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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Indian Troubles!

We have talked a lot about a lot of things. Some of which are dry, statistics, however, they were important to note of the early settlers.
Today we are going to talk about Indian Troubles, of which one of my ancestors had some interaction years and years ago.
Remember again, please that the words I type are the words that I am reading from this old old encyclopedia.
By a treaty made between the United States and the Sioux Indians, July 15, 1815, almost three-quarters of a century ago, this tribe was duly considered at peace with the whites.  Their treat made at Portage des Sioux of Minnesota and Upper Iowa, by William Clark and Ninan Edwards, Indian Commissioners, was merely a treaty of peace and friendship on the part of these Indians toward the United States Government at the termination of the War of 1812.
We now come to speak of the Great Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857, which, even after thirty years, sends a thrill of terror through one's veins. Its history is too well known and recorded in various Iowa historical works to be enlarged upon here, only so far as the causes which, indirectly, lead to it and to causes which, indirectly lead to it and to immediate effect it had upon the settlement of Cherokee County.  After carefully studying these causes, it must be said that the imprudence and bad faith of our white race brought on that series of depredations and inhuman outrages which finally culminated in the Spirit Lake trouble, causing data for one of the bloodies chapter in the history of Indian ferocity. If the whites at no other time broke faith with the treat made to the Indians in July, 1815 in this one instance they did. Not as a government, by any means, but personally was this too true.  While there is more of poetry and romance regarding the truly noble and honorable conduct of Lo! the poor Indian that of real truth, yet it must be admitted that even a civilized, Christian people have from time to time acted in bad faith and virtually forfeited all protection and right under their various treaties of peace.
Sometime during the month of February, 1857, a hunting party of Sioux Indians passed down the Little Sioux River.  They made a short but quite friendly stop at the Cherokee settlement and then proceeded to Smithland, in Woodbury County.  Here the whites demanded of the Indians where they were journeying and insisted on knowing something concerning their business before allowing them to go by.  The Sioux replied that they were going down to shake hands with the Omahas; at this the whites made the Indians give up their guns---which is to the savage what virtue is to a woman--the last thing she will compromise.  Their surrendering arms enrages the Indian band, who turned upstream breathing vengeance upon the whites. White men stole their guns and now white men must make restitution, which would only be satisfied in the sacrifice of human blood.
Consequently they entered every cabin home, insulting the helpless inmates and taking what guns they possessed.  Arriving at Cherokee, furious with passion for the wrongs they had sustained, they acted in a brutal manner. What arms they had picked up before arriving at this point were directed against the settlers to frighten them into giving up more and also to suffer and indignity that an uncivilized race might conceive of. Cattle were stolen and scanty provisions seized and devoured by them, standing the while with cocked guns to enforce any command.  They remained feasting for three days, seeming to debate whether to murder the whole settlement or not.  These were the longest days and nights ever experience by the "colony".
The experiences of these poor people are hard to imagine. Comparing those to the folks in the Middle East is the only way I can imagine it.
Next time we will continue on with more Indian and settler problems. (Problems) sound like such a weak word doesn't it?


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Education Part 4

This chapter is about the education that my mother and grandmother took part in at one point; The Normal Institute.

By an act passed by the General Assembly of the State of Iowa in 1873, the county superintendents were required to commence and each year hold a teachers' institute at some convenient point in each county, for the drill of those who were teachers or who intended to teach.

The design was to furnish teachers an opportunity to review and enlarge their knowledge of the branches to be taught, to acquaint themselves with improved methods of instruction, etc; also to awaken an increased desire for self-improvement in knowledge and skill and power to control others, and to give them more confidence and ability in managing the affairs of the public schools.  For the purpose of defraying the expenses incident to such gatherings, the institute fund was created, to which the State pays $50 a year, the balance being made up by the $100 examination fees paid to the superintendent. While there is no law compelling teachers to attend these Normal Institutes, yet each applicant for  teacher's certificate is required to give good and sufficient reason for not being in attendance.
These Normals have always been well attended and admirably conducted by superior instructors.  It is owing to this fact, with others, that the grade of teachers in this county is what we find it today-high in point of excellence. The teachers go forth from their training school, and profiting by what they have learned from the experience of others, they are better fitted to do good service in their own school room.
In conclusion, it may be added that the schools of our country have wonderfully improved since our fathers and mothers were school children. While the old log cabin school room with its puncheon floor and rough slabs for seats, and the back log brightly burning in the fireplace, afforded much for the pen of the poet, we are only too glad to be educated in a milder manner.  The easy school desks and seats, the light, warm and airy school house of today, are a decided improvement.  The poet may sing of the vine and the brook, and our fathers may tell of the fearful flogging they had in the eastern and middle states; of the teacher "boarding around," and schools paid for by subscription, but give us the modern Iowa public school system, wherein boys and girls are managed by intellect and not by brute force, and where all may be educated by a public fund.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Education Part 3

