O'Brien county has had four county seat contests: The contest between Old O'Brien and Primghar in 1872, the contest of 1879 between Primghar and Sheldon, the Sanborn raid or contest in 1882 and the contest of 1911 between Primghar and Sheldon.
There are few public agitations that will equal in strenuousness and earnest excitement a county seat contest. It is human nature that the citizens of the contesting towns will be loyal to their home towns. That quality is right and commendable as between the individual and his town, but it forms no reason of itself why a county seat should or should not be relocated. The immediate excitement and the otherwise contentions of individuals and towns are often the real subjects discussed in these contests. There are, however, groundwork causes and reasons, above and beyond all this, to which as historic matter we must look and for which we must search in these contests. The contests hover over the shoulders of the towns involved, but the causes solving them out are county wide. We must, therefore, set aside the individual and tense feelings always playing a part in such contests and look beyond.
The law of the state as to filing petitions and remonstrances was not quite the same in the first two contests of 1872 and 1879 as it was in the last contest of 1911. At the periods of the first two contests the law permitted both sides to procure signatures to both petitions and remonstrances, clear up to the date of the hearing by the board of supervisors. In fact, in the contest of 1879 the board actually permitted signatures to petitions on both sides that were being procured as the board proceeded with the hearing.
At the time of the 1911 contest the law required the petitioner asking for relocation of the county seat, or remonstrating thereto, to affix his signature, to add thereto the date when he signed same, to give the number of the section, township and range of the land, or the number of the ward if in a city of his residence, and also required that the completed petition be filed sixty days prior to the hearing by the board. The remonstrators could sign up


names during the canvass of the county by the petitioners and during this sixty days and up to within ten days of the hearing. During each of the contests the law required publications to be made of the coming filing of a petition in a newspaper. All the time it has provided that names found on both petition and remonstrance should only be counted on the remonstrance. As can be seen, in all county seat contests this invites a tense struggle in the procurement of signatures.


The establishment of the county seat at Old O'Brien had had an ignoble cause, as we have detailed under other heads. This first contest was not strictly between Old O'Brien and Primghar, but between Old O'Brien and the then prairie grass plat of forty acres, the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 36, township 96, range 41. It is probably the only instance in the history of the state where a spot of forty acres of raw bare prairie, with no inhabitants and not even a name (the name Primghar not yet having been given to it), ever contested with a prior county seat and actually won out. The board ordered the vote at its June session, 1872, and the election occurred November 11, 1872. The vote of the people stood three hundred and seven for removal, and fifty-three against.
We will give reasons. In all the other contesting efforts to relocate, including this effort to remove it from Old O'Brien, there were groundwork causes solving out the destiny of the county. This first fight in 1872 was indeed a supreme effort on the part of the old homesteaders recently then locating in 1870-71-72 to reform matters. The real gist of this fight lay in the settled determination of these settlers that the county seat and its records, and that even the sentiment hovering over Old O'Brien, and its rat hole of a log court house, should be wrenched from the Bosler-Cofer-Tiffey crowd, and that the only way to do it was to root it up and move it away and settle the then one desired fact, that the new settlers' rights should be established and that they should cut loose from those pirates in the organizing of counties for profit. A second thought also was to locate the county seat at the exact center. It was also a further thought to locate it on or near the forty-third parallel of latitude, which was two miles below the proposed location, and where Congress in its land erant to the Milwaukee railroad recited it should be built "as near as may be."



