"In pursuance of an act of the State of Wisconsin, represented in Senate and Assembly, 'To organize the county of Richland,' approved Feb 7, 1850, an especial meeting of the board of supervisors, in and for said county, was held at the house of Alex. Smith, in the town of Richmond, in the county and State aforesaid, on the first day of May, AD 1850. Said first day of May being the day designated in said act, that from and after which, the county of Richland should be organized for judicial purposes, and should enjoy all the privileges and immunities of the other counties of the State."
At the time of this organization, the county was divided into three towns, and the first board of supervisors who were empowered to handle the reins of the infant government were John H Price, of Buena Vista; E H Dyre, of Richmond, and Adam Byrd, of Richwood. Of this board, the first named was chosen president, and John Rutan, clerk.
As the county had no court house, nor place wherein to transact even a moderate amount of business, that then occupied the attention of its officers, the board, at its session held May 2, the same year, ordered that "Marvin White be allowed the sum of $90 for the use of a house in Richmond, for one year, for the purpose of the county officials:" the same to be considered as the county courthouse until more definite arrangements could be made.
At the June session, 1850, a petition was presented, praying for the organization of a new town, to comprise the congressional townships 11 and 12 north, range 1 east. This petition was signed by Orin Haseltine and others. The board, in granting the prayer, designated the towns as above as an election precinct, and ordered that it be organized under the name of Rockbridge, and that the first election should be held at the home of Ira S Haseltine, then a resident of the village of that name.
The first county road mentioned upon the records seems to have been one from Richland City to Pine river, and was made in accordance with a petition, signed by Ira S Haseltine and others. The board appointed Orin Haseltine, N P Engels and John H Price as the commissioners to locate the same. This was at the same June session, in the year 1850.
It would seem that from a lack of funds in the treasury, or some other cause, the county officers, in June, or nearly a month after their installment into office, were without any books, papers or stationery; and they therefore instructed Marvin White, the then register of deeds, to act as a special agent to purchase the necessary books and stationery, including the seals; one for the circuit, one for the county court, and one for the clerk of the board of supervisors; together with ink, inkstands and sand boxes, wafers and stamps; to be paid for out of the first moneys in the treasury of the county, for the contingent expenses of the said county.
Nov 20, 1850, the new board of supervisors took possession of the helm of government, and the first act of their administration was to authorize James Laws to establish and keep a ferry at Briggstown on the Wisconsin river; and at the same time established the following, as the rate to be charged for ferriage: Two horses and wagon, fifty cents; one horse and wagon, twenty-five cents; one horse and carriage, thirty-five cents; one horse and man, twenty-five cents; cattle, per head, ten cents; each foot passenger, ten cents; hogs and sheep, per head, three cents. The license granted Mr. Laws was granted for the term of three years, the first year to be free of any charge.
The weather growing chilly, and the board not wishing to retard the growing greatness of the juvenile county by freezing out its officers, instruct John J Mathews, the sheriff, to make the purchase of a stove and pipe.
As an instance of the trouble of traveling in these early days, it is recorded that, it being necessary for the county to send a man to Milwaukee on business, the time being occupied by him on the journey there and back was twelve days, the mode of traveling being by horseback.
The salaries of these early days seem to have been so small that it is a wonder that men should seek political preferment. As an instance of it, it is noted in the minutes of this session of the board, that the board allowed to J W Coffinberry, county judge, the munificent salary of $10 a year. They also authorize him to procure the necessary record books for his office at the proper expense of the county. The same board made an allowance of $50 per year for the salary of the prosecuting attorney. The ferry from Richmond to Muscoda was also licensed, and the rates of ferriage established, by the same board, Mathews & Smith being the proprietors. It was during the same session that the board of supervisors appointed J W Coffinberry a commissioner for said county, to supervise the preparation of the application and proof of claimant for bounty lands granted to the soldiers and their heirs. James H Wallace was also granted the right to establish a ferry at Richland City, across the Wisconsin river, on the same terms and at the same rates of ferriage granted the other parties.
Nov 19, 1850, the board ordered that a tax of two and one-half mills on the dollar be levied in the county for school purposes; this was the first levy for such fund in the county, and deserves special notice as an instance of the early attention paid by the former generation to the educational status of our county. The entire levy of tax for all funds was seventeen and one-half mills on the dollar.
The first bridge built by the county of which any record exists seems to have been built by James Laws across Merriman's creek, and cost the whole of $17, and was finished and the bill ordered paid, Nov 20, 1850.
At the May session of the board of supervisors, it being found that the quarters occupied by the county officers were too contracted, two rooms were rented of R Barnes, in the town of Richmond, for their accommodation, at a rental of $5 per month.
At the fall session it was ordered that the sale of delinquent taxes be proceeded with; this is recorded as the first in the county of Richland.
On a petition, signed by R McMachan and others, being presented to the board at this session, the order was made that all of town 10 north, range 1 east, except sections 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 and 36, of said town, be attached to the town of Rockbridge, as a part and parcel of the same.
The value of property in the county, as returned by the assessors, for the year 1851, was as follows:
|Buena Vista............................................$ 44023 00|
|Richmond................................................ 45111 00|
|Richwood................................................ 14801 00|
|Rockbridge.............................................. 3500 00|
Of course this was much below the actual value, but some idea can be gained by these figures of the amount possessed by the early settlers in the way of worldly wealth. The tax levy for this year is given as fourteen mills for county purposes, three mills for State purposes, two and a half mills for school fund or nineteen and a half mills on the dollar for all funds.