The county was provided with 132 frame and two brick school buildings 134, which valued at $92,555, Apparatus, $3,961/
Indeed this a true record, which any county in the Union of forty-two states cannot excel and of which any may well be proud  "A school house on every hill top and no saloon within the valleys!"
Great has been the change and material improvement in education facilities in Iowa since Cherokee County was first settled.  And it is a pleasing fact to record, that the lady teachers are ardent, successful competitors in the race as instructors.  Women's vallue was seen impressed on the mind of our General Assemblies years ago, and finally culminated in that enactment which grants woman the next right to that of casting a ballot- namely, the right to be ballotted for. 
In Iowa now. a lady can hold the important offices of recorder of deeds, school superintendent, school director, etc.  In justice to her sex it should be said that the books of record, reports, etc. of the ladies who have been elected to such offices, have been especially well kept.  Iowa has been generous in enacting laws for the advancement of women, and now woman is doing her part nobly toward purifying politics.  It will be observed by a glance at the report given above that all of the teachers in the hundred and thirty schools in Cherokee County are women, except sixty seven.
Two hundred and one ladies teaching in the public schools of this county!
Again, no finer set of county records can be found in all Iowa than those now being kept by Miss Eva L. Gregg, the efficient lady superintendent of schools in Cherokee County, whose efforts are advancing the educational matters of the county to a high degree.
My mother and grandmother were both teachers for a short time before they married in Cherokee.  In those days, my mother told me that ladies were supposed to be teachers, married or bookkeepers, NEVER a nurse that which my mother wanted to be. My mother did go to school when she was in her fifties to become a nurse.
I thought I would insert a photo of Helen Keller, age 8 and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. I think that Helen's teacher signifies the importance of all teachers. In my blog a few years ago I wrote about favorite teachers. Mine was Miss Fransisco. She always had a smile and above all patience with a little girl that just could not "get" long division. Helen Keller was so disabled that without Anne I am sure, she would have withered away into herself.
Next time we will talk about Normal Schools for those that were for teachers or for those that wanted to teach.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Educational Part 2

It is conceded by all thinking minds that the safety and perpetuity of our highly prized republican institutions depend upon the diffusion of intelligence among the masses of the people--for we are a self-governed people. The statistics from prisons and almshouses throughout our American domain furnish the most abundant proof that education is the best and cheapest care for crime and pauperism.  Again, education is the great equalizer of human rights and conditions. It places the poor and the rich on a more even footing, both social and legally.  It subjects the evil passions and morbid appetites of the rich to the restraint of sense and reason, and thus prepares the two classes for positions of usefulness and honor. Every consideration, therefore, impels us to sustain and improve our common-school system to the highest possible degree of efficiency.
Not unlike their Puritan ancestors, the little band known as the Milford Colony, together with the Ohio Colony, who effected the first settlement in Cherokee 
County, forgot not the benefits of the public schools, but at once established the same here in Iowa.
They came to the State when every act of the Legislature, for a series of years, tended to foster and encourage the public schools.
The Twelfth section of the act of Congress, establishing the Territory of Iowa shall enjoy all the rights and privileges hitherto granted to the domain of Wisconsin , from which it was taken."
This then brings us within the rights given by the third article of the ordinance granted by Congress July 13 1787--"That religious, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind,schools and all the means of education shall be forever encouraged." 
The people of Cherokee County have ever been in accord with these broad and liberal views concerning educational matters.
The "book" gives pages of reports of voting by township for the record by the School Superintendent Miss Eval L. Gregg's Annual Report made in October 31, 1888.
Next time we will visit about the males and females attending and what the school houses materials were made of.