Sheldon vs. Primghar and Sanborn vs. Primghar. On June 3, 1879, there was filed before the board of supervisors of the county the "petition" of sundry citizens, asking for the relocation of the county seat from Primghar to Sheldon. The hearing before the board occupied three days at its June session. The official record of the same is quite meager.
The board found that five hundred and thirty-two signed the petition for relocation; that fifty-seven illegal voters or non-residents signed same; that eighty-nine voters who had signed the petition had also signed Primghar's remonstrance; that, in all, four hundred and ninety-five signed the remonstrance; that there were fourteen illegal signers on the remonstrance. Based on the above findings, the petition was rejected. The hearing lasted for three days amid much excitement. It was held in the court room, with large crowds present from all parts of the county. The street scenes were even more demonstrative on both sides than the open sessions at the hearing.
During the period of circulating Sheldon's petition, the town of Sanborn also circulated a petition to relocate the county seat at Sanborn, and Primghar circulated remonstrances against both towns. A general remonstrance was also circulated against relocating it anywhere, but the board rejected this as being too indefinite. At that time the law did not require the petition to be filed until the day of the hearing before the board, and did not fix a definite date when to be filed, and required no dating of signatures, as now. Much of these three days, or at least some part of the time, was occupied in sparring between the two contending forces, actually procuring delays, and also in the meantime procuring more signers to petition and remonstrance. This caused much excitement.
Looking to the weightier reasons and causes, we can see in this contest the beginning or first growths of the second contest in 1911 between the same towns. Sheldon in 1879 was already six years a railroad town. Primghar was still roadless. Sheldon had been growing. "Primghar, poor old maid," as B. F. McCormack humorously remarked, "was waiting for a proposal," from some one to build for it a railroad.
But the two historic facts remained, that Sheldon was established on the border of the county and Primghar in the center. The decision was the same as it later was in 1911. The people of the county, amid excitement, was solving out its destiny.



Each of the other three contests were conducted under the statutes of Iowa, providing for petitions or vote. The Sanborn raid, which occurred November 23, 1882, was purely a physical combat for the county seat. Nevertheless, it had its causes. Several years ago Frank A. Vaughn, editor of the O'Brien County Democrat, requested the senior editor of this book to write an impartial account of the matter, he having participated personally therein. Believing it could not be set forth more impartially than it was there done, we give it a place in full, as being practically an official record of the unique event.
"Mr. Frank A. Vaughn,
"Editor O'Brien County Democrat:
"You have requested me to write up a statement of what was known as the 'Sanborn Raid,' or the incident of Sanborn actually securing and holding the county seat for one day. During the past now nearly thirty years I have at sundry times been requested to do so, but so far have refused. It was one of the most intense county-wide excitements ever in the county. For many years this incident was so intermingled with politics and local personalities that I thought best not, but that it should be postponed until all that is left is the fact as it occurred, with all personalities left out. But time is now so far removed that at least it should be done now impartially, and in doing so to go back a little into some of the facts and causes leading" up to the same.
"This incident occurred on the night of November 23, 1882. At that time Primghar had no railroad and no prospect of any within anv reasonable time.
"Prior to this, in 1879, both Sheldon and Sanborn had circulated petitions to the board of supervisors, to submit the question of removal to a vote of the people. These two contests in their time had followed down with its natural discussions.
"Primghar had then only about one hundred and seventy-five people. It had gone on thus from 1872 (when it was laid out) until 1882, holding railroad meetings and hoping against hope. In the grant of Congress to the Milwaukee Railroad it provided that said road should be built through O'Brien county on the forty-third parallel of latitude as near as may be and connect the Sioux City road at Sheldon. This forty-third parallel, as a matter of fact, lies just south of Primghar about two miles. This fact the


