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History of Cedar
County, Iowa, 1878.


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Cedar County History (continued)

12.  Received from the hands of the Sheriff the returns of the election held on the 5th of March last, which were put on file.

The result of that election, as copied from the record, was as follows:

County Commissioners. -- Richard Ransford had 55 votes; Joseph Wilford, Jr., 46; Jonas M. Oaks, 47; Stephen Toney, 31; Elisha E. Edwards, 26; Charles Whittlesey, 1.

Coroner. -- Harvey B. Burnap had 31 votes; Moses B. Church, 24; Jehu Kenworthy, 20.

Treasurer.  -- Christian Holderman had 72 votes.

Register. -- Robert G. Roberts had 31 votes; Moses B. Church, 24; Jehu Kenworthy, 20.

13.  Appointed James W. Tallman the Assessor of Cedar County for the present year.

14.  Adjourned till to-morrow at 9 o'clock.

15.  Received of George McCoy, R., a bond for the faithful performance of the duties of a ferryman, which was put on file.

16.  This order related to the adoption of a seal, which was a plain circle about one inch in diameter.  In the upper part of the circle were the letters "C O M S," and in the center below C. C.

17.  Received and put on file the claims of Henry Abraham Nix and George McCoy.

18.  Adjourned for the space of one hour.

19.  Met according to adjournment.

20.  Gave to James W. Tallman the following instructions:
"You are hereby commanded, by the authority of the Board of Commissioners of the county of Cedar, to take an assessment of all property in this county, and in all the counties attached to this county for judicial purposes, on the ad valorem system, naming the different kinds of property possessed by each individual, viz.:  All horses, oxen, cows, hogs, sheep, household and farming utensils, clocks, watches, moneys on hand, notes due and on interest; noting all horses and cattle which are under three years of age, and all horses which are blind, and to make due return thereon on or before the Thursday next preceding the fourth Monday of next May, to the Commissioners of Cedar County."

The above instructions were signed and sealed by the Commissioners, and attested by the Clerk.  The Assessor was also directed to take a list of the names of all persons in the county or counties subject to pay a poll tax.

21.  Received of Christian Holderman a bond for the faithful performance of his duties as the Treasurer of Cedar County, which was put on file.

Order 22 related to claims against the county, as follows:

The County of Cedar, Dr., April 4, 1838.
To Richard Ransford, for three days' service as Commissioner $9.00
To Jonas M. Oaks, for three days' service as Commissioner, $9; for pager, .25 9.25
To Joseph Wilford, Jr., for three days' service as Commissioner 9.00
To Moses B. Church, for three days' service as Clerk of Commissioners 6.75
To J. W. Tallman, Sheriff, for three days' attendance on the Commissioners 4.50
Total cost of starting the county machinery $38.45

Of that amount, twenty-five cents was for furnishing one quire of paper --- foolscap --- fastened together with white tape, on which to keep a record of the proceedings of the Commissioners, and this single quire of paper served to keep a complete record of the Commissioners' transactions from the beginning of the first session, April 2, 1848, until the 23d of March, 1840.  The record, brown and musty with age, is carefully preserved in the Auditor's office, and is an interesting relic of half a century ago.  The records were made in a clerkly hand, and, with the exception of the two first pages, the ink seems to have blackened with time.  The suggestion may be out of place, but it occurs to the writer that it would be well for the authorities to have in bound.  A hundred years hence, it will be far more valuable than it is now.  On Cedar County's centennial day, April 2, 1938, nothing would be of more interest to the people who will live and exercise dominion then, than the old record that has added so largely to the interest of these pages.

23.  Adjourned till 9 A. M., on the first Thursday next preceding the fourth Monday in next May.

Each order or entry made by order of the Commissioners, was numbered in regular numerical order, and have been so far copied verbatim et literation, to show the younger generation of Cedar County people how their fathers did business.  As a rule, their orders were short, solid and sharp.  They did not encourage the use of unnecessary or meaningless words, but left a record which their descendants can easily understand, and of which they need not be ashamed.

