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The history of Jackson County, Iowa, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., biographical sketches of citizens, war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion ... history of th online

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ment of finances.

The revenue in early days was derived from taxes on property, poll-tax and
a stringent license law, which latter compelled every storekeeper, ferryman or
peddler to pay a license into the county treasury.

The first licensed ferry of which we have record was that of Joseph S. Kirk-
patrick, across the Mississippi River at Bellevue, for which privilege the sum
of $5 was paid to Jackson County. The rates of toll under this license were
authorized as follows :

Two horses and wagon $2 00

One man and horse...". 1 00

Each head of cattle 50

If more than two in company 25

Each footman 25

Each hundred weight of merchandise 121


From which rates it will be seen that ferrying must have been a profitable
business forty years ago, if trade was at all brisk. About the same time, ferries
were licensed at the forks and mouth of the Maquoketa.

In July, 1838, the Board contracted with Heffley & Esgate to build a toll-
bridge across the mouth of Mill Creek for $525, subject to be purchased by the
county, at the pleasure of the Commissioners, for ten per cent on cost. Heffley
k Esgate were permitted to charge a moderate toll across this bridge.

In August, 1841, the Board borrowed $200 of Enoch Sells and William
Markespiles, and gave their note for the same, payable in one year, and bearing
40 per cent interest.

Previous to 1850, a bounty was paid by the Board of Commissioners of 50
cents for every wolf cub, and $1 for every wolf upward of six months old.
killed within the border of the county, and numerous records appear of bounty
drawn by the settlers in this way. Prairie wolves, timber wolves and large
gray wolves were of frequent occurrence.

January, 1844, we find a license granted by the Board of Commissioners to
one Isaac Neagus, permitting him to peddle clocks upon the soil of Jackson
County for the term of two months, for which he paid the sum of $3.

In April, 1844, we find one R. H. Hudson paying $25 for the privilege of
keeping a grocery for one year. An explanation of this tariff is partially made
by three petitions, which were presented a few months later, praying the Com-
missioners to raise the license upon groceries to $100 per year, while a fourth
petition asks an ordinance requiring all grocerymen to sell liquor at 10 cents
per glass, or H, mills per swallow. A grocery, therefore, in settlers' jargon,
meant a saloon in the back room, or " whisky on tap '" under the counter.

July, 1844, the Commissioners manifested their patriotism by naming the
streets of Andrew in honor of those whom our countrymen delight most to

The tax of 1846 was 9| mills for all purposes, and a poll tax of 50 cents
upon all electors under 50 years of age.

Iowa having become a State in 1846, we find, in April, 1847, the first
apportionment of her liberal grant of school funds upon the following basis:

Maquoketa Township, three districts 91 pupils.

South Fork Township, four districts 141 pupils.

Jackson Township, three districts 92 pupils.

Union Township, four districts 98 pupils.

Van Buren Township, two districts 121 pupils.

Butler Township, one district 104 pupils.

Richland Township, two districts 34 pupils.

Prairie Spring Township, one district 23 pupils.

Perry Township, three districts .124 pupils.

Bellevue Township, one district 83 pupils.

Total 911 pupils.

These figures as a basis will give the reader a fair idea of the relative settle-
ment of the various townships at this date, and approximately their population.


The first Probate Judge was J. K. Moss. The first session of his court of
which we have any record was held March 12, 1838, on which date it was
ordered by the court that Hipsy Young and William Sublett be appointed
guardians for Jonas Young, Harriet Young and Mary Young, minor children
of Lewis Young, deceased.


Lewis Young's estate, as appraised, was as follows, viz. :

1 Clay dredge $ 75

1 Hand-saw 1 18*

1 Lot smith tools 13 07

500 Rails 10 31 \

House logs 14 25

Total $30 57

Such was the first estate which came into the hands of the Probate Judge in
the early days of Jackson County.

The first Sheriff of Jackson County was William A. Warren, appointed by
Gov. Dodge, to organize the counties of Jackson, Jones and Linn, in 1838.

The first Justices of the Peace, were appointed by Gov. Dodge about the
same time, were Matthias Ringer and John Forbes, then living at Bellevue.

