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perity and distress: “ Even this shall pass away.” Such a lesson is tanght by the experience of the county from the time of its organization till the present.

Having thus definitely, and as fully as the records permit, noted the early settlements, and described the hardships of the pioneer and the development of the county during its early stages, we now come to the matter of county organization.



Origin of County and Township Organization-Condition of Territory Before Organization

Legislative Act Organizing Marion County-Appointment of Commissioners to Locato Seat of Justice-First Election-Proceedings of County Commissioners-License-FerriesRoads--Election Precincts-County Judge System - Township System-Board of Supervisorg-First Court-house--Second Court-house--Jail-Poor-farm-Des Moines "River Bridge.

It was not long after the Indians departed and the country was thrown open for settlement that the necessity of county organization in the interests of good government, good roads and the management of other local affairs became apparent. The country was thrown open for settlement in Oc. tober, 1845, and during the fall of the same year steps were taken for the organization. During the previous winter the necessary legislation was procured in the Territorial General Assembly then in session at: Lowa City.

Before proceeding to speak of these events in detail it will be proper to state some facts bearing upon the subject of connty and township organization in general.

With regard to the origin of dividing individual States into connty and township organizations, which, in an important measure, should have the power and opportunity of transacting their own business and governing themselves, under the approval of, and subject to, the State and general government of which they formed a part, we quote from Elijah M. Haines, who is considered good authority on the subject.

In his “Laws of Illinois Relative to Township Organizations,” he says:

“The county systein originated with Virginia, whose early settlers soon became large landed proprietors, aristocratic in feeling, living apart in almost baronial magnificence on their own estates, and owning the laboring part of the population. Thns the materials for a town were not at hand, the voters being thinly distributed over a great area.

“The county organization, where a few influential men managed the whole business of the community, retaining their places almost at their pleasure, scarcely responsible at all, except in name, and permitted to conduct the county concerns as their ideas or wishes might direct, was moreover consonant with their recollections or traditions of the judicial and social dignities of the landed aristocracy of England, in descent from whom the Virginia gentleman felt so much pride. In 1834 eiglit counties were organized in Virginia, and the system, extending throughout the State, spread into all the Southern States, and some of the Northern States; anless we except

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the nearly similar division into 'districts' in South Carolina, and that into parishes' in Louisiana, from the French laws.

“Illinois, which, with its vast additional territory, became a county of Virginia, on its conqnest by General George Rogers Clark, retained the county organization, wirich was formerly extended over the State by the constitution of 1818, and continued in exclusive use until the constitution of 1848.

“Under this system, as in other States adopting it, most local business was transacted by those commissioners in each county who constituted a county court, with quarterly sessions.

“ During the period ending with the constitution of 1847, a large portion of the State had become filled up with a population of New England birth or character, daily growing more and more compact and dissatisfied with the comparatively arbitrary and inefficient county system. It was maintained by the people that the heavily populated districts would always control the election of the commissioners to the disadvantage of the more thinly populated sections—in short, that under that system .equal and exact justice to all parts of the county could not be secured.

“The township system had its origin in Massachusetts, and dates back to 1635.

“The first legal enactment concerning this system provided that, whereas, ' particular townships have many things which concern only themselves, and the ordering of their own affairs, and disposing of business in their own town,' therefore, the freeman of every township, or a majority part of them shall only have power to dispose of their own lands and woods with all the appurtences of said town, to grant lots, and to make such order as may concern the well-ordering of their own towns not repugnant to the laws and orders established by the general court.'

“They might also (says Mr. Haines) impose fines of not more than twenty shillings, and 'choose their own particular officers, as constables, surveyors for the highways and the like.'

"Evidently this enactment relieved the general court of a mass of municipal details, without any danger to the power of that body in controlling general ineasures of public policy.

“Probably also a demand from the freemen of the towns was felt for the control of their own home concerns.

“The New England colonies were first governed by 'general court,' or legislature, composed of a governor and a small conncil, which court consisted of the most infinential inhabitants, and possessed and exercised both legislative and judicial powers, which were limited only by the wisdom of the bolders.

"They made laws, ordered their execution by officers, tried and decided civil and criminal causes, enacted all manner of municipal regulations, and, in fact, did all the public business of the colony.

