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At that time no lumber could be bought in the county and there were no saw-mills anywhere near. The frame had to be hewed from the trees of the forest, and the lumber had to be hauled a great distance. There were but few laboring men in the county and these were mostly employed in fencing their claims. The work of erecting the court-house proved to be much more tedious and expensive than was anticipated. Thus it was that Mr. Pearce's contract was not finished till late in the fall. After Mr. Pearce's contract, which was only for the wood-work, was finished, there remained other work, such as plastering and painting, to be done. The building was not entirely finished till 1848, and cost in all about six hundred dollars.
The building was located opposite to the northwest corner of the public square and continued to be used as a court-house till 1858 when the new court-house was completed.
A history of the old Marion county court-house would be almost a history of the county itself, and no more vivid picture of the county's growth could be suggested than that which would appear from a comparison of the present house with that one of pioneer days.
That old court-house, now entirely changed both in use and appearance, would not be recognized by some of the old county officials were they again to appear on the scene of action. But that old court-house is enshrined in memories that the present can never know. It was used for every conceivable purpose and had a career of great usefulness. School was taught, the gospel preached and justice dispensed within its substantial old walls. Then it served frequently as a resting place for weary travelers and indeed its doors always swung on easy hinges.
If the old settler is to be belived, the old weatherboarding often rang on the pioneer sabbath with a more stirring eloquence than enlivens the pulpit of the present time. Many of the early ministers officiated within its walls, and if those old walls could speak they would tell many a strange pioneer tale of religion, that is now lost forever. The preacher would mount a box in the center of the room and the audience disperse themselves around him.
To the old court-house preachers came of different faiths, but all eager to expound the simple truths of a sublime religion, and point out for comparison the thorny path of duty and the primrose path of dalliance. Often have those old walls given back the echoes of those who did a song of Zion sing, and many a wandering one has had his heart moved to repentance thereby more strongly than ever by the strains of homely eloquence. With Monday morning the old building changed its character and men came there seeking not the mercy of God but the justice of man. The scales were held with an even hand. Fine points of law were doubtless often ignored, but those who presided knew every man in the county and they dealt out substantial justice and the broad principles of natural equity prevailed. Children came there to school and sat at the feet of teachers who knew but little more than themselves; but, however humble the teacher's attainments, he was hailed as a wise man and a benefactor, and his lessons were heeded with reverence and attention. The doors of the old courthouse were always open, and there the weary traveler often found a resting place. There, too, the people came to discuss their own affairs and learn from the visitors the news from the great world then so far away to the eastward.
Since the building ceased to be used for a court-house it has served various purposes. Part of the time the second story was used for a printing office, and part of the time it was used for a private dwelling. In June, 1864, it was sold by order of the board of supervisors, the purchaser being A. B. Miller, who paid nine hundred and twenty-eight dollars for it. It still stands where originally erected and is now occupied by Boydston & Kendig as a grocery store.
The old Marion county court-house has been spared the humiliation to which buildings of that kind have been subjected in other counties. many cases when they have become unavailable for business houses they have been moved off to some back alley and utilized as stables. It is sad that in their haste to grow rich so few Americans have any reverence for the early work of their own hands. How many of the early settlers have preserved their first habitation! The sight of that humble cabin would be a source of much consolation in old age and would go far toward reconciling the coming generation with their lot when contrasting its humble appearance with the modern residence, whose extensive apartments are beginning to be to unpretentions for the enterprising spirit of irresistible "Young America."
THE NEW COURT-HOUSE.
During the years 1855 and 1856 there was a large immigration into the county; lots and lands sold rapidly and money was plenty. Early in 1856 the people of the county, and especially those residing in Knoxville began to be dissatisfied with their court-house, and it was thought that the county was rich enough to have a new court-house; one which would properly represent in its external appearance the wealth and enterprise of the county and one which should be internally so arranged as to afford a safe protection for the books and papers which by this time had become very valuable. This talk resulted in definite action early in 1856. F. M. Frush was at that time county judge and as there seemed to be a general desire for a new court-house he proceeded to erect one without the preliminary precaution of calling a special election to submit the proposition. Under the statute there was no provision which made it his duty to call an election to decide the matter and as there was general acquiescence in the project he had full confidence that his course would meet with general favor.
