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History of Cedar
County, Iowa, 1878.


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On the same day, William H. Tuthill was re-appointed County Agent for the sale of town lots, for the term of one year.

In 1846, "R. M. Long, Treasurer and Collector to this day" (January 6th), presented his report, which was accepted:

Received Denson Ferry license, $2; Gower do $5   $7.00
Received on town lots in Tipton   317.55
Received on taxes   1,110.35
Cr. by amount paid County Commissioners $1,363.26  
Cr. by Treasurer's commission 71.64 $1.434.90
Amount of delinquent tax list returned   $441.19
Amount of taxes collected by R. M. R.   1,108.35
Amount of original tax list, 1845   $1,549.54

The receipts and expenditures for 1845, were as follows:

Amount of receipts to this date (Jan. 7, 1846)   $2,126.78
Amount of expenditures, do   1,748.89
Excess of receipts over expenditures   $377.89

February 16th, it was "Ordered that Henry Hardman be Assessor of this county until his successor is elected and qualified, on his giving bonds and security."   Solomon Aldrich and Joseph K. Snyder became Mr. Hardman's bondsmen.

April 14th, it was "Ordered that the portion of Cedar County lying west of the eastern boundary of Sections 29 and 32, in Township 80, Range 2, and of Sections 5, 8, 17, 20, 29 and 32, in Township 79, Range 2, and east of Cedar River, be hereafter Rochester Township: and that that portion of Township 79, lying between the eastern boundary of Cedar County, be hereafter Sugar Creek Township."  This order was so amended at a May session of the Commissioners as to include both townships in one, to be called Rochester.

May 18th, it was "Ordered that the court room be appropriated to Samuel P. Higginson, John Culbertson, Lockwood Smith and P. Fleming to make preparations for a public celebration of the anniversary of American Independence, on the 2d, 3d and 4th days of July next."

The first floor of the Court House was appropriated to the use of the District Clerk, County Commissioners, Clerk and Recorder.  The room in the northwest corner of the second story was ordered to be rented to the Cedar Lodge for the term of six months, for the sum of $20.00, payable quarterly.  The room in the southwest corner of the second story was appropriated to the use of the Treasurer, Surveyor and Sheriff, and to be used as a jury room during the sitting of courts.

The first benches used in the Court House were made by Samuel Thompson, who was employed on the 8th of July, "to make nine long benches and three short benches for the court room, and a circular railing between the posts in the same.  The nine long and one of the short benches to be made with backs, the whole to be finished previous to the first Monday in September next."  The contract price for this work was $40.00, payable on completion of the undertaking, as per verbal contract.

The first session of the District Court held in the new Court House was in the Fall of 1846.

October 6th, it was "Ordered that on the 20th instant, the Sheriff take possession of the jail and procure a padlock to fasten the lower part until a more suitable lock is procured; also, to lock the upper story of the same and keep the same closed unless he can rent it to a responsible person for sufficient to keep it in as good repair as it now is."

This was the last meeting of the Board of County Commissioners held under Territorial jurisdiction, and a few facts relating to the change from Territorial to State Government are now in order:

On the 16th day of February, 1842, an act of the Legislature was passed providing for a convention and taking the necessary steps for the establishment of a State Government.   The convention was to consist of eighty-two members, and to meet on the first Monday in the following November, but before the act became a law, it was to be submitted to and ratified by a vote of the people. It was so submitted at the next election and voted down.

February 12, 1844, another act was passed by the Territorial Legislature on the subject, which provided that at the next April election, the Judges of the Election should ask each qualified voter whether he was "for" or "against" a convention to form a State Constitution, and if a majority was found for a convention, then, at the next August election, the delegates should be chosen, of whom there were to be seventy members -- afterward changed to seventy-two -- and the convention to meet at Iowa City on the first Monday in the following October and form a constitution which was to be submitted to the people at the next April election.  A majority was found in favor of State organization, and the convention assembled at Iowa City at the time appointed.  Shepherd Leffler was chosen President of the convention, and what has been called the "Iron Bound" Constitution was drafted.  It provided that no private corporation should exist for more than twenty years, and that all the private property of the shareholders should be liable for the debts of the incorporation; and also, that no property of the inhabitants of the new State should ever be taken or used by any corporation without the consent of the owners.  It further provided that no banks should be created unless the law creating them should first be submitted to and approved by the people.

The Convention did not wait to submit the result of their work to the people, but immediately sent the Constitution to Congress, with an application to be admitted as a State immediately.

On the 3d of March, 1845, Congress passed an act admitting Florida and Iowa into the Union, but with the boundaries of Iowa, as defined in the constitution framed by the Convention, materially changed and curtailed.  The question being submitted to the people of Iowa at the next election, it was voted down by a large majority.