The question of making a permanent location of the county seat having now come to the front, the board of supervisors, at their meeting held July 26, 1852, had entered upon their minutes that "It is unanimously decided by this board, that Richland Centre is the proper place for transacting the business of the county." This seems to be the opening of the discussion, for we find that the same day the following resolution was spread upon the minutes: "Resolved, That the board accept of twenty village lots, and also a certain building, to be used for county purposes, of Ira S Haseltine, in the village of Richland Centre, in accordance with a bond, dated Oct 24, 1851, held by the county of Richland against said Haseltine. And it is also ordered that all the county business of Richland county be hereafter transacted in the said village of Richland Centre, and the officers thereof shall forthwith repair thither for that purpose."
In explanation of this action, it would seem, the next day the board passed the following:
"WHEREAS -- Ira S Haseltine has donated to the county of Richland, in the State of Wisconsin, a certain house situated on village lots No's. 3 and 6, in block 6, in the village of Richland Centre, in said county, to be used for a courthouse and other purposes as said county board may direct, for and during a term of five years, from the first of May last: Therefore, it is ordered that said house be, and is hereby designated as the said county building, for the uses and purposes as above specified. Also, it is ordered that a notice be served on the various county officers to remove the books and papers of the county forthwith to Richland Centre, the county seat of Richland county. Also ordered that the county raise $100 to furnish the new court house."
Nov 9, 1852, the first meeting of the board of supervisors in the new court-house took place. At this session, it was ordered, that "town 10 north, range 1 east, be, and is hereby set off as a separate town and election precinct, and shall be known as the town of Richland; and that the court-house in Richland Centre be designated as the place of holding the first town meeting."
It was at the same time ordered, that towns 11 and 12 north, range 1 west, be attached to the town of Rockbridge, and the house of Orin Haseltine was designated as the place of holding the town meeting.
Either the progress of the country was quite rapid or the development of crime had increased largely, for we find, that at this meeting of the board, the salary of the prosecuting attorney was made $100 per annum, an increase of 100 per cent.
At the session of the board held in March, 1853, it was determined to build a county jail and it was decided to erect the same on lot 5, in block 14, in the town of Richland Centre, the building to stand thirty-three feet from the east line of the lot, and central as to north and south lines. The proposition to raise the sum of $300 to build the said jail, the same to be paid in three equal yearly installments, was entertained, but was finally laid over until the next meeting of the board.
At this session it was ordered, that, "all the territory embraced in towns 9 and 10 north, of range 1 west, except one tier of sections from the east side thereof, be, and is hereby set off, as a separate town and election precinct, to be known as the town of Eagle, and that Rodolf's mill, in said town, is designated as the place for holding the first town meeting."
The board of supervisors, at the annual session held in November, 1853, were presented with a bill by Amasa Cobb, the prosecuting attorney of Iowa county, for locating the county seat of Richland county, in the year 1842, when the county of Richland was attached to the county of Iowa. This bill was for some $3, and its receipt at this time provoked much indignation. After due deliberation the board made and returned the following answer:
"This board would respectfully say to the honorable board of supervisors of Iowa county that they do not find any indebtedness to said county. Said county claims having paid Abner Nichols and John Ray for making a location of the county seat, under an act to establish the county seat of Richland county, approved Feb 18, 1842. Now, said act in section 1 describes the limits of said county. In section 2, it attaches said county, for judicial and county purposes, to the county of Iowa; gives the county commissioners, assessors and collectors, the same power over Richland county as over their won, to assess and collect the taxes thereof, in the same proportion, so that it made it, temporarily, but one county.
"In sections 3 and 4 it constituted the county commissioners of Iowa county, commissioners to locate a permanent county seat for Richland county.
"Then follows an act to organize Richland county, approved Feb 7, 1850.
"In this law it gives the people of Richland county the right to vote for a county seat; and it does nowhere refer to settlement between the two counties. Now, in our opinion, under the first law, we think that it was the intention of the Legislature, that Iowa county, with Richland county attached, should pay the cost of locating the county seat, out of revenue arising from property assessed in said county. And as the county commissioners of Iowa county have never heretofore rendered any account between the two counties, of what they collected, and report what they paid out, we concluded that they considered, under the law passed, that we were, as long as attached to them, but one county. Also we think it the duty of Iowa county if they thought they were wronged in this last act, to provide through their representative, some act for a settlement between the two counties. Having this view of the question, we deem it unnecessary to answer the extravagant claim set up against us; but upon this and other grounds, disallow the claim presented."
The assessed value of property in the county, in 1853, was as follows:
|Buena Vista................................................$ 64663 00|
|Eagle............................................................ 18256 00|
|Richmond.................................................... 26465 00|
|Richland....................................................... 14685 00|
|Richwood.................................................... 20809 00|
|Rockbridge.................................................. 13310 00|
The rate of tax, as laid by the board this year, was fifteen mills for county fund, six mills for State purposes and one and one-half mills for school fund, or twenty-two and one-half mills on the dollar for all.
When the board of supervisors met at the annual meeting, November, 1854, the first business transacted by them was the organization of towns 11 and 12 north, of range 2 east, into a separate town and election precinct, under the name of Willow; the first election to be held at the house of R B Stewart.
It was also decided to erect towns 11 and 12 north, of range 1 east, into a separate town, under the name of Marshall, and the first election was ordered to be held at the house of Josiah McCaskey, on Faney creek.
By order of the board at this meeting, sections 1, 12, 13, 24, 25 and 36, of town 10 north, of range 1 west, were set off from that town (Richmond) and attached to Richland; also the order for the organization of towns 11 and 12 north, of range 2 west, into a separate town, to be called Forest, was issued, and the residence of William Ogden was assigned as the place for holding the first election. It seems, from the records, that this was all the business that came before this board, except the auditing of the various bills and claims against the county.
