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History of Cedar
County, Iowa, 1878.


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The next session of the County Commissioners was held on the 16th of March, 1840, when the report of the Commissioners to re-locate the county seat of Cedar County, was received and considered, a detailed account of which will be found in the history of the county seat war, commencing on page 335.

When Cedar and the other counties were set off from Dubuque County by act of the Territorial Legislature, at the session of 1837-38, the debt of Dubuque County amounted to $2,850.  On Monday, the 23d day of December, 1839, the County Commissioners of Dubuque County apportioned the amount of that indebtedness among the several new counties, assessing the amount against Cedar County at $133.  February 12, 1840, George W. Ames was appointed by the Dubuque County Commissioners to visit Cedar County and present the claim for settlement.  Monday, March 23, 1840, the Commissioners of Cedar County being in session, Mr. Ames appeared and presented the claim, and requested action thereon.   The account was received and placed "on file to obtain advice from the District Attorney," and agreed to report their conclusions at the next meeting of the Board.  April 6th, the Commissioners

Ordered, That the account presented by Dubuque County at last meeting of the Board be not accepted, and that the Clerk return the same by mail.

May 18, 1840, the Clerk of the Dubuque Board was directed to address a communication to the Clerk of the Board of Commissioners of Cedar County, requesting a specified statement of the objections held against the payment of the claim.  Saturday, August 1st, the Commissioners

Ordered, That the Clerk address the Board of Commissioners of Dubuque County in reply to their letter of the 6th of June, agreeable to the tenor of a letter from S. Wheeler to this Board, and the relation of Muscatine County in regard to Dubuque County in regard to Dubuque County at the time of division.

This is the last reference to this matter to be found on the records in the Cedar County Auditor's office -- at least it was the last trace of it the writer could find.   Whether the demand was ever paid is a question we will not undertake to answer.   But the Commissioners of Dubuque County were not disposed to relinquish their claim, for the records in the Auditor's office in that county show that on the 14th of September, 1840, I. A. Bradford was appointed by the Dubuque Commissioners as agent to settle with Cedar and the other counties against which similar assessments had been made.

April 25th, the Commissioners directed the Clerk to advertise the first sale of Town lots in Tipton for the third Monday (the 15th) of June, and that the advertisements be published in the Territorial Gazette, at Burlington, Iowan, at Davenport, and Iowa News, at Dubuque, until the 7th of June, the terms of the sale -- one-fourth cash on the day of sale, one-fourth in six months, one-fourth in twelve months, and one-fourth in eighteen months -- to be mentioned in the advertisement.   Failure to meet either of the deferred payments involved the forfeiture of money paid.  At the same meeting of the Board it was

Ordered, That sealed proposals be received until Saturday, the 19th day of May, for the building of a jail.  Proposals will be received for furnishing timber at so much per square foot, and building said jail, plans to be seen on application to the Clerk.

It was also

Ordered, That the Clerk give notice of an election for township officers, agreeable to Sections 1 and 2 of Chapter 37, of the laws of Iowa, 1839-40, and that those in favor of such organization shall write "organization," and those to the contrary shall write "no organization" on their tickets, and that a separate ballot box shall be kept for the same.

On the 1st of June, proposals for building the jail were received from James Fay at $2,500; William Green, $2,700; P. McVicker, $2,475.  The plan submitted to the consideration of the Board at the last meeting by J. J. Tomlinson was adopted, and the proposal of P. McVicker was accepted as the lowest and best.  The plan of Tipton, as made by J. J. Tomlinson, Surveyor, was also submitted, duly acknowledged by the County Commissioners and placed in the Recorder's office for record.  McVicker entered into contract with the Board for the erection of the jail, giving bond in the sum of $3,000, with Joseph K. Snyder and Charles M. Jennings as security.  The Commissioners also gave bond in the sum of $3,000 for faithful payment, according to the terms of the contract.

August 1st, the Commissioners changed their place of meeting to the house of Charles M. Jennings, he having agreed to lease them the use of a room in his house for the Clerk's office free of charge.  The Board also ordered that the October election should be held at the same place and that the next term of the District Court should be held therein, at $2.00 per day for the time the Court remained in session.

From the time of the adjournment of the August session of the Board of County Commissioners until January 1, 1841, there was but little business of an important nature to claim the attention of the Commissioners or render long or frequent sessions necessary.   On the 10th of January, the Board ordered that all that district of country west of Cedar River, and within the limits of the County, "shall be known as Township No. 1, and that it shall be called Iowa Township; that all east of Cedar River shall be known as Township No. 2, and called Freeman Township; that all east of Cedar River, Township 80, and the two southern tier of sections in Township 81, Range 2 west, be known as Township No. 3, and called Center Township; that Townships 81 and 82 north, Range 1, and the four northern tier of sections in Township 81, of Range 4, be known as Township No. 4, and called Wapsipinicon Township, and that Townships 81 and 82, Range 3, and Townships 81 and 82, Range 4, be known as Township No. 5, and called Linn Township.

The Commissioners then issued an order for an election for township officers, to be held in the several townships thus established on the first Monday in April.  They directed that in Iowa Township the election should be held at the house of Elisha Henry; in Freeman Township, at the house of Stephen Toney, in Rochester; in Center Township, at the house of John Culbertson; in Wapsipinicon Township, at the house of Porter McKinstry, and in Linn Township, at the house of William Mason.

At their next meeting, Friday, February 12, the Clerk of the Board was directed to write to the District Attorney, giving him extracts from the District Court records, and request him to prosecute or not, as in his judgment might seem best, the case of the U.S. vs. H.E. Switzer, for assault against an officer of the court.  Switzer was one of the so-called outlaws of the county, and in attempting to serve a process against him, the officer was assaulted and resisted, and hence this order.

On the 24th of February, a contract was made with John Culbertson for the erection of a house for county purposes.  The building here referred to was erected on the lot now occupied by the City Hall building.  The upper part of this building was used for the Fall term (1841) of the District Court, and as a court room until the jail was completed.   The Culbertson building was subsequently used as a hotel, and was known as the Beatty House.  It was destroyed by fire in April, 1870.

May 20th, ordered that the northern tier of sections in Township No. 80, Range 1 west, be added to Wapsipinicon Township, and that the name of the said township be called Springfield.

July 6th, the resignation of James W. Tallman, as Probate Judge, was accepted, and the Clerk was directed to give notice that an election would be held on the first Monday in August to fill the vacancy.


The First Court House.

July 7th, the Commissioners appointed John P. Cook, Esq., as their "true" and lawful attorney, to contract for the erection of a county Court House in the town of Tipton, near the center of the public square; the same to be a frame building, the cost not to exceed four thousand dollars.  The order making this appointment, stipulated that Cook should not bind the Commissioners for the payment of any money out of the county treasury, arising from the sale of town lots, that would interfere with the payments for the erection of the jail, but was authorized to pay the contractor or contractors for the erection of the Court House out of the first money in the treasury of Cedar County arising from the sale of town lots in the town of Tipton after the contractor for the county jail should be paid.  Cook was also made a "true and lawful agent" for the sale of any of the unsold lots in Tipton to the contractor or contractors for the erection of the court house, at such prices as in his judgment he might think best.  The order making this appointment, concludes thus:

Giving and granting unto our said attorney by these presents, full power and authority, in and about the premises, to have, use and take all lawful ways and means in our name, for the purposes aforesaid, and generally to do all other acts and things in the law whatsoever needful and necessary to be done in and about the premises above specified for us, and in our names, to do and execute and perform, as fully and to all intents and purposes, as we ourselves might or could do, by order of this Board, hereby delegating to our said attorney all the powers of this Board of Commissioners, as fully as they themselves could act for the purposes and objects heretofore specified in this order.

The plans adopted for the Court House here mentioned, provided for a building 36x42 feet, of two stories; the lower story to be divided into two rooms and the upper story into four rooms.  The lower story to be eight feet and the upper story ten feet in the clear.

The last session of the Board of Commissioners for the year 1841, was held on the 19th day of October.

In 1842, the following entry appears of record under date of January 6th.

Statement of County Orders Received and Issued During the Year 1841

Amount of County Orders issued $1,519.54  
Amount  received over amount issued 220.56 $1,740.10
Amount of County Orders received   1,749.10
Amount of Town Orders issued   954.96
Amount of Town Orders received 763.22  
Deficiency of receipts 191.74 954.96

July 7th, John P. Cook was allowed $100.00 out of the town funds for services as agent for the sale of lots in Tipton and letting contract for the erection of a Court House, and superintending the building of the same, from June 1, 1841, to June 1, 1842.  Mr. Cook's compensation, as agent for the sale of town lots, was fixed at the sum of $100.00 per annum, to be paid out of the funds arising from the sale of town lots.  Bonds in the sum of $500.00 were required of Mr. Cook, with good and sufficient security.

The several sessions of the Commissioners during the remainder of 1842, were devoted to ordinary county business, examining road petitions, granting road views, etc.  In those days, there was not so much business to demand attention as at present.   Compared with the present, the population was light;  the country was not nearly one-fourth occupied.  In the establishment of roads, bridges were necessary across some of the larger streams, but these bridges were of the simplest kind of construction, although strong.  No one thought of building the commonest bridge without heavy sills and other heavy timbers, two-inch mortises and tenons, and everything else correspondingly strong.  Now, great railroad bridges are built across the mightiest rivers, of small timbers and without mortises or tenons.  So much for the advancement of science and the mechanic arts.

July 18th, 1843, the Commissioners accepted the jail from the contractors, and settled with them in full for the erection of the same.  A balance of $900.98 was found to be due the contractors, and the Clerk was ordered to issue an order to them in payment thereof.