men who laid out the town had in mind, as likewise the fact that it was in the exact center. The Milwaukee road in 1878 built itself 'as near as may be' to this forty-third parallel to and through Sanborn, and our ten years' hopes and patient waiting went down forty degrees below. One can thus read between the lines of the thought of the then people of Sanborn that if the railroad had thus gone on this forty-third parallel 'as near as may be,' that meant that the forty-third parallel, or Primghar, or the county seat could remove to Sanborn, 'as near as may be.' Indeed one joke, though it was seriously considered, was for Sanborn to reincorporate the whole territory between Primghar and Sanborn as a town, and then for the board to simply order the court house to be moved to the other end of the town, that is, to Sanborn's end of it, on the theory that no vote of the people would be needed. This may be laughed at now, as lacking in argument, but so did the idea of a 'raid' without a vote lack in the same way and yet it was undertaken at the time seriously. I simply mention these facts as showing that the Sanborn raid or removal idea had some causes back of it all. While determined to hold the county seat, Primghar itself was in fact getting sick of the long wait. When, in 1878, the Milwaukee was built, the hearts of the Primghar people sank. Again, when, in 1881, the next or Northwestern road was built just, south of us, the town was sick again. During those three years, from 1878 to 1881, there were actually about fifty to sixty buildings, large and small, removed from Primghar to Sanborn, Paullina and some even to Sutherland. One can imagine how consoling that was to the one hundred and seventy-five Primghar people, waiting for a railroad.
"But on each contest before the board of supervisors, nothwithstanding the above facts, that even the people of Primghar were growing weary, the people said No; the farmers then argued thus: 'That the county seat is not fixed for a day or a year, but for future years;' 'that the farmers, the bulk of them, went to the county seat overland, and that the farmers from the farthest corner of the county could go there and back the same day, and that he would be fair with the other farmers at the other end of the county who could do the same thing, and thus meet him half way, and thus give him a square deal, and that the farmer had as good a right to the argument as the town man.' But Sanborn argued to herself that with Primghar itself thus 'sick,' if we can get it actually removed, for any reason, that the people will simply acquiesce.
"Just at this time the railroads of the country were having a passenger rate war, until the Sioux Citv road actually offered a round trip ticket to Saint Paul and back for twenty-five cents. Every officer in the court house,


except the auditor, together with many other citizens, took advantage of this and left town for this trip. There being then no railroad at Primghar, these officials went by the way of Sanborn to take the train, which brought up the subject and the idea of a raid was sprung.
"The citizens of Sanborn were soon well organized. Under the town pride idea that they must all stand together, they were naturally united. Its best citizens, like William Harker, J. L. Greene, Harley Day, Mart Shea, David Palen and one hundred others, participated. One hundred men went down from Sanborn with teams, wagons, crow bars, heavy timbers, pulleys and tackle, fully equipped, and arrived in Primghar at midnight. It took but a half hour or less for that number of vigorous, energetic men to batter down the court house doors, and to cut down the window sills level with the floor, and to proceed to load up records, documents, filings, papers and everything that was loose or could be loosened, from every office, and load them into and upon forty wagons now hitched and standing around the square. The county treasurer's safe was loaded on a brand new wagon in the court house square, which had been drafted into service from one of the machinery houses in Sanborn. The recorder's and clerk's safes were loaded on other wagons, though the recorder's safe was the only one that in fact got clear in Sanborn. The county auditor's safe had been built right into the building as a part of it, and could not be removed.
"While these happenings were going on thus vigorously, the alarm was sounded through the town, by some one who was sleeping in the old wooden jail. Everybody was awake at once, its remaining people, men, women and children, running, hollering and yelling. George W. Schee and myself were the only county officer and ex-officer present; probably twenty of her people went on this trip. It was perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes before these scared people could get organized. Mr. Schee and myself were first on the ground. We both agreed at once that whatever else happened we would not permit or bring on any physical conflict, and that we would hold our tempers.
"In the meantime I had first walked through the court house, where the removers were mainly at work, and shook hands with every one of the one hundred men I could get to within reach. This put everybody in a laughing mood, which continued through it all. I then went out on the porch and gave a yell and called the 'house to order.' Every man stopped still and listened attentively, and I said:
"Gentlemen: This is public property and belongs to O'Brien county. I call upon you as citizens in my capacity as county auditor to desist and assist in the protection of your property, the public records and the court