Nov 15, 1855, the new board of supervisors held their annual meeting. The first business brought before them being the matter of county buildings. It was reported to the assembled Solons that Ira S Haseltine and his wife had deeded to the county, as a fee gift and donation, the east half of block 13, all of blocks 14 and 22, and the north half of block 23, all in the village of Richland Centre. This gift was made that the county might have a place whereon to build the said buildings. The board in accepting the deed, appointed themselves committee of the whole, to view the lots and select a suitable site thereon on which to place the structure to be known as the court-house.
Considerable wire pulling and maneuvering was now displayed to determine the board to favor certain interests and to locate the buildings to suit the wishes of this or that party. James B Cling offered to donate to the county five acres of ground, provided, that the county erect the new buildings on blocks 22 and 23. At first the board seemed to favor this, but after mature deliberation, by vote, it was decided not to accept the offer, and to leave themselves untrammelled in their choice of the site of the public buildings. By resolution, a committee was appointed for the purpose of fixing the amount necessary to be appropriated for the erection of the buildings. This committee, consisting of B L Jackson, Alden Haseltine and E L D Moody, reported to the board next day in the following words:
"Upon due consideration your, committee are of the opinion, that, it would be advisable to appropriate the sum of five hundred dollars ($500) for the purpose of building a jail in Richland county, and would advise that the building be 18x26 feet, to be divided into two rooms. The building to be built on the block house plan, with weather-boarding on the outside and lined on the inside with sheet iron; and your committee are of the opinion that the interests of the county demands the appropriation of the sum of fifteen hundred dollars ($1,500) for the purpose of building a court-house, and would further recommend that the four lots on block thirteen (13) be under suitable regulations and at a proper time put on sale, as a means of raising a part of the fund; and would still further recommend that the court-house be built 28x36 feet, with posts twenty-one feet long, the lower story to be finished in accordance with a plan accompanying this report; and would call the attention of the board to the propriety of appointing three commissioners who shall have power, as a building committee, to award contracts, under suitable restrictions. Your committee are of the opinion that it is not necessary at the present time to raise more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) if the lots aforesaid are placed on sale at the proper time.
B S JACKSON, } E L D MOODY, > - Committee." ALDEN HASELTINE. }
This report was adopted, with the amendment of making the $1,000 to be raised $500 and the building committee (to be appointed) here to be authorized to contract to pay interest on the balance on one-half the sum for one year, and on the other half two years, at seven per cent.
The following resolution was presented in relation to the matter under discussion, and in accordance with the recommendations of the committee's report, as given above.
"Resolved, That the board proceed to elect three commissioners, to act as a building committee, and their duties shall be, first, prepare a draft and fix specifications for the building of a jail and court-house on the plans reported, with such internal alteration as may be found necessary, which alterations shall not increase the cost. Next, to advertise such plans, for a period of four weeks, and upon the expiration of such time, to award the contract to the lowest and best bidder. Also, it shall be their duty to examine the work while under construction, and to accept the work when done, if it shall be finished according to contract. Such contract shall be completed as follows: The jail to be completed by the first day of October, 1856, and the court-house by the first day of April, 1857."
On the above resolution being submitted for a vote, the result was a tie, but the chairman, by virtue of his office, gave the casting vote in its favor, and it was declared adopted.
The committee appointed under it, as the building commission, consisted of Josephus Downs, Milton Langdon and B L Jackson. It was also,
"Resolved, That the lots in block thirteen (13), shall be advertised for eight weeks, and put up at public sale to the highest bidder, for cash, the first Monday in July, 1856; also, that the county's lots, on the west side of Pine river, be sold at the same time."
The ways and means having been provided, it was "Ordered, That the building committee be empowered to draw orders on the county treasurer, from the building fund, to pay the sum of $500 on the completion of the jail, and the sum of $500 when the said court house shall be enclosed and doors hung, floors laid and stairs built; if the work is done according to the terms of the contract."
At this meeting, also, the town 11 north, of range 2 west, was set off from the town of Forest, and ordered to be organized as a seperate precinct under the name of Sylvan, and the school house in district No. 6, was named as the first town meeting place. Also town 12 north, of range 1 west, was set off from the town of Marshall and christened Bloom, and was ordered to perfect organization and vote for town officers at the house of Isaac Pizer. Town 12 north, of range 1 east, was also detached from the town of Rockbridge, and under the name of Henrietta was instructed to elect the necessary officers to complete the organization thereof, the voting place being at the home of H B Miller. Town 10 north, of range 2 east, and sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, and the north half of sections 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, in town 9 north, of range 2 east, and section 1 and the north half of section 12, in town north of range 1 east, were ordered to be organized into one separate town under the name of Ithaca, and the first election was ordered to be held at Mr. Thomas' school house.
The committee appointed to investigate and audit the books of the county treasurer, reported that they had done as instructed and found all in good order, and that the treasury contained money to the amount of $725.78.
While the board were discussing the financial affairs of the county government, Israel S Sanderson, came into the room and presented to each member of the board, a copy of the first issue of the Richland county Observer, the first newspaper published within the limits of the county. This was Nov 17, 1855. The board immediately passed the following resolution: "Resolved, That the board tender their sincere, thanks to Israel S Sanderson, the editor of the Richland county Observer, for his kindness in presenting them with the first copies of his paper."
Town 10 north, of range 2 west, having asked for a separate organization, the prayer was granted, and the town name Akan and the house of Martin Munson was designated as the place of voting, at the first election.
The assessed value of the entire county this year shows a marked increase, being $399,185.83.
