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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.