The first Clerk of the Court was John H. Rose, appointed in June, 1838, by
Judge Dunn, of AVisconsin Territory.


in the territory now included in Jackson County was James Armstrong, who
built, about three-fourths of a mile south of Bellevue, the first cabin in the
county in 1833. In 1834, William Jonas settled just north of the present town,
and, during the same year, Alexander Reed and William Dyas settled south of
this point. John D. Bell, for whom the town was named, did not arrive until


in Jackson County was preached by Rev. Simeon Clark, a Methodist minister,
in Brown's Saloon, in Bellevue. On Sunday morning, the loafers about the
saloon were busy playing cards and drinking whisky. The cards were laid aside,
by request, and the whisky bottles set back on the shelf, while Rev. Mr. Clark
preached his discourse. We did not learn whether the amusements were resumed
immediately after the benediction or not, but presume they were.

The first physician was Dr. M. M. Maughs, of Bellevue. The first res-
ident lawyer was Henry Hopkins, of Bellevue.

The first political speech was made by T. P. Burnett, in the summer of
1838, in Bellevue.

The first bridge built was one across Mill Creek at Bellevue, commenced in
July, 1838, by Heffley & Esgate, and completed by Capt. W. A. Warren. For
this, the County Commissioners were to pay $525, but. through some technical-
ity or misunderstanding in the contract, Capt. Warren, after expending nearly
that sum in its construction, received not one cent. It was operated for a little
time as a toll bridge and then opened to the public free.

The first Postmaster in the county was John D. Bell, at Bellevue. An office
was established at the town now called Sabula, about the same time.

The first blacksmith-shop was kept by Henderson Palmer, who was killed
in the Bellevue war.

The first grist-mill was probably that of one Kinkaid, built near Bellevue
in 1836. This mill contained a pair of mill-stones commonly known as " nig-
ger heads," taken from near Bridgeport. Mr. Joseph McCloy, at Maquoketa,
claims to have had the first grist-mill for making bolted flour. The same old
mill grinds yet.

The first saw-mill was built by John D. Bell, near Bellevue, in 1836.

It is claimed that Lute Steen was the first child born upon the soil of Jack-
son County, in the town of Sabula.



The first recorded deed on the Recorder's book of Jackson County, we give
below, because the parties afterward became prominent ; and this, too, will illus-
trate the value set on real estate at that very early day. It will be noticed that
Jackson County was at that time a part of the county of Dubuque, and of the
Territory of Wisconsin :

This Indenture, made on the twenty-third day of November, in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and thirty-six. between William B. Dodge, of Cook County, State of Illi-
nois of the first part, and William Hubble, of New York City, of the second part.

Witnesseth, That the said party of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of six
hundred dollars in hand paid by the party of the second part, receipt whereof is hereby acknowl-
edged, hath remised, released and quit-claimed, and by these presents doth remise, release and quit-
claim unto the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns, all the following described lot or
parcel of land lying and being in the county of Dubuque, Wisconsin Territory, being an undi-
vided one-sixteenth of that certain claim of one hundred and sixty acres, derived from George
Hankins, of Bellevue, situated immediately on the Mississippi River, and adjoining the original
plat of Belleview, interest in said claim being now held and possessed by William Hooper and
others, of Galena.

To have and to hold the same, together with all ami singular the appurtenances and privil-
eges thereunto belonging, or in any wise appertaining, and all the estate, right, title, interest and
claim whatsoever of the said party of the first part, either in law or equity, to the only proper
benefit and behoof of the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever.

In Witness Whereof, The said party of the first part hath hereunto set his hand and seal,
the year and day first above written. William B. Dodge.

Sealed and delivered in the presence of

William G. Hustin.

Cook County. / ss '

This day before me the undersigned, Edward E. Hunter, a Justice of the Peace in and for
said county, personally appeared William B. Dodge, to me personally known as the real person
who executed the annexed quit-claim deed of conveyance, and acknowledged that he executed
the same as his voluntary act and deed for the uses and purposes therein contained.

Given under my hand and seal this twenty-third day of November, A. D. 1886.

Edward E. Hunter, /. P.

This is not the first deed made which conveyed title to land in Jackson
County, there being deeds on record from John D. Bell to J. K. Moss, dated
May, 1836, but not recorded until 1839.


