides of square were then a boggy slough, which made this grading necessary.
Two court houses and one jail have been built on same. It has been used by many public gatherings, old settlers' reunions, old soldiers' gatherings, Fourth of July celebrations, caucuses, conventions and the public generally


in addition to county uses. A cement sidewalk, now entirely around the square, has been built at intervals.
First by resolution of the board of supervisors, on petition of sundry citizens of Primghar, and later by deed dated September 21, 1887, O'Brien county deeded or rather dedicated five feet on each side of this square to the public to widen the street. The citizens of Primghar at the same time dedicated nine feet from off the respective blocks for the same purpose, leaving the streets eighty feet in width. The county has also placed a gas lamp at each side of the square. In the year 1911 the county also appropriated the sum of one thousand two hundred dollars for sewerage connections with the sewerage system of Primghar constructed in that year, as likewise the independent school district of Primghar appropriated nine hundred dollars for its like connections with sewerage. The county likewise provided four wells on the square, one at each corner. Other smaller trees and shrubbery are now in process of growth on same.


A jail perhaps is not a court house. The history of a jail, however, contains sufficient "sentences" from the records of the court house to make a full chapter. The jail proposition at Old O'Brien was much on a par with the old log court house. They needed a jail there bad enough, but the bunch wouldn't put themselves into it.
At Primghar there have been two jails. The first one, built in 1874, was more like a block house in the Indian days. It was about sixteen by twenty-four feet in size, and stood near the southeast corner of the court house square. It consisted of timbers, two by six, laid flat on each other, and filled through and through thickly with large spikes. It was much laughed at as a bastile. But nevertheless, thus filled with sharp metal spikes, the fellow breaking jail would even today have a better chance punching out a square hole through the brick walls of the present jail, as to untangle or get through those mass of spikes. It was later sold by the county as a residence and in 1907 was burned down.


In size the present jail is twenty-five by thirty-six feet and built of faced brick. It, with its furnishings, was built by contract dated July 9, 1890. The steel jail cages and steel work was built by the Paully Jail Company of St. Louis. The first cost of the jail was about five thousand dollars. Sundry


additions in improved cells and patent locking apparatus have been added. It stands on block 8 of Primghar, next west block from the public square.


The first court house in the county was built of logs on Mr. Hannibal Waterman's claim, and remained there for something over a year. It was built by virtue of a contract with James W. Hosier, and was to be eighteen feet square, but was shy a few feet on each side, so that its real dimensions were about fourteen by twenty. Instead of being used for a court house while on Mr. Waterman's claim, it was used by Moses Lewis as a residence, but a court house was not needed much, as the county officials carried the various departments of the county business around in their pockets. They tried to purchase of Mr. Waterman forty acres of land for county purposes, but at the time he wanted the scene of their manipulations as far away as possible. The old log court house was moved to the forty acres purchased from Henry C. Tiffey, on which Old O'Brien was started. The county wanted all its belongings together, but when it was set up again it was soon used as a school house, and by Moses Lewis as a residence, and later by A. L. Bostwick and R. G. Allen as a blacksmith shop and still later by W. C. Green as a stable.
We call this building a court house, because that was the name given to it, but after all it was a curiosity and a sacreligious travesty upon jurisprudence. It was erected not for use. because nobody used it for the purpose for which it was supposed to be intended. It was erected, in fact, in order that a large number of warrants could be issued in pay for it, and these warrants went into the general pool of the gang. A court house implies a good deal. Generally, that emblem of justice, a blinded female holding in equipoise the scales of justice, stands prominently elevated, and at the fore, to tell the people that here the wrongs of this wicked world are righted, and that there is given to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and that justice is dispensed with an impartial hand. But here was a pile of logs, cut from the banks of the Little Sioux, notched, placed together in the form and shape of a building, and the temple of justice was complete. About it, and on all sides of it, were the consultations and manipulations of men, in devising the various methods of theft, the means of perpetrating robbery and plunder, while within, if it had been a court house in fact, the emblem would be truer to the conditions if that blinded female was weeping and her attitude that of a devotee at the throne of justice, whose heart was crushed with remorse. Never within the walls of this illy-constructed structure was an actual court held, never the sound of a voice of an advocate echoed among its rafters.


There were practically no records. None were needed. Court houses were not needed, for the elements of wickedness were averse to them; the only county records were the warrant books, and the only business of the county officials was to fill up the blanks and detach them for their purposes.
After this original log court house, there was built another in 1870, a frame, fourteen by sixteen, which cost several thousarrd dollars. The records, what few there were, were moved into it, but were moved out again, as Dan Inman needed a place to live and the court house was vacated to him for that purpose. This building was burned the next year, and soon afterward a similar building was erected, at a cost of several thousand more, which was used until the county seat was moved to Primghar.
In this latter so-called court house also Archibald Murray lived and also called this residence an auditor's office. It is somewhat difficult to reconcile these several buildings and so called court houses at Old O'Brien, either in number or size or quality. All this to say nothing of the sundry items for office rent in warrants issued to the same gentry. We will not attempt it. To sum it all up, the whole farce was simply to drum up some excuse, either by calling it office rent, or the erection of a court house, when in fact the offices for which rent was charged were the private residences of the officials, but by whatever name, or for whatsoever the purpose, it rounded up with a generous county warrant.
As a side statement relating to some of these same county organizers, we quote the following from a Sioux county authority, relating to their doings over in that county.
"Before any court house was built, and before there was any habitation in the county, a county government was effected under the shade of a cottonwood tree by those enterprising characters in northwestern Iowa, Archibald Murray and Moses Lewis, assisted by lesser lights, and before the sun went down an appropriation of twenty-five thousand dollars had been made for the purpose of building a bridge across the Sioux river. Arch Murray was delegated to go to Chicago to negotiate the sale of warrants. He sold to the Lombards, Chicago bankers. While in Chicago he interested several other capitalists in investments in western bonds and county warrants."
We thus see that O'Brien county was but one of many counties in northwestern Iowa that were victims of these men. It would also appear that these men actually cast votes as electors in these several counties, as they did in O'Brien county. There seemed to be no consistency as to place of residence. The mere legal question of a right to vote was swallowed up in the swim of the greater wrongs committed by them.

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