In 1844, at their first session in January, the Commissioners fixed a minimum price on all the unsold lots in Tipton -- the highest price being $35.00, and the lowest price $5.00.  A price was also fixed on blocks 8, 21, 22, 35, 36, 49, 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42 and 23.  The minimum price of blocks, where whole blocks were sold, was established at $50.00.  Block --- was ordered to be sold for a burying round, and that the minimum price be $25.00.  A price was also fixed on sundry other lots and blocks.  The object of the Commissioners was to fix the price of lots within the reach of every one who wanted a home.  The policy was unquestionably a wise one, and many of the early settlers of Tipton, no doubt, owe their first ownership of real estate to the liberality of the County Commissioners -- P. J. Conklin, W. A Rigby and J. P. Crane.

July 2d, the Clerk was directed to levy a tax of one cent on the dollar of the assessment for county purposes, one-half cent on the dollar for Territorial purposes, and ten cents on the dollar for road purposes.

January 6th, 1845, it was "Ordered that the two northern tiers of sections of Iowa Township be thereafter attached to Linn Township for election purposes, and detached from Iowa Township."

January 8th, William H. Tuthill was appointed as agent for the sale of town lots until the July session of the Board.

July 9th, the records show the following to have been the financial condition of the county:

Total receipts for 1844 $2,056.99
Total expenditures 1,673.32
      Total receipts over expenditures $383.67

The work on the Court House does not seem to have been progressing very satisfactorily, for on the 4th of February it was --

Ordered, That John Leith do cease from all further work on the Court House, and that the Commissioners take possession of the same, he having forfeited his contract for building said Court House, and that the Clerk do notify said Leith to proceed no further under said contract.

Ordered, That the Clerk do advertise by written notices for proposals to finish the Court House agreeable to the plan of the original contract, the proposals to be received until the first Monday in April next, when they will be opened by the Commissioners, and the contract let to the lowest bidder --- the bids to be at the minimum price of Tipton lots, and at the price in county orders, the option to be with the Commissioners --- each bid to be accompanied with security for the faithful performance of the proposition.

April 7th, the following entry was made:  "This being the day established by law for the Clerk to proportion the number of jurors to the several townships or precincts, they are proportioned as follows, viz.:

Center Township having 135 voters is entitled to 59 jurors.
Rochester Township having 130 voters is entitled to 50 jurors.
Linn Township having 55 voters is entitled to 21 jurors.
Iowa Township having 27 voters is entitled to 11 jurors.
Springfield Township having 24 voters is entitled to 9 jurors.

Total of 389 voters and total of 150 jurors.

So that, in April, 1845, there were only 389 voters in Cedar County.  The ration of population was not as large then as it is at present, from the fact that there were a goodly number of old bachelors among the settlers.  Five persons, including men, women and children, are usually reckoned to one vote.  In 1845, there were not more than three.  Accepting this estimate as correct, the entire population of that time would not exceed 1,167.

April 28, at a special session, the following entry was made:

That the statement of P. J. Friend, of taxes for 1843 and 1844, as follows, be accepted:

Amount of Assessment Roll, county and poll tax   $2,361.90
Amount of property assessed by Collector   21.95
Amount paid by Collector in January $1,943.09  
Amount paid by Collector this day 339.56  
Amount of delinquent list 101.20  

Ordered, That the bill of P. J. Friend, Treasurer, at 5 per cent. on $339.56 collected by him balance of tax of 1843 and 1844, for $16.97, and for one quire of paper, 50 cents -- $17.47 -- be allowed.

On the same day it was "Ordered, that a license to keep a ferry across Cedar River, at the town of Rochester, for the term of 1 year from the 1st day of May next, be granted to John T. Dillon, on his paying into the treasury the sum of $5.00, and that the rates of ferriage be as follows, to wit:

For each wagon and two horses 25 cents.
For each wagon and four horses 40 cents.
For each wagon and one horse 25 cents.
For each man and horse 12 cents.
For each footman 6 cents.
For each head of loose cattle or horses 6 cents.
For each head of sheep or hogs 3 cents.

It was also "Ordered by the Board that the above license be further extended two years from the expiration of the first year, upon the said John F. Dillon paying into the County Treasury five dollars per annum, and shall keep at said town of Rochester a good rope and chain ferry."

April 29th, "That the contract for finishing the Court House in Tipton, be let to Daniel Davis for the sum of nineteen hundred and forty-nine dollars, as particularly specified in a written contract this day entered into by the Board of County Commissioners and said Daniel Davis, and that said contract be deposited with A. G. Gillett."

July 7th, it was "Ordered that a tier of sections be taken from the west side of Springfield Township and attached to Linn Township." in answer to the prayer of Ebzy H. Carr.  On the same day, the two southern tiers of sections in Township 81, lying east of Cedar River, were attached to Center Township, for township and school purposes.

Joseph D. Denson was licensed to keep a ferry across the Wapsipinicon at his residence for one year, subject to the same rates as the Rochester Ferry.  James H. Gower was also licensed to keep a ferry across Cedar River at Gower's Ferry, now Cedar Bluff.

July 8th, the Clerk was directed to levy a tax on the value of property returned by the Township Assessors as follows:  County tax, 5 mills on the dollar, and 50 cents on each poll;  Territorial tax, one-half mill on the dollar;  road tax, 15 cents on the dollar.



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