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CHAPTER VII

ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNMENT OF WEBSTER COUNTY


FIRST COUNTY ORGANIZATIONS — DUBUQUE AND DEMOINE COUNTIES — ACT OF JANUARY 15, 1851 ESTABLISHES FIFTY COUNTIES IN IOWA YELL AND RISLEY —
    WEBSTER BECOMES LARGEST COUNTY IN STATE — DUNCOMBE VS. PRINDLE — CLAIM
    CLUBS WHAT CONSTITUTES A CLAIM — FIRST COUNTY OFFICERS COUNTY SEAT
    LOCATED AT HOMER — FORT DODGE SECURES COUNTY SEAT ORGANIZATION OF
    TOWNSHIPS — POLITICAL DIVISIONS.

ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNMENT OF WEBSTER COUNTY

The first counties in the present state of Iowa were estabhshed before there was any state or even territory of that name. While the history of the formation of Webster county does not extend back this far, yet in order to get a clear understanding of the history of how Webster county came to be, it is necessary to go back to this early time.

In the "Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio," the governor of the territory was given power to lav out into counties and townships those parts of the districts to which the Indian titles had been extinguished. This right was also given them under the acts of congress which established the territories of Indiana and Michigan. The last use of this authority was by Governor Cass in his proclamation issued September 10, 1822. The next counties established in the territory were created in 1826 and 1829 by acts of the legislative council.

Upon the admission of Missouri to the Union as a state in 1821 the country included within the present bounds of Iowa was left without any established local government. Following the Black Hawk war a treaty was made on September 21, 1832, with the Sac and Fox Indians by the terms of which there was ceded to the United States government a strip of territory in eastern Iowa. This district was vacated by the Indians and officially thrown open to settlement June I, 1833. Immediately a large number of prospective settlers entered the new purchase ; indeed, many had not waited for the date of the official opening. This new population found itself "beyond the pale of constitutional government.'' Some violence occurred. Out of the violence grew a petition to congress asking for the protection of the federal laws. The result was an act of congress approved on June 28, 1834, by which the area of the present state of Iowa was, "for the purpose of temporary government, attached to, and made a part of. the territory of Michigan."

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September i, 1834, the legislative council met in extra session at Detroit, where it had been convened by proclamation of the governor. In the message, which the governor sent the council on the second day of the session, the attention of the council was called to the needs of the people west of the Mississippi, in the territory recently attached to Michigan. The reference was clearly to the inhabitants of the Black Hawk Purchase, since no other territory west of the Mississippi had, as yet, been thrown open to settlement. In this district, the governor recommended the establishment of counties, townships, and courts. In response to the recommendation of the governor, the legislative council passed an act entitled, "An act tO' lay off and organize c'ounties west of the Mississippi river." This act which constitutes the first step in the formation of counties in the Iowa country, was approved on September 6, 1834, to take effect on the first day of October of the same year. It applied only to that part of the present state of Iowa, "to which the Indian title had been extinguished." This refers to the "Iowa District," or the "Black. Hawk Purchase," or "Scott's Purchase," as the Sac and Fox cession of September 21, 1832, was variously called. This act divided the district into two counties Dubuque and Demoine. W^ith the admission of part of the territory of Michigan to the Union as a state, the remainder was by act of congress, approved on April 20, 1836, erected into the new Territory of Wisconsin. The area of the present state of Iowa, with its two counties, was included in the new jurisdiction. The first session of the legislature of the Territory of Wisconsin met at Belmont on October 25, 1836. In the following December the legislature passed a law entitled "An act dividing the county of Des Moines, into several new counties." This act was approved December 7, 1836, and went into force immediately. This created out of the former county of Demoine seven new counties.

By the terms of a treaty made on October 21, 1837, the Sac and Fox Indians made a new cession of Iowa lands to the United States government. The territory ceded comprised a triangular strip of 1,500,000 acres lying immediately west of .the Black Hawk Purchase.

During the second annual session of the legislative assembly of the Territoryof Wisconsin, which convened at Burlington in the county of Des Moines, on November 6, 1837, two very important acts were passed relative to the formation of counties in Iowa. The first of these laws, which was approved on December 21, 1837, subdivided the former county of Dubuque into a number of new counties. The boundaries of these counties were very irregular and not definitely defined. Even the wording of the act, which created the counties, was capable of different constructions. Benton county extended entirely across the state of Iowa, while Buchanan did the same and also reached into South Dakota. Fayette county extended so far north and west that it included all of Wisconsin Territory west of the Mississippi river and north of the southern part of Clayton county, exclusive of the area of Clayton county. It included most of the territory of the two Dakotas and Minnesota together with a part of Iowa. Its area was upward of 140,000 square miles. Included in its area was the present county of Webster. Subsequent sessions of the legislature passed various acts, seeking to more clearly define the boundaries of existing counties.

By an act of congress approved on June 12. 1838, the original Territory of


Fort Dodge in 1852


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Wisconsin was divided. The part west of the Mississippi river, and west of a Hne drawn due north from the source of the Mississippi, received the name of the Territory of Iowa. It included not only the area of the present state of Iowa, but also that of the western part of Minnesota and of the eastern part of the two Dakotas. Its area was about three times that of the present state of Iowa. The Organic Act of the Territory of Iowa was to be in force from and after July 3, 1838. From this date the territory continued in existence until December 28, 1846, when the state of Iowa was finally admitted into the Union.

The first session of the legislature of the Territory of Iowa passed several acts in January, 1839, relative to counties. Some of these dealt with the organ-_- ization of counties, others relocated seats of justice, provided for the sale of public lands, and similar matters. Four acts created new counties or altered the boundaries of counties already created.

After the minor acts of January, 1839, no more new counties were created in Iowa for four years. In the meantime the Sac and Fox Indians had ceded to the United States a vast region in the central aiid south central part of the state of Iowa. Under various acts of the legislature, this territory was divided into counties. These acts also sought to define the boundaries of existing counties.

The first act of the federal congress authorizing the admission of Iowa into the Union was approved on March 3, 1845. Then followed nearly two years spent in the adoption of a constitution and in the adjustment of boundaries. The act which finally admitted the state was not passed and approved until December 28, 1846.

At this time Iowa contained forty-four counties covering a little less than one-half of the state. On January 15, 185 1. the general assembly of the state of Iowa passed the most important act in the whole history of the formation of counties in Iowa. At least it was the most comprehensive and created the largest number of counties. By this measure fifty counties were established embracing fully one-half of the state. Among the counties created by this act were the counties, of Risley and Yell, the former constituting the present county of Hamilton, and the latter the present county of Webster, with the exception of the northern tier of four townships. These townships w-ere included in the confines of the county of Humboldt. The name Yell was in honor of Colonel Yell, who was killed in the Mexican war. While the majority of the counties as established under this act remained permanent, sixteen of them were changed by subsequent legislation. Four of them. Yell, Humboldt and Bancroft were subsequently blotted out. Before this occurred the name Risley had been changed to Webster; and Humboldt, after having been blotted out, was restored.

On the whole, the law^ of January 15, 1851, is noticeable for the superior manner in which the boundaries of counties are defined. Compared with earlier laws its language is clear and simple. It is comparatively free from errors. This act fully completed the subdivision of the state of Iowa into counties. Subseqvient acts only changed the names, or readjusted boundaries already established.

The fourth general assembly of the state of Iowa passed a law, which was approved January 12, 1853, and which changed the name of Risley to Webster; and attached the county for revenue and election purposes to Boone county. On


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January 22, 1853, the same assembly passed an act entitled "An act to create the county of Webster." The act of January 12, 1853, which changed the name from Risley to Webster was to go into effect upon publication in certain papers. A certification signed by the secretary of state accompanies the law to the effect that the act was published in the required newspapers on January 22, 1853. This date is the same as that of the approval of the new law to "create Webster county by uniting Risley and Yell into one new county to be called Webster." The latter act was "to take effect from and after its publication in the Iowa Star ; Provided the state shall incur no expense for such publications." No accompanying note tells when the act was so published. It was usual in such cases for a few days to elapse between the approval of an act and its publication.

The fifth general assembly passed two laws affecting county boundaries. One of these laws was passed by the legislature January 21, 1855 and was approved on the same day. It bore the title of "An act to extend the boundaries of Kossuth county, and to locate the seat of justice thereof ;" but this title was not adequate to the contents of the measure. By the terms of this act the counties of Bancroft and Humboldt were blotted out. Bancroft and the northern half of Humboldt were,added to Kossuth; while the southern half of Humboldt was added to the already overlarge county of Webster, making it the largest county in the state, having an area of forty townships or 921,600 acres. Thus the boundaries of Kossuth and Webster were enlarged. But these boundaries were not to be permanent as will be seen later.

The sixth general assembly, like the fifth, passed two laws, bearing upon the subject of this chapter. The first of these was approved on December 22, 1856, and went into force on January 8, 1857. This act created a new county, to be called Hamilton, out of that part of \Vebster county which lay east of range 27 west. In size it was four townships square, having exactly the same boundaries as the former county of Risley. Its boundaries, as thus established, have remained permanent.

The other act passed at this session was approved on January 28, 1857, and went into force on February 26. It created the county of Humboldt between Wright and Pocahontas. To do this eight townships were taken from Kossuth and four from Webster county. The new Humboldt, as its boundaries were defined in the law, was four townships smaller than its predecessor of the same name. It was also smaller than Wright and Pocahontas counties, its neighbors on the east and west.

During the next session of the legislature an act explanatory of the one under discussion was passed. In a preamble of two paragraphs it was claimed that the act of January 28, 1857, had originally created Humboldt county of a larger size, that is, four townships square. The preamble claimed, further, that a mistake had been made when the act was printed in the public laws, whereby township 90 had been omitted, and also that the original of the bill had been lost. This being the situation the legislature passed a new act construing that of January 28, 1857, in such a way as to include township 90, ranges 27, 28, 29, and 30 in Humboldt county. The act even went further and defined the boundaries of the county anew in such a way as clearly to include the territory in dispute.


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Between the passage of the two laws just discussed the present constitution of Iowa was declared in force. It contained a provision to the effect that future laws altering county boundaries should be submitted to a vote of the people of the counties concerned and must be approved by them before going into effect. The amendatory law of IMarch ii, 1858, had not been submitted to the people for ratification. Consequently the supreme court of the state, by a decision handed down on December 4, i860, in the case of Buncombe vs. Prindle, 12 Iowa i, which had been appealed from the district court of Webster county, declared the act of March 11, 1858, unconstitutional.

The case which was a test case, was based upon a suit instituted in Webster county, upon a promissory note for one hundred and twenty-five dollars, dated October, 1858, and payable at thirty days. The defendant set out by way of answer, that he resided in township 90, range 28, west of the 5th P. M., which township was situated within the boundaries of Humboldt county, as he claimed would more fully appear by an act approved January 28, 1857, entitled, "An Act to create the County of Humboldt;" and "An Act explanatory of the act, entitled, 'An Act to create the County of Humboldt;" approved March 11, 1858, which act set forth, that in the first named act, townships 90, 91, 92 and 93 in ranges 2^], 28, 29 and 30, were erected into the county of Humboldt, according to the language of the original bill as passed, but that in the printing and publication of this act, township 90, in the ranges of 27 to 30 inclusive, were omitted. The defendant claimed, that this omission was afterwards supplied by the explanatory act aforesaid (of March 11, 1858), and, therefore, not having been sued in his own proper county, he demanded a change of venue to Humboldt county.

The plaintiff', in his replication, controverted the afifirmative statements in the answer, proffered a certified copy of the original manuscript act, approved January 28, 1857, as found enrolled in the secretary's offfce, and averred that there was in fact no conflict or discrepancy between the original manuscript of the act and the same act as published. The plaintiff insisted that the facts set out in the preamble of the supposed explanatory act of 1858 were untrue. He alleged, that if by this last act the defendant insisted that township 90, of the ranges aforesaid, had been made a part of Humboldt county, that still said law was inoperative, and could have no binding effect, until it had been submitted to the people of Webster and Humboldt counties, to be voted upon at a general election, and approved by a majority of the votes of each county. Such vote, the plaintiff claimed, as a matter of fact had never been taken.

To this replication the defendant interposed a demurrer which was overruled by the court. Judgment was then rendered for the plaintiff on the note, and the defendant appealed.

The appellant was represented in court by Messrs. Kasson, Cole and Garaghty, while the appellee was represented by Alessrs. John F. Buncombe and G. H. Bassett. The decision, which afffrmed that of the district court, was given by Chief Justice Lowe. The court held, that this act did not relate back to the act of which it was amendatory ; and as an independent act it was invalid because it had never been submitted to a vote of the people of the comities concerned. In the closing words of his opinion the court says, "We are compelled to conclude that township 90, in ranges 27 to 30, west of the 5th principal meridian, is still


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in and forms a part of Webster county. Of course we can pay no attention to conjectural surmises and vague suspicions, which have been made and entertained in relation to some unfairness which may have been practiced in the final passage of the act of 1857, creating the county of Humboldt. If such was the case, no evidence of the fact has been presented to us. We have had to deal with the case as made ; and the record as spread before us."

The result of this decision was to reduce Humboldt county in size to the dimensions which the act of January 28, 1857, had given it, whether as approved this act expressed the real intention of its framers or not. The county, however, should be considered as containing sixteen townships from March 11, 1858, the date of the approval of the amendatory act, until the same was declared unconstitutional on December 4, i860.

It may seem strange to class the customs of the pioneers among the early laws of Iowa; but as Dr. B. F. Shambaugh in his book, "History of the Constitutions of Iowa," says, "constitutions are not made in a single day, but have evolved by slow degrees from customs, so the rules and regulations .of the claim clubs of early Iowa may be said to be the beginning of its civil government." The early settlers of Iowa were not a lawless body of men. The customs governing the holding of claims were well and honestly ol)served. These customs codified into resolutions and by-laws, became the first written laws of the pioneers of Iowa. Squatter constitutions they were, but they were law. These claim clubs were the product of necessity. By cession and purchase the United States held legal title to all lands in Iowa, but the Indians occupied the land, and their right to possession was not denied, until extinguished by formal agreement. Until this was done, legal settlement could not be made by the white citizen. United States statutes at large prohibited settlement upon lands to which the Indian title had not yet been extinguished, and upon lands which were not surveyed. But the tide of immigration could not be stopped. The pioneers pressed ever westward. Claims were staked. Homes were built and farms began. All of these claims were beyond the pale of constitutional law. Yet 10,000 of them were in Iowa before the public surveys began. In law these squatters were trespassers,—in fact they were honest farmers. It was to meet these conditions and to protect what they termed their rights to their claims that the early settlers formed land clubs or claim associations.

The claim club of Fort Dodge was organized and active after Iowa became a state. The records of this association and that of the claim association of Johnson county are the only complete records in existence.

The manuscript records of the claim club of Fort Dodge, discovered several years ago among the papers of Governor Carpenter, are now carefully preserved by the historical department at Des Moines. From these records it appears, that the first meeting of the claim club of Fort Dodge was held on the 22(1 of July, 1854. William R. Miller was chosen chairman, and W. A. Young, secretary. According to the minutes of the meeting, the "citizens met pursuant to a call for the purpose of forming a claim law." At this meeting a committee, consisting of Volney Knight and W. A. Young, was chosen to draft a "code of laws," and to report at the next meeting. After some discussion the following motions were passed:


1908 Pioneers' Day


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"First, that 320 acres shall constitute a claim. Second, a claim may be held one month by sticking stakes and after that 10 dollars monthly improvements is necessary in order to hold a claim. Also that a cabin 16x16 feet, shingled and enclosed so as to live in it, is valued at $30." The meeting then adjourned to meet at Alajor Williams store, Monday, July 24, at 7.00 P. M. At the meeting the following by-laws and resolutions were adopted :

"Whereas the land in this vicinity is not in market and may not be soon. We the undersigned claimants deem it necessary in order to secure our lands to form ourselves into a club for the purpose of assisting each other in holding claims, do, hereby form and adopt the following by-laws :

Resolved first. That every person that is an actual "claimant is entitled to hold 320 acres of land until such time as it comes into market.

Resolved second. That any person who lives on their claim, or is continually improving the same is an actual claimant.

Resolved third. That staking out a claim and entering the same on our claim book shall hold for one month.

Resolved fourth. That $10 monthly shall hold a claim thereafter.

Resolved fifth. That no man's claim is valid unless he is an actual settler here, or, has a family and has gone after them, in which case he can have one month to go and back.

Resolved sixth. That any person not living up to the requirements of these laws shall forfeit their claim, and, any actual settler who has no claim may settle on the same.

Resolved seventh. That any person going on another's claim that is valid, shall be visited by a commission of three from our club and informed of ihe facts and if such person persist in their pursuits regardless of the commission or claimant they shall be put off the claim by this club.

Resolved eighth. That the boundaries of these laws shall be 12 miles each way from this place.

Resolved ninth. That this club shall hold its meetings at least once in eacli month.

Resolved tenth. That the officers of this club shall consist of a chairman and secretary.

Resolved eleventh. That the duty of the chairman is to call to order, put all questions, give the casting vote when there is a tie, etc., etc.

Resolved twelfth. That the duty of the secretary is to keep the minutes of the meetings and read the same at the opening of each meeting and have the book and papers in his charge.

Resolved thirteenth. That any or all of the by-laws may be altered or abolished by a majority vote at a regular meeting."

On the offense of '"claim-jumping" the records of the Fort Dodge club contain this suggestive entry : "On motion of Wm. R. Miller that if any member of this club finds his or any of his friends clames has been jumpt that they inform this club of the fact and that this club forthwith put them off of said claim without trobling the Sivel law."

These squatter constitutions made it possible for the settlers to establish:


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homes without immediate payment. They gave color of title, and thus made possible and protected the settlers in their improvements. They gave peaceful possession against the speculator and claim jumper, and even against the government itself. They fostered and established on the frontier, justice, equality and democracy. The prominence which they gave to the homestead and its rights probably suggested our present homestead exemption laws. On the rude frontier, where lawlessness was the tendency, they upheld the rule of law. The law of these claim clubs was carried by settlers, from Iowa to the new state of Nebraska and formed the basis of the first law there.

The claim clubs were mere makeshifts of government, the outgrowth of conditions which made them necessary. However they created a desire and showed the necessity of codified law and established government. So in March, 1853, the citizens of what was then Webster county petitioned Honorable Samuel B. ]\IcCall, county judge of Boone county, to which county Webster was at that time attached for revenue and election purposes, to order an election of county officers. The prayer of the petitioners was granted, and an order issued for an election to be held on April 4, 1853. At this election an aggregate of sixty-three votes were cast. Returns were made to Judge McCall, who on April 9, 1853, issued certificates to the ten officers elect, namely: a county judge, a clerk of the district court, a prosecuting attorney, a recorder, a sheriff, a coroner, a school fund commissioner, a surveyor and a drainage commissioner.

Since the first election, some of the offices have been abolished, the names of others have been changed, and a number of new ones have been created. At the present time there are, including the board of five supervisors, thirteen elective officers. The other county officers are : auditor, clerk of court, treasurer, recorder, sheriff, superintendent of schools, coroner and county attorney. The office of county judge existed from 1853 ^o 1868, in which year the duties of the office were assumed by the board of supervisors, established i860. The last drainage commissioner elected was in 1867. The county auditor's office, a sort of overflow from the other offices, was established in 1868. The first incumbent was Wilson Lumpkin, who performed the duties of the office in connection with his duties as clerk. The office of school fund commissioner was abolished in 1857, John Tolman being the last one to hold that position. In 1859, the office of superintendent of common schools was established and the office was filled by S. B. Olney, who was elected at the election held the first ^Monday in April, 1858. Until the year 1865, the duties of treasurer were performed by the recorder. In that year the two offices were separated and Jared Fuller was elected the first treasurer. The county attorney was at first known as prosecuting attorney. The records show the existence of such an office until the year 1856, when Charles B. Richards was elected. Then until 1886 there was no regularly elected attorney. In that year, by an amendment to the state constitution, the name was changed to county attorney, and Albert E. Clark was'elected to the office. In 1873, the journal of the board of supervisors, shows that John F. Duncombe was hired by that body as attorney of Webster county for a term of two years. The thirty-fourth general assembly in 191 1, abolished the office of surveyor, the act taking eft"ect July 4, 191 1. The last person to fill this office was G. P. Smith. Under the act, abolishing the


Mr & Mrs Meservey


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office of surveyor, the board of supervisors is given authority, if they desire, to hire an officer to be known as county engineer.

Soon after the organization of the county the judge of the fifth judicial district, of which Webster county then formed a part, appointed three commissioners to select a site and locate a county seat. The commission selected the southwest quarter of section 6, township 87, range 26. Here a town was laid out and named Homer. But the villagers of Fort Dodge were aggressive. Under the leadership of John F. Buncombe and others they began a fight to secure the county seat. On Alarch 3, 1856, John F. Buncombe, Walter C. Willson and others to the number of 357, presented to the court a petition asking for an election to be held on the first Alonday in April, 1856, to vote on the question of the removal of the county seat from Homer to Fort Bodge, While they lived on opposite sides of the county, yet the interests of these two men were mutual. Air. Buncombe was boosting for Fort Bodge. Mr. Willson, planning for the future, had in mind a division of the county, and the creating of a new county out of the eastern part, with another county seat town. \\'ith the petition was also filed a remonstrance signed by George Gregory and 347 others. The court granted the petition, and the election was held April 7, 1856. The canvass of the votes resulted in favor of Fort Bodge by a vote of 407 as against 264 for Homer. Soon after the records were removed to Fort Bodge. The removal of the county seat brought to Fort Bodge, as residents, several county officers, among them Hon. William X. Meservey, who later played an important part in the making of the new county seat town.

By an act of the fifth general assembly, approved January 24, 1855, the unorganized counties of Wright, Kossuth, Humboldt, Winnebago, Palto Alto. Emmet, Pocahontas and Hancock were attached to Webster county for election, judicial and revenue purposes. These counties were all later organized by the county judge of Webster.

There is an interesting incident in connection with the organization of Humboldt county. About the first day of April, 1857, Honorable Samuel Rees, then county judge of Webster county, deputized Henry A. Cramer, at that time a resident of Humboldt county, as deputy sheriff and gave him a warrant for the holding of an election in the county on the first Monday in April, with orders to serve the same. Cramer took his warrant and went to Humboldt county ; but found the homes of the settlers deserted, they having fled to Fort Dodge from fear of the Indians, who were at that time reported as being on their way down the Des Moines river. Cramer found food cooked and warm on the stoves. He helped himself to the eatables and returned his warrant unserved. Judge Rees subsequently issued another warrant for an election to be held the first Monday in August, 1857. At this election Major Jonathan Hutchinson, who afterwards became treasurer of Webster county, was elected county judge.

Webster county contains twenty congressional townships, each containing thirty-six sections of land. It has therefore an area of 720 square miles or 460,800 acres. As first organized in 1853 it contained thirty-two congressional townships. Buring the years 1855 and 1856, this was increased to forty. Upon the organization of Hamilton and Humboldt counties in 1857, Webster county was reduced to its present size.


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Webster county is divided into twenty-four civil townships : Badger, Burnside, Clay, Colfax, Cooper, Dayton, Deer Creek, Douglas, Elkhorn, Fulton, Cowrie, Hardin, Jackson, Johnson, Lost Grove, Newark, Otho, Pleasant Valley, Roland, Sumner, Wahkonsa, Washington, Webster and Yell.

Washington township was the first township organized in the county and embraced all the territory now contained in Webster and Hamilton counties. In August, 1853, County Judge William Pierce, established two new townships, Hardin and Webster, and left Washington township all the territory north of township 87 in the county. In 1857, its boundaries were again reduced, when Wahkonsa township was established. These boundaries, with a slight change made in 1870, are the boundaries Washington now contains, to wit : all of township 88, range 27, and sections i, 12, 13, 24, 25, 26, 35 and 36, of township 88, range 28, east of the Des Moines river.

Hardin township, as organized in 1853, contained all the territory in township 86 of what was then Webster county. By the organization of Yell and Clear Lake townships in 1856, its boundaries were reduced to township 86, ranges 27, 26 and 25 east of the Des Moines river in what was then Webster county. When Hamilton county was organized, Hardin was given its present; boundaries, being all of township 86, range 27, east of the Des Moines river.

Webster township as organized in 1853 embraced all the territory in township 87, in what was then Webster county. By the organization of Yell and Clear Lake townships, its boundaries were reduced to that part of township 87, ranges 25, 26 and 27, on the east side of the Des Moines river. After the division of the counties in 1857 the county judge ordered the township reorganized so as to contain only that part of township 87, range 27.

In 1856, six new townships were established namely: Wahkonsa, Yell, Clear Lake, Boon, Cass and Humboldt. Wahkonsa and Yell w'ere in what is now Webster county while Clear Lake, Boon and Cass were in what is now Hamilton. Humboldt township included the northern tier of townships of the present county of Webster, and the southern tier of townships of the present count}' of Humboldt.

Wahkonsa township, as first organized, had the following boundaries :— commencing at the northwest corner of said county, thence east on said county line to the range line between ranges 27 and 26, thence south to the correction line, thence south to the northeast corner of section 12, township 88, range 27, thence west to the Des Moines river, thence down said river to the south line of section 8, thence west to county line, thence north on said line to place of beginning. These boundaries were changed March 24, 1857 and the township then embraced all east of the Des MIoines river and north of the line between sections 12 and 13, 11 and 14. 10 and 15, 9 and 16, 8 and 17, 7 and 18, township 88, range 27. Badger township was taken from Wahkonsa township in 1865; and, in 1872, its boundaries were reduced to township 89 and range 28. Wahkonsa now embraces only the city limits of Fort Dodge.

Yell township as originally organized had the following boundaries : commencing at the northwest corner of section one, township 87, range 28, thence west to the county line, thence sotith on said line to the Boone county line, thence east on said line between Webster and Boone countv to the Des Moines river,


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thence along that as a Hne to place of l^eginning. In 1858 it was given its present boundaries. They embrace all of township 87, range 27, west of the Des Moines river. Clear Lake township, as organized in 1856, embraced all of townships 86, 87, 88 and 89 in ranges 24 and 23, of what is now Hamilton county. Boon township was organized ]^Iarch 3, 1856, and included township 88 and 89, ranges 26 and 25, of what is now Hamilton county. On March 15, this township was divided and township 89, ranges 26 and 25, was called Cass. Humboldt township as organized ^larch 3, 1856, embraced all of 'townships 90 and 91, in what was then Webster county.

The townships of Otho, Sumner and Douglas were organized in 1857. Otho, as organized March 2. 1857, contained all of township 88, ranges 28 and 29, lying west of the Des Moines river. The township of Elkhorn was detached in 1871, leaving the boundaries of Otho the same as at present, being that part of township 88, of range 28, on the west side of the Des Moines river. Sumner township was organized March 2, 1857, and at that time contained all of township Sj, and west of the Des Moines river. \\'ith the organization of Burnside township, Sumner was reduced to its present area. By an order of court March 3, 1857, all the territory lying in townships 89 and 90, ranges 29 and 30, on the west side of the Des Moines river were formed into a township named Douglas. On September 20, 1859, the court ordered township 90 of ranges 29 and 30 formed into a township, thus leaving Douglas consisting of township 89, ranges 29 and 30. The new township was named Jackson. Again, on November 6, i860, another township was formed out of Douglas, and township 89, range 30 was constituted Johnson township, leaving Douglas township its present confines,—all of township 89, range 29, and that part of sections 7, 18, and 19 in township 89, range 28, lying west of the Des Moines river.

Dayton township was organized September 14, 1858. The boundaries as then fixed were all of township 86, range 28, and that part of township 86, range 27, lying west of the Des Moines river, except sections 1, 2 and 3.

Jackson township as first organized included all of township 90, ranges 29 and 30. On November 6, i860, the county court ordered township 90, range 29, set off, and a township named Cass formed. The to\\nship Cass, however, was never organized. October 10, 1865, township 90, range 29, was by order of court detached from Jackson and named Deer Creek.

Badger township was formed from Wahkonsa by an order of the board of supervisors, October 10, 1865, and when organized contained township 90. ranges 2y and 28. Range 27 was, October 14, 1873, taken from Badger and formed Newark township. The present boundaries of Badger township are all township 90, range 28, and that part of township 90, range 29, lying west of the Des Moines river.

Fulton township was organized by an order of the board of supervisors passed September 11, 1868. It consists of all of township 88, range 30. Lost Grove township was organized October 18, 1869, and embraces all the territory of township 86, range 29.

The original boundaries as given to Pleasant Valley, when organized October II, 1870, were township 89, range 27, and sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16 and 17, township 88, range 28, and that part of section i, township


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88, range 29, east of the Des Moines river. November 5, 1872, the board of supervisors set off township 89, range 27, giving the township its present boundaries.

The township of Elkhorn was detached from Otho by an order of the board of supervisors, October 10, 1871. It embraces all of township 88, range 29. The township of Gowrie was organized October 10, 1871, and included all of township 86, range 30.

Colfax and Clay were organized November 5, 1872. Colfax includes all of township 89, range 27. The township of Clay embraces all of township 87, range 29.

The boundaries given to Newark township as organized October 14, 1873, were all of township 90, range 27, and these boundaries have remained unchanged.

Roland township was organized by the order of the board of supervisors October 12, 1875. Its boundaries are the same as when organized, being all of township 87, range 30.

Cooper township was organized September 6, 1877. The record of the board of supervisors, concerning the organization, is as follows : "that the territory heretofore known as Wahkonsa township be divided as follows : all that part of said township within the corporate limits of the city of Fort Dodge to constitute a separate township, and called by the name of Wahkonsa township ; and all that i5art of said township lying outside the corporate limits of said city of Fort Dodge, to constitute a separate township, to be known and called by the name of Cooper township, in accordance with a petition now before the board signed by J. B. Haviland and others."

Burnside township was organized June 16, 1886. At that time Sumner township was divided into two townships, one embraced the territory within the corporate limits of Lehigh, and so much of the Independent school district of Tyson's Mills as was included in said township, outside of said corporation. This retained the original name of Sumner. The remainder was organized as, and named Burnside.

At the present time, Webster county is divided into five supervisor districts. The first supervisor district is composed of Colfax, Newark, Washington, Webster and Pleasant A alley. The second consists of Badger, Deer Creek, Douglas, Jackson and Johnson ; the third of Wahkonsa and Cooper ; the fourth of Gowrie, Dayton, Hardin and Lost Grove and the fifth of Burnside, Elkhorn, Fulton, Roland, Clay, Otho, vSumner and Yell.

Webster county forms the sixty-second representative district, and with other counties forms the twenty-seventh senatorial district, the eleventh judicial district and the tenth congressional districts. The twenty-seventh senatorial district consists of Webster and Calhoun counties. The eleventh judicial district consists of the counties of Webster, Boone, Story, Hamilton, Hardin, Franklin and Wright ; and has three judges, elected at large from the district. The tenth congressional district consists of fourteen counties : Webster, Calhoun, Hamilton, Pocahontas, Humboldt, Palo Alto, Kossuth, Hancock, Emmett, Winnebago, Crawford, Carroll, Greene and Boone.


Maj. William Williams


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