At the May session, 1855, of the Legislature, an act was passed providing that the Constitution, with the boundaries adopted by the Convention, should be submitted to a vote of the people at the next election.  It was submitted and voted down by a larger majority than at the previous election.  In 1846, Congress proposed the present boundary lines and another Constitutional Convention was held at Iowa City, in May, of that year, meeting on the 4th.  A session fifteen days resulted in framing a Constitution which was ratified by the people at an election held on the 3d of August, 1846.  At that election, 9,492 votes were cast "for" the constitution and 9,036 "against" it.  This action of the people was re-affirmed by Congress, and on the 28th day of December, 1846, Iowa was admitted to the Union as an independent and sovereign State.

The first session of the Board of County Commissioners, under State organization, commenced on the 12th of April, 1847.  At that meeting, the Clerk of the Board returned the report of votes given in Cedar County, on the 5th day April, for "a license" or "no license," showing a majority of eight votes "against licensing the sale of spirituous liquors."  This was the first "fight" between the license and anti-license parties in the county, but the result quoted above did not settle the question.  On the second day of the session, the Commissioners had under consideration the subject of granting license to retail dealers, and "ordered, that, there being a difference of opinion between the Board, as regards their authority to grant license for retailing spirituous liquors, that all applications for license be continued until the next regular meeting of the Board."  From the fact that the question was not called up at the "next regular session of the Board," nor at any time during the Summer, it would appear that the Commissioners were afraid to tackle the question, notwithstanding the voters, by a majority of eight, had declared against license.

April 24th, R. M. Long, as Treasurer of the county, presented his report to date, which was accepted and ordered to be placed on file.  The report was in the words and figures following, to wit:

Amount of delinquent tax list, 1846   $419.30
Amount deducted from tax of G. Bolton $1.60  
Amount deducted from tax of A. Kizer 3.20  
Amount deducted from tax of R. M. Long 1.60  
Amount deducted from tax of ------ Ocheltree .60  
  ------ 7.00
Amount of County Orders sold by Treasurer for jail lock   30.00
Amount of delinquent tax list, 1845   99.96
Commission of R. M. Long on $2,152.15   107.60
Amount paid Commissioners, July 7, 1846 21.00  
Amount paid Commissioners this day (April 24, 1847) 2,044.55  
  ------- 2,065.55
By amount of tax list 1846 $2,610.20  
By amount Dillon ferry license, $10.00; Gower do., $5.00 15.00  
By amount received from Conklin, over-paid commissions 6.00  
By amount Coffey judgment, $66.73; Hardman do., $31.48 98.21  
  ------- $2,729.41

Thus far, the political economy of the county has been carefully and closely traced.  Nine years have passed since the first meeting of the Board of County Commissioners was held.  From small beginnings -- almost nothing when the first assessment of personal property was made -- the county has been steadily growing in wealth and is now on the highway to prosperity.  To say that the early authorities were careful, prudent, honest and economical public servants, is not saying too much, as the interested reader will see by an examination of the several exhibits we have copied from the Commissioners' journal.  Here we leave the general details of county management, and will only note a few of the more important events, such as the building of the present jail and Court House, the railroad enterprises, poor farm, war record, iron bridges, etc.

In the Fall of 1855, measures were inaugurated for the erection of a new and stronger county prison, and on the 2d day of October, Joseph Lee and William Parker entered into a contract to furnish the stone for the present building.  And on the 6th of the same month, S. A. Moffett and J. W. Lee contracted for the erection of the walls, etc.  The prison and jailer's residence are included under one roof.  The front, or residence part of the structure is of brick and the prison part is of stone.  The brick work was sub-let by Moffett & Lee to John Godden and A. Wentz.  The building was completed in the Fall of 1856, and cost from $8,000 to $10,000.  It is situated on lots numbered 9 and 10, block number 65, in what is known as Starr's Addition, platted from the east half of the northwest quarter of Section 1, Township 80, Range 3.

The Court House.

May 18th, 1846, the County Commissioners accepted from the contractors the first Court House erected in Cedar County.  It was a wooden structure, and occupied the center of the public square.  As soon as fitted up, it was occupied by the several county officers, as previously mentioned, and the Fall term of Court (1846) was held in its main room, Judge Williams presiding.

In 1856, the people of the county commenced to agitate the building of a new and better local temple of justice -- one that would be in keeping with the character and importance of the county.  Wells Spicer, Esq., was County Judge at this time, and in October, 1857, upon the eve of the expiration of his term of service, he entered into a contract for the erection of the present structure.  The contract for the cut stone, brick and plastering work was awarded to Mr. Ed. Godden, at $14,800.  The carpenter work was awarded to Samuel Tomlinson, at something over $10,000 (the exact figures could not be obtained).  W. L. Carroll, of Davenport, was the architect and Superintendent.  The galvanized iron work was furnished by C. Buckmuller & Co., of Davenport.  Godden commenced operations soon after being awarded the contract, and the construction of the new Court House was pushed forward as rapidly as time and the elements would permit.  It was fully completed in July, 1859, and the court room was first occupied in the Fall of that year, Judge Miller presiding.  Its net cost is set down at $45,000.

Tomlinson's eleventh and last estimate for carpenter work, amounting to $1,030.23, was ordered paid December 30, 1859.  The court house square was first fenced in 1849, by J. C. Betts, at a cost of $100.  It was re-fenced in 1859, by Charles Swetland.

It is but an act of simple justice to Wells Spicer, who is now in Utah, to record the fact that he is not responsible for placing the Court House on the outer edge of the west part of the public square.  The next day after he let the contract, Mr. Spicer was succeeded in office by George Smith, who selected the site on which it now stands.  When the selection was announced, the people petitioned "His Honor" to "reverse his decision," and build it in the center of the public square, on the site of the old one.  The excavations had been commenced, and the petitioners even offered to make the excavations in the center of the square at their own expense, if he would change the site.  But he refused to heed the prayer of the petitioners, and ordered the excavations for the foundation walls to be continued where the structure is erected.  The petitioners had no choice but to submit, for the powers of injunctions and writs of restrainer were not so well understood in those days as they are now; were not so frequently applied, or Judge Smith, from whose decision the people were allowed to appeal, might have been interposed with a writ of compeller, and instead of being set out on the street, their Court House might have graced the center of a most beautiful public square.  There is left them this consolation, however; before another national centennial day, a new, larger, grander and more extensive temple of justice will have become a necessity.  The center of the square will be in waiting to receive it.

The old Court House was removed to the west side of Cedar street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, and is now occupied by the Conservative printing office, in the second story, and the lower story by Matt. J. Cossman, grocer, and Mrs. Rodabush, milliner.  The building is owned by H. C. Piatt and Charles Hammond.  The Hammond part of it is occupied by Mrs. Rodabush and the Piatt part by Cossman.

Cedar River Bridge Company -- Iron Bridges.

From the date of the first settlement of the county, in May, 1836, until January, 1877, that part of Cedar River which flows through Cedar County, remained unobstructed by bridges.  And even now there is but one bridge over that stream, and that is at Cedar Bluff.  When the first settlers came, Indian canoes were used to convey them from one side of the river to the other.  This kind of ferriage continued in use until the settlements so increased as to demand larger and stronger means of crossing, and in 1838, Abner Arrowsmith constructed a rough ferry boat which was operated by a rope, and was of the kind known as a rope or chain ferry.

About the year 1851-2-3, Robert Gower, the first settler at Gower's Ferry, (Cedar Bluff), and others, conceived the idea of erecting a toll bridge at that point, and petitioned the County Judge for license to carry out their proposed enterprise.  On the 3d day of January, the prayer of the petitioners was granted, and following entry ordered to be entered of record:

Whereas, It has been satisfactorily presented to me that the Cedar River Bridge Company, who have petitioned for a license to construct a toll bridge at or near Cedar Bluff, in Cedar County, have given the requisite notice, as provided by law, of their intention to apply for such license, and that both extremes of such proposed bridge are in said county, and that the land adjoining thereto is in part owned by said company, and that the members of said river calls for the establishment of such a bridge; and whereas, the expenditures involved in the erection of such a bridge would be greater than can be met without serious inconvenience to the revenues of said county, therefore, it is this day.

Ordered and decreed, That the said Cedar River Bridge Company, in pursuance of said notice, and by virtue of the code in such cases made and provided, be and the same is hereby licensed and empowered with all the privileges and franchises necessary to erect, construct and complete a toll bridge across the Cedar River at or near Cedar Bluff, in said county, and that such license or authority as is herein given to construct and maintain such bridge be extended for fifty years from the date hereof, and to have the exclusive privilege thereto for the distance of one mile on both sides of said bridge, up and down said river, and that said company be empowered and authorized to receive and exact from all persons crossing said bridge, the following rates of toll:

4 horses or oxen and wagon or other vehicle 40 cents
2 horses or mules, oxen and wagon or other vehicle 25 cents
1 horse or mule and wagon 25 cents
1 horse and man 15 cents
1 footman 5 cents
Each head of sheep or swine 2 cents

for the term of ten years after the date hereof, and, thereafter, such rates of toll as may be allowed by the County Court of the county of Cedar; Provided, always, that nothing herein contained, shall be construed to grant to said Cedar River Bridge Company a right to obstruct the navigation of said Cedar River; and it is hereby ordered, that said company shall be required to keep up, repair and maintain said bridge in good order and condition for crossing safely and without danger; and also, that they shall keep or attend to the same, by some person, at all suitable and proper times.



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