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was a new comer, a Norwegian, too, not accustomed, then, to participation in public meetings of that kind; and he kept himself busy attending to the arrivals, animals, &c. This, however, gave him an opportunity to hear of the "horse-shed" or by-talk which went on.
The claims of Minot were fully discussed; and to a man, they agreed in letting him alone because he was clad in broadcloth coat and pants, satin vest, fine boots and a shiny hat! He was not the man for the horny-handed pioneers; not a bit of it; and Minot went home disgusted. This caucus and convention put in nomination the ticket which was afterwards elected, and has heretofore been given, as the first officers of Winneshiek county.
Engebret Peterson Haugen, followed these in October, after having spent the summer in traveling over portions of Wisconsin and Minnesota. He actually squatted on a claim back from Red Wing; but could not hold it because it was still Indian territory: Coming down the river he heard of these fellow-countrymen, and came out here. He liked the country; and got his eye fixed on the magnificent farm he still owns three miles south west of Decorah. It was a claim then owned by G. Cooney living at Garnivillo. It is the claim Mr. C. referred to in his narrative, as the one Dr, Andros threatened to shoot him if he jumped it; and about the safety of doing which he consulted with his friend Judge Murdock. It was also the old H. l. Rice trading post. The The store used by Rice was standing, and for five years later served Mr. Haugen as a dwelling. His family, however, did not arrive until May following. They came from Beloit, where they had located in 1842, when that territory was new. Peter E. Haugen, the son, was a boy 16 years of age when the family removed to Iowa; and he distinctly remembers the first bridge built over the Rock river at Beloit. They came direct from Norway in 1842. Inasmuch as emigration from that country did not commence until 1838, Mr. P. can be called a pioneer settler, in the fullest sense of the term.
Besides those above named, the only other Norwegian we have heard named at this date, is Mr. Thor Peterson, of Calmar.
WHO WERE FIRST.
Bailey Sparks' History, 'published later than sketches, and also the year after Mr. Burley's address, says:
From the most reliable information, it would seem that the first immigration of Norwegian settlers came in the year 1850. But to whom to accord the honor of being the first actual settlers - whether to Thor Peterson and his party, who afterward settled in Calmar Township, or to the Erick Anderson party, who settled in Springfield Township, is a question. The Anderson party emigrated from Dane County, Wis., and included the following persons: Halvor Hulverson, Ole Gullickson, Knudt Anderson, Ole and
Staale Tostenson. This company was joined at Prairie du Chien by Ole Lomen and Andrew Lomen. Mr. Erick Anderson served the party as guide and interpreter. The Anderson party finding land in Springfield Township that suited them, took up their claims thereon in June, 1850. But it seems that the Peterson party had preceded them by a few days, and had laid claim to the very land on which Anderson's company had squatted. At that time there was a county organization for the protection of settlers against claim-jumpers, if such they can be called. It was an imperative law with this association that the man who first registered his claim at Moneek had a perfect title to the same. The Peterson party demanded that the Anderson party move off what they called their claims; but the other party was determined not to surrender their claims until obliged to, and consequently they immediately dispatched a representative to Moneek, whose duty it was to ascertain if the Peterson party had registered their claims. On examinativn he found that no registration had been made, and he took advantage of their tardiness and registered the claims for his party. The matter was finally compromised, the Anderson party paying some indemnity for their usurpation.
Mr. Sparks goes on to say that the Nelson Johnson party, referred to a little previously, made settlements in Springfield in July, and were therefore a little later--and that Engebret, Peterson and Haugen followed these in October.
Eighteen hundred and fifty-one saw a large addition to each of these commencements to settlements for settlements they could not yet be called. The northern townships were being occupied in this year, 1851. Among those who came and settled on lands where they still reside are D. D. Huff and E. E. Meader. Both happened to fall within the boundary lines of what is now known as Hesper Township, although they lived between four and fire miles apart. They were, however, near neighbors in those days, and very warm friends. As one old settler remarked to us, “We thought nothing of tramping off ten or a dozen miles to see a man." Mr. Huff tells us a story something like this: He lived in Michigan and started west in the fall of 1830. Winter found him in Illinois, where he met a brother of Bernard Harmon. He was told by this brother about Northern Iowa, and became interested in it. Coming to McGregor he met the pioneer merchant, H. D. Evans. By the way, it is singular how warmly these pioneers to a man speak of the generosity and liberality of this same Evans. He trusted them freely when they had nothing; and if it had not been for his kindness and unselfishness, many could not have stayed upon their claims. Evans had been up to Decorah, around among the settlers, and was enthusiastic in his ideas about the country and its future; and imparted some of his enthusiasm to Mr. H...The latter pushed through to Decorahı, with B. Harmon's as an objec
tive point. Nightfall overtook him, however, as he drove up to the old log "Winneshiek House."
In response to his applications for lodgings he was told the house was "full." There had been inportant arrivals that day. John B. Onstine and Dr. Hazlet had just come, and the hotel could accommodate no more. Mr. Huff found accommodations on the floor of the Painter cabin that night; and he says that when they were settled for the night, that, too, was full. In the morning he pushed on to Harmon's, and soon found his home for the next quarter of a century. His experience for the first year or two was that of nearly all the pioneers, and need not be repeated.
PROTECTING SQUATTER RIGHTS.