In November, 1856, at the annual meeting of the board of county supervisors, the organization of the two remaining towns was ordered, as follows: Town 12 north, of range 2 east, to be known as the town of Westford, and the first election for town officers to be held at the house of Asa Lincoln, in the village of Cazenovia. Town 10 north, of range 1 west, to be organized and known as the town of Dayton, and the first election to be held at the residence of Henry McNelly.
The building committee, having made their report, that they had let the contract, for erecting the county buildings, to Ira Andrews whose bid was $1,325, and that he had built the buildings in accordance with the plans and specifications as laid down in the contract; the board, in accepting the edifices from his hands, passed the following resolution, by a unanimous vote:
"Resolved, That the county board of supervisors tender their sincere thanks to Mr. Ira Andrews, the contractor, for the faithful discharge of his duties, and for the energetic spirit and action which he has manifested in the speedy completion of the county buildings."
Much of this county lying on hillsides, and the wash of rains destroying them, the question of plank roads is found, at this time, to come to the front. In answer to several petitions asking that companies might be empowered to build such roads, and enjoy the benefits and emoluments thereof, the board appointed a committee to look into the matter. The report of the committee is given in full as it is a complete history of the plan upon which companies were formed.
"We, your committee in the matter of plank road companies, would report: That it is the opinion of your committee that it is for the best interests of this county that the prayer of said petitions, with restrictions, be granted; and your committee would recommend that Garwood Green, Joseph C Clark and J W Coffinberry, of the town of Buena Vista; D L Downs, Charles G Rodolf and Napoleon Graham, of the town of Richmond; R M Miller, Jacob Rhodes and Reuben Powers, of the town of Richwood, be appointed commissioners to draft and compile charters, open stock or subscriptions for one, two or three plank and turnpike companies.
"One road may commence at Richland City, one at Richwood and one at Port Andrew, to run northerly in the direction of such terminus, as said commissioners shall determine, with a capital to each charter not to exceed $20,000, with shares of $20, payable in cash only, by per centum or otherwise.
"If the commissioners accepted, they were to hold their first meeting at Richmond, Dec 20, 1856, and there pass such rules for their government as suited them, so as not to conflict with any State law. Provided, however, that the commissioners shall not have any demand on this county for their services.
"It is made the duty of the said commissioners to report, in a summary manner, all their doings in the premises, except the charters by them compiled shall be reported at length to the county board of supervisors, at any regular session, for approval, modifications or rejection."
It was probably at this session of the board that the name of the village of Richmond was changed to that of Orion.
At an extra session called Jan 5, 1857, for the purpose, the board ordered the purchase of a safe for the treasurer's office.
In November, 1857, at the annual meeting of the board, the extravagance that has characterized the various legislative bodies of later days, is foreshadowed by the board voting that each member be supplied with a lead pencil at the expense of the county.
The treasurer's report, submitted Nov 13, 1857, gives the financial standing of the county at that date:
| To cash received from clerk of circuit court, as|
State tax.................................................................................$ 24.00
| To cash received from clerk of circuit court, as|
fines and forfeitures....................................................................... 30.00
| To State and county taxes received from town|
|To school fund from State......................................................... 2,078.21|
|To cash form tax certificates sold................................................ 458.34|
|By State taxes paid...................................$ 4,109.00|
|By State paid for fines....................................... 41.00|
|By amount paid contingent expenses................. 39.98|
|By amount paid for safe, etc............................ 231.50|
|By amount paid school fund......................... 1,651.98|
|By unpaid taxes on hand............................... 1,666.95|
| By amount paid for making returns of|
delinquent tax.................................................... 27.02
|By making out tax sale certificates.................. 496.75|
|By treasurer's fees........................................... 507.19|
The committee appointed to ascertain the amount of outstanding warrants of the county, reported at this session. Their report declares that there were then outstanding of warrants issued from 1852 up to Jan 1, 1857, $1,479.27; since Jan 1, 1857, $1,796.66; making in all, $3,275.93.
The court house at Richland Centre having been destroyed by fire in the spring of 1860, an account of which is detailed elsewhere, the board of supervisors, at a special meeting held May, 1860, passed the following resolutions in regard to re-building the same:
"Resolved, That we build a court-house 28x38 feet, the court room to be on the lower floor, with two jury rooms above; and that we also build four fire-proof offices outside the court house, each 12x16 feet in dimension.
"Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to receive plans and specifications and bids for the building of the court-house and county offices; said plans, specifications and bids to be received on or before the 15th day of May, A D 1860, and that the said committee be, and is hereby empowered to let the building of the same to the lowest and best bidder."
D L Downs, James Barnes, and William J Bowen were appointed the committee under this resolution, and soon made their report to the board, saying that they had made the following plan for a court-house: "The building to be built of brick, the lower story with sixteen-inch walls, the upper twelve, with one inch hollow space therein. The lower room to be twelve feet from floor to ceiling, while the second floor should be nine feet between the same. The edifice to have a common roof, about one quarter pitch, and to be covered with good oak shingles, on hardwood sheathing. To be lighted with twelve windows below and twelve above. The whole structure to be surmounted by a cupola, as on the old court-house. The court room, being on the ground floor, to be floored with bricks placed on edge; the jury rooms, with good oak flooring; all inside wood-work and finishing to be in hardwood, and to be painted with three good coats of paint."
This plan was adopted by the board, and the committee instructed to proceed with the work, by the following resolution:
"Resolved, That the building committee build, or cause to be built, a court-house, 28x38 feet in size, and fire-proof buildings for county offices, for the sum of $1200, now in the treasurer's hands, and $1000 in county orders, and as much better and larger as they can, with the amount to be raised by the subscription of the citizens of Richland Centre; said committee to be restricted to the said sum and the said $1000 in county orders, which are to be issued and paid to the contractor, on the completion and accepting of the building, by the county board, and that all money remaining in the hands of the committee after the buildings are finished, be appropriated for furnishing the county offices."