At their May session, the Commissioners "agreed with Stephen Toney, that he should furnish and prepare a room in his house for the accommodation of the District Court during its first session in this county."  The old house is still standing at the ferry landing at Rochester.

At this session, the Commissioners accepted the bond of James W. Tallman as Assessor, and also enacted "that District No. 1 be no longer attached to District No. 2 for district purposes;" also, "that the election precinct in District No. 1 shall be at the house of Porter McKinstry, and that John Nesbitt, Peter Taylor and Porter McKinstry should serve as Judges of Election in District No. 1.

The following named citizens were selected to serve as grand jurors, in addition to those chosen at their April session:  Henry Buchanan, William Green, Abraham Kizer, J. W. Wilkinson, John Blalock, James Setford, George S. Smith, John Finch, William Morgan and Jackomyer Baldwin.

Henry Buchanan died in Cedar County about thirty years ago.  William Green also died in Cedar County.  Abraham Kizer is a citizen of Linn County.  J. W. Wilkinson removed to California about 1852, where he was still living at last accounts.   John Blalock remained in the county until about 1868, when he removed to Keokuk County, where it is rumored he died a few years since.  James Setford returned to Indiana (from which State he came to Iowa) about 1840, where he died about 1848.   George S. Smith emigrated to California in 1849.  Report came back that in attempting to cross the South Fork of the American River, his canoe capsized and that he was drowned.  John Finch was killed by lightning in Hardin County where he was visiting, about the year 1862.  Finch was a very profane man, and had often been heard to swear that nothing could kill him but lightning, and it seems a little singular that his death should have come that way.  William Morgan removed to the south part of the State about 1852, and it is not known whether he is dead or still living.   Jockomyer Baldwin died in Cedar County in 1876.

The following additions were made to the petit jury so selected at the April session:   James W. Potts, Nicholas Kizer, Hector Starrett, Conrad Sweitzer, John S.. Higginson, Stephen Toney, William Starrett, William Watson, Henry D. Morgan and Robert Miller.

On the 25th of May the Board took up the several road petitions and proceeded to pass upon them.  They "enacted that Viewers be appointed on the roads requested in Petition No. 5, and also on the road requested in Petition 2, from its commencement to the first point mentioned in the Petition."  Prior Scott, Robert G. Roberts and James Buchanan were appointed Viewers "on the above roads," and directed to make their report on the first Monday in July.

Section one of order No. 33, enacted that Viewers be appointed on the road requested in Petitions Nos. 4 and 6.  The same order appointed William Miller, Thomas Lingle and Christian Holderman as Viewers.  The last clause of the section

Ordered the Sheriff of Cedar County, Wisconsin Territory, to notify the Viewers above named of their appointment, and to procure a Surveyor to attend them.

The Board then passed upon their respective claims for services at that session, and also the claim of James W. Tallman, as Sheriff in attendance, and then adjourned till 9 o'clock on Monday the 28th of May.

Monday, May 28th, the Commissioners met pursuant to adjournment, and "enacted that Johnson County be the fifth election District, and that the election precinct be at Napoleon, at the house of John Mafford," and that Henry Felkner, Phillip Clarke and James Marcey should be the Judges of Election in District No. 5.

Section 1, of order No. 40, enacted that a license to keep a tavern in the town of Rochester, be given to Stephen Toney for the term of one year for the sum of five dollars.   A tavern license in those days included the privilege or right to keep and retail spiritous liquors, such as whisky, etc., and no tavern was considered a tavern that did not keep a full supply of the ardent.

The remainder of the session was taken up in the examination of claims and road petitions, the appointment of Road Viewers, etc., when the Board adjourned until the first Monday in July, which was the 2d day of that month.

The July session of the Board was principally taken up with road matters.  Order No. 50 enacted that the "County of Cedar be divided into road districts as follows:

Centerville District No. 1, includes the southeast township and the township west of it.