“Simnilar provisions for the incorporation of towns were inade in the first constitution of Connecticut, adopted in 1639; and the plan of township organization, as experience proved its remarkable economy, efficiency and adaptation to the requirements of a free and intelligent people, became universal throughout New England, and went westward with the emigrante from New England into New York, Ohio, and other Western States."

Thus we find that the valuable system of county, township and town organizations had been thoroughly tried and proven long before there was need of adopting it in Iowa, or any of the broad region west of the Mississippi River. But as the new couutry soon began to be opened, and as Eastern people continued to move westward across the mighty river, and form thick settlements along its western shore, the Territory, and State, and county, and township and town organizations soon followed in quick succession, and those different systems became more or less modified and improved, accordingly as deemed necessary by the experience and judg. ment and demauds of the people, until they have arrived at the present stage of advancement and efficiency.

In the settlement of the Territory of Iowa, the Legislature began by organizing counties on the Mississippi River. As each new county was formed it was made to include, under legal jurisdiction all the country bordering west of it and required to grant to the occidental settlers electoral privileges and an equal share in the county government with those who properly lived in the geographical limits of the courty.

The counties tirst organized along the eastern border of this State were given, for a short time, jurisdiction over the lands and settlements adjoining each on the west, until these different localities became sufficiently settled to support organizations of their own; and finally, at the first session of the Legislature, after the Indians sold out, the newly acquired territory, including all northwestern Iowa, was laid off into counties, provisions were made for their respective organizations when the proper time should arrive, and these were severally named.

Let us briefly trace out the formation of the counties in this latitude and the successive jurisdiction of counties.

The whole of Iowa east and south of Marion county was originally a part of Des Moines county. In 1834 or 1835 Louisa county was forined and it was given jurisdiction over all the unorganized country to the west. In 1838 Washington county was organized and all the unorganized territory west placed under the jurisdiction of Washington county. In 1844 Keokuk and Mahaska counties were organized and to the latter was given the jurisdiction of all the country north and west, including what now composes Jasper, Polk, Warren and Marion counties. When Marion county was organized in 1845 the territory west of it was attached to it. From the fact that Polk county had in the meantime been organized, the territory composing the counties north and west of it were attached to Polk. From this it will be seen that when Marion county was first set. tled in 1843, the country was attached to Washington county and in case of litigation the settlers would bave been compelled to have to resort to the courts of Washington county. In 1844 Marion county became a part of Mahaska county, and the people then living within the bounds of this county were for election, judicial and revenue purposes, attached to that county. In case of litigation the people of the county would have been compelled to attend the courts of Oskaloosa; the people of this county were included in the regular tax list of Mahaska county and in the election of officers for Mahaska county, the people of Marion voted just as if they had resided within the geographical limits of that county. It further remarked at this place that the commissioners of Mahaska county at that time established a voting precinct which included the whole of Marion county, and was called Lake Prairie precinct. This precinct was formed by the commissioners of Mahaska county at their meeting May 14, 1844. On the 7th day of January, Mahaska county was subdivded into

may be civil townshipe and there was a new arrangement of the voting precincts in the territory to the west and north, temporarily attached to that county. The following is an exact copy of that part of the official action of the commissioners of Mahaska county which had reference to the uporgan. ized territory now composing Marion county:

Ordered, That the unsurveyed township which is south of the Des Moines River shall be known by the name of English River township.

Ordered, That congressional townships 76 and 77 north, 18 west and that part of 75 north and 18 west, which lies north of the Des Moines River shall constitute a township to be known by the name of Lake township. The place of holding elections to be at the house of Levi Bainbridge.

Ordered, That all the unsurveyed part north of the Des Moines River shall constitute a township to be known by the name of Whitebreast township. Place of holding elections to be at the house of Mr. Phillips.


The authorities of Mahaska county doubtless expected to retain jurisdiction over Marion county for sometime. It was to the advantage of these older counties to retain control of this additional territory as considerable revenue was derived therefroin and the additional expense incurred was very small. This condition of dependence was not satisfactory, however, to the people of Marion county and before the people of Mahaska had a chance to derive much profit or honor from this dependent constituency a successful attempt was made by the Marion county settlers to set up in business for then selves.