house. I realize that you now have the majority, and we will not attempt to bring on any physical contest, but these records must he returned. We will have five hundred men in Sanborn tomorrow morning, when we will be in the majority."
"The yell was then given by the crowd to whoop her through. Mr. Schee and myself then managed to get together thirteen men at the edge of the square for consultation. I got into my office and we hustled the county seal, the supervisor's record and warrant book, and a few other records into Mr. Schee's office across the way. These were the only records that did not arrive in Sanborn. In the consultation of these thirteen men this line of fight or baffling was arrived at and decided on. That all hands should pass quickly among the teams and cut and slash the harness and wring off the nuts off the wagon wheels or axles, and thus disarm them, but to desist as soon as they got onto it and not bring on a fight. The nuts were thus unscrewed from the wheels of the wagon on which the county treasurer's safe was loaded, which disabled it and prevented its removal, though the fifty-foot log chain was also wrapped around it, then to a post, and the ends held by the men for some time. Many harnesses were cut up.
"One amusing incident occurred. The Sanborn men were loading the records and papers into several wagon boxes. Mr. Schee and others were attempting to unload them and to carry them into Mr. Schee's office. David Palen, in his vigorous way, yelled out. 'See here, you Primghar thieves. you, Schee and Peck, don't you know that you are stealing our records,' and everybody on both sides laughed heartily. But these sallies preserved the good temper on both sides of the crowd. Another sally from a Primgarean was this 'See here, you Sanborn fellows, the nuts are off your wagon wheels, the chain is round the treasurer's safe, now walk up and pay your taxes."
"Our thirteen men also decided on this further policy, which was carried out: To secure every livery team and saddle horse or team in town, and start out every man and boy to rouse up the people in the different parts of the county. This county seat removal began its march to Sanborn about half past two. When I saw that I could do no more I got a team and, with Mr. Frank Tifft, started for Sheldon, stopping at every farm house on the way, in turn starting them out each way through the county. We got to Sheldon just at daylight. Indeed the news spread and roused up things far beyond expectations. It raised much excitement in Sheldon and everybody got out for business ready to start for Sanborn. The then current story in


all the papers that I rode a mule horseback across the country was not in fact true, but acted on the sentiments all the same.
"In the meantime I had telegraphed to each district judge, the district or state's attorney, the Sioux City Journal, and called the members of the board of supervisors in special session to meet me as county auditor at Sanborn at ten o'clock, where we, in fact, met and held several sessions during the day, and in negotiations with reference to the return of the records. In fact five hundred men did meet us in Sanborn by ten o'clock from all parts of the county, and in fact an inventory was taken by one fellow present and he ascertained that at least eighty shot guns and revolvers were on hand in the crowd, though myself and our board rather feared from that that some regretable thing might happen, and proceeded on calmer lines of talk with the Sanborn citizens, though in fact this danger idea played a part in the solution. The board advised all parties to keep calm. The Sanborn people were at first disposed to 'stand pat.' But as the day progressed, it dawned on both sides that it would not be safe to permit these five hundred excited men to remain in the town through the night, which would have been done. Besides it soon became clear to both sides that, without a vote of the people, such an attempted removal of the county seat would soon get into the courts and before grand juries and other jurisdictions and get public affairs into many legal troubles that could not stand. It all soon became humorous as well as serious.
"About one o'clock a committee of, I think, six of Sanborn's best citizens came forward in a manly way and said to the board in substance: 'We see that we have made a mistake. The only way out is to correct it. We will at once hand over all the records to J.L.E. Peck, county auditor, and will pay all expenses on both sides.' This proposition was accepted and faithfully carried out. This expense was quite large, but was fully paid. I procured gunny sacks from the grain elevators and sacked up all the records and papers and tied them securely. This was twenty-nine years ago, and I believe it to be a fact that not a record or document was ever lost by reason of same. Indeed, the Sanborn people were well organized and with particular instructions to 'Get every paper and record,' which if it was to be done, was fortunate, as it preserved them in safety. The recorder's safe, as remarked, was the only one that got to Sanborn. I hired teams to haul the safe and records back.
"Banker J. L. Greene, of Sanborn, had removed his furniture from his large residence, which became the temporary court house for the day, and the books, records, papers and filings were piled promiscuously eight feet