The contract to build the county building was thereupon signed with Ira S Haseltine, who immediately commenced the erection of the present edifices, and completed them before the fall of the same year.
In the meanwhile it was necessary that the county officers have some place for their books, papers, and for the transaction of their business. The board appointed Alden Haseltine, Allen Tinker and O H Malette a committee to provide suitable rooms for that purpose, and for a temporary court room; which committee next day made the report that "They had rented the rooms of D Pease for sheriff, clerk of the courts and clerk of the board, for $7 per month, and they had hired the Lybrand hall for the holding of court, for $3 per day, lights and fuel included, and that the register of deeds be allowed to furnish his own room, at an expense not to exceed fifty cents per week; and the proposition of Dr Gage, to furnish a room for the treasurer free of charge, be accepted."
Matters being arranged in this manner, the board ordered that for all intents and purposes, Lybrand hall should be the county court hose, for the time being.
At the next meeting of the board of supervisors, held in November, 1860, the new court house was so far completed that the assembled wisdom of the county could occupy the same for their deliberations, and the first business was to apportion the offices to the officers of the county, which was done, and the matter regulated as we now find it.
At this time a petition was presented by the citizens of the town of Richmond, praying that the name of that town be changed to that of Orion. This prayer was granted, and the town has ever since been known by that cognomen.
The citizens of Richland Centre being desirous of removing the county jail to the court house square, petitioned the county board for permission to do so, at their own expense. This was immediately granted, and the building committee ordered to expend the sum of $25 in erecting a suitable foundation therefor.
At a special session of the board, held in July, 1861, a committee, consisting of W J Bowen, A Loveless and W Ketchum, was appointed to re-district the county into three precincts; the intention being to try and govern the county by three supervisors, instead of by the rather cumbrous machinery of the chairmen of the town boards, sixteen in number. This committee made its report, and on their recommendation the following resolution was adopted:
"Resolved, That Richland county be divided into three supervisor districts, as follows: Richwood, Eagle, Orion and Buena Vista, to be called district number one; Richland, Rockbridge, Henrietta, Westford, Willow and Ithaca, to be called district number two; Dayton, Bloom, Marshall, Forest, Sylvan and Akan, to be called district number three."
Several resolutions were passed at this and succeeding sessions, in regard to the relief of the families of the volunteers then going and gone to the front, which will be found under their proper head, in the chapter devoted to the war record of the county.
The subject that so long agitated the county politics came to the front this session --- the building of a new jai. A committee having been appointed to look into the matter, reported favorably upon the undertaking, and recommended that the sum of $400 be raised, for that purpose, but the matter was laid upon the table for the present.
The first mention of the purpose of purchasing a county poor farm was brought up at a meeting of the county board, held Nov 20, 1865.
At a special meeting of the board of supervisors, held July 12, 1867, and called for the especial purpose of taking into consideration the erection of a jail, competent to hold the prisoners committed to it in safe keeping, the following resolutions were adopted:
"Whereas. The jail of the county is unfit, and not sufficient for the safe keeping of persons placed therein, therefore,
"Resolved, That the sum of twenty-five hundred dollars ($2500) be raised by tax, and appropriated for the erection of a new jail; plans and specifications to be hereinafter agreed upon by this board.
"Resolved, That J G S Hayward visit Prairie du Chien and Viroqua, to get plans and estimates of cost of jails at those places."
In accordance with the above resolution, at an adjourned meeting of the board, held Aug 26, 1867, for the purpose of deciding upon the plan, etc., Thomas Cholerton, B C Hallin, and J G S Hayward, were appointed a committee to draft the plan and make the specifications for the edifice, and the clerk of the board was instructed to advertise in the newspapers of the county, for bids for furnishing material, delivering the same, and doing all the work necessary to complete the said edifice.
These requirements having been complied with and the bids being received, the committee, deeming none of them satisfactory, determined upon building it themselves, which they at once commenced.
The county board, at this session, make a purchase of a safe, for the treasurer's office, at an expense of $1,061.88, including freight, going on the principle, evidently, of "fast bind, fast find," and from experience, knowing that a poor safe will not keep the money in, or the festive burglar out, invested in a first class article, which is doing good service to this day.
The county board again met in regular session Nov 16, 1869, and a resolution of that body recites: "That it is the opinion of a large portion of the people of Richland county, that the benefit to our schools from the visitation of the county superintendent, is not commensurate with the expense incurred, and,
"Whereas, The board are in favor of an economical administration of the county government, and desire to relieve the people of taxation, when it can be done without the sacrifice of the public good, do, therefore,
"Resolve, That the county superintendent of schools be hereby requested, during his next term of office, commencing Jan 1, 1870, not to visit the schools, and we do, therefore, relieve him of that part of his duties, and he is requested to confine his labors to holding institutes, public examinations and making the necessary reports."
At the session of the board, November, 1870, he clerk was instructed to have a well made on the court-house grounds, for the accommodation of the county officers, and as an extra precaution for the extinguishment of fires.
All along through the records, one is struck with the singular pertinacity of the various boards, who in their desire to a more economical administration of the finances of the county, are continually memorializing the Legislature for an amendment to the act in regard to the payment for the printing of the delinquent tax lists, and other county printing, which in their opinion is much too high.
The board having found out by this time that it was a mistake in their action in regard to the county superintendent of schools, and that the lowest salary that they can pay him, according to a statute of the State, is $800, by resolution rescinded their former instruction and desired him to devote his entire time to the duties of the office.