The original contract was let to Dyer & Woodruff for the sum of $17,
Several important changes in the plans were afterward made which increased the cost to near $20,000.
The official records relating to the erection of this structure are too voluminous and unimportant to be reproduced here. We give two extracts among the first records records relating to this subject:
"SEPTEMBER 16, 1856. "Now, in the matter of erection of court-house in the city of Knoxville, Marion county, Iowa, for the use of said county, the following proceedings among others have been had: From the manifest necessity of a better house and also from a recommendation of the grand jury, it became obviously necessary as well as expedient to make arrangements for the erection of said court-house at as early a date as the best policy would warrant; therefore, in accordance with the duties imparted and the rights and privileges conferred upon the several county judges, within their respective coun
ties in the State by chapter 15 of the Code of the State of Iowa, F. M. Frush, county judge of of said county, caused a notice to be given in the three newspapers of said county to the effect that proposals would be received up to the 16th day of August, 1856, at the office of the county judge of said county for the erection of a court-house in Knoxville, Marion county, Iowa; to be brick; built two stories high upon stone foundation and to be 48x70 feet in dimensions. Said notice was dated July 16, 1856, Subsequently, on account of giving more ample time to prepare specifications and design for the house, the time for the reception of proposals was prolonged till 4 o'clock P. M. of the 10th day of September, 1856. Of this extension of time notice was also caused to be given by the said county judge, which notice was published by the public newspapers of the county.
"And at the expiration of the time for the reception of the proposals, there were found to be eight sealed proposals for said work; whereupon they were opened by the said county judge in the presence of J. B. Hamilton, clerk of the District Court of Marion county, Iowa, and in presence of A. B. Miller, former clerk of said court, and were found to be as follows:
"No one of the foregoing proposals being yet accepted it was proposed by the county judge to Lewis Dyer and S. W. Woodruff that they should take the contract of the building at $17,500, to be paid in such payments as were named in the specifications; which terms were, one-fourth as nearly in advance as was required in procuring material and labor; one-fourth on or before the 1st day of April, 1857; one-fourth on or before the 1st day of April, 1858; and one-fourth against the 1st day of April, 1859. Said proposal being accepted by said Dyer and Woodruff, on the 15th day of September, 1856, they produced a bond payable to the said county in the penal sum of $35,000, which bond was signed by several persons as security on said bond; said bond was approved by said county judge and placed on file. An article of agreement was entered into by and between F. M. Frush county judge of the one part, and Lewis Dyer and S. W. Woodruff of the other part, conditioned that the said Dyer and Woodruff furnish the materials and fully complete the house according to the specifications made by D. H. Young, architect; which specifications were made a part of the contract, which contract is more fully set forth by reference to said specifications.
"The building is to be enclosed and the lower story in a suitable conditions to be used for offices on the 1st day of November, 1857, and the whole building is to be completed on or before the 1st day of July, 1858." "FEBRUARY 23, 1858. "Now, on this day came F. M. Frush and presents an account against
said county for expense including hire of conveyance for two trips to Des Moines to procure specifications and plans for the new court-house in the city of Knoxville, $10."
Thus it will be seen that the judge waited over two years for money actually expended for the county.
The building is a substantial brick, two stories high, dimensions seventy by forty-eight feet. There are two entries, one from the north and the other from the south.
On the first floor there is a hall extending the entire length of the building, on either side of which are arranged the offices. In each of the offices is a substantial fire-proof vault which affords a safe and convenient receptacle for books and papers. The second story is arranged and fitted up for a court-room. This room is well lighted and furnished. a capacity for seating about four hundred people.
Marion county at present is agitating the subject of building a jail. At present an apartment is fitted up in the court-house and used for a prison. This is not at all adapted for the purpose of a prison and cannot properly be termed a jail. The county has never in the past been provided with a place for the imprisonment of persons, which might properly be termed a jail. Before the present court-house was built various means were resorted to to supply the deficiency of a prison, which unfortunately for the county has frequently been seriously needed.