high in several rooms. Even before the Sanborn committee had offered to surrender the records the crowd had ascertained their whereabouts and had marched up in military drill (many were ex-soldiers), to and around this new court house, insisting on a surrender of the records.
"In the meantime I had got the gunny sacks and teams on the spot, to get readv for the return. The crowd all declared at once that they would not handle a record, but that the Sanborn committee must load them all up. This, while it was tedious and took till dark, proved the safe thing, as the crowd would not have done it with the care as did the fewer number. Especially was this true when we consider that every paper or document might be a serious loss to some one. The Sanborn committee of about five or six worked in literal hard work, amid the jeers of the crowd, calling for marriage licenses, and to pay their taxes, and to get naturalized and all that, until we all thought it almost overdone, and we all felt relieved when we started for Primghar.
"In our absence, the women of Primghar had chopped and sawed that new wagon all to pieces and had the tongue sawed off and erected on the square as a staff with a flag on it. The pieces of that wagon, even the axles and tires and small parts, were carried all over the county as relics.
"At a lyceum in Primghar, the next year, the crowd presented me with a cane made from that wagon tongue, with a gold head. On receiving the cane I expressed the sentiment that I would not receive it in any sense of keeping alive any ill feelings resulting from that affair. Though myself lame, and always using a cane, I never used it, not even for an hour, as at that time I felt that it would only suggest the feelings then prevalent. Years later, at an old settlers' reunion in Primghar, someone conceived the idea of a museum for the day of hay twisters, grasshopper catchers, and other old settlers' relics, and, without my knowledge, some one went to my house and got it and put it among the other articles of novelty. When our then invited Sanborn guests were there, they naturally were offended. When I learned of it Mr. Schee and I went and removed it. That same day some one removed the cane part from the head and took the cane away. I did not see or hear of it again for twelve years. One day, in 1905, I received a letter from Sioux City which read:
"Mr. J. L. E. Peck: The man who stole your cane is still abroad in the land. I can get it delivered to you for twenty-five dollars.' To which letter I replied:
"Dear Sir: Your letter received. The best place for that cane is in


the bottom of the Missouri river. Please put it there. I never wore it or used it. To now pay twenty-five dollars for it would only add a seeming intention to keep up ill feelings. Good day."
"But. returning to the main question. On arrival in Primghar with the records, the court house was all open and much demolished. The crowd, returning, mainly came back this way, and many remained all night, and quite a number for several days. I appointed twelve men to guard the records, which was kept up for three days, until repairs were made and until the crowd all scattered out to their homes. It took myself and three helpers three weeks to sort out and examine each paper and record and return it to its place. The next day the Sanborn committee came down and appointed Mr. Schee, George Hakeman and myself as auditing committee, to determine what expenses should be paid by them, which we did.
"Much feeling prevailed over the county. Indeed, indignation meetings were held in several townships, and much loud talk and newspaper headlines and poetry and squibs were indulged in. The arrest of the main parties was loudly demanded. In fact, informations were signed. I sent word to the main eight men of the facts of the informations, and suggested that they come down and give bonds without any arrests, for, as I suggested to them, that if it is not done here it will be done in the south part of the county, and that under present excitements it was best that no further public gatherings be had. It was done.
"But in the meantime, and within a few days, as part of the almost humorous features of this humorous, yet serious affair, in looking up the law, and consulting with the then district or state's attorney, S. M. Marsh, of Sioux City, while the crowd and the public was yelling that it was a 'steal' and 'theft.' and all that, it was discovered by those of us closest in the matter that in law there was no theft there. That theft in law involved the 'intention to appropriate the property of another to one's own use individually.' That no such intention existed. Indeed that the opposite was the intention. That while, as a remedy for the removal of a county seat, it was irregular, that so far as the crime of theft was concerned it could not be sustained, and would not be in the courts. The milder misdemeanor would perhaps obtain with a light fine, but that was swallowed up in the excitement and demand for that which could not be upheld. The mass people at the time wondered why it was thus, but as time went on it became more definite that, notwithstanding all the then noise and talk the state's attorney's advice and our own conclusions were right. Indeed as we now later look back, it was indeed a good thing for the county that the trials demanded by an ex-