Friday, February 27, 2015


This next post to me, is hysterical.  I am going to stereotype for a minute, but in my mind's eye I see a sweet tiny lady with a bun on the top of her head, a pencil behind her ear, a high neck long sleeve blouse and a long dress. I can almost smell the ink in the presses and see the old wooden floors.
Ok, from now on, I am going to show quotes from the book exactly how the author says them. You, I am sure, will love this. Now remember, this is an encyclopedia.
"As well informed as scholars are in this the noon-day of the nineteenth century, none are well enough versed in ancient day history to trace out the first school system (if such it may have been styled), that at the very dawn of civilization and human intelligence undertook to instruct the young. It appears like some fixed star, which has been for ages lost in the far-away sky of mythology and is today obscure in the shadows of the dim and misty past.  We Know something of the history of the schools of old Babylon, at least 3,000 years before the advent of the Christian era---schools of medicine-schools of science--even in the Chinese Empire.  We have a fair idea of the schools in Egypt in Moses' time, and the schools and lyceums of Greece, back to the siege of Troy.  However, but comparatively little is now known of the mode of teaching in those earlier days, and not until the fifteenth century does it appear there was much in the way of intelligent effort toward the instruction of the masses.The history of education has been a varied one.  The Puritans had no sooner landed and established themselves on the wave-washed and stormy coast of a wild New England shore than they planted the precious seeds, the germ of which is the vital part of our great free public school system.  These seeds  were sown deep, and  roots were far-reaching and sufficiently strong to enable them to endure the storms and trials of two and a half centuries, yet unshaken, not disturbed or interrupted in its onward course, or in the least caused to lesson its grip on the free and native soil.
This system, with such modifications as time and surroundings dictated, was brought from that far-away shore the land of our forefathers, where they turned their faces toward the setting sun; and some of these precious seeds, thus sown, have found lodge-ment in the great State of Iowa, which today ranks first in point of education among the galaxy of forty-two brilliant State-stars, now comprising our Union!"
For now I will quit quoting the "book".  The author goes on some more about the prized subject of Education. We will continue next time about that and our Cherokee County education.
Just a thought about how the internet would write about the education of Cherokee County and it's origin. 

Monday, February 23, 2015


Good morning!  It is so good to be back. On my second cup of coffee, all propped up on my chair, ready to go.  Today's topic is fun. Especially the way the "book"  phrases everything.
The political history of a country is always one of general interest, and especially is this true in a free land, where in the eyes of the law all are upon an equality, where it has been show that even the humblest  the rail splitter or the tow path boy can attain the highest honor within the gift of the American people. We delight to see merit rewarded;  we are pleased with the onward progress of one from the  walks of life, as step by step he mounts the ladder of fame. Every citizen has a kind of political ambition, and while he may never reach the highest pinnacle, there is a possibility that his children may.
There is an excitement about a political campaign which nearly every American citizen rather enjoys, and although personalities are often indulged in, as a general thing all yield gracefully to the verdict of the people, a majority vote, and submit themselves to the "powers that be".
The political history of Cherokee County is more fully and much more authentically shown in giving the abstract of votes for the various years than in any other manner.  The county has been Republican by large majorities ever since its organization; yet at times Democrats and Independent nominees have been elected by virtue of their own popularity, or at times by cross-fights between regular candidates in the county conventions.
It should here be recorded that with but few exceptions the Government affairs of Cherokee County have been well  taken care of. The bleak, wild prairies of   1856, when the Government survey was completed, have been developed; the angry and deceiving streams, which so greatly harassed the early settlers, have been bridged at numerous points; over 100 school buildings adorn the landscape and value to the county; over 2000 acres of artificial timber have been planted and cultivated; railroads have crossed and re-crossed the territory.  The prairie wilderness has been dotted with enterprising towns and cities, until today, standing thirty three years distant from the landing of the pioneer colony, we look out upon a fruitful, valuable landscape of agriculture, and observe the coming and going of upward of 16,000 prosperous and contented people.
There were many pages of votes cast for each township and I will not write those down, however, I will add something interesting here. There was a special election held June 27, 1882 the question as to whether the following should become an amendment to the 
State constitution of Iowa.:
No person shall manufacture for sale, or sell, or keep for sale, as a beverage, any intoxicating liquor whatsoever, including ale, wine and beer.
I can't help but think of all the old western movies and Victorian novels I have read where, wine, beer, and port were an everyday thing. I checked the votes and Cherokee Township was overwhelmingly positive no liquor!
Next time we will talk about educational things and issues for Cherokee County.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Church Property 1885