Rochester District No. 2, includes the two southwest townships, viz.: west of the centre line of the county, and south of the range line 79 north, with the addition of the south half of township 80 north, and 3 west.

Rock Creek District No. 3, includes township 80 north, and 4 west, and the north half of township 80 north and 3 west, and that part of township 81 north, and 3 west, which is west of Rock Creek and South of Linn Grove.

Washington District No. 4, includes township p81 north, and 4 west, with the addition of Linn Grove settlement.

Pioneer District No. 5 includes township 82 north, and 3 and 4 west.

Red Oak District No. 6 includes the Red Oak settlement and the west half of township 81 north, and 2 west, with the addition of Jones and Knott.

Crooked Creek District No. 7, includes township 80 north, and 1 and 2 west, with the exception of Poston Grove settlement.

Yankee Run District No. 8, includes Poston Grove settlement, and townships 81 and 82 north, and 1 west.

The following named settlers were appointed Road Supervisors:

David W. Walton, Centerville District; Stephen Toney, Rochester District; John W. Wilkinson, Rock Creek District; James Buchanan, Washington District; John Scott, Pioneer District; Solomon Knott, Red Oak District; John Finch, Crooked Creek District; Peter McKinstry, Yankee Run District.

51.  Be it enacted by the Board of Commissioners that they adopt as their seal, an impression made by the eagle side of a five cent piece.

52.  Issued a writ, to bring before this body Orrin Lewis and child, which was committed to the Sheriff of the county.

This was the last order passed by the Board, subject to the jurisdiction of Wisconsin Territory.

July 3, 1838, the law creating the Territory of Iowa became operative, and the county of Cedar was no longer subject to the jurisdiction of Wisconsin Territory.  July 4,1838, for the first time, the Commissioners, strictly speaking, assumed to transact business under the Territorial laws of Iowa.  The change or transition to the new order of things did not affect their business transactions, but everything went along smoothly as if the "Beautiful Land" had not taken the initiatory step toward the functions of a great State.

The first order made by the Board, subject to the jurisdiction of Iowa Territory, related to the writ referred to in order No. 52, and recited that "the writ issued against Orrin Lewis was returned with the body of Lewis and his child.

Order No. 54 renewed or extended the ferry license of George McCoy until the 4th of April, 1839, "according to the tenor of the permit granted him on the 4th of last April, for which he is to pay the sum of five dollars."  Order No. 55 directed the custody of Lewis' child to be given to James W. Tallman, as agent for the Board of Commissioners, and instructing him (Tallman) to provide for the said child until the next annual session of the Board.

From the best sources of information accessible, it appears that Lewis has so neglected his child as to allow it to become an object of solicitude among the people who knew the circumstances.  Some of them made complaint to the Commissioners, when the writ was issued as mentioned in Order No. 52.  For many months the little charge was known as "Tallman's baby."  "Tallman-how's your baby?" was the salutation that greeted him when he met any of his acquaintances, as long as he kept it in his care.

The first County Orders issued bore date July 6, 1838.  They were issued, to the parties, and for the amounts, named below:

No. 1, Henry Hardman, $13.92; 2, Robert G. Roberts, $17; 3, Abraham Nix, $1; 4, William Mason, $6; 5, Jesse Toney, $2.50; 6, Martin Baker, $2.50, 7, Harvey B. Burnap, $1.70; 8, George Foster, $1; 9, John Jones, $1; 10, George McCoy, $2; 11, Henry D. Brown, $1.25; 12, Milton Phelps, $1.25; 13, Ross McLoud, $7; 14, Solomon Knott, $1.80; 15, Washington A. Rigby, $1, 16, Prior Scott, $31.50; 17, Israel Mitchell, $27; 18, James Buchanan, $22.  Total amount of first issue of County Orders, $131.42.