It may not be within the knowledge of many of this generation, that the
lands of Iowa Territory were occupied, and sometimes bought and sold, by the
first-comers, quite a number of years prior to their sale by the General Govern-
ment. The land sales for this portion of Iowa did not begin until 1845, when
the land office for that district, including Jackson County, was opened at
Dubuque. Previous to this time, all lands had been held and deeds made by
what was known among the settlers as club-law or claim-law, which was par-
tially sanctioned by the Legislature of 1839.

When a settler came out to these wild lands, he staked out his claim, and,
in the law of the "club" — a branch of which existed in every neighborhood —
that was his property so long as he occupied it. On that land he was allowed,
by the laws of Iowa, to maintain an action of forcible entry and detainer, for
trespass, etc. When the land should come into market, it was understood that
he could purchase the land without competition from his neighbors, at the
minimum Government price of $1.25 per acre. - Woe be to the adventurer,
speculator or capitalist, who would attempt to over-bid the settler whose


improvement had made the land valuable. We give herewith a copy of the
by-laws under which the pioneers administered the claim law :

Whereas, It has become a custom in the Western States, as soon as the Indian title to pub-
lic lands has been extinguished by the General Government, for the citizens of the United States
to settle on and improve said lands, and heretofore the improvement and claim of the settler to
the extent of three hundred and twenty acres has been respected by both the citizens and laws
of Iowa.

Resolved, That we will protect all citizens upon the public lands in the peaceable possession
of their claims, to the extent of three hundred and twenty acres, for two years after the land
sales, and longer if necessary.

Resolved, That if any person or persons shall enter the claim of any settler, that he or
they shall immediately deed it back again to said settler, and wait three years without interest.

Resolved, That if he refuse to comply with the above requisitions, he shall be subject to
such punishment as the settlers see fit to inflict.

Resolved, That we will remove any person or persons who may enter the claim of any set-
tler and settle upon it, peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must, even if their removal should
lead to bloodshed, being compelled to do so for our own common safety, that we may not be
driven by ruthless speculators from our firesides and homes.

Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to settle all difficulties that may arise.

Resolved, That any settler who may have signed these by-laws, and refuses to render ser-
vice when called upon by the proper officers and without reasonable excuse, shall be fined the
sum of ten dollars, to be divided among those that may have rendered the service necessary.

When the lands were offered for sale, the day on which a certain township
would be put up at auction was usually announced. The sales were made in
forty-acre lots, and it was a common custom for the settlers to appoint one or
two men out of a township who should act as "bidders," and so soon as a
"forty" was put on sale it was bid off at the minimum price, and the bystand-
ers were prepared to make it lively for any one who would bid more.

On one occasion in 1845, near Maquoketa, a transgression of these claim
rules led to quite serious consequences.

A piece of land had been claimed about one and a half miles northwest of
Maquoketa, by one Absalom Montgomery, who was, by the claim-laws, in just
possession of the land. Forty acres of this piece contained fine timber and
was purchased at the land office by Dr. Rhodes, who had moved to Maquo-
keta. Rhodes was waited upon by the settlers, and a tender was made to him
of the price of the land and all his expenses in going to the land office. This
he refused. The club hesitated to introduce harsh measures at once and did
not demand an immediate settlement.

Meantime, Montgomery informed Rhodes that it would be at the risk of
his life that he or anybody else went to that piece of timber for wood.
Rhodes' son-in-law. Brown, a hot-headed fellow, declared Montgomery was a
coward; that he was not afraid of him, etc., and a few days after proceeded to
the piece of timber for a load of wood.

Montgomery, discovering his presence, approached with a loaded rifle and
some words ensued, in the course of which Brown was quite aggravating in his
talk, informing Montgomery that the latter " had drank enough whisky to pay
for three such pieces of land," etc., when Montgomery leveled his rifle at
Brown, who was standing in the wagon, and shot him.

A short time afterward, the team was observed returning without a driver
to Maquoketa by Mrs. William Y. Earle, who stopped the team and found Brown
yet alive, in the bottom of the wagon. He was able to say that Montgomery
had shot him, and those were his last words.

Search was made for Montgomery, who was arrested at S. Burleson's the
same day, he having gone in that direction with the purpose of leaving for the
West. The officers had followed him and saw him stop at Burleson's. One of their
posse went down to the house, and in an unguarded moment Montgomery was


arrested, having, however, previously told Burdeson that he and Brown had
had a difficulty. Montgomery was brought to trial in Jackson County and
found guilty. He succeeded, however, in getting a new trial, and after a
change of venue to Delaware County, he was acquitted and at last accounts
was living somewhere in Indiana.

In the records of the District Court in October, 1845, we find a case
entered as follows :


vs. y Indictment for murder.

Etah-e-ha-yak and Ha-u-hah-hah. J

These Indians were brought into Jackson County from the central part of
the State, where they had been accused, and the case was immediately trans-
ferred by a change of venue to Dubuque County.


In some countries, the history of the capital is the history of the nation.
"Paris is France." So, with some counties, the matters of general interest
have seemed to center about the county seat.

Not so with Jackson. Its county offices have been itinerants from neces-
sity, and an effort to keep track of the seat of justice is about as difficult as to
keep the post-office address of a Methodist circuit rider.

When Linn, Jones and Jackson Counties were organized by the Territorial
Legislature of Wisconsin, Bellevue was made the county seat of all three coun-
ties. Here the first courts were held, and here was the place of meeting of the
County Commissioners for several years.

April 12, 1841, we find the following entry upon the County Commission-
ers' book :

Jesse Yount, Thomas S. Densou and Eli Goddard Commissioners appointed to re locate the
seat of justice of this county) appeared and took the oath prescribed by law. preparatory to
entering upon their duties.

April 15, 1841, these Commissioners made the following report:

The undersigned Commissioners, appointed to re-locate the county seat of Jackson County,
Territory of Iowa, in accordance with an act to amend an act entitled an act to re-locate said
county seat, have selected the southeast quarter of Section 22, Township 85 north, of Range 3
east of the Fifth Principal Meridian, and have named said county seat Andrew.

Thomas S. Denson,
Eli Goddard,
Jesse Yount,


It seems that it was necessary to have this choice ratified by a vote of the
citizens of Jackson County, and, in an election held on the last Monday of
May, 1841, Andrew had 208 votes, Bellevue 111 votes, and Center 1 vote,
there being a majority of 96 votes in favor of Andrew.

On the 5th of July, 1842, the town of Andrew was put up at auction and
sold to the highest bidder. In this way, it came into the possession of Ansel
Briggs and John Francis, upon the following terms : The public square to be
reserved, the Court House and Jail to be held by the Commissioners for twenty
years, according to a certain lien given by Briggs and Francis, to pay two cer-
tain notes then in the hands of the Commissioners, to assume certain other
obligations of the Commissioners' Court, and to pay John G. McDonald for his
services in surveying said town of Andrew.

June 4, 1847, a substantial stone jail was contracted for, to be built by one
Peter Mullen, whose mother has been elsewhere mentioned, as owning the only


house between Maquoketa and Dubuque in 1838. This jail was to be on the
northeast corner of the public square in Andrew, to be built 31 by 35 feet,
containing two good cells, each ten feet square, and also apartments for the
accommodation of the jailer. The contract figure was $1,450, to be paid by
certain county bonds, bearing 6 per cent interest, due in 1860 or sooner, at the
option of the county. This jail was finished in 1848.

Scarcely was it finished when the voice of the people changed the county
seat back to Bellevue. October, 1848, the records show the County Commis-
sioners in session at the latter place. The Court House at Andrew was rented
January 1, 1849, and the county officers ordered to remove their books, etc.,
to Bellevue on that date, the citizens of the latter place having previously given
bond to furnish suitable offices for the accommodation of the county officials.

The Sheriff was authorized to rent a suitable jail in Bellevue, to be leased
for a term of not less than five years.

An effort was made, in March, 1857, to remove the county seat to Center-
ville. A petition of 1,632 legal voters was presented to the County Judge,
requesting that the question be submitted to a vote of the people. This vote
was taken at the regular April election following, which left the county seat at

In the next September, a second petition was presented for a vote on the
question whether or not the seat of justice should be removed to Fulton. This
vote failed of its purpose in April, 1858.

A petition was next presented, in May, 1858, for a vote on the question of
removing again to Andrew. This vote was ordered to be taken in April,
1859, at the general election, in case there should be one. But the law as to
the time of elections was changed in the mean time, and the question was ruled
out of a vote.

During the year 1861, those who were in favor of Andrew as a county seat
secured the requisite number of names to a petition to secure a vote on the
matter. The citizens of Andrew proposed to furnish a Court House gratuitously
for the term of five years, and the measure was carried. This Court House at
Andrew, which cost some six thousand dollars, was, in 1866, sold to the Board
of Supervisors of Jackson County, for $2,000.

An effort was made, in 1868, to get the county seat back to Bellevue.
Defeated in the November election by a majority of 1,094.

The last removal of the county seat was in 1873, when it was changed to
Maquoketa. This was the occasion of a strong and bitter contest. The citizens
of Maquoketa believed that in order to secure a victory it would be necessary
to risk building a Court House in advance of the election. But the City Council
could not legally build a county building, so it was resolved to build a City Hall,
which might be leased to the county for a term of ninety-nine years.

Accordingly, June 12, 1873, there was passed an ordinance by the City
Council appropriating from the city treasury, in bonds of the city of Maquo-
keta, the sum of $8,000, for the purchase of a lot, and the erection thereon of
a City Hall.

On the 3d day of June had been presented to the Board of Supervisors, of
Jackson County, a petition of John E. Goodenow and 2,692 other petitioners for
the relocation of the county seat. The census of 1873 had shown 4,625
voters in the county, and this petition containing a majority of names of the
legal voters of the county, an election was ordered at the general election in
October following, and due notices ordered to be given by publication in the
newspapers and the posting of bills by Constables in different townships.


Meantime the work of building the Court House in Maquoketa was pushed
forward with marvelous rapidity. In just ninety days from the day of break-
ing ground the roof and cornice were on this new, elegant and substantial build-
ing, and photographs of the same were scattered over the county for the pur-
pose of influencing voters. A cut of the new building appeared in the Sentinel
of September 25. This was thought by many in the northern part of the
county to be a " canard." It was claimed by the enemies of Maquoketa to be
the picture of some other building, and scores of people came from distant parts
of the county to verify the reports they had heard about the new Court House.

The following is a brief description of the building : The basement walls are
two feet thick, ten feet in the clear, and built of dressed stone. This basement
lias been fitted up as a temporary county jail and city calaboose. The walls of
the first story are sixteen inches, and the height fourteen feet. This is set
apart for county offices, and affords large and comfortable headquarters for the
county officials. The second-story walls are same thickness as the first, but
twenty feet in height, forming an excellent court room, 40x65 feet. The entire
building is 45x81 feet, forty-seven feet from the ground to the eaves, and cost
the city of Maquoketa upward of $14,000.

At the meeting of the Maquoketa City Council August 25, 1873, the fol-
lowing petition of 439 citizens was presented :

To the Honorable, the Council of the City of Maquoketa :

The undersigned citizens and voters residing in the city of Maquoketa would respectfully
request your honorahle body to lease to Jackson County, State of Iowa, such portion of the new
t'ity Hall, when completed, as may be needed by said county for County Court and other public
purposes of the like character: said lease to be conditioned upon the removal of the county seat
lo Maquoketa in 1873, and to continue ninety-nine years, or so long as Maquoketa shall remain
such county seat.

On motion, the prayer of the petitioners was granted unanimously.

The lease for the consideration of one dollar, and the further consideration
that the county of Jackson occupy this building as a court room, and for county
offices ; grants to said county this building and grounds for the term of ninety-
nine years, the city reserving the exclusive right to occupy the eastern half of
the basement rooms, and also to use the upper story when the same is unoccu-
pied, for court or county purposes, "Provided, that when Jackson County shall
fail to occupy and use said premises as its county offices and Court House, then
this shall terminate."

Then was presented to the Council a guarantee signed by D. M. Hubbell,

Online Librarypub Western Historical Co.The history of Jackson County, Iowa, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., biographical sketches of citizens, war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion ... history of th → online text (page 38 of 101)