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1890 Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Story County, Iowa

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Page 132 of 460

sioners were appointed to locate a seat of justice for Story County. They were Thomas Mitchell, of Mitchellville, in Polk County, Joseph M. Thrift, of Boonsboro, and Johnson Edgar, of Jasper County. Because of sickness in his family, Mr. Mitchell could not be present. Messrs. Thrift and Edgar met by appointment at the house of Joseph P. Robinson, in Section 29, Nevada Township. They came with a surveyor from Polk County, and made selection of the east half of the southwest quarter and the west half of the southeast quarter of Section 7, of Town 83 north, of Range 22 west of the fifth principal meridian, the same being then Government land.

The location was made June 27, 1853. The county judge lived near the site of the proposed town of Bloomington, already laid off by former citizens of McLean County, Ill., and named for the thriving county seat of that county. He took no interest in favor of what must have seemed to him a removal of the county archives, and the necessity of changing his own residence. If he had possessed the veto power, no doubt he would have exercised it with some pleasure. In this frame of mind he neglected to make an entry of the town site, for the benefit of the county, as was plainly what should have been done. But the chance to buy a county seat from the Federal Government for $1.25 per acre did not last very long. Jenkin W. Morris, of Des Moines, made the entry for himself.

The chance to secure the land having passed, Judge Evans entered into negotiations with Morris for a transfer, and secured the title by deeding back one-third of the lots and blocks after the survey had been made. This being settled, there was due notice given of the public offering of lots for sale, on the 8th of September, 1853. Meantime, T. E. Alderman had engaged J. P. Robinson (who, though a justice of the peace, was not above earning an honest penny by hard labor) to deliver on the ground the necessary logs for a cabin 16x20 feet. With the help of those who had gathered at the sale of lots, the heavy work of house-raising was done on the day of sale, and the first building was erected. It was on the lot immediately south of the enclosed grounds west of the court-house. The logs in the body of the building had been roughly faced. It was covered with split boards. The floors were made of rough lumber, hauled from a mill on Clear Creek, in Jasper County. The doors, sash and necessary hardware and finishing lumber were brought from Keokuk. When completed, which was on the 11th of October, it served as business house and dwelling. There was shelter for the family and space for the " pioneer store," and contained, besides, the post-office. It soon became the seat of county administration, as noted elsewhere. It was, of necessity, office and hotel, also, until additional room could be had. This was accomplished in a few weeks by the erection of another building of the same size and construction, joining it on the west, with a door between, which was then appropriated for family and hotel purposes .

It is well remembered by the landlady, as well as guests, that the extending of hospitality to the traveling public was no small task. Moneyed men were spying out the land, seeking the choice spots for investment. The home-seeker sought a location for his family. The professional man, the mechanic, the laborer, the merchant, wanted to examine the new county seat. If he resolved to remain, he must have shelter until he could build. The landlord could not shake him off if he had wished to do so. It is told that it was not an uncommon thing for the beds of this popular house to be crowded with women and children, and

Page 132 of 460

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