The assessed value of all property in the county, in 1871, is given as $2,544,824.12.
As an evidence of the growth of the county, and its improved financial condition, the report of the treasurer of the county for November, 1872, is here inserted:
The poor farm subject again comes to the fore-ground, during the session of the board of supervisors, held November, 1874, but it seems there was a division of opinion upon the subject, and the more advanced thinkers had to give the matter up for the time being, finding themselves in the minority.
A resolution was also introduced, offering to donate the sum of $500 toward the town's sinking an artesian well in the court-house square. This produced considerable debate and was, when action was taken thereon, voted down.
Jan 1, 1875, the board of count supervisors, in order to clear up the books and offices of the county officers, made the sale of all the tax sale certificates, remaining in the possession of the county, to James L McKee, for the sum of $2500, or about fifteen per cent, of their face value. This was considered at the time a very good price, as many of them were of quite ancient date, and others, no doubt, were illegally assessed and consequently were of no value.
The assessment rolls for 1875 show that there were then in the county, assessable, 365,898 acres of land, at an assessed value of $1,824,471; town property valued at $187,700. There was also of live stock, owned by the community, 5308 horses, 15,612 head of horned cattle, 225 mules and donkeys, 22,625 sheep and 13,681 swine. The personal property assessable was valued at $711,223.
It was at the session of the board of supervisors, November, 1879, that a petition was presented, from the ex-soldiers of Richland county, for permission to place a memorial monument to their dead comrades in arms, in the court house square. The prayer was granted with the usual liberality of the board, and a place pointed out as the most appropriate, but from some cause or other the monument has not been erected yet. It has been suggested that, as so many Posts of the Grand Army of the Republic have been organized in Richland county, it would be fitting and proper that they take the matter in hand, and not let the dead heroes be forgotten. He who died with arms in his hands and his face to the foe, should have his name revered and his monument raised that many men may see, lest they forget his deeds and death in defense of liberty and right.
When the board of supervisors met in special session, May 25, 1881, Mr. Blackmer, of Burlington, Iowa, appeared before them, showing the Pauly system of steel-clad cells for jails, and the board, after fully understanding the merits of the invention, determined upon equipping the Richland county jail with them, passed a resolution adopting it and appointing the chairman, A S Ripley, J D Harring and George E Bennett, clerk of the board, a committee to prepare and sign the contract with the party, and also to superintend the work of putting in the cells. The sum of $3200 was also appropriated to defray the expense of the same.
In November, 1882, at the annual meeting of the board, the following resolution was adopted:
"Resolved, By the county board of supervisors of Richland Co, Wis, that Homer J Clark, the county clerk; Irvin Gribble, the county treasurer; D L Downs, O F Black, J L McKee and J H Miner be, and the same are hereby appointed, a committee to consider and devise plans, and procure estimates for the erection of a new court house in this county, and report their proceeding to the county board at its next annual session in 1883."
At the annual session held in November, 1883, this committee made a lengthy report, in which they recommended that a court house be erected upon the site occupied by the present county buildings. They thought the building should be about 45x90 feet in size, two stories and a basement in height, and estimated that it would cost about $20,000. The report continues that the strongest reasons for a new court house, that have been presented to the committee, were: "First, That the present building is not adequate to hold the necessary persons in attendance at court; such as witnesses, juries and parties; for evidence of which Judge Mills, in 1867, condemned it and rented Chandler's Hall for a term of three weeks; and in 1879 Judge Cothren rented Krouskop's Hall at a cost of $10 per day; and at the last term of court the room was intolerable by reason of being so small that it would not hold the crowd, and many persons were compelled to stay away, while others stayed outside the doors and windows. Second, That the records of the county are unsafe and exposed to fire. No person's title to land is secure, and endless litigation would grow out of the titles, tax titles, judgments, mortgages and other matters of record, in case of the destruction of the records."
It was also further stated "that all the estates of deceased persons, and all the rights and titles devised through the settlement of the same by the county court are now resting in wooden pigeon holes in a small wooden building surrounded by other inflamable buildings."
After considerable discussion it was decided to lay the report aside for the consideration of some future board of supervisors. But at the same time the matter was partly compromised by appropriating from the county treasury the sum of $600 for the erection of a small office for the county judge. This building was begun immediately after the board adjourned, and finished about Jan 1, 1884. It stands just north of the other county buildings.
At the same session, the board fixed the salaries of the various county officers for the years 1884 and 1885 as follows: county treasurer, $800; county clerk, $800; county superintendent, $800; district attorney, $400; clerk of court, $600.
1850 --- John H Price, of Buena Vista; E H Dyre, Richmond; Adam Byrd, Richwood.
1851 --- John H Price, of Buena Vista; Molbry Ripley, Richmond; Adam Byrd, Richwood; Orin Haseltine, Rockbridge.
1852 --- Lucius Tracy, of Buena Vista; R H McMahon, Rockbridge; George N Ewing, Richmond; Elias McClure, Richwood.
1853 --- C G Rodolf, of Eagle; Elias McClure, Richwood; D L Downs, Richmond; Luther Irish, Buena Vista; Orin Haseltine, Rockbridge; A J Sheldon, Richland; David Bovee, as associate from the village of Richland Centre.
1854 --- Henry Connor, of Richwood; D L Downs, Richmond; L B Palmer, Eagle; William Harman, Buena Vista; Alden Haseltine, Rockbridge; Ira S Haseltine, Richland.
1855 --- Josephus Downs, of Marshall; Levi Houts, Richmond; B L Jackson, Buena Vista; George Rea, Richwood; Alden Haseltine, Rockbridge; L B Palmer, Eagle; Milton Langdon, Richland; E L D Moody, Willow; E B Tenney, Forest.
