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age, when but an imaginary boundary line separated the Indians from the whites, and such a wide extent of country was entirely unsettled and uninhabited, quite a number of vicious and dishonest characters infested the country. Among the number of such there was no one who gained a wider notoriety or figured more extensively in the courts of the county than Jonas Casner. His name is to be found on the first court records of the several counties in Iowa, and it seems that he figured in the first legal proceedings here, as witness the following:
"This day comes Jonas Casner, who is sued by the name of James Casner, one of the defendants in this cause, and files his plea in abatement for misnomer, which plea is sustained by the court, and leave granted to said plaintiff to withdraw the papers in this cause, and judgment rendered against said plaintiff and in favor of said defendants for their costs in this behalf expended, taxed at eighteen dollars and forty-eight and three-fourth
On one occasion, when Fort Des Moines was still a government post, Jonas was arrested by order of Captain Allen, and tried by court-martial, on charge of stealing horses of the Indians. The charge could not be satisfactorily proved, so Allen handed Casner over to the Indians with instructions to whip him and let him go. A short time after receiving this castigation Casner stole a horse from a man by the name of Fish. Fish was returning from Keokuk with a load of goods and the horse was stolen while he was encamped for the night near the Des Moines River. Upon awakening in the morning and finding that one of his horses had been stolen or had strayed, Fish proceeded to an Indian encampment near by to inquire for the missing animal. Not finding the horse Fish prevailed upon the Indians to loan him one of their horses to ride while further searching for the missing animal. After having ridden for some distance, and just as he was emerging from a thick growth of timber, Jonas Casner came riding up to him, mounted upon the very horse he was searching for. He rode up along side the unsuspecting Fish and in a second, without betraying the least excitement, drew a large knife, cut the girth of Fish's saddle, and by a quick thrust threw the rider to the ground, and grasping the rein of the horse galloped away with both horses. As soon as Fish recovered from his fright and his wits returned he began to realize his deplorable dition. He returned to the Indian encampment and the aboriginies came very near killing him for not bringing back their horse. He was a veritable fish out of water, and tradition does not state how he managed to pacify the Indians and get his goods to their destination.
There were at this, the first term of court, eight cases in all tried. They were as follows:
Wm. M. Blakenship vs. John Johnson, Thos. Johnson, Wm. McCord. Thomas Johnson vs. Wm. M. Blakenship.
Elias Fuller vs. Jonas Casner, Henry Casner.
Josiah Allison vs. Asa Hughes, Samuel V. Hughes, Joshua Lindsey.
Levi Bainbridge vs. Isaac B. Power.
John Rods vs. Isaac Power; James Caldwell.
E. H. Horras vs. Board of Commissioners of Mahaska county.
The second term of court was held in the fall of 1846, beginning on the 21st of September. It appears that the judge was not present on the first day of the term and court was adjourned until the following day when the following record was made:
"Tuesday morning, nine o'clock, September 22, 1846, the court met pursuant to adjournment; present, Hon. Joseph Williams, judge of the Second judicial district in and for said Territory, and Thomas Baker, for the United States, district attorney, and John B. Lash, for the United States, marshal of said Territory, and Thomas Baker, district attorney for the Eleventh district of said Territory, and L. W. Babbitt, clerk of the District Court, and George Gillaspy, sheriff in and for said county; whereupon said sheriff returned his venire on the part of said Territory, and the marshal aforesaid returned his venire for a grand jury on the part of the United States, whereupon the following persons; to-wit., Jonas Casner, Thomas Morgan, G. B. Greenwood, Daniel Kyger, Elias Williams, Jesse Glenn, Walker Lindsey, James Clifton, Joshua Lindsey, Eli Furman, Mordecai Yearns, William Carlysle, Joseph Tong, John Riddle, John James, Thomas Thompson, John Camplin, Stanford Doud, Green T. Clark, J. S. West and Garrett W. Clark, all good and lawful men, being duly elected, impaneled, charged and sworn on the part of the United States and Territory aforesaid, retired (in charge of James Willis, 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 returned his venire for a petit jury, whereupon the following persons; to-wit., Thomas Tong, John P. Glenn, William G. Hughes, James M. Brons, Hezekiah Gay, Nathan Bass, Jacob Noftsger, John Babcock, Reuben S. Lowry, Joseph Clark, John T. Pearce, John Wright, Henry Hall, Samuel Glenn, Josiah Bullington, George Wise, Francis A. Barker, Samuel Tibbott, all good and lawful men, being called, answered to their names as petit jurors for said court."