The cause which led to the agitation of the question of a separate organization was two-fold. In the first place the people of the county had little hope of opening op roads, building school-houses and erecting bridges 80 long as they were dependent on the commissioners of Mahaska county; in the second place there were then, as now, many persons anxious to hold office and by the organization of the county into a separate county there would be created a demand for a full complement of county officers. Thus it was that at the very time the officers of Mahaska county were busying themselves about the levying of taxes and organization of election precincts for the people of Marion, the latter were busying theinselves in laying plans for severing the connection and which plans were soon to render useless and inoperative the legislation of the former.

The first organized effort for the purpose of securing a separate connty organization occurred in the spring of 1845. The meeting was held at the house of Natban Bass, in section 19, township 76, range 18. There were sonie fifteen or twenty persons present, the most active and influential of whom were Lysander W. Babbitt, George Gillaspy, Reuben Mathews, Hoter Mathews, David T. Durham, Nathan Bass, Joseph Drouillard, Joho Williams, Levi Bainbridge, Isaac N. Crum, Simon Drouillard and John W. Alley.

Siinon Drouillard was appointed chairman and Col. Alley secretary.

Joseph Drouillard was selected as candidate for organizing sheriff, and arrangements were made for circulating a petition to be sent to the Legislature, then in session, praying for the passage of a special act anthorizing the organization of the county.

The petition was industriously circulated and extensively signed by the settlers. This petition was sent to the Legislature, whereupon a bill was introduced authorizing the organization of Marion county. The following extracts from the journal, dated May 5, 1845, will show what action was taken in the matter:

"Mr. Selby, from the committee on the judiciary, to which was referred H. F. No. 61, a bill to organize the county of Marion, reported the same back to the council, with amendments to which the council agreed.

"On motion of Mr. Coop, the 13th rule was suspended and the bill was read a third time.

“A motion was made by Mr. Heinpstead, that • Marion' be stricken out and the word 'Polk'inserted, which passed in the negative.

Yeas 4-pays 8.
“The yeas and nays being demanded

“Those who voted in the affirmative were-Messrs. Abbe, Hempstead, Sammers and Mr. President.

“Those who voted in the negative were-Messrs. Bradley, Brattain, Briesly, Coop, Lefler, Selby, Stephenson, Thompson.

“The bill was then agreed to.

"Ordered, That the secretary acquaint the House of Representatives therewith."
The following is a copy of the bill as passed:
An Act to organize the county of Marion.

“Section 1. Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Teritory of Iowa, That the following shall constitute and be the boundary of a new county to be called Marion; to-wit., Beginning at the porthwest corner of Mahaska county and running west on the township line dividing township seventy-seven and seventy-eight north, to the northwest corner of township seventy-seven, range twenty-one west, thence south to the southwest corner of township seventy-four north, of range twentyone west, thence east along the township line dividing townships seventythree and seventy-four north, to the southwest corner of Mabaska county, thence north along the range line dividing ranges eighteen and seventeen to the place of beginning.

"SEC. 2. That the county of Marion be, and the same is, hereby organ, ized from and after the first Monday in August next, and the inhabitants of said county shall be entitled to the same privileges to which by law the inhabitants of other organized counties of this Territory are entitled.

“SEC. 3. That for the purpose of organizing said county, it is hereby made the duty of the clerk of the District Court of said county, and in case there shall be no such clerk appointed and qualified, or for any cause said office shall become vacant on or before the first Monday in August next, then it shall be the duty of the sheriff of Mahaska county to proceed im mediately after the first Monday in Augnet to order a special election in said county for the purpose of electing three county commnissioners, one indge of probate, one county snrveyor, one county treasurer, one clerk of the board of county commissioners, one connty assessor, one sheriff, ove coroner, one recorder, and such number of justices of the peace and constables as may be directed by the officer ordering the same, be having due re. gard for the convenience of the people, which spocial election shall be on the first Monday in September next, and that the officer ordering said eleotion shall appoint as many places of election in said county as the convenience of the people may require, and shall appoint three judges of election for each place of voting in the county, and issue certificates of their ap

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