According to the record made in the State census of 1885, Cherokee County had the following religious denominations:  The same also gives value of church property (church buildings) and the seating capacity of each building belonging to the same:
Baptist, church property $2500 seating capacity 200.
Adventists church property $4000 seating capacity 200.
Christians, church property, $2500 seating capacity, 200.
Congregationalists, church property, $8,800 seating capacity 750.
Episcopal, church property, $2000 seating capacity, 175.
Methodist, church property, $18,980, seating capacity, 1520.
Presbyterian, church property, $7,000 seating capacity 350.
Roman Catholic church property, $13,800 seating capacity, 650.
Total church edifice property, $50,750.  Total seating capacity, 4,225. I realize that these numbers are for the whole county, but they are amazing to me. It just shows how important that religion was to these folks.
"Going to Church" not only provided spiritual solace, but a place to socialize with their neighbors, and for the children to picnic and play games after services. Many parents did not take no for an answer or "I'm too tired." 
The ministers were poorly paid, so the parish invited them to meals, carried meals to them as well as things from their gardens etc.
My grandmother's family Bible holds records for generations of deaths, baptisms, marriages, etc. It is huge and the pages are fragile. Hopefully, someone in my family will want to care for it. It is especially beautiful at Christmas time, because it has colorful pictures in it.
The next chapter in the book is boring to me. It tells about plats of land that are defunct and made active etc. 
So the subject that we will think about are the politics of the county. Fun chapter.
See you next time!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Marriage Records

In the early history of Cherokee County, marriages were not performed in the grand style that characterizes our present age.
Then there were no tinted wedding cards, with the formal invitation printed in letters of gold; no royally dressed bride and bridegroom made their appearance before the hymeneal altar in the austere presence of priest or clergyman. Most of the earliest marriages were solemninized before a justice of the peace, whose hearth stone was sheltered by the logs of a rough, though usually cozy cabin. Here were found genuine  love and hospitality.  And who dare say the hearts thus united in these rude, uncouth cabin homes were not as closely and lastingly united as those of our modern pomp and show who celebrate the occasion in expensive mansions and have free access to the most costly of bridal chambers.
The newly married pair in those pioneer day here in Cherokee County went to 'keeping house" in a log cabin and  awaited the future tide of their good fortune to provide for them a more spacious and comfortable place of abode.  Their parents were plain and perchance had been united in  a similar humble home in some one of the Eastern or Middle States, and very naturally their children imbibed the same attributes which had so graciously gifted their fathers and mothers.
They were then willing to begin life at the bottom, in a manner in keeping with their financial surroundings.
The first marriage in Cherokee County was that of the first settler, Carlton Corbett, to Miss Rosabella Cummings, November 20th 1859.  The ceremony was performed by His Honor G.W.F. Sherwin then county judge.
Marriages were not of frequent occurrence in this thinly settle country, as it has been found by consulting the records that no others were united in marriage until March, 1866 after the boys came home from the Civil War, when William Mead and H.E. Twifford were married.  The next marriages were those uniting James H. McKinley and Lovina Fisher; Jasper Scurlock and Angeline Huntly; Newton  Scurlock and Anice Huntly; Abner B. Stimson and Annie Eliza Jackson; Jerub Palmer and Eliza Terwilager.
Next time we will talk about Religious denominations and properties thereof.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

To Move or Not to Move The House of Justice

I just want to remind you that the words that I print for the most part come from the encyclopedia that was published in the 1800's.  The terminology is theirs not mine.
Cherokee County is remarkable in this one particular  that the county seat, which was located by the legal commissioners in 1857, at Old Cherokee, has never been removed, only the short distance to the railroad town.  The same location and  the same location and the same building originally erected in  1863, still serve the county.
There never have been but two attempts (proper) to relocate the seat of justice; one of those attempts was in June 1879, when the eastern portion of the county tried to remove it to the little village of Aurelia, which of course was foolish,  which that town is in the extreme eastern portion of the county.  However, the number of signatures to the remonstrance outnumbered the petition, hence the contest ended, without even an official mention on the  county records.  The petition and counterbalancing remonstrance, however, are still on file in the auditor's office.
The second attempt to relocate the county seat was in 1885.  This time the measure came quite near carrying.  The people of the entire west part of the county were arrayed against those of the eastern portion, and the proposition was to move to the village of Meriden, which in fact is about a mile nearer the exact geographical center of Cherokee County than the present court house site.  The contest was a spirited one, however, mostly on paper!  Petitions and remonstrances were the weapons used to settle the question as to whether the measure should be submitted to a vote of the people or not.  The census of 1885 (State)
had just been taken  the advance sheets were out but the work proper had not yet been published by authority of the State.  This fact virtually settled the matter as the majority of names were found on the remonstrances.  The old frame courthouse was, at the day it was erected, good enough, but it hardly does justice to the now rich county. Neither does it do justice to the county officials and the modern mode of caring for public records.  Not one of the county offices is large enough for business to be properly transacted, and the courthouse hall excluded about all at court time but the member of the bar, witnesses and court officials.
The officials say that the only thing Cherokee County needs, tp ,ale her fully up to the times we live in, is a good court house.  The present dilapidated concern does not do justice to the intelligence and wealth the courthouse possesses.  
See you next time!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Who's Going to Write the News?