The statement that Jonas Casner's name appears with a list of names which represent all good and lawful men may sound strange after what has already been said of Jonas. The statement, "all good and lawful men," was, however, used in a technical sense, and then, as now, was not unfrequently a striking misnomer.
The liquor question has ever played a prominent part in the courts of Marion county, and at this, the second term of the District Court, there was a batch of such cases which came up for adjudication, as witness the following:
"ROBERT D. RUSSELL.
Selling spirituous liquors without license.
"Now comes the said defendant and files his plea in abatement in this cause, and the matters and things contained in said plea being argued by council and heard by the court, said plea in abatement is sustained by the court. It is therefore adjudged by the court that the indictment and prose
cution in this cause be abated and that said Robert D. Russell be acquitted and go hence without day.
Selling liquor without license.
"Now comes this day defendant and files his plea in abatement in this cause, and the matters and things contained in said plea being argued by counsel and heard by the court, said plea in abatement is sustained by the court. It is therefore adjudged by the court that the indictment and prosecution in this cause be abated and the said John Hill be acquit and go hence without day.
"JOHN H. MIKESELL.
Selling liquor without license.
"Now comes the defendant and files his plea in abatement in this, and the matters and things contained in said plea being argued by counsel, and heard by the court, said plea in abatement is sustained by the court. It is therefore adjudged by the court that the indictment and prosecution in this cause be abated and that said John H. Mikesell be aquit and go hence without day."
Unfortunately for persons engaged in the "grocery" business, suits of this kind have not always resulted so favorably to the defendants. Yet, notwithstanding the heavy penalties often assessed, the poor liquor dealer we have always had with us.
During the term the record says that David T. Durham was appointed special constable to serve subpoenas for the grand jury.
During the year 1847 there were two terms of court held, one in July and one in October. The following attorneys practiced in the county at that time: Stanfield, Hooton, Temple, Seevers, Summers, Wright, Knapp, Gray, Peters, Atchison, Slagle, Sawyer, Hendershott, Cowles, Alley, Hendray, Negus. Several of these resided elsewhere, and were at Knoxville only at the different terms of court.
In 1848 there were two regular terms of court, one in May and one in November. There was also a special term in August.
It was during the May term of this year that the first divorce case appears on the docket. It is entitled:
The record says that on March 21, 1848, the bill was filed and subpoenas issued, bill copied, fees $1.30. May 8, 1848, case called and motion for order of publication sustained.
On assuming the duties of judge of the judicial district, Cyrus Olney, who succeeded Judge Williams in 1847, made the following order:
Ordered, That the clerk procure, at the expense of the county, eight (8) copies of the rules of this court for the use of the court and clerk, to be carefully kept in his office, and a copy attached to the court docket at each term.
By the court,
CYRUS OLNEY, Judge.
We make the following extracts from these rules:
"Pleading-The defendant may put in at the proper times and in the proper forms, such defense by motion, demurrer, plea or otherwise as he thinks fit, to be taken up in their order; and he cannot, after the roll-call on the second day of the appearance term, or other time of pleading fixed by special rule in the particular case, put in any other defense by way of addition or substitution, except by leave and discretion of the court upon motion and cause shown.
"Continuances-Unless the court for cause shall otherwise direct a party obtaining a continuance on special application for his own benefit, must, if his motion be not opposed, pay the costs of the term which are rendered unnecessary by such continuance, or which may require to be repeated in consequence thereof; but if the motion be opposed, he must pay his own costs only.
"Costs-In other cases than of trials, four witnesses only, if there be so many, of the one party may be taxed against the other, unless the court shall otherwise direct; an application to increase or reduce the number must be made during the term. A non-resident plaintiff may be ruled to secure the costs of suit on motion made as soon as possible, supported by affidavit of such non-residence, or of belief thereof, or of ignorance of the plaintiff's residence or address. The motion will be denied on proof that the plaintiff's residence and address are within the State.
"Arguments-But two counsel on a side will address the jury without leave of the court previously obtained. When a cause in which the plaintiff has the affirmative in pleading is to be submitted to the jury on matter of defense to a prima facie case, the court may reverse the order of argument, or direct one party to open and the other to close.
"Defaults-A motion to open a default must be accompanied by a plea and an affidavit of the reason of the delay to plead, and satisfying the conrt that there is a meritorious defense to the action."
It has been stated already that Marion county upon its organization became a part of the Second judicial district. It continued to be a part of that district until 1847, and Judge Joseph Williams presided. The first term of court held by Judge Williams' successor was in June, 1847; Marion county then became a part of the Third judicial district and Cyrus Olney was judge. Judge Olney was succeeded by William McKay, who held his first term of court at Knoxville, beginning May 21, 1849. Judge McKay served till 1854, when the Legislature again re-districted the State; by this new arrangement Marion county became a part of the Fifth judicial district, and P. M. Casady, of Des Moines, was elected judge. Mr. Casady, however, resigned without holding a term of court. C. J. McFarland was appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy; he was elected to the position at the next regular election and remained judge of the Fifth judicial district till 1857, when he was succeeded by Wm. M. Stone, who served in that capacity till 1861. In 1861 there was another re-arrangement of judicial districts, and Marion county became a part of the Sixth judicial district. Wm. Loughridge, the first judge of the new Sixth district, held his first term of court in Knoxville, beginning December 9, 1861. He was succeeded by E. S. Sampson, whose first term in Marion county begun on the 12th day of March, 1867. Judge Sampson served two judicial terms of four years each and was succeeded, in 1875, by H. S. Winslow, whose first court in Knoxville began March 1, 1875. J. C. Cook suc
ceeded Judge Winslow in 1879, his first term of court being held in Knoxville, beginning January 13, 1879. He is the present incumbent, his term of office not expiring till January 1, 1883.
The Circuit Courts of the county were established by the Legislature during the session of 1867 and 1868, The first incumbent of this office were chosen at the general election in November, 1868, and assumed the duties of the office January 1, 1869. The first person chosen to preside was Lucien C. Blanchard. Judge Blanchard was an incumbent of the office twelve years, exceeding that of any other judge who has presided over the courts of Marion county; his term expired January 1, 1881, his successor being W. R. Lewis, of Poweshiek county.
Among the judges of the District Court Williams and McFarland were the most eccentric, and on account of their eccentricity were the most widely known.
The following incident illustrating some of Judge Williams' traits has already been related by Mr. Donnel; we reproduce it:
"It occurred during the first term of the District Court at Knoxville. Most of those attending court were boarding at Babbitt's, and it so happened that one night the little boarding-house was so full that it was barely possible for all to find sleeping room. The judge, with lawyers Knapp, Wright and Olney, were supplied with beds in the lower story, whilst the jurors with numerous other attendants found room to stretch themselves upon the loose upper floor, using blankets, coats and whatever else they had provided for beds. When after much ado they had all settled down for a nap, they were suddenly startled by the terrible squalling of what seemed to be a couple of tom-cats in mortal combat in the room. Instantly all hands were up and in search of the supposed disturbers; but no cats could be found and the surprised boarders returned to their beds without any very satisfactory conjectures as to the whereabouts of the nocturnal brawlers. But they had hardly composed themselves again for rest when the loud and boisterous growling and snapping of belligerent bulldogs, apparently in their very midst, brought them all up standing. And then followed an uproar such as language could give but an indistinct idea of -the dogs maintained the combat with mingled growling, barking and whining, and the men with all the noise they could make to oust them from the room. How they came to be there was a wonder indeed, but the evidence of their presence was too unmistakable to admit of a doubt, even in the total darkness. Presently the fight ceased, and with that the general uproar abated. Then came a solution of the mystery. The judge and lawyers could no longer restrain their merriment at the expense of the frightened and mystified lodgers up-stairs, but light came in a gush of laughter that quickly reminded some of the company that the judge was a ventriloquist and had undoubtedly just played them one of his mysterious tricks. But so far from being offended at it, they took a sensible view of its ludicrousness and all joined heartily in the laugh.
Those of the old settlers who remember Judge Williams have not forgotten how ardent an advocate of total abstinence he was. It was his custom when holding the first term of court in a new county to organize a temperance society. It was not properly a part of his official business and the meeting was of course not held during court hours. The time for his temperance meeting usually was the evening after the first session of court. He was an orator of no mean ability, and especially when warmed up with