One plan resorted to in times past is fully described in the following extract from the county judge's record, dated December 31, 1857:
"Now on this day is taken up the matter of payment for building a house to be used as a county jail, for the use of Marion county in the State of Iowa.
"E. G. Stanfield, mayor, and C. G. Brobst, recorder of the city of Knoxville, in said county, having constructed on the east end of the middle one one-third of lot No. three, in block No. one, in said city, a house or place suitable for a house of imprisonment, and having conveyed to said county the right and use of said house of imprisonment for the benefit and use of said county, for the term of two years from the first day of September, 1857, with an understanding that the county aforesaid is to have a perpetual right to the house and a right to use the same on the above described premises for the term of two years from the 1st day of September, 1857, with the understanding on the part of said county that it is to be the place of imprisonment, or the county jail within and for said county and that said county, shall pay the said recorder or mayor for the use of the incorporation of said city the sum of fifty-six and sixty-six one-hundredth dollars for the rights and privileges above mentioned. Therefore it is
Ordered, That the same house aforesaid to be used as the county jail of said county, and that a warrant issue to said recorder for the use of said city or incorporation thereof, for the amount aforesaid. “F. M. FRUSH, County Judge."
Attempts have been made in more recent times to secure the building of a jail but heretofore the project has not been carried out because of the unwillingness of the people of the county to vote the funds necessary for
that purpose. At the meeting of the board of supervisors in June last it was ordered that the proposition be again submitted to the electors of the county at the election in November. Should the vote on this question
be in favor of the proposition it is the intention of the board to erect a commodious and secure jail during the next year.
POOR-HOUSE AND FARM.
Asylums for the poor and disabled and unfortunate are peculiarly Christian institutions; it has been said that they become more common with the growth of civilization. None of the heathen nations of antiquity, no matter how advanced in learning, established public institutions for the relief of the destitute, and even in the case of Greece, Macedon and Rome during the period of their greatest wealth and power there were no asylums for the unfortunate. In this age of Christian civilization, the State, county or municipality of any kind is an exception to the rule of popular benevolence, and is considered far behind the times in all the elements of progress, unless some provision is made for the care of the poor and unfortunate.
Marion county, though peculiarly endowed by nature with all those material resources calculated to supply the necessities and even Mxuries of life, does not afford an exception to the rule formulated by the Master when he gave expression to the truth whose application is as broad as humanity: "The poor ye always have with you."
We have already seen that very early in the history of the county there were demands made upon the county treasury for the maintenance of paupers. Although the poor have been cared for from the beginning by appropriations made by the county judge or board of supervisors, it was in recent times that a county infirmary was established.
Before that time it was customary to have paupers boarded in private families, and furnish fuel and provisions for the part mantenance of those who were but partially indigent. county being frequently compelled to pay very extravagant prices for This plan was a very expensive one, the boarding and provisions bought by many from the county fund, sometimes finding their way to persons who posessing the physical ability had no inclination to help themselves. have been boarded out at such fancy rates as four dollars per week, and one It is stated on good authority that paupers instance is related of a pauper who for years received aid from the county and during that time was frequently known to treat his associates to cigars and beer, paying for as many as nine glasses of the latter commodity at one sitting. Thus it was that the plan adopted years ago in the older settled countries of the East recommended itself for adoption here, and the question of establishing a county infirmary began to be generally agitated throughout the county. The establishment of an infirmary, however, necessitated a special tax to enable the county board to meet the large expense of starting such an institution and no such tax could be levied without authority derived from those who would be compelled to pay the tax, the electors of the county must first vote on the question and the board hesitated to submit it. The proposition was however submitted at the subsequent election, and was decided in the affirmative. Soon after the board of supervisors proposed to carry out the enterprise. A committee consisting of D. T. Durham, D. F. Young and Joseph Metcalf, was appointed to seect a location. The committee reported in favor of the west half of the