Winnebago County, IA
WINNEBAGO COUNTY, IOWA.
NATIONAL, STATE AND COUNTY REPRESENTATION.
CONGRESSIONAL — GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENT — REGISTER OF STATE LAND OFFICE — MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
While unworthy men, at times, may force themselves into office, it cannot but be acknowledged that the great body of office-holders of the country are truly representative men — men of positive force and character. They are of the number that build up and strengthen a town, a county, or a State. In this chapter, as far as possible, is given sketches of all who have served Winnebago county in the Nation, State or county. Some of the sketches are imperfect, but it is not the fault of the historian that they are not more complete. Some of the parties have passed away, leaving no record from which a sketch could he obtained, while others have left the county, and their present places of residence are unknown.
Winnebago county was a part of the 2d congressional district prior to its organization and was represented in the 33d Congress from 1853 to 1855 by John P. Cook, of Davenport. Mr. Cook was a native of the State of New York, and in 1836 came west to Davenport. He was elected a member of Congress as a whig [sic], and held the views of that party until its dissolution. On the breaking up of the whig party he affiliated with the democratic party, the principles of which he labored earnestly to sustain and promulgate, even to the end of his days. His life has been one of great energy and industry. He was by natural instinct a true western man, a wide-awake, thoroughly active pioneer, who never saw the time when he could lay aside the business harness, and. to all appearances, never wanted to. As a lawyer he had few superiors; was always ready, fluent and an able advocate, and with these qualities were combined energy, tact and industry; and for years past, and up to the day of his demise, no law firm in the northwest has stood in better repute than that broken by his death. Mr. Cook died at Davenport, April 17, 1872.
James Thorington, of Davenport, was the next representative in Congress from the 2d district. He was not a man of extraordinary ability, but was a good politician and wire-puller. He is now a consul in one of the South American States.
Timothy Davis, of Elkader, Clayton county, next served the district, from 1857 to 1859, or in the 35th Congress.
William Vandever, of Dubuque, was elected a member of the 35th Congress, and re-elected to the 37th. William Vandever is a native of Maryland. In 1839 he came west, locating in Rock Island, where he remained until 1851, when he moved to Dubuque. In 1855 he formed a partnership with Benjamin W. Samuels, of Dubuque, in the practice of law. In 1858 he was elected a member of the 36th Congress. He made a useful member of that body. While serving his second term, he abandoned his seat in Congress, returned home, and raised the 9th Iowa Infantry, of which he was made colonel. In 1862 he was promoted a brigadier general, and at the close of the war was brevetted major-general. Since the close of the war he has held several important public positions.
By the census of 1862 Iowa was entitled to six representatives in Congress. Winnebago county, on the State being redistricted, became a part of the 6th district. Its first representative from this district was Asahel W. Hubbard, from Sioux City. He was elected in the fall of 1862, and became a member of the 38th Congress. He was re-elected a member of the 39th and 40th Congresses. He was a native of Connecticut, born in 1817. In 1836 he came west to Indiana, and in 1857 to Iowa, locating at Sioux City. He had been in the latter place only one year when he was elected judge of the 4th judicial district. While a member of Congress he served on committees of Foreign Affairs, Public Expenditures and Indian Affairs. He was very attentive to his duties while in Congress, and served his constituents and the State with unqualified satisfaction.
Charles Pomeroy, of Fort Dodge, was the next representative in Congress from the 6th district. He was elected in 1868 as a member of the 41st Congress, and served one term.
Jackson Orr, of Boonesboro, succeeded Mr. Pomeroy in 1871, and served in the 42d Congress as a representative from the 6th district. Mr. Orr was reelected as a member from the 6th district, and served in the 43d Congress.
In 1872 it was found the population of the State had increased to a number entitling it to nine representatives in Congress. In re-districting, Winnebago county became a part of the 4th district. It was first represented by Henry O. Pratt, of Charles City, to the 43d Congress. Mr. Pratt was re-elected to the 44th, and thus served until March, 1877. Mr. Pratt is a native of Maine. He was admitted to the bar in Mason City, Cerro Gordo Co., Iowa, in June, 1862. Soon afterward a call was made for 600,000 men by the President. He enlisted as a private in in company B, 32d Iowa Infantry. He was discharged in the spring of 1863 and the following summer taught a small school in Worth Co., Iowa, after which he commenced the practice of law at Charles City. As a lawyer he is very candid in the trial of a case; he never tries to defeat the ends of Justice, never resorts to clap-trap, and never forgets the dignity of his calling. He is a fluent speaker, and excels as a jury advocate. His record in Congress was creditable to himself and constituents.
N. C. Deering was the successor of Mr. Pratt. He was elected as a member of the 45th and re-elected to the 46th and 47th Congresses. He was an influential member.