This morning as I am drinking my second cup of coffee, I am scanning the "book" to see what the people of Cherokee County are going to do next. 
It looks like the newspaper men are having another "tussel" over county printing   The Times, Democrat and Register all taking a hand in the contest, which was settled in favor of The Times and Democrat.  I think this is so interesting because my father worked at the Times for many years doing special things like invitations and many other things that people ordered. I have a picture of my dad at the Times reading on his lunch break.  I can remember when I was a Freshman I had forgotten to do a homework assignment. We were supposed to gather weather forecasts from the newspaper. Of course, I said, " Daddy, what am I going to do?" He was so calm and easy going he said,  " I will bring you home some paper you can use for the cover."  The cover was gray and pebbly. I cut it into a shape like a cloud.  I will never forget the note on my booklet when I got it back.  It said, " What this report lacks in content is made much better by your imagination."  My dad smiled when I showed it to him and I said a silent WHEW !!!!!
See you next time. We once again talk about taxes and a new courthouse.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Poor Farm and Deportation of German Family

At the general election, held November 3, 1885, the people voted on the question of improving a poor farm. I am going to insert some of my grandmother's statements here. My grandparents were always comfortable financially, however, my grandmother, especially was fearful of overspending and "landing" in the poor farm.  I don't know if that was her personal feeling or parroting of my grandfather.  The election was voted on not to exceed the cost of $10,000.
They had an election to buy land on the  northeast quarter of section 8, township 92 to 40 was purchased for $30 an acre, the same being agreed to be a unanimous vote of the members of the board. They erected several buildings that were suitable? on the newly purchased Poor Far, for the sum of $4,250.  The question mark I inserted was what were the buildings, dormitories, kitchens, stables etc.
It was this year, 1885, that the Board of Supervisors gave Germany to understand that paupers from that Empire could not be supported at the expense of our country. A North German woman who had come to our shores with a husband and two children had been bereft of her companion soon after coming here; and it was found that the family were without means, so Cherokee County provided for their immediate needs, while Judge Wakefield, then district judge, was consulted concerning the question. He finally decided to order the county to return the woman and her children to their native land, which was promptly executed.

Next time we will find out the "tussle" of vying of who should get to be the "printing" of the news.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Purchases of Safes, and Tools

The publishers of a small 1000 pamphlet about Cherokee County was paid $100.00, however the book that "you  now have in your hand" was not appropriated any money for this work.
There are many little remarks that are not interesting in the next few paragraphs.
In 1873, when two fire proof safes were ordered for county use, of the Hall Safe and Lock
Company. Price paid, $1000. Another safe (for the treasury) was ordered in that same month from the above firm, which cost the county, laid down, $1500.  These three safes were insured for $2000 against loss. Up to this date Cherokee County had never had a safe place of deposit for her records and money.  The vault was completed during that year.

At a meeting of the board, January 1877, $300 was appropriated from the general county fund, to aid in procuring suitable tools and implements for which to prospect coal, the sum of $1000 for fifty tons of coal, mined within the county from a vein not less than three feet thick. It must go into history, however, that the coal was never discovered, hence no money paid!  During this year was the purchasing of Fairbanks & Co. proper standard weights and measures for the use of the scales of weights and measurers, a county office created about that time by the General Assembly.
At this time the purchase of tobacco for prisoners use was discontinued.
Next time, new taxes, new buildings, more bridges and another courthouse and jail.
See you soon.
                          Lu Anne

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Money Starts Coming to the County

September of 1867 was the birthday of newly created townships, one called Willow, and another called Spring.  The office of sheriff went begging this year; Mr. Stiles resigned and G.E. Fisher was appointed, but refused to serve, whereupon Luther Phipps was tendered the office, held it four months and resigned, when S. Miller took it for the remainder of the term.
In 1868 nothing of importance happened to cause recording except at the fall election, which eighty votes were polled.
In 1869 three new townships were formed by a subdivision of others.  The offices of sheriff, recorder and school superintendent became vacant by resignation, and were supplied by appointment.
The year 1870 marked a new era in Cherokee County matters.  It was that year in which the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railway was extended and completed through the County.
More money was appropriated for public improvements than any previous year in the settlement of the county.  The bridge at Old Cherokee was repaired at a cost of $2900; Mill Creek was bridged at an expense of $5,000 and 6 bridges spanning the Maple River were constructed at a cost of $2240.  Five more townships were formed; Silver, Tilden, Sheriden, Amherst and Liberty. Three hundred and sixty one votes were polled at the annual election, and other indexes of rapid growth were to be seen on every hand.
I can remember in fifth grade we had to draw a huge map of Iowa and all of the townships, rivers, and towns. It was very traumatic because I was afraid something was going to happen to my masterpiece on the way to school.
In April, 1871 the supervisors ordered a jail built.  It was made of 2x8 plank; was 14x14 and seven foot tall in the clear. Nathan Bell built it.
Next time is about a small publication for the county.

See you soon!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Flooding of 1867

On January 12, 1864, the board consisted of Albert Phipps and Thomas Scurlock who as a Board of Supervisors, deemed it wise and prudent to dispose of the swamp land then owned by Cherokee County.  It was submitted to be voted on the board.  The vote being unanimously in favor of selling the same to Carlton Corbett. It was submitted to the people, at a special election in February, and was then ratified by the taxpayers. The amount received for these lands was $2000, which was soon paid out to T.B. Twifrord for the construction of a bridge. The bridge was across the Little Sioux River, on road No. 7 near Rogers' Mills.  It was completed in the fall of 1866, and in the high water of the spring of 1867 it was all washed away.  Thus, unfortunately, the county's swamp land, which many Iowa counties save for advanced prices, and finally built fine courthouses with, was washed down stream in the angry spring floods of the uncertain Little Sioux.
In this same chapter, the content went from flooding to the salaries to the soldiers, back to flooding. Therefore, I shall follow the reporter's wording.
At the September session of the supervisors in  1864 it was resolved that there shall be paid to each man who has already enlisted or who shall enlist as a soldier in the Union Army for three years, the sum of $75.  And also that the sum of $20 be paid for all hundred day men. It would be interesting to know about the "one hundred day men" and their duties, and where they were sent.
During the year of 1865 the principal historic action of the supervisors was the dividing of the county then all in one township, into two, Cherokee and Pilot.  In March of that year the board ordered the county treasurer to dispose of all gold coin on hand.  The amount was $140.00 which brought the county $245, or a premium of $105.
At the March session of 1866 a contract was let to Jared Palmer to bridge the Little Sioux at the Cherokee Centre.  The contract price was $1140.
In my opinion,(which I know I am not supposed to have one,) I have no idea where these folks kept coming up with the money to building these bridges.
The next thing we will be following is the rental of the Courthouse to be rented for a winter school.

Ok, see you soon. Hope you enjoy the life of the pioneers as we know them to be in Cherokee.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Board of Supervisors

During the winter of 1859-60 an act was passed by the General Assembly, which was approved by the Governor of Iowa, changing the Board of Supervisors of the county.  This board took charge and had the power formerly vested in the county Court system except the issuance of marriage licenses, probate matters and civil cases at law.  The County Court still held its session and continued to do so until 1869 when it was abolished by law; but little of interest transpired, as the time was all spent in routine business.
The Board of Supervisor consisted under the law of one member from each civil township in the county,  As this county only had one township, the "board"  consisted of one member  Albert Phipps; however, there was no great amount of business  amd
It may here be stated that on January 1, 1861, the county treasurer had $557 on hand. The year 1862 but little business was transacted by the supervisors.  At the fall election only sixteen votes were cast.  There were two supervisor elected, the regular one and one "at large" the board the following year, 1863, being composed of O.S. Wight and J.A.  Brown.  January, 1863 they made a contract with one Jacob H. Cornell to erect the courthouse for $1900 to be erected November of that year.
The vote cast at the fall election of 1863 was only seven  the smallest ever had in the county at a general election. A good share of the male adults at that time were serving their country as soldiers, either at the South fighting the "Rebs" or taking care of the savage Indians in the western border States. At this time O.S. Wight was the legal incumbent of only four different offices, but be it said to his honor he bore the positions of trust and meekness, and all old settlers say, "He made a good officer."
Next time we will talk about the swamp lands and the flooding of the Little Sioux River. Reading ahead, I also see payment to the soldiers who had joined the army or who were preparing to enlist.
See you next time!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Then There Was A Bridge

This story reminds me of when I was a child and got my first library card, the kind librarian told my mother that she thought that I would  enjoy the Laura Ingalls Wilder Books. She wrote her stories so that I thought I was right with her in the Big Woods and all the other stories.  It is with that in mind that I think of our ancestors making their own laws, their own taxes, and thinking for the future generations.
This chapter is about the first bridge---the first in Cherokee County. In May 1859          the people voted at the house of Silas Parkurst upon the question of levying  a seven mill tax to construct a bridge across the Little Sioux River. The vote stood 14 for and one against. 
It was built by R.M. Blain, at the contract price of $1,600, and was completed in  November of that year.  It spanned the river at or near what pioneers knew as the Old Ford, and now within the limits of Old Cherokee.  There being no saw mill in reasonable distance, the plank and stringers for the structure were worked out by a whipsaw by the workmen. Here are a couple of images of they used to saw the planks by whipsaws. 

To accommodate the traveling public, while this bridge was being constructed, a ferry franchise was granted to Albert Phipps for a term of three years.  In this license it was stipulated that he should not exceed the following charges: Span of horses and wagon, 50 cents; extra teams, 10 cents; man and horse, 20 cents; foot passenger, 10 cents; cattle per head, 3 cents. Date of license, May 30, 1859.
The next chapter deals with the change of government for both County and local government dealt with by the Iowa Governor with the approval of the General Assembly.

See you next time!

Thursday, January 29, 2015


When Cherokee County was organized, in 1857, the local government was, vested in what was termed the County Court, which consisted of county judge, a clerk and a sheriff.  The county judge had supreme and sole jurisdiction in all matters which could not properly be brought before the District Court, and which today is vested in the Board of Supervisors, and was, therefore, to a great degree, supreme ruler of his twenty four mile square domain!  His office was the most important one in the gift of the people of the county.
The official history of this county is quite clear, except for the first year or two, which exception was caused by not having suitable books to record the official action in, and they were of necessity kept on sheets of paper, some of which were lost before they had been properly transcribed into regular record books. But suffice to say, nothing of any considerable importance was thus lost or destroyed.
On the first of November, 1858 G.W.F. Sherwin, County Judge ordered suitable books of record wherein were properly recorded each official act, and from which the data for this chapter have been mostly complied.  At the general election of 1858, the following officers were elected:G.W. F. Sherwin, County Judge; B.W. Sawtel, District Clerk; G.W. Banister, Sheriff; G.Coonley School Superintendent.
At this election there were 19 votes cast. I am going to paraphrase the next few paragraphs. There were people that were elected, resigned etc. 
One of the interesting things that happened was that on the 6th of December, Mr. Betts was appointed swamp land agent, and a contract was made with him to select and plat the swamp lands for two cents per acre. In accordance with this contract Mr. Betts selected and platted 26,400 acres as swamp land, receiving therefore the sum of $528. The general land office at Washington,D.C, however cut down this claim and only patented 2780 acres from the large amount selected by Mr. Betts.
I would have liked to have known if he was upset and if he had to give that money back, probably, to both questions.
The next we will talk about the first bridge in Cherokee County.
See you next time!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015


The construction of the railroad to Cherokee County in 1870 marked a new era and necessitated numerous changes, as all business gravitates toward the pathway of the iron steed!  At the general election, held in October, 1871, the proposition was made of removing the courthouse and relocating the county seat in NEW Cherokee, platted, by the reason of the railroad, at a point something more than a mile southwest of the original plat.  The vote stood 291 majority for the removal and relocation at the new town, on the line of the Dubuque & Sioux City Railroad.  From a vote 366 there were but seventy six votes against the proposed removal.  But who ever saw the number of men think alike on any question---especially where their financial interests were at stake!