1856 --- E L D Moody, of Willow; J W Coffinberry, Buena Vista; William Herman, Ithaca; Riley Hamilton, Richland; J S Scott, Rockbridge; William H Joslin, Henrietta; Josephus Downs, Bloom; J B Bennett, Forest; Horace Cook, Sylvan; Zenas W Bevier, Akan; Samuel W Flick, Richwood; L B Palmer, Eagle; D L Downs, Richmond; Archibald Wanless, Marshall.
1857 --- Alden Haseltine, of Rockbridge; L Nichols, Buena Vista; Isaac Sepley, Bloom; J W Ambrose, Forest; William H Joslin, Henrietta; John Fogo, Marshall; Leroy D Gage, Richland; John Coumbe, Richwood; Jacob Fellows, Willow; Allen Tinker, Westford; George N Ewing, Eagle; E B Tenney, Sylvan; Horace Wait, Akan; G W Oglevie, Dayton; Isaac McCullum, Ithaca; John Hendricks, Richmond.
1858 --- Zenas W Bevier, of Akan; Thomas C Clark, Bloom; D B Young, Buena Vista; George W Oglevie, Dayton; L B Palmer, Eagle; J V Bennett, Forest; Milton Satterlee, Henrietta; William Dixon, Ithaca; John Fogo, Marshall; John S Scott, Rockbridge; William H Wilson, Richland; Horace Wait, Richmond; Samuel Clayton; Richwood; George H Babb, Sylvan; Allen Tinker, Westford; Jacob Fellows, Willow. After the organization of this board Jacob Fellows resigned his seat and E L D Moody was allowed to fill his place.
1859 --- B C Hallin, of Akan; T C Clark, Bloom; D B Young, Buena Vista; G W Oglevie, Dayton; William Sharp, Eagle; W H Mack, Forest; L Rennick, Henrietta, S H Doolittle, Ithaca; John Fogo, Marshall; G B Lybrand, Richland; Horace Wait, Richmond; Henry Connor, Richwood; Alden Haseltine, Rockbridge; O H Mallette, Sylvan; E L D Moody, Willow; Allen Tinker, Westford.
1860 --- John Wait, of Akan; Darius Morrison, Bloom; Elias Thomas, Buena Vista; James Barnes, Dayton; Newton Wells, Eagle; A Loveless, Forest; Milton Satterlee, Henrietta; J H Post, Ithaca; Joseph Benton, Jr., Marshall; Horace Wait, Richmond; I J Wright, Richwood; Alden Haseltine, Rockbridge; William J Bowen, Richland; O H Mallette, Sylvan; E L D Moody, Willow; Allen Tinker, Westford.
1861 --- John Black, of Akan; William Farlin, Bloom; William Ketchum, Buena Vista; Molbry Ripley, Dayton; L B Palmer, Eagle; A Loveless, Forest; R J Stevenson, Henrietta; S H Doolittle, Ithaca; J H Hindman, Marshall; Andrew Bird, Orion; Henry Conner, Richwood; William J Bowen, Richland; Alden Haseltine, Rockbridge; O H Mallette, Sylvan; John Shaw, Willow; Allen Tinker, Westford.
1862 --- The mode of county government having been changed, three supervisors were vested with the power of the original board of sixteen. The first board under this rule was comprised of John Hendricks, of district No. 1; J M Thomas, of district No. 2; S D Ripley, district No. 3; and met January 13.
1863 --- Q J Wright, Alden Haseltine and A Loveless.
1864 --- A Loveless, Q J Wright and Alden Haseltine.
1865 --- George Caswell, A S Haseltine and A Loveless.
1866 --- S Henthorn, George H Babb and J G S Hayward.
1867 --- J G S Hayward, George H Babb and D L Downs.
1868 --- L G Thomas, Joseph Benton, Jr. and D L Downs.
1869 --- L G Thomas, J S Scott and Joseph Benton, Jr.
1870 --- It is gathered from the records that the three supervisor system not proving satisfactory, the return was made to the old system of representation, being one from each town. The roll for this year is: D W Core, of Akan; T C Clark, Bloom; V Harter, Buena Vista; George R Pyle, Dayton; C D Stewart, Forest; R C Hawkins, Henrietta; D M Logan, Ithaca; John Fogo, Marshall; J H Tilley, Orion; J B McGrew, Richland; J S Ellsworth, Richwood; James Washburn, Rockbridge; O H Mallette, Sylvan; Joseph Moody, Westford; John Smith, Willow; H O Morris, Eagle; G L Laws, of the village of Richland Centre. Before the regular session of the board, George R Pyle, of Dayton, resigned his seat, and James M Adair was chosen in his stead.
1871 --- L O Smith, of Akan; Henry H Hoyt, Bloom; Vincent Harter, Buena Vista; James S Barnes, Dayton; J M Thompson, Eagle; S P Kanable, Forest; P H McCarthy, Henrietta; D M Logan, Ithaca; John Fogo, Marshall; Jacob Brimer, Orion; William J Bowen, Richland; J S Ellsworth, Richwood; James Washburn, Rockbridge; Joseph Moody, Westford; John Smith, Willow; James Twaddle, Sylvan; D L Downs, Richland Centre.
1872 --- Hiram Harvey, of Akan; Darius Morrison, Bloom; Lemuel Akey, Buena Vista; James T Barnes, Dayton; W T Briggs, Eagle; Patrick H McCarthy, Henrietta; D M Logan, Ithaca; Joseph Benton, Jr., Marshall; Jacob Brimer, Orion; J B McGrew, Richland; J S Ellsworth, Richwood; J S Scott, Rockbridge; Stephen Henthorn, Sylvan; Joseph Moody, Westford; C P Flora, Willow; D L Downs, Richland Centre.