July 7, the Board "received notification that the family of Matthew Turner were in a suffering condition," and agreed to "meet at his house to-morrow morning, at 9 o'clock, to make provision for their relief."  This, if the child of Orrin Lewis be excepted, was the first instance where the Board of Commissioners of Cedar County were called upon to afford relief to the destitute and suffering, and was the beginning of that guardianship and charity for the poor for which the county has become noted.

The same day, the Board directed the issue of the following County Orders;

19, Henry Hardman, $1.25; No. 20, Daniel Carle, $1.25; No. 21, Richard Knott, $1.25; No. 22, Arthur Dillon, $4.00; No. 23, Washington Rigby, $4.00; No. 24, Ross McLoud, $6.00; No. 25, James W. Tallman, $145.68, No. 26, Moses B. Church, $33.87.  Total amount of second issue of County Orders, $197.31; add total of first issue, $131.42; total amount issued to date (July 7, 1838), $328.73.

Road matters claimed a good deal of the attention and time of the Commissioners in early days, in the management of which they exercised a great deal of care and wisdom.   Order 63, passed at the July session, 1838, declared that all roads should be sixty-six feet in width, and in Order 64, the clerk was directed to transmit to the several Supervisors the following instructions.

That in the first place, they make the necessary bridges and expend the remainder of their time in removing the logs and underbrush in the timber lands, and in opening the roads, so that they may be passable, and that whatever logs they remove shall be removed beyond the established limits of the roads, which roads are sixty-six feet in width.


First Tax Levy.

August 13, 1838, the County Commissioners

Ordered, That a tax of five mills on the dollar be levied for county purposes, and a tax of one cent for road purposes.

October 15, 1838, the tax for road purposes was reduced to five mills on the dollar, when it was

Ordered, That the act numbered 76 be so far repealed as to read that the tax for road purposes be five mills on the dollar.

January 18, 1840, the records show the following settlements to have been made with E. E. Edwards, County Treasurer, and George McCoy, Sheriff:

E. E. Edwards, Treasurer


To cash from District Court Clerk $12.87  
To Orders 13 and 94 unpaid, not handed in 13.00  
To Fine received of H. Hardman 5.00  
To Order 118, not handed in 3.00  
To Order 96, not handed in 7.00  
To Order 111, not handed in 8.00  
Balance due on Order 32, not handed in 14.38  
Amount of taxes from Sheriff 399.83




By paid Orders Nos. 1, 105 and 106 $9.10  
By paid Orders No. 32 7.08  
By paid Orders No. 79 1.00  
By paid account of Order No. 111 7.00  
By paid account of Order No. 190 15.88  
By paid Orders in full, Sheriff's receipt 399.83  
By balance due the county 23.69


Balance to debit E. E. Edwards on new account  


Settlement made with G. McCoy, Sheriff.

G. McCoy


To amount of tax list, 1838 $160.71  
To amount of tax list, 1839 299.65




By Arrowsmith's ferry license, uncollected $10.00  
By Delinquent list, 1838 13.03  
By Delinquent list, 1839 7.40  
By Ten per cent. paid Sheriff on $429.93 $2.99




Ordered, That the Sheriff be excused from furnishing duplicate tax list in consideration of charging but seven per cent. for collecting tax.

Ordered, That Elisha Henry receive three dollars, in full for use of room for Commissioners' Court.  Issued Order No. 190.

Ordered, That the Clerk be authorized to procure a complete set of weights and measures, agreeable to law.

Ordered, That the Clerk furnish the Supervisors with duplicate lists of lands in their districts.

Ordered, That this Board adjourn sine die.

    Signed,  William Miller, John G. Foy.

The following statement shows the financial condition of the county Saturday, January 18, 1840:

County Commissioners.


To amount of Orders issued by former Board $429.88  
To amount of Orders issued by this Board 384.52 $814.41



By amount of taxes and fines on record previous to this Board $99.17  
By Treasurer's account 463.58 $562.75

                    Rochester, January 18, 1840.



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