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northwest quarter, and the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section fourteen, and the west half of the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section ten, in township 75, range 20, the same being at that time the property or Elisha Elliott, and situated some two or three miles southwest of the city of Knoxville. The report of the committee was approved by the board and the land was purchased at a cost of $1,200. The land was formally purchased by the county on the fifteenth of December, 1865. During the following year the whole of the tract was fenced and a portion of the land broken at a cost of $800. In July, 1866, the contract for the erection of a suitable building was let to Jacob Richards for the sum of $4,450.
The main building as at first constructed was a three-story frame. The basement was arranged for a kitchen, dining-room and storage purposes. The second and third stories were fitted up for lodging purposes. Halls run the entire length of the building, both of the second and third stories, on either side of which are arranged sleeping apartments. In more recent times other improvements have been added such as stables, sheds and other out-buildings.
The infirmary, as now constituted, is well adapted to the purposes for which it is used. The arrangements and plans now in operation would require but little change and additional cost if the number of inmates was largely increased.
The county supervisors and steward appear to be doing all they can to promote the comfort and well-being of the inmates. The latter are well clad and have an abundance of good, plain and substantial food.
With such facilities for receiving and caring for the poor, it is certainly proper that persons requiring aid from the county be removed to that place as soon as possible, and that in all possible cases the payment of money to out-door paupers should cease. There are doubtless exceptional cases in which it is proper to pay a weekly sum to an individual or family for support but these cases are few.
From the last annual financial statement made by the auditor to the board of supervisors, it appears that during the year 1879 the sum of $1,702.34 was expended in defraying the current expenses of the poorfarm, while during the same time the sum of $5,427.01 was expended in the way of affording support to paupers outside the infirmary. It would seem that by this course of management the objects for which the infirmary were established are practically defeated, as the amount spent outside is many times larger than that spent inside the bounds of the poor-farm. But it is not simply a question of economy, there is also a question of principle and justice involved; it is a law of social being that every one who eats should work and if one be not able to earn a living he or she is not exempt from contributing at least in some way or to some extent in paying the debt conditioned on existence. Those who live off public bounty outside the infirmary may be doing what they can, but inside a well regulated infirmary the public who pay the taxes know they are. Then again the State or county must be just, and how can it be just when it discriminates between its wards as it inevitably does when part are compelled to labor in an infirmary and others have no such restrictions thrown around them.
From the last annual statement, made by the auditor of Keokuk county to the board of supervisors, it appears that during the year there was ex
pended in defraying the expenses of the poor farm, the sum of $2,709.83, while the sum expended in affording relief to poor outside the infirmary was $1,800.11. This presents a much better showing for the last-mentioned county, and is calculated to inspire the tax-payers with some confidence in the efficiency of the infirmary.
The difficulty in Marion county seems to be very largely with the township trustees, as the disposition of paupers lies almost exclusively with them and is beyond the control of the board of supervisors.
"Over the hills to the poor-house," is a sad story at best, but there is one far sadder. The writer once saw a painting which portrayed an aged In dian left to perish upon the plains, while her own children with the rest of the tribe wended their way out of sight followed by the wails of the deserted old woman. Such is life among those who know nothing of charity.
THE DES MOINES RIVER BRIDGE.
One of the requisites of a good agricultural and grazing country is plenty of water, not water in stagnant swamps but fresh living water, flowing in streams. Marion county in this respect is peculiarly favored. It seems, however, to be a rule of universal application that nature bestows no great advantage without a corresponding disadvantage and thus a country with the great natural advantage of streams of water must submit to the great disadvantage of crossing them or accept the alternative of a vast outlay in bridging them. We have already seen that very early in the history of the county the necessity of erecting bridges was felt to be great and large sums were expended in the erection of bridges before the people even had comfortable houses to live in.
According to the annual statement of the auditor there were expended $6,876.85 for the building and repairing of bridges during the year 1879. By the judicious and liberal expenditure of money the county has at length become so well supplied with bridges that the people no longer are subjected to danger and inconvenience in passing from one part of the county to another, even in the season of the year when rains are most abundant and freshets most common. These substantial structures which render the passage of streams practicable have cost an immense amount of money, but the benefits arising more than warrant the outlay.
Up to the present time, however, there has existed an obstacle in the way of free communication between all parts of the county in the shape of the Des Moines River, which at certain seasons of the year is impassable. The feasibility of bridging the stream has often been discussed but the expense which such an enterprise would necessarily imply has deterred the authorities from carrying out the project.
The question has been submitted to the tax-payers of the county and on account of a conflict of interest decided adversely. As early as 1865 the proposition was submitted to the voters of the county and decided adversely by a vote of 863 in favor to 1,700 against it. Those most interested in the matter have at times given up all hope of a bridge and even agitated a division of the county.
Unexpectedly to many, and at a time when the most sanguine friends of the measure were not looking for a solution of the problem, the board of supervisors received a proposition from responsible parties agreeing to furnish the money necessary for the erection of the bridge on very favor
able terms, and the board at the June session resolved to erect the bridge forthwith. Advertisements were inserted in the county papers asking for sealed proposals and at the appointed time the contract was let to Č. C. Collins for $10,259.
The location of the bridge is at Horn's Ferry, on the mainly traveled road from Knoxville to Pella. Work is now rapidly progressing on the structure and it will not be long, possibly before this book is in print, till the bridge will be completed. This enterprise, like all others of public character, has called forth much bitter criticism. That the facts relating to the letting of the contract and the character of the structure may become generally known and pass down to the future as a part of the permanent history of the county, we give the following facts:
The contract was originally let for $10,259; the contractors entered into bonds in the penal sum of $21,000, signed by C. C. Collins, A. J. Kerr, R. H. Underhill, T. S. Cathcart and N. H. Bittenbender, and duly acknowledged in presence of D. O. Collins, notary public, for the faithful discharge of the
Subsequent to letting the main contract some changes were ordered as follows: The second pier from the south side is to be of stone instead of iron, and $2,781 is to be paid the contractor, "said sum being net sum to be paid by county for pier after deducting price of iron pier." This contract was made July 27.
August 9, another change was made, providing for six ice-breakers and also for rip-rapping to the extent of one hundred loads of loose stone at base of each pier. The compensation allowed for this extra work is $3,672.52. A third additional contract provides for oak floor and joists instead of pine, and the "first pier from the south bank" to be of stone instead of iron. Additional cost $1,075.
These three items of additional cost amount to $7,528.52, which added to the $10,259, cost of the bridge as specified in the original contract, makes the total cost $17,787.52.
ADDITIONAL COUNTY AFFAIRS.
Courts-Marriage Licenses-County Finances-Political-Official Directory.
THE first court was held in Marion county in March, 1846. In most counties throughout the State the first court was held the same year the county was organized. In this particular Marion county furnishes an exception to the rule, no court having been held here till the year following the organization. We might possibly account for this on the hypothesis that the people of the county were exceptionally peacable, but a better reason appears in the fact that the Second judicial district, of which Marion county originally formed a part, was so large that the judge could find no spare time to hold court here till the time mentioned. There was as yet no place at the county seat suitable for holding court, and when the court finally was held it met at Conrey's claim-pen, before mentioned as the place where the county commissioners held their first meetings. However it must not be supposed that, the absence of courts during the first year of the county's history can be accounted for from the fact that there was no suitable place to hold court. Courts in those days were independent of court-houses.
There is every reason to believe that had the judge found time to visit the county in an official capacity the absence of a court-room would not have presented an insurmountable obstacle. In certain counties the first courts were held in private houses and there is at least one instance in the old Second judicial district where court was held out of doors. In the old county of Slaughter Judge Irwin tried a case under the shade of a grove of cottonwood trees, and when the evidence was all in and the judge had given his charge, the jury retired to an adjoining slough to consider a verdict. As before remarked the first term of court was held in Marion county in March, 1846. The following is from the record:
"TERRITORY OF IOWA,
"At a District Court in and for the county of Marion, in the Territory of Iowa, begun and holden at Knoxville in said county, on the thirtieth day of March, A. D. 1846; present the Hon. Joseph Williams, judge of the Secone judicial district in and for the said Territory, and Thomas Baker, for the United States, district attorney, and John B. Lash, for the United States, marshal of said Territory, L. W. Babbitt, clerk of the District Court, and Thomas Baker, district attorney for the Eleventh district of said Territory, and James M. Walters, sheriff in and for said county; whereupon said sheriff returned his venire for a grand jury on the part of the Territory, and the marshal aforesaid returned into court his venire for a grand jury on the part of the United States, whereupon the following persons; to-wit., John B. Hamilton, Asa Koons, Samuel Buffington, Edward Billups, J. S. West, Ose Mathews, James Chesnut, John H. Bras, Samuel H. Robb, Nelson Hill, Martin Neal, Stanford Doud, Alexander May, William Carlysle, C. Sharp, David Gushwa, Thomas Gregory, L. G. Terry, John T. Pearce, Garrett W. Clark, Christopher Cox, M. Livingston and Conrad Walters, all good and lawful men, being duly elected, impaneled, charged and sworn on the part of the United States and Territory of Iowa, retired in charge of Allen Lowe, who being duly sworn as constable in charge of said grand jury, to consider of such matters and things as may come to their knowledge and charge; and the sheriff aforesaid, return his venire for petit jury, whereupon the following persons; to-wit., Robert Hamilton, Nathan Bass, George Gillaspy, Claiborn Hall, Alfred Vertrice, John Williams, John Whitlatch, William Buffington, Mathew Ruple, Joseph Clark, Nathan Tolman, James Botkin, Moses Long, Elijah Wilcut, Reuben S. Lowry, David Sweem, Benjamin Spillman, John Wise and Andrew Foster, all good and lawful men, appeared and answered to their names as petit jurors for said court. "Ordered that the court now adjourn until nine o'clock to-morrow morn
"J. WILLIAMS, Judge.
Tuesday morning, nine o'clock, March 31, 1846, court met pursuant to adjournment; present same judge.
"This cause came on for trial and on motion of the defendant's attorney this cause is dismissed and the said defendant go hence without day.
"On motion of the district attorney it is ordered by the court that James Trillie be appointed bailiff in attendance upon the grand jury in addition to the one heretofore appointed."
"F. M. CLIFTON.
Recognizance to keep the peace.
"This cause came on for trial, and being heard by the court, it is ordered that the defendant be discharged on payment of costs of this prosecution. It is therefore adjudged by the court that the plaintiff recover of said defendant the costs of this prosecution, taxed at seventeen dollars and fourteen and three-fourths cents, and that execution issue therefor."
"EDWARD H. THOMAS)
"THE BOARD OF COM
MISSIONERS FOR THE
COUNTY OF MAHASKA. J
Change of venue from Mahaska County.
"And this day the transcript and papers in this suit were filed in open
"Tuesday Morning, March 31st, 1846; present, the Hon. Joseph Williams, judge, etc. And this day this cause came on to be heard, and thereupon came the plaintiff and the defendant, by its attorney, as also a jury of twelve good and lawful men of the county; to-wit., Robert Hamilton, Nathan_ Bass, Claiborn Hall, John Williams, William Buffington, Matthew Ruple, Joseph Clark, Nathan Tolman, James Botkin, Moses Long, Elijah Wilcut, John Whitlatch, who were duly sworn, weli and truly to try the issue joined between the parties.
"And the allegations, proofs and arguments of counsel being heard the said jury thereupon retired in the custody of a proper officer, duly sworn, to consider of their verdict, and afterward, on the day aforesaid, the said jury returned into court the following verdict:
"We, the jury, find for the plaintiff, and assess his damages at three hundred and twenty-five dollars."
"Whereupon, it is adjudged by the court that said plaintiff have, and recover from said defendant, his damages in this assessed at three hundred and twenty-five dollars; as also his costs by him in this behalf expended, taxed at twenty-three dollars and six cents, and that execution issue therefor."
According to the docket of this term of court the bar was represented by the following galaxy of legal luminaries: Alley, Baker, Peters, Temple, Chapman, Olney, Gray, Summers, Wright, Ross, Calkin, Stanfield and Bissell. Some names in this list have since become very familiar to the people of the whole State; at least one of the number became a member of the Supreme Court and two of them became judges of the District Court. The persons summoned as petit jurymen were as follows: Robert Hamilton, George Gillaspy, Claiborn Hall, Alfred Vertrice, John Williams, John Whitlatch, William Buffington, Matthew Ruple, Joseph Clark, Nathan Tolman, James Botkin, Moses Long, Elijah Wilcut, Reuben S. Lowry, David Sweem, Benjamin Spillman, John Wise, Andrew Foster.
During the early days when the country was half civilized and half sav