The following January 1872 a committee was selected by the Board of Supervisors to move and repair the courthouse.  In April, 1871, the jail had been built on lots purchased in the new town, and the courthouse was to be removed to the same location and at the point at where it now stands This encyclopedia was published in 1889.
The committee just mentioned consisted of D.J. Hays, James Henderson, and Carlton Corbett.  There has never been a county seat contest of the animated kind that most Iowa counties have had, hence less bad blood.
The book that I am getting this from is one of 4 books that has been handed down in my family for 3 generations. I would love to hear the story about the cost of the set, who had it first, etc.
If any of you have ancestors that helped settle the town let me know because this also has a bibliography section of those men
The rest of this chapter tell about the organization of the county up to 1865 all divided in to different townships:  Amherst, Afton, Cedar, Diamond, Grand Meadow,  Liberty, Marcus, Pitcher, Rock( because of Pilot Rock), Sheridan, Silver, Spring, Tilden, and Willow.
The next section tells of how the local government was organized, which is quite interesting, see you next time!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Good morning,we are going to start today with the organization of Cherokee county. I think it was quite complex and perhaps a bit mundane for some of you. What I will say is that they levied taxes for schools 2 mills, for roads etc. The number of acres of land then entered was 46,178 valued at $92,356.  In the town (old Cherokee plat there were 371 valued at $3,710. The personal property was assessed at $1,754.  The total value of all property was $97,820 from which a total tax of $1,222 was raised.
Among those who cast a vote at this first election in Cherokee County we George W. Banister (my great grandfather) Carlton Corbett, George Lebourven, S.Parkhurst, Robert Hammond, Benjamin Holbrook, A.P.Sawtell, John Moore, J.T. Lane, Martin Burns, I.N.W.Mahaffy, Martin Allison and Jacob Miller.  The remainder are not omitted because of intention, but because the few men left at this date to tell the story cannot recall their names.  There were possible two or three more.

Soon after the organization of the county there were three men appointed by the court as commissioners to locate a county seat for the new county. One was selected from Sac City, one from Woodbury County and G.W. F. Sherwin, of Cherokee.  This commision decided to establish the seat of justice at what was then the platted village of Cherokee, located on sections 22 and 23 of township 92, range 40, known now as the plat of Old Cherokee.
At the general election held in October, 1861, the proposition of levying a six mill courthouse tax was submitted to the voters of the county, and the result was : for courthouse tax, 7 votes, against courthouse tax 3 votes.  So by majority of four votes the said tax was levied upon the property of Cherokee County.
It was found in the county records that the board of Supervisors , the contract was then let to Jacob H. Cornell, to erect a courthouse as contemplated by the above six mill levy.  The building was to be thirty feet square, two stories high, the contract price being fixed at $1,900. O.S.Wight was the chairman of the Board of Supervisors at the time the the contract was let.  This did not include the foundation.  It is found by the same record (Minute Book "A") that this contract was let to Robert Perry, for $150.00.  The same was to be set in a trench two feet deep and two feet wide, filled with loose stone, upon which was erected a two foot stone wall pointed "in workmanlike manner"
Thus it was that the seat of justice of Cherokee County was first established.  In the autumn of 1864 the plastering was finished and part of the building ready for occupancy by the county officials,who had for several years held their respective offices within their own private building, which was anything but pleasant to both officers and their constituents.
 The next thing the History book tells us is the construction of the railroad to Cherokee County. I will talk about that next time. Let me know if you like this kind of history.


Monday, January 26, 2015

My Mama's Red Stilts

I read some comments on the website I enjoy about my hometown in Cherokee, Iowa. I learned yesterday that there over 900 people that belong to that site.
One of the people reminiscing was a gal that I knew that said she used her wooden stilts to go to the Cedar grocery store.
I thought I had used up all my old memories, but when I read that, I remembered a story that my mother told me about her red wooden stilts.
The stilts were a gift from her father. I remember him as very stern and I just can't remember him smiling, but when Mom told me about those stilts that day, she smiled and her eyes just sparkled remembering how much fun she had on those wonderful stilts.
It is really really difficult to think of  my 80 year old mother as an 8 year old having such a wonderful time with her new toys.

Hopefully I will have some new memories I can share this year.