1873 --- Richard Carpenter, of Akan; H H Hoyt, Bloom; William Krouskop, Buena Vista; A J Campbell, Dayton; George Kite, Eagle; J A Loveless, Forest; Bertrand Clark, Henrietta; William Dixon, Ithaca; Philip M Smith, Marshall; Andrew Bird, Orion; J B McGrew, Richland; Robert Buchanan, Richwood; Alden Haseltine, Rockbridge; Stephen Henthorn, Sylvan; William Dueren, Westford; John Smith, Willow; Gilbert L Laws, village of Richland Centre.
1874 --- Richard Carpenter, of Akan; Darius Morrison, Bloom; William Krouskop, Buena Vista; William Beam, Dayton; James C Wilson, Eagle; John A Loveless, Forest; Thomas Norman, Henrietta; William Dixon, Ithaca; William Lowry, Marshall; David Weiker, Orion; Henry St John, Richland; James W Jones, Richwood; James Washburn, Rockbridge; Nathaniel Grim, Sylvan; D L Downs, village of Richland Centre; Joseph Moody, Westford; J Smyth, Willow.
1875 --- Richard Carpenter, of Akan; Darius Morrison, Bloom; Vincent Harter, Buena Vista; August S Ripley, Dayton; H O Morris, Eagle; S P Kanable, Forest; P H Shields, Henrietta; William Dixon, Ithaca; Archibald Wanless, Marshall; Jacob Brimer, Orion; N L James, Richland; Robert Buchanan, Richwood; Alden Haseltine, Rockbridge; Nathaniel Grim, Sylvan; Joseph Moody, Westford; John Smyth, Willow; James L McKee, village of Richland Centre.
1876 --- P M Eaton, of Akan; Darius Morrison, Bloom; Vincent Harter, Buena Vista; August S Ripley, Dayton; J H Case, Eagle; J A Loveless, Forest; D Wherry, Henrietta; William Dixon, Ithaca; Archibald Wanless, Marshall; J M Truax, Orion; N L James, Richland; Robert Buchanan, Richwood; E Murphy, Rockbridge; M Burroker, Sylvan; J Keane, Westford; B B Brownell, Willow; James L McKee, village of Richland Centre.
1877 --- James Sheffield, of Akan; Darius Morrison, Bloom; C E Brace, Buena Vista; August S Ripley, Dayton; J H Case, Eagle; J C Bender, Forest; P H Shields, Henrietta; William Dixon, Ithaca; Archibald Wanless, Marshall; W H Stewart, Orion; J B McGrew, Richland; Robert Buchanan, Richwood; James Washburn, Rockbridge; Nathaniel Grim, Sylvan; Joseph Moody, Westford; B B Brownell, Willow; D G James, village of Richland Centre.
1878 --- Squire Sheafor, of Akan; Darius Morrison, Bloom; Henry Dillon, Buena Vista; A S Ripley, Dayton; Horatio Cornwall, Eagle; J C Bender, Forest; P H McCarthy, Henrietta; Albert Misslich, Ithaca; William Lowry, Marshall; J B McGrew, Richland; Edmund Clark, Richwood; George Fogo, Rockbridge; D B Sommars, Sylvan; B M Jarvis, Westford; E C Wildermuth, Willow; James L McKee, village of Richland Centre.
1879 --- James Brady, of Akan; Elijah Allbaugh, Bloom; George J Carswell, Buena Vista; A S Ripley, Dayton; Orrin Henry, Eagle; John A Loveless, Forest; Jonathan Dillon, Henrietta; Albert Misslich, Ithaca; Philip M Smith, Marshall; William H Stewart, Orion; J B McGrew, Richland; J H Tilley, Richwood; George Fogo, Rockbridge; T M Sheffield, Sylvan; B M Jarvis, Westford; D J O'Hara, Willow; W M Fogo, village of Richland Centre.
1880 --- James Brady, of Akan; Darius Morrison, Bloom; H L Eaton, Buena Vista; P Sweeney, Dayton; E D Manning, Eagle; Irvin Gribble, Forest; John F Conley, Henrietta; Albert Misslich, Ithaca; J W Barrett, Marshall; William Brimer, Orion; J B McGrew, Richland; J H Tilley, Richwood; William H Joslin, Rockbridge; Thomas Harn, Sylvan; B M Jarvis, Westford; B B Brownell, Willow; D L Downs, village of Richland Centre.
1881 --- James Brady, of Akan; Darius Morrison, Bloom; John H Carswell, Buena Vista; A S Ripley, Dayton; James Lucas, Eagle; J S Kanable, Forest; John F Conley, Henrietta; Albert Misslich, Ithaca; Thomas Gillingham, Marshall; William A Brimer, Orion; J D Harring, Richland; L M Thorp, Richwood; George Fogo, Rockbridge; Thomas Harn, Sylvan; Benedict Adleman, Westford; B B Brownell, Willow; D L Downs, village of Richland Centre.
1882 --- James Brady, of Akan; Elijah Allbaugh, Bloom; J Q Black, Buena Vista; Peter Sweeney, Dayton; John M Craigo, Eagle; J S Kanable, Forest; John W Fowler, Henrietta; Albert Misslich, Ithaca; Thomas Gillingham, Marshall; William A Brimer, Orion; Barney C Hallin, Richland; L M Thorp, Richwood; J M Ryman, Rockbridge; George Henthorn, Sylvan; Birney M Jarvis, Westford; J P Smyth, Willow; D L Downs, village of Richland Centre.
James Bachtenkircher, of Akan; Elijah Allbaