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Constitution and Records
Constitution and Records of the Claim Association of Johnson County. (Iowa.)
I. Constitution and Laws
(note: The so-called "constitution" or "laws" of the claim associations were usually nothing more than a set of resolutions. This constitution is an exceptionally perfect one.)
Constitution and Laws for the government of the citizens of Johnson County in making and holding claims -- as adopted March 9th, 1939.
section 1st: This association shall be known by the name and Title of the Claim association of Johnsons County.
sect 2. The officers of this association shall be one President, one Vice President One Clerk or Recorder of claims deeds or transfers of Claims, seven Judges or adjusters of claims or boundrys. One of whoom shall be qualifyed to administer the oath or affirmation and whoos duty it shall be to attend all judicial courts of the association and two Marshalls. all of whoom shall be elected as herein after provided and directed.
sect 3. The President and Vice President, shall be elected annually by ballot of the association and there term of office shall be for one year commencing with the eleventh day of March 1839. and ending the day preceding said eleventh day of March of each and every year here after.
sect 4. The President shall have full power to keep order at all meetings of the association decide on all questions of Order and where the association is equally devided as is custimary in deleberative assemblys and such other powers as is here in after express and defined and none others.
sect 5. The Vice President shall in the absence of the President exercise all the duties powers and privaleges of the President and shall be governed by the laws and regulations governing the President.
sect 6. The President shall have power to call a meeting of the association at any time he may think public interest demands it provided all such meetings be called in pursuance of ten days public notice there of and such public notices specify the time and place of such meeting and that said public notices be posted at five or more of the most public places in the County.
7. The Clerk or Recorder shall be elected annually by ballot of the association for a term of One year commencing with the eleventh day of March 1839 and ending with the day preceding said 11 day of March of each and everry year here after.
8. The duties of the Clerk or recorder shall be to keep a fair record of all procedings of the association at each and everry meeting, record all claims that may be left with him and in the order they may be deposited and indorsed the time such claim was handed in for record and record all Transfers or Deeds or assignments of Deeds regularly and in the order they may be deposited and indorse the same with the time they ware deposited and the page they have been recorded on (note: The Clerk fell far short of his duty in keeping the index perfect. So fragmentary is the index in the original manuscript that it has seemed best to omit it altogether in this publication.) the Clerk shall have some stated place of residence and in case of removel he shall give public notice there of and state where he has removed to, and previous to his entering on the duties of his office he shall apply to the President for a certificate of Election and take an oath or affermation that he will well and truely discharge all the duties of his office with out fear favour or affection to the best of his abilities and it shall further be the duty of the clerk to furnish a Book for the association and enter all the procedings in such Book and make all records in said Book and carefully preserve all papers belonging to the association, the clerk or Recorder may deputize any person to assist or act in his absence but shall be responsable for all acts of said Deputy in the capacity of Clerk or Recorder-----
Sect. 9. The Judges or adjusters of Claims shall be elected annually and for a term of one year commencing with the 11 day of March 1839, and ending with the day preceding said elevnth day of March of each and everry year here after.
The duties and powers of the judges or adjusters of claims shall be to decide on all questions of dispute relative to the rights of claims or parts of claims as the case may be and settle all disputed lines or boundrys. between members of this association or members of this association and any other individuals and make return in writing to the Clerk the manner all cases brought before them has been disposed of--- any five of the judges elect shall compose a court and any three of such court agreeing in any case brought before them shall be a final decession in the case, no evidance shall be received but such as is recognized by the laws of the Territory as legal in common law, and all evidence shall be an oath or affirmation the Judges or adjusters shall be required previous to there entering on the duties of there office to apply to the President of the association for a certificate of election and take an oath or affirmation that they will well and truly descharge the duties of there office with out fear favour or affection to the best of there abilities.
sect. The Marshals shall be elected as other officers and there term of office shall commence and expire as other officers of this association and there duties shall be to serve all processes that may be handed them and make return there of as directed and to enforce all decissions of the judicial court, and all other laws of the association and they shall have full power to demand the assistance of a sufficient number of the members of this association if they find it nesasary to carry all decissions and laws in to effect. (note: On the 7th of November, 1839, the Marshal called out all the members of the Association.)
Section 1. The sallerys of the officers of this association shall be as here in after provided for.
The Clerk or Recorder shall receive Twenty five cents for recording each and everry claim and fifty cents for everry deed or conveyance to be paid by the persons wishing such record made and in all cases he may require his fees in advance and Twelve & a half cents for the privalege of examining his Books provided however members having entered there claims shall have the privalege of examining said Books for information relative to there own claim free of any charge ---
Articl 2. (note: Repetition due to the continuation of the article on another page in the original.)
Sect. 2. The Judges shall receive on Dollar & fifty cents and the Marshals shall receve one Dollar and fifty cents for everry day spent in discharge of the duties of there respective offices.
Section. 1. All members. of the association shall be required in making claims to stake them off or blaze them in such a maner that the lines of such claims can be easily traced or followed and all claims thus made in order to be respected must be entered on record and there as fully and accurately described as practacable giving the names of the creek River or branch where such shall be the boundrys on any side and where bounded by other claims give the owners name of such claim if known and where the lands have been surveyed they shall be required to give the range Township and qr section as is custimary in describing surveyed Lands. and further persons making claims shall be required to put the initials of there names either on a tree or stake at each corner of there claim, no person shall hold more that 480 acres or three quarter sections of land (note: Compared with the regulations of most of the claim associations this allowance is very large, the usual number of acres being one hundred and sixty or three hundred and twenty.) by making claim thereto. and this quantity shall in all cases be recognized and constitute a claim let the same lye in a boddy or detached parcels. provided however that said claim is not in more than three separate and detached parcels. all persons wishing there claims recorded shall hand them in to the recorder in writing with there signature there to All Deeds of conveyance shall be admited to record and all assignments of Deeds and the first on record or admited for Record shall have the prefferance.
persons purchasing claims or parts of claims shall in all cases be required before the clerk to state on honour. that the amount specifyed in the deed or transfer is the actual amount paid for such claim or part of claim as the case may be and that the purchase is valid and in good faith and that it has not been made to evade the law restricting persons in making claims to 480 acres or three quarter sections. this clause shall not be so construed as to deprive persons who sells there claims or a part there of taking another or a part as the case may be nor shall it be so construed that persons purchasing shall be deprived of the privalege of making a claim. nor shall any person or persons be intitled to make a claim from the fact of there having swaped (note: A term meaning to exchange, to barter.) or exchanged claims any person purchasing a claim and refusing to pay for it shall forfeit all claim there to and such claim thus forfeited shall revert back to the person selling such claim (note: For additions to this section see minutes of February 3rd, 1840.)
Article 3. (note: Repetition due to the continuation of the article on another page in the original.)
Section 1st. All persons having sold or purchased claims previous to the organization of this association and the adoption of the laws for the government of said association shall be entitled to all the privaleges and rights the laws of this association extend to those selling or purchasing after the adoption of said laws.
sect. 2. Any white male person over the age of eighteen can become a member of this association by signing the laws rules and regulations governing the association. no member of the association. shall have the privalege of voting on a question to change any article of the constitution or laws of the association unless he is a resident. citizen of the county and a claimholder. nor shall any member be entitled to vote for officers of this association unless they are claimholders. Actual citizens of the County. (note: A citizen of the county was one who had resided within the limits of the county for a period of two months. See Art. III, section 5, and the minutes of February 3rd, 1840.) over the age of seventeen who are acting for them selves and dependent on there own exertions, and labour, for a lively hood, and whoos parents doe not reside with in the limits of the Territory can become members, of this association and entitled to all the privaleges of members. (note: Few associations made such detailed regulations of the suffrage.)
no member can be declared elected an officer of the association unless such person shall have received a majority of the votes of the members presant, entitled to vote when such election shall take place Any law or article of the constitution of this association may be altered at the semianual meetings and at no other meetings provided however, that three fifths of the members presant who are resident citizens of the county and actual claim holders shall be in favour of such change or ammendment, except that section fixing the quantity of land that everry member is entitled to hold by claim and that section shall remain unaltered (note: These words are italicized in the original.)
section 3. The semianual meetings of This association shall take place on the first Monday of Febuary and August of each year yere after and the election of all officers, shall be had at the Febuary meetings (note: According Art. I. sections 3, 7, 9, and 10 the term of office began on March 11th. The officers, therefore, were elected one month before they were installed into office.) after the first which first election shall be had immediately after adoption of the foregoing laws.
sect 4. In case of a vacancy in any of the offices of the association the president shall have power to fill such vacancy until the first semianual meeting that may occur after such vacancy may have taken place, and then there shall be a special election held to fill such vacancy, until the anual election.
sect 5 all persons who have resided with in the limits of the County for Twoo months. shall be recognised and considered as citizens of the County. (note: For an addition to this section see minutes of February 3rd, 1840.)
Sect. 6,. Members of the association who are not citizens of the County shall be required in making claims to expend in improvements on each claim he or they may have made or may make the amount of fifty Dollars with in six months of the date of making such claim or claims and fifty Dollars everry six months there after until such person or persons becomes citizens of the county or forfeit the same---
7 All persons residing in the county at the adoption of the foregoing laws shall be entitled to the privalege of voting at this meeting but after this it shall require two months residence to become a citizen of the county.
8 All claims made after the adoption of the foregoing laws shall be registered or offered for record with in ten days after the making there of and all persons making claims after the adoption of the foregoing laws. shall be required in presenting his or there claim for record to state on honour before the recorder that such claim or claims has not been previously made or if made that that hey have been forfeited by the laws of this association to his or there personal knowledge.
9 All resident members whoos claims has been made previous to the adoption of the forigoing laws shall have the privalege of thirty days to have the same recorded in --- And those who have made claims previous to the adoption of the forigoing laws, who are not citizens of the county shall have ninety days to have the same recorded in. And no person or persons shall have the privalege of registering claims in the name of nonresident persons.
10. All trials or disputed cases shall be brought before the judicial Court in the following manner. any member of the association or the agent of any member of the association who is authorised to act as agent in writing for such person or persons believeing their rights have been intruded on shall apply to any one of the seven judges who compose the judicial court and the judge so applyed to shall appoint a place and time for a meeting of the court and in writing authorise the marshalls to summons a sufficient number of judges to attend to compose a court at such place as he may deem most expedient to hold said court and further the judge so applyed to shall in writing authorise the marshall to summons all persons whoos testimony may be be nesasary in said case and to authorise the marshalls to notify the defendant, in such case of the place and time of holding such court and summons all witnesses that either of the parties may require the court may previous to there proceding to investigate any case require the plaintiff and defendant to deposit a sufficient sum of money in there hands to defraay the expenses of said sut or the costs of said suit. and should either party refuse to deposit such sum of money the court may render judgment against such person refusing to doe the court shall in all cases brought before them be governed in their decissions by the laws of this association equity and justice (note: Justice, I think, here means principles of right growing out of the conditions of the environment.)
sect 11. Any member refusing to be governed by the laws of the association or decission of the court shall no longer be considered a member and his name shall be striken from the association for the faithfull observance and mantanance of all the foregoing laws we mutualy pledge our honours, and subscribe our names here unto.