O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 163p> cited public did not get loose or started, as it would have been an expensive deal, full of politics and all that, in local matters, only to be discovered later, what we most of us concluded within a few days, though some of us were censured much at the time, that it was not done.
"In truth and in fact, no more honorable men ever lived in the county than William Harker, J. L. Green and many others who participated in the affair. As Mr. Harker once said to me, that 'it was the foolishest act of my life, but enthusiasm carried all of us off our feet.' "To sum it up, it was a frolic. It was serious. It was humorous. It was almost tragic in its features. It is only a pioneer country that can duplicate its conditions.
"I have written this out as per your request, after thirty years, merely as stating an early incident, which, as you have suggested, some might be interested in, in knowing the real facts, as they developed, from causes back of things, as I have shown, and as they were witnessed by one who participated, and by one who now only recites same in the belief that, now after thirty vears, it can be read even by both sides with calmness and only as looking back to it as an early incident of actual occurrence.
"The then county officials were: T. J. Alexander, county treasurer; J.L.E. Peck, county auditor; W. H. Noyes. county recorder; Frank A. Turner, clerk of the courts; Clark Green, sheriff, and David Algyer, superintendent of schools.
"The members of the board of supervisors were Thomas Holmes, Ralph Dodge, Ezra M. Brady, George Hakeman and J.L. Kinney. (Signed) "J.L.E. Peck."


This contest took place in 1911. As we have before remarked, all such contests have their ground work causes. The citizens of each town, by the natural promptings of human nature, support their own town. An ambitious town intuitively desires to secure all the betterments for itself that it can. The citizens of the town in possession of the county seat will always contest. It becomes likewise an intuitive self defense. The law provides for the raising of such questions. This contest was strictly on the lines of the statute. We inquire for the ground work causes?
As we have observed herein on other subjects, that, owing to its early and very large public debt, just lately paid off, the people of O'Brien county have postponed the building of its final modern court house until after this was all paid off. This has postponed this matter longer in years than most


other counties in the state. The county was yet housing its records in a frame court house. This said, in effect, that there was something incomplete about the county seat. It lacked its final court house. This contributed in inviting the question. Again, Primghar had not secured its railroad until fifteen rears after Sheldon, nine years after Sanborn and Hartley and six years after Paullina and Sutherland had each become railroad towns. Indeed, as a wag got it off. "Primghar was like an old maid waiting for a proposal from some one proposing to build a railroad, to save its hide." A railroad is needed in the present day to keep a town building. Following the years needed in the growth of the modern ideas in hotels and brick school buildings and other like structures, Primghar was postponed a like number of rears on all these items. It had cost Primghar, with its few people before the Central landed, ten thousand dollars to secure the twenty-two miles of right of way required of it. The town had to recuperate from this. Sheldon in meantime had secured three roads. It had become in reality a distributing point. It was the largest town in the county. But, on the other hand, as results demonstrated, after all, the one prominent fact could not be departed from, that Sheldon was located on the county line and Primghar in the center. We can thus see the ground work causes in the times and conditions of growth, leading up to this contest, testing out that question. It was the inevitable that the question should arise.
On March 3, 1911, the people of Sheldon commenced the circulation of a petition for the "relocation of the county seat at Sheldon." It was indeed a vigorous and genuine up-to-date county-seat contest, with the frills all on, as was facetiously remarked. Both sides soon realized that they were in a real right.
When we realize that this contest lasted for ninety days, and that for the first thirty days during the period, when both sides were in the field, each side had from twenty to thirty automobiles with earnest men rushing orer the county, each making haste to secure one-half or a majority of the forty-five hundred (one authority states forty-two hundred and seventy-six) voters with their signatures; when we realize that Sheldon, in the first instance, secured twenty-four hundred and eighty-five signatures; when we realize that with a subject so spirited, that every man, woman and child in the county was discussing it, and that every one of the ten newspapers in the county were devoting all available space in all manner of discussion and side discussions; when we realize that several dozen men on each side put in the major part of their time from sixty to ninety days, and from early morning until late at night, and that circulars and dodgers and hand bills and leading


articles were published broadcast and mailed systematically by both sides to every voter in the county, and that public meetings were held not simply weekly, but often for several nights in succession, we can see that it was a tense fight. Judge William D. Boies, of Sheldon, issued the main body argument from Sheldon's standpoint, which was published both by circulars and in the papers broadcast. Others joined and followed up his lines for Sheldon. Messrs. R. J. Locke, J. L. E. Peck and O. H. Montzheimer and others did the same thing from the view point of Primghar.
Summed up in brief sentence statements, the two sides made arguments from the following standpoints: Sheldon argued, first, that it had three railroads; second, that it had become a distributive point; third, that it was the largest town in the county and always would be: fourth, that farmers and others could get to court better by rail to Sheldon; fifth, that it had the better and ampler hotel facilities; sixth, that it would for all time show up better as a county capital: seventh, that from the south part of the county via Alton they could get up and back the same day; eighth, that Primghar had no adequate hotel, and, ninth, that it had better entertainments at court time and better stores for trading.
Primghar argued, first, that it was in the exact center; second, that trains were not always on time; third, that the automobile destroyed the railmad argument; fourth, that farmers to use the train would need a team to the local town first: fifth, that Sheldon was on the extreme west line of the county; sixth, that a farmer from any point in county could drive in and back same day; seventh, that for the long years to come Primghar would best serve; eighth, that Primghar would build a hotel, and, ninth, that court expenses of witnesses and jurors and others at ten cents per mile for all time to come would be larger at Sheldon than at Primghar.
As stated, there were forty-five hundred voters, or, as per one authority, forty-two hundred and seventy-six. In the first instance, twenty-four hundred and eighty-five voters signed the petition for relocation at Sheldon. Later on about nine hundred petitioners signed the remonstrance, and under the law were deducted. A few were struck off on account of having by some mistake signed twice, on both petition and remonstrance. From all of which one can easily see the excitements that necessarily took place.
The following is an exact copy of the record of the hearing before the board of supervisors held June 8, 1911.
"The board of supervisors finds that, after deducting from said petition the names of persons who are not legal voters of this county at the time they signed the same and the names appearing on the remonstrance which


also appear on the petition and certain duplicate signatures thereon, said petition for the relocation of the county seat at Sheldon has been signed by fourteen hundred and forty-seven legal voters of O'Brien county, Iowa, and that said remonstrance against the relocation of the county seat at Sheldon, Iowa, after deducting certain duplicate signatures thereon, has been signed by thirty-one hundred and sixty-three legal voters of O'Brien county, Iowa, as shown by the last census, either state or federal; that more legal voters in said county have signed said remonstrance than have signed said petition and that no vote on the proposition of the relocation of the county seat of the county be ordered." The following is the tabulated list by towns and townships:
Primghar. Sheldon.
Archer 32 3
Baker 107 49
Caledonia 150 36
Calumet 53 2
Carroll 59 84
Center 164 10
Dale 116 3
Floyd 6 118
Franklin 81 32
Grant 153 2
Hartley City 176 161
Hartley township 97 38
Highland 175 1
Liberty 170 1
Lincoln 101 26
Moneta 5 6
Omega 141 19
Paullina 191 45
Primghar 258 0
Sanborn 337 66
Summit 116 6
Sutherland 192 10
Sheldon 2 716
Union 152 10
Waterman 127 3
Totals 3161 1447



During a part of the time of this canvass the Legislature of the state of Iowa was in session. Each side maintained a lobby of from five to eight men at the state capital, each sparring for a change in the law that would aid in increasing or decreasing the number on petition or per cent of vote required. Mills county had been for sundry years, and in several successive contests, in the throes of like fights, only much more tense than in O'Brien county. They were on hand with corresponding delegations and lobbies, and naturally joined hands with the respective sides in O'Brien county as their interests corresponded. This, also, added much to the county-wide discussion. In result, the Legislature passed an amendment to the law requiring that thereafter two thirds of the voters according to the last census should vote for a removal before a relocation can be ordered instead of one-half, as had been the law prior thereto.


It has been seen that one main fight made against Primghar was that the town did not have adequate hotel facilities for court occasions. It was true that it did not. The owner of the then main hotel, Peter Manderville, while he had invested about eleven thousand dollars in his hotel, and had built it of brick and of quite adequate size, had unfortunately built it between two other brick store buildings, which cut off the light and air, and had also failed to put in a heating plant, contenting himself with stove heat.
This stern reality brought Primghar straight up on her feet, or down on her knees, as it may be argued. Forthwith, immediately, and the same day, subscriptions for stock for a new hotel were circulated. In a sense it was grimly humorous. Primghar saw that she had to convince the public, and that quickly, that this hotel promised was a reality. A stock company was formed, and some one hundred and ninety-one separate stockholders subscribed. Time was the essence of the contract in real earnest. An architect was immediately on the ground. A contract was at once let to Hanson & Meyer, of Fort Dodge, for the building and to the Fort Dodge Plumbing Company for a heating plant, the total costing about a dozen dollars less than twenty-five thousand.
While Primghar was in fact delinquent in this hotel matter, and while Sheldon compelled its building by her county seat persuader, yet when Primghar did act her citizens did themselves proud and built a hotel that was


not only adequate, but a credit to the town and people county wide, for whose benefit it was built. We make the erection of this hotel an historic county item, for this very reason that it was built directly as a result of a twenty-four-mile-wide agitation, in this problem of a county-seat contest.
The building is of red pressed brick, in size forty by one hundred and ten feet, with twenty-three sleeping rooms, practically three stories high, including a fine basement, with steam heat, ample baths, barber shop, hot and cold water all completely finished in all modern appointments, dining room beautifully decorated, as are all other rooms, dining room accommodating as high as ninety guests at one sitting, with a complete equipment of furniture and kitchen utensils hotel sizeā€”in brief, in every way an up-to-date hotel.
A prize was offered for the name selected from names contributed. The prize was awarded to Miss Demia Peck, she dubbing it "The Hub."


A grand opening was held in the dining room of the Hub hotel, on the evening of December 8, 1911. Guests from all over the county numbering one hundred and fifty attended, forty guests alone coming from Sheldon. After the bountiful repast a program of speeches and toasts was indulged in. J. L. E. Peck acted as toastmaster. Speeches were made by Judge William D. Boies, of Sheldon, by Judge William Hutchinson, of Alton, who were followed by further speeches by David Algyer, Jacob H. Wolf, T. E. Diamond, C. P. Jordan. Sidney Kerberg. Fred Vetsch and Mr. Lindsay.
The sentiment of loyalty to one's town and surroundings and the upbuilding of the county was the prevailing theme. It was a curious and notable incident that the blue and the gray in the late fiery county-seat contest so soon met at the festal board at its new hotel and enjoyed an excellent program and menu so superb.
To sum it all up, these four county-seat contests were in reality the people of the whole county solving out its destiny in its growth and developments.

O'Brien County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project