Nathaniel C. Deering was born in Denmark, Oxford Co., Maine, on the 2d of September, 1827. His parents were James Deering and Elizabeth Prentiss, both natives of Maine. Mr. Deering was educated in the common and high schools of Denmark, and at the North Bridgeton Academy. He had a strong desire to procure a liberal education, and to study law, but as the result of an attack of whooping cough and measles his health broke down and his lungs became diseased. Warned by his physician of the danger that would attend the further prosecution of his studies, in the spring of 1847, he went to Hampden, Penobscot county, and accepted a clerkship in a store, serving in that capacity until January, 1850, when he determined to join the gold seekers. He reached San Francisco on the 14th of the following April, remained in the “land of gold” about two years, then returned to Maine with considerable fortune, embarking in the paper ' manufacturing business. In autumn of 1856, he lost his entire property by fire. In September of the year before[,] he had been elected a representative to the Maine Legislature, and was re-elected in the autumn of 1856, his father serving in the same body. On the 14th of September, 1857, he arrived with his family at Osage, Iowa, his present home, where he engaged in land and lumber operations, with a good degree of success. In July, 1861, he was appointed a clerk in the United States Senate, which position he held until the spring of 1865, when he resigned and was soon after appointed a special agent of the postoffice [sic] department for Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, resigning the position in the spring of 1869. In July, 1872, he was appointed national bank examiner for the State of Iowa, the duties of which position he continued to discharge until the 3d of March, 1877, when he resigned preparatory to taking the seat in Congress, to which he had been elected the previous November. As a citizen, Mr. Deering has always enjoyed the esteem of his fellows. One in writing of him says: “As a pure Christian gentleman, he stands among the first in the land, nowhere more highly appreciated than by those among whom he dwells.”
By the census of 1880, it was found that Iowa was entitled to eleven representatives in Congress, and the General Assembly of 1882 formed two new districts, Winnebago county becoming a part of the 10th district.
Major A. J. Homes, of Boone county, was elected congressman of the 10th district in the fall of 1882.
J. T. Kean was appointed to a clerkship in the adjutant general's office at Washington, in the fall of 1880.
Hon. David Secor was elected to this office in 1875 and was re-elected in 1877, holding the office four years. Hon. David Secor, Forest City, was born in Putnam Co., N. Y., Jan. 6, 1836. His parents were Alson and Sarah C. (Knapp) Secor, natives of the above county. They were the parents of eleven children, all of whom grew to be adults. The subject of this sketch was reared on a farm, and received his education in the common schools. In 1856 he removed west, remaining a few years in Linn Co., Iowa, where he learned the trade of a mason, and attended the Western College, an institution controlled by the United Brethren Church. In the spring of 1859 he removed to Mason City, where he worked at his trade, and the following fall removed to Winnebago county. In the fall of 1861 he was elected to the office of treasurer and recorder, being elected three consecutive terms. In 1863 he received the appointment of postmaster of Forest City, holding the same for nine years. In 1871 he was elected to the 14th General Assembly, having only three votes cast against him. The district consisted of Cerro Gordo, Worth, Hancock and Winnebago counties. In 1873 he was reelected with the same result, only three votes being cast against him. In 1874 he was elected to the office of register of State lands, which position he filled two terms. On Dec. 10, 1862, he was married to Samantha E. Van Curen, by whom he had three children, two sons and one daughter. Mrs. Secor died on July 13, 1871. He was again married, Sept. 10, 1872, to Jennie Gregg, who died Dec. 15, 1875. Hi« present wife is S. Jennie Lyons, by whom he has had two daughters. Mr. and Mrs. Secor are members of the Congregational Church. He is a Knight Templar Mason, and a member of the A. O. U. W. Lodge. He was admitted to the bar in 1879.
The 4th General Assembly convened at Iowa City, Dec. 6, 1852, and adjourned Jan. 24, 1853. At this time Winnebago county, though unorganized, with Jasper, Polk, Dallas, Greene, Boone, Story, Marshall, Risleya, Willb, Foxc, Pocahontas, Humboldt, Wright, Franklin, Cerro Gordo, Hancock, Kossuth, Palo Alto, Emmett, Bancroftd, Hardin and Worth constituted one district, with Andrew L. Hull as senator and J. F. Rice, Joseph C. Goodwin and Benjamin Green as representatives.
The 5th General Assembly convened at Iowa City, Dec. 4, 1854, and adjourned Jan. 26, 1855; also convened in extra session July 2, 1856, and adjourned July 16, 1856. At this time the district was composed of the counties of Jasper, Polk, Dallas, Guthrie, Greene, Boone, Story, Marshall, Hardin, Risley, Tell [sic]e, Fox, Pocahontas, Humboldt, Wright, Franklin, Cerro Gordo, Hancock, Kossuth, Palo Alto, Emmett, Bancroft, Winnebago and Worth, and was represented in the Senate by James C. Jordan, who contested the seat of Theophilus Bryan, the contest being decided in favor of Jordan, Jan. 8, 1856; and represented in the House by Samuel B. McCall. Winnebago county was then in the 38th representative district.
The 6th General Assembly convened at Iowa City, Dec. 1, 1856, and adjourned Jan. 29, 1857. At this time the senatorial district was composed of the counties of Allamakee, Winneshiek, Howard, Chickasaw, Mitchell, Floyd, Worth, Cerro Gordo, Hancock, Winnebago, Bancroft and Kossuth, and was represented by Jeremiah T. Atkins. Winnebago county was in the 46th representative district, associated with the counties of Winneshiek, Howard, Mitchell, Worth and Bancroft, and was represented by Claus L. Clausen.
Winnebago county, in the 34th senatorial district, was represented by Jeremiah T. Atkins. The representative district was composed of Worth, Cerro Gordo, Franklin, Wright, Hancock, Winnebago, Kossuth, Webster, Hamilton, Calhoun, Pocahontas, Palo Alto, Sac, Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson and Emmett, and was represented in the House by Cyrus C. Carpenter.
The 8th General Assembly convened at Des Moines, Jan. 8, 1860, and adjourned April 3, 1860; also convened in extra session May 15, 1861, and adjourned May 29, 1861. At this time Winnebago county was a part of the 40th senatorial district, with Julius H. Powers as State senator, and a part of the 58th representative district with Elbridge G. Bowdoin as representative.
The 9th General Assembly convened at Des Moines, Jan. 13, 1862, and adjourned April 8, 1862; also convened in extra session Sept. 3, 1862, and adjourned Sept. 11, 1862. Winnebago county, still in the 40th senatorial district, was represented by George W. Howard. The 54th representative district, composed of the counties of Floyd, Cerro Gordo, Worth and Winnebago, was still represented by Elbridge G. Bowdoin.
The 10th General Assembly met at Des Moines, Jan. 11, l864, and adjourned March 29, 1864. Winnebago county was in the 43d senatorial district, with George W. Bassett, State senator; and in the 57th representative district, Charles D. Pritchard, representative.
The 11th General Assembly convened at Des Moines, Jan. 8, 1866, and adjourned April 3, 1866. George W. Bassett was still State senator, while the counties of Worth, Winnebago, Kossuth and Hancock, comprising the 58th representative district, were represented by L. Dwelle.
The 12th General Assembly convened at Des Moines, Jan. 13, 1868, and adjourned April 8, 1868. Winnebago county was represented in the Senate by Theodore Hawley, of Webster county, in the House by Charles W. Tenney, of Cerro Gordo county.
The 13th General Assembly met at Des Moines Jan. 10, 1870, and adjourned April 13, 1870. Theodore Hawley was still senator and B. F. Hartshorn represented Winnebago county in the House.
The 14th General Assembly convened at Des Moines, Jan. 8, 1872, and adjourned April 23, 1872, also met in extra session Jan. 15, 1873, and adjourned Feb. 20, 1873. Winnebago county, in the 46th senatorial district, and the 69th representative district, was represented in the Senate by Elisha Rowland, of Franklin county, and in the House by David Secor, of Forest City.
The 15th General Assembly met at Des Moines, Jan. 12, 1874, and adjourned March 19, 1874. Elisha A. Howland still represented Winnebago county in the Senate, and David Secor in the House.
The 16th General Assembly convened at Des Moines, Jan. 11, 1876. In the Senate, Winnebago county was represented by Lemuel Dwelle; in the House by H. H. Brush.
The 17th General Assembly met at Des Moines, Jan. 15, 1878, Winnebago being represented by Lemuel Dwelle, in the Senate, and by A. C. Walker, in the House. At this session the State was redistricted, and Winnebago became a part of the 47th senatorial district.
The 18th General Assembly met at Des Moines on the first Monday in January, 1880. Frank Goodykoontz was State senator from the 47th district, of which Winnebago county was a part; while J. M. Hull represented the county in the House.
The 19th General Assembly convened at the State capitol, Jan. 2, 1882. Winnebago county, in the 47th senatorial district, was represented in the Senate by Horace G. Parker, of Cerro Gordo county, who was elected in the fall of 1881, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Frank Goodykoontz. J. E. Anderson represented the county in the House.
In the fall of 1883, John D. Glass, was elected State senator, and George F. Watson, representative. Winnebago county, in that year, was in the 47th senatorial and the 77th representative districts.
A history of Winnebago county would, indeed, be incomplete without a record of the county officials, who have served since its organization. There has been much difficulty connected with obtaining material for biographical sketches of those who have died or moved from the county since their official services were performed. Where the mention of men, who, in their time, were prominent, is short, it is because of the meagre material to be secured. The following, embraces the complete list of the various officers from 1857 to 1883, inclusive. The most important office at the commencement of the county's existence, was that of
This office, in early days, embraced the work of several officers of the present day. It is treated at length in the judicial chapter.
The first county judge was Robert Clark, who was elected in the fall of 1857, and continued in office until 1862.
J. K. Boyd was the second judge, elected in the fall of 1861. He qualified and assumed the duties of the office, Jan. 1, 1862. He was succeeded by Samuel Tennis, who was elected in the fall of 1863 and held the office until it was abolished. The duties of the county court system passed to the circuit court, and the county judge became ex-officio
at the time of the change, in the spring of 1869, Samuel Tennis being the first to serve as such.
In the fall of 1869, Hiram K. Landru was elected county auditor, and held the office three terms.
Hiram K. Landru was a native of Norway. While he was still a boy, his parents emigrated to America, locating at Madison, Wis., where they remained for a number of years. In about 1863, he came with his parents to Winnebago county. Hiram was at this time about twenty-three years of age, and when he reached this county engaged in farming for himself, two miles north of Forest City. In 1865 he enlisted in the United States service, in company I, 32d Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and served till the close of the war. Returning from the service he engaged in the mercantile business at Forest City, continuing in this for nearly two years. He then sold out and purchased a part interest in a steam saw mill, which business he followed until being elected county auditor. He then sold his interest in the saw mill and devoted his time to the duties of his office. Mr. Landru was not a thorough business man and did not make a very efficient officer. Still he was well thought of and continued in office for six years. He remained about a year after the expiration of his last term of office, then went to Yellow Medicine Co., Minn., where he was living in 1883.
Eugene Secor was elected county auditor in October, 1875, and re-elected in
Eugene Secor was born in Putnam Co., N. Y., May 13, 1841. At the age of sixteen, his father removed to Shrub Oak, Westchester county, where he grew to manhood, working on his father's farm in the summer, and attending district school in the winter. On arriving at the age of twenty-one, he went west, and located in Forest City, Iowa, working at the mason's trade summers and teaching school winters. In 1864, he entered Cornell College, at Mt. Vernon, in view of a classical education, but his brother David having enlisted in the war, he was called home to oversee his brother's business, and was appointed by him deputy treasurer and recorder of Winnebago county, and deputy postmaster at Forest City, which position he held for a couple of years. In 1867 he was appointed deputy clerk of the district court, and in 1868, was elected district and circuit clerk, which office he he [sic] held for three successive terms, being elected the last time without opposition. In 1875 he was elected county auditor, and re-elected in 1877, without opposition. In the proceedings to incorporate Forest City, he was appointed one of the commissioners to call the election, and was elected its first mayor, and re-elected three successive times. On retiring from the office of mayor, he was elected to the town council, which position he still holds, thus having been identified with the city government from its organization. There is no person who has taken more interest in the improvement of town and county than Mr. Secor. He is a member of the real estate firm of Secor Brothers & Law, and also of the banking house of Secors, Law & Plummer. In addition to this he finds time to oversee a farm or two, is engaged in fruit growing to some extent, and successfully manages the largest apiary in the county. He is at present president of the board of education, and takes an active interest in school matters. In 1866 he was married to Millie M. Spencer, daughter of David M. Spencer, a native of Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Secor have had eight children, only three of whom are living—Willard, aged fourteen; Alson, aged twelve; and Sadie, an infant. Mr. and Mr. and Mrs. Secor are members of the M. E. Church. Mr. Secor came to this county without a dollar, in fact he borrowed money to come west with, but by industry, energy, perseverance and honesty, has succeeded in obtaining a competency in this worlds goods, and is to-day one of the solid business men of the city.
Charles Isaacs was the next county auditor, elected in October, 1879, and re-elected in 1881 and 1883.
Charles Isaacs is a native of Norway, born Oct. 1, 1849. In 1855 his parents came with their family to the United States, settling in Dane Co., Wis. Charles remained at home and attended different schools of learning, until 1872, when he came to Winnebago Co., Iowa, locating on a farm about three miles southwest of Lake Mills. He engaged in teaching school during the winters and in summers worked at farming until in 1875, when he purchased a farm and devoted his time to its improvement. In 1879 he was elected county auditor, and was re-elected in 1881 and 1883. He was married in 1868 to Susan Jorgens, a native of Norway, by whom he has seven children living—Emma, Delia, Oscar, Alfred, Conrad, Rudolph and Walter. One son died aged six months. Mr. Isaacs is a thorough business man and is well qualified to fill the position which he has held for two terms. He graduated from Worthington & Warner's Commercial College, Madison, Wis., on May 3, 1872. He is a republican in politics; in religion a member of the Norwegian Lutheran Church.
At the time Winnebago county was organized the duties of these two offices devolved upon one person. This continued in vogue until 1863, after which an officer was elected for each office.
The first treasurer and recorder was Charles H. Day, who was elected in 1857. In 1859 Philip Tennis was elected, but failing to qualify, Mr. Day held over till the next general election, when he was re-elected and again in 1861.
Charles H. Day is a native of Illinois. He came to Forest City, in 1856, from Owens Grove, Cerro Gordo county, bringing with him a steam saw-mill, the property of J. B. Long, judge of Cerro Gordo county. For a time Mr. Day was merely engineer and manager of the mill, but finally he purchased an interest and so continued to run it for about a year. When elected treasurer and recorder he sold his interest in the mill and gave his attention to his official duties. After the expiration of his term of office he remained only a short time, but soon went to Mason City, Cerro Gordo county, where he engaged in the mercantile business. He continued in that about a year and a half, then sold out. He is still living in Mason City. Mr. Day was a sharp, shrewd business man and is now in very comfortable circumstances.
In October, 1863, David Secor was elected treasurer and recorder. During his term the offices were separated and he was retained as treasurer, while J. P. Gardner, in 1864, was elected
and was the first to fill that office as it is to-day. Mr. Gardner held the office for two years and made a very efficient officer. He had a fair education and was a good, honest business man. He came to Forest City from Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo county, in 1863, and remained here until his death, which occurred in 1867. His widow is still living in Forest City and is now the wife of Myron Barton, a merchant of that place.
H. S. Bottsford was elected to the office in the fall of 1866 and held the office one term. Mr. Bottsford came to Forest City in 1859 and followed the carpenter's trade until his election to office. In 1869 he settled in the north part of the county, where he engaged in farming. In 1862 he was married to Laura Tennis, daughter of Samuel Tennis. He finally removed to Nebraska, where he was when last heard from. He made a very good officer.
Nelson K. Landru was the next recorder, being elected in the fall of 1868, and re-elected in 1870. He was a brother of Hiram K. Landru, at one time county auditor. Mr. Landru was a native of Norway, and while young came with his parents to the United States. He came to Winnebago county in 1863, and worked at farming until elected to office. He is now in Yellow Medicine Co., Minn.
E. L. Stillson succeeded Landru as recorder. He was elected in the fall of 1872 and again in 1874. Mr. Stillson made a very efficient officer, serving with honor to himself and giving entire satisfaction to those with whom he transacted business. Mr. Stillson is now engaged in the hardware business in Forest City.
John Law was the next recorder. He was elected in the fall of 1876, and re-elected in 1878.
O. T. Severs was elected recorder in 1880 and again in 1882, being the present incumbent.
O. T. Severs, county recorder, was born near Bergen, Norway, in 1845. When a mere child his parents emigrated to America, locating in Cambridge, Dane Co., Wis., where they remained until 1873, when they removed to Winnebago Co., Iowa. His father was buried in Dane county, where his mother had been previously buried. The subject of this sketch was reared on a farm, receiving a liberal education. In the fall of 1872 he removed to Winnebago county, and in 1873 was elected county surveyor. In 1874 he was elected to the office of clerk of the courts, and in 1880 was elected county recorder, being re-elected in 1882. In 1875 he was married at Augusta, Wis., to Betsy Borson. Four children have blessed this union—Rankin W., Nannie Amelia, Ettie E. and Stella B. Mr. Severs has forty acres of land within the city limits, valued at $20 per acre, and has 160 acres in Newton township, valued at $3,000. Mr. Severs is a graduate of Eastman's Business College.
The first to hold this office was David Secor. He was elected in 1863 to the combined offices of treasurer and recorder, held over as treasurer on their separation, and was elected to the treasurership in 1865. A sketch of Mr. Secor is found under the head of "State Representation."
In 1867 Robert Clark was elected treasurer. He was re-elected in 1869, 1871, 1873 and 1875, holding the office until his death, which occurred Aug. 12, 1876. Mr. Clark was the first county judge, and is represented at length in the judicial chapter.
W. A. Burnap was appointed to the treasurership to hold until the next general election. Mr. Burnap was a lawyer, and is noticed at length in the bar chapter.
William Larson was elected in November, 1876, to fill out the unexpired term of Mr. Clark. He held the office but one year. Mr. Larson is a native of Norway. He came to the county in 1867 and located at Lake Mills, where he engaged in the mercantile business. He is still in trade at that place. Mr. Larson was a strict business man, well educated, and proved a very efficient public officer.
Mikkel Peterson became the next county treasurer by the election in the fall of 1877. He held the office two terms. Mr. Peterson is a native of Norway, and became a resident of this county in 1866. He is now following farming.
At the election in 1881 B. A. Plummer was elected treasurer. He was re-elected in 1883.
At the organization of the county, in 1857, B. F. Denslow was elected the first clerk of courts, and held the office until Jan. 1, 1861. Mr. Denslow came to- the county in the spring of 1857, locating in Forest City. In 1861 he enlisted in the United States service, was taken prisoner by the rebels, and died of starvation in Libby prison. Mr. Denslow was a man of excellent moral character, and made a popular public officer.
In the fall of 1860 A. K. Curtis was elected clerk of courts, and served part of a term. He was of a roving disposition, and soon resigned his office and went to Nebraska. J. H. T. Ambrose was appointed to fill out the term.
J. H. T. Ambrose, one of the early settlers of Winnebago county, was born in Hamburg, Germany, Sept. 22, 1834. Here he grew to manhood and received his education at the University of Kidd. In 1853 he left Germany and emigrated to America, locating in Chicago, at which place he remained one year and studied our language. In 1855 he was employed in an engineer corps in LaSalle Co., Ill. In 1856, he removed to Mason City, where he was elected as county surveyor, which office he filled for four years. In 1860 he removed to Forest City, Winnebago county, receiving an appointment to the clerk of the courts, to fill the vacancy made by Keeler Curtis, who had resigned. He was elected county surveyor at the end of his appointment, which office he has since filled, with the exception of one term. In 1861 he was married to Emma Jane Church, a daughter of Charles Church. By this union there has been eight children, seven of which are living—Ella, Nettie, Clinton, Lillie, Fannie, Irving and Clyde. Mr. Ambrose has resided in the county for nearly a quarter of a century, and has seen the prairies covered with game chased by the Indians, but which in a few short years has been changed to good cultivated farms, and the hut has been supplanted by comfortable homes. Probably there is not a man in the county more conversant with its every facilities [sic] than Mr. Ambrose.
In 1862 E. D. Hinman was elected clerk and served three terms. Mr. Hinman was a careful business man and made a good public record. His popularity as an official may be inferred from the fact that he was retained in office for six years. He is now living on his farm close to Lake Mills.
Eugene Secor was elected Mr. Hinman's successor in the fall of 1868, and was re-elected in 1870 and 1872. Mr. Secor has since been elected county auditor and is noticed at length in that connection.
O. T. Severs was the next clerk, elected in 1874. He is the present county recorder and under that head may be found his biographical sketch.
In the fall of 1876 W. O. Hanson was elected clerk of courts. He is the present incumbent, having been re-elected in 1878, 1880 and 1882.
W. O. Hanson, clerk of the courts of Winnebago county, was born near Lillehammer, on the Miosen, Norway, May 13, 1843. He emigrated with his parents to America in 1854, his father dying on the way, of cholera, at Pine Lake, Wis. The family, destitute of means, consisted of the widowed mother and four children—William O., aged eleven years; Christian H., aged six years; John P., aged three years and Ella S., aged two months, and born on the Atlantic ocean. They settled in Jefferson Co., Wis. The subject of this sketch was thrown upon his own resources to provide for himself and to assist in the support of the family. The years of his boyhood were variously occupied, chiefly on the farm, at school, in the saw mill and in the store. In the fall of 1864, he removed to Decorah, Winneshiek Co., Iowa, where he secured a situation in a store. In 1866 he embarked in the mercantile business on his own account, under the firm name of Wilson & Hanson, with a satisfactory degree of success. In the fall of 1867 the firm sold out, and with some other gentlemen organized a stock company for the manufacture of woolen goods and carrying on a general mercantile business, under the name and style of the Winneshiek Manufacturing & Commercial Association, and founded the "Winneshiek Woolen Mills." Mr. Hanson being treasurer and manager of the mercantile department for over three years, when he sold his interest and resigned. On the 31st of May, 1868, he was married to Mary Wood, of the town of Ashippun, Dodge Co., Wis., who died on the 3d of September, following. In the fall of 1870 he moved to Forest City, Winnebago Co., Iowa, and again engaged in the mercantile business, under the firm name of W. O. Hanson & Co., afterwards Aiken & Hanson. He subsequently purchased the interest of Mr. Aiken and continued in the business until 1876. He was married to Jennie Anderson, of Decorah, Iowa, on the 13th of May, 1871, and by this marriage has had four children, three of whom are living—Harry M., Ida E. and Nellie M. In the fall of 1871, he was elected a member of the county board of supervisors, holding the position of chairman for two years. In 1876 he was elected clerk of the courts and re-elected, without any opposition, to speak of, in 1878, 1880 and 1882. Upon the incorporation of the town of Forest City, in 1878, he was appointed, by the circuit court, one of the commissioners to perfect the organization of the town, and at the first election of officers of the incorporation, he was elected a member of the council and has since held that office by re-election. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Both Mr. and Mrs. Hanson are members of the Congregational Church. In politics, he is a republican, and takes a lively interest in public affairs. Mr. Hanson came to this country a poor boy, but by hard work has gained himself a position, of which he may well be proud.
The first sheriff in Winnebago county was John S. Blowers, who was elected in the fall of 1857, when the county was first organized.
M. P. Goodell was the second sheriff, elected in 1861. He did not serve long, however, but resigned and enlisted into the service, joining the 32d Iowa Volunteer Infantry. The only news ever received in regard to what became of him is that he was wounded in the battle of Pleasant Hill, and left on the field for dead.
John Maben was appointed the successor of Mr. Goodell, and held the office until Jan. 1, 1862. Mr. Maben is the present treasurer of Hancock county.
The next sheriff was Joseph Tennis, elected in the fall of 1862. He held the office one year.
He was succeeded by A. P. Harper, who was elected in the fall of 1863. During the one term that Mr. Harper held the office, he became quite unpopular, and people thought, and still say that he was in league with law-breakers. He left the county some time after the expiration of his term of office, and his whereabouts at present is not known.
In 1865 Charles Lutz was elected sheriff and held the office one term. Mr. Lutz came here from Indiana in the spring of 1856. He located on a farm and tried farming on a small scale. He also speculated somewhat in lands and attended the land sale at Osage in the fall of 1857. Although a sharp, shrewd fellow, he never made much and what he did make he could not keep. He left, in 1870, a poor man, and went to Dakota. As an officer he was not very efficient.
H. K. Landru was elected sheriff in 1867 and held the office one term. A sketch of him is given under the head of county auditor, to which office he was elected in 1869.
The next sheriff was Peter Lewis, who who [sic] was elected in 1869, and re-elected in 1871, 1873 and 1875.
Mr. Lewis came to Winnebago county, from Wisconsin, in 1863, and settled at Forest City. He was married while here to Carrie Brones, a resident of the county. Mr. Lewis was one of the most efficient and popular men ever elected to the office. He was kind and considerate in his official position, but was nevertheless a true custodian of the law and would perform his duties with firmness and dispatch. He bore a good character and as a man was esteemed by every one [sic]. He died in 1879.
He was succeeded by J. H. Twito, who was elected in 1877. Mr. Twito has held the office ever since, being last elected in 1883.
Jacob H. Twito, sheriff of Winnebago Co., Iowa, was born in Racine Co., Wis., Feb. 21, 1847. He was a son of Hans Twito, who emigrated from Norway to Racine county, in 1842, where he became acquainted with Ellen Jacobson and whom he soon after married. They were the parents of eight children, four sons and four daughters. In 1852 he removed to Houston Co., Minn., where he purchased land and engaged in farming. He was a large, powerful man, being six feet two inches in height and weighing 210 pounds. He was considered one of the strongest men who had left Norway. He died in Houston county, in 1865, leaving a wife and large family to mourn his loss. Mrs. Twito is still living in Winnebago county. The subject of this sketch was reared on a farm, and received a limited education, being principally self-educated. In 1875 he was married to Carrie J. Halverson, of Winnebago county, by whom he has had four children—Henry, James E., Ellen G. and Cora. In October, 1877, he was elected to the office of sheriff, and re-elected in 1879, 1881 and 18S3. Mr. Twito is a man who attends close to his business, giving general satisfaction to all as a good officer and one of the best detectives in the State. He is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and with his wife is a member of the Lutheran Church.
The office of superintendent of common schools for each county was created by an act of the General Assembly in the winter of 1857-8, and an election called in April, 1858, to fill the office.
C. W. Scott was elected the first superintendent of schools, for Winnebago county, in the spring of 1858. Mr. Scott came here from Indiana in 1856 and engaged in farming. He left the county in 1868, going to Iowa Falls, Hardin county. He is now dead.
In 1859 B. F. Denslow was elected to this office and held for one term. A sketch of Mr. Denslow is given under head of clerk of courts.
Martin Bumgardner was the next superintendent, elected in 1861. Mr. Bumgardner was a native of New York, and, coming to this county in an early day, he figured prominently in its affairs. He was a carpenter and joiner by trade, and was the builder of the present court house in Forest City. He remained here until 1868, then went to Mason City, where he lived several years. He is now engaged in farming in Hancock county. Mr. Bumgardner resigned before his term expired, and David Secor was appointed to fill the vacancy, holding about one year.
In the fall of 1863 Augustus Oulman was elected and held the office two years. Mr. Oulman came here from Philadelphia, Penn., in 1860. He was a Frenchman by birth, was fairly educated, and was a wood carver by trade. He is now living at Lake Mills, where he has for some years been engaged at carpentering.
Next in office came C. A. Steadman, who was elected in 1865, and re-elected in 1867. Mr. Steadman was a teacher by profession, and made a very efficient superintendent. On coming to Forest City in 1862 he became teacher of the public school. He is now living on his farm north of Forest City.
In 1869 Martin Cooper was elected county superintendent. He is a lawyer by profession, and is still a resident of Forest City.
His successor was A. L. Shay, who was elected in the fall of 1871. Mr. Shay was a physician of Lake Mills.
In 1873 W. W. Olmstead was elected and held the office for two years. Mr. Olmstead is a lawyer by profession.
W. A. Chapman was elected superintendent in the fall of 1875, and was re-elected in 1877. He is now practicing law at Lake Mills.
In 1879 A. N. Brones was elected. He is now serving on his third term, being last elected in 1883.
A. N. Brones, superintendent of schools of Winnebago county, was born near Christrand, Norway, June 23, 1847. When six years of age his parents emigrated to America and located in Dane Co., Wis., where they engaged in farming. Here Mr. Brones grew to manhood, receiving his education in the district school. In the fall of 1864 he enlisted in the 43d regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers, company I, and served in the last battle at Nashville, and until the close of the war. In July, 1865, he removed to Winnebago county, where he entered the graded school of Forest City, then spending two terms at the Upper Iowa University, at Fayette, Fayette county, and graduated in the commercial department. After leaving school he engaged in teaching, which he followed until 1880. In 1872 he was elected as county supervisor, serving two terms. In the fall of 1879 he was elected as county superintendent of schools, and re-elected in 1881 and 1883, which position he has filled with due credit. On June 22, 1881, he was joined in wedlock to Emma Jacobs, a daughter of Jacob Jacobs, of Winnebago county. This union has been blessed with one child—Oliver Jay. Mr. Brones is a Master Mason, a member of Truth Lodge, No. 213. Mrs. Brones is a member of the Lutheran Church, where the family worship [sic].
The first surveyor of Winnebago county was C. W. Scott, who was elected in 1857. He held the office until 1862.
Augustus Oulman was elected in the fall of 1861 and performed the duties of the office for two years.
J. H. T. Ambrose was the next surveyor, elected in 1863. A sketch of Mr. Ambrose is given in connection with the office of clerk of courts.
In 1865 Augustus Oulman was again elected to the office. He was re-elected in 1867, and was succeeded by J. H. T. Ambrose, who was elected in 1869.
In 1871 W. C. Hayward was elected surveyor. He held the office for a short time, then resigned and W. A. Burnap was appointed to take his place. Mr. Hayward was for a time connected with the Winnebago Press.
O. T. Severs was elected in 1873 and after holding the office about six weeks he resigned, and John Ambrose received the appointment. Mr. Severs is the present county recorder. Mr. Ambrose was elected in 1875, and held two years longer.
In 1877 Augustus Oulman was again elected, but did not serve out his regular term as the records show that John Ambrose succeeded him by the election of 1878. Mr. Ambrose was re-elected in 1879 and 1881.
In 1883 L. T. Thompson was elected county surveyor.
The first coroner, Philip Tennis, was elected in the spring of 1858, and held the office one term. Mr. Tennis was born in Indiana, and was a son of Samuel Tennis, Winnebago county's last county judge. He was a genial fellow and was well liked. He died a few years after the expiration of his term of office.
He was succeeded by Thomas Bearse, who also held the office one term. Mr. Bearse was one among the first settlers of the county, and is noticed at length in that connection.
Darius Bray was the next coroner, elected in 1863. He held the office until 1870. Mr. Bray was one of the early settlers of the county, and is noticed at length in that connection.
D. C. Hayes was the next coroner. He was elected in 1869 and held the office one term. Mr. Hayes' sketch appears in the bar chapter.
G. P. Smith succeeded Hayes, and held the office two years.
He was succeeded by P. C. Jones, who was elected in 1873.
V. A. Jones was elected coroner in 1874, and was re-elected in 1875.
In 1877 Dr. J. M. Hull was elected. Dr. Hull is a practicing physician, of Lake Mills.
T. G. Tweed was elected in 1879 and served two years.
He was succeeded by J. H. Brakke, who was elected in the fall of 1881.
In 1883 C. E. Keeler was elected to the
J. B. Torbert was the first to hold this office. He was elected in the spring of 1858 and served two terms.
In 1861 the choice of the people fell upon Darius Bray, who held the office two terms.
J. B. Hill was the next elected, in 1865, and was succeeded by William Lackore, in the fall of 1867.
In 1869 Darius Bray was again elected, and held the office until it was abolished by law.
b[Most likely a misspelling of Yell. Yell County and Risley County were combined to form Hamilton County.] Gue, Benjamin F. History of Iowa. Vol. 3. New York: The Century History Company, 1903. 352, 407-07, 426, 438. Print.
1History of Kossuth, Hancock and Winnebago Counties, Iowa. Springfield, Illinois: Union Publishing Company, 1884. 760-74.
Transcribed by Paul Nagy for Winnebago County IAGenWeb