As he told some of his experiences to us the other day, an historical fact was brought to light which we cannot permit to go unrecorded. Surveys were being made that year, the lands were soon to come into market, and there was nothing to hinder land sharks from buying their homes from under them. Here was a danger that seriously menaced the new settlers. Buy their homes, they could not. They not only had no money, but they were struggling to make a bare living. Protect themselves in some way they must. To do this a large meeting of settlers was called, and held at Meader's, in Hesper township, on the fourth of July, 1851, at which a solemn compact was formed between those present, to protect each other in their squatter rights. Although it was not expressed in as eloquent words, doubtless they meant to maintain the compact and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. The compact was drawn up by a committee duly chosen, consisting of one Marshall Sherwin (squatter on the present Ezra Reed farm) one Kincaid (living just east of Huff,) Benjamin Beare, (a settler over by what is now Locust Lane postoffice,) Eli Waterman, (a man who lived for a short time close by the spring at Russell Taber's mill, in Hesper,) and Mr. Huff. By this compact it was agreed that every squatter was entitled to a homestead of 160 acres. If he needed timber, he might claim a 10 where he listed. This was to be his by their squatter law, until good fortune should enable him to secure the legal title from the government. They agreed to stand by each other to the worst, if need be, in protecting each other; and it would have been dangerous for any man to attempt to enforce a claim contrary to the squatter claim. Happily, no serious resistance to these crude laws ever compelled the settlers to unite in forcible protection of each other. Doubtless the existence of this compact was well known at Dubuque, where the land office was located; and when the land was so plenty, speculators did not care to buy law-suits or disputes with settlers who might prove reckless if their rights were trodden upon.
There were differences between the settlers themselves; but these the terms of the compact soon settled. One of the committee (Sherwin, we think, was the name given) was the first to attempt to break it. He coveted the whole, or part of the claim of a reighbor, but the members of the organization convinced him that they would compel an obedience, and he acquiesced. In this way difficulties were avoided, and their claims preserved to the pioneers till they could secure them by purchase. Some of the members were not able to enter their lands until a year or more had elapsed after the lands of Northern Iowa had been in market; but under this compact they felt a degree of security that now seems strange even to them.
MORE DETAILS have accumulated as the material for this chapter have been collected, but they will be given where they belong in the township histories, or in a collection of miscellaneous facts relating to county history, in succeeding pages.
A chronology of dates of early settlements, coming of first settlers, and leading events in the history of the county, will be given in one of the succeeding chapters.
Political History; County Organization; First Election and First
Officers; Salary Grabbing; Votes Cast in Successive Years; Voting Precincts; Final Division into Townships; Position of Townships and Villages; Successive Elections and County Officers, Legislators, etc.; Levi Bullis and E. E. Cooley; Political Contests; H. C. Bullis, G. R. Willett, T. W. Burdick, and other Legislators and Representative Men; County Officers (continued) to Present Time.
The particulars of the organization of this county, and of the county seat becoming permanently fixed at Decorah, are given in the preceding chapter. "Let us briefly review these two events. The organizing act was approved by the Governor January 15, 1851, constituting John L. Carson the organizing sheriff, and Winneshiek an organized county after March 1, 1851. By the election held April 7, 1851, Decorah was chosen as county seat. Freeport's struggle to obtain the county seat culminated in 1856, resulting in its final and permanent location in Decorah, which was made more certain by the commencement of the building of
the court house in 1857, and by the impetus given to Decorah by the location of the land office, which was opened here on the day before Christmas, 1855. These events are narrated more at length in previous pages, and in the sketch of Decorah.
Very soon after the organization of the county, steps were taken for the election of officers. According to the best information obtainable, a well attended caucus was held in the log cabin of the late Nelson Johnson, in the southeast corner of Decorah township. The election was held on the 4th of August, 1851, and resulted in the following officers being chosen:
David Reed over J. R. Morse, as county judge.
Isaac Underhill, F. Joseph Huber and Joseph Brown served as judges of election, the first two certifying to the result as justices of the peace, whether by appointment, or as elected in the spring, is uncertain; eighty-two ballots, all told, were cast, and Mr. Huber, still a citizen of Washington township, is with us to personally attest the validity and fairness of the first vote. In April following John McKay was elected school fund commissioner, and W. F. Kimball clerk of the courts.
It seems that at first the amount that the officers received on their salaries depended on the amount of fees received; for from the first the Judge, Clerk and Treasurer were accustomed to meet at stated intervals, each reporting the fees that he had received, and then the money would be divided between them. The Treasurer would also report the cash in the Treasury, which would be divided with equal impartiality; then County Judge Reed would issue county warrants to each one for the balance found .due. As soon as taxes were levied and collected this system ceased, and the county officers have generally, since that time, drawn their salaries with commendable regularity, although there may have been times when they have been compelled to wait a little before getting their warrants cushed.
Of Judge Reed, Mr. Bailey in his address said: David Reed was the first County Judge. He was born in June, 1799, and consequently was 52 years of age when first elected County Judge of Winneshiek county. His regular term of service covered four years--years, too, of the stormiest character, in which, as the autocrat of the county, he could share the responsibilities with no one, and shirk no duties. Of course his conduct was sharply criticised, and in his time he bore his share of public obloquy.
Judge Reed held the office of County Judge by the suffrages of the people, continuously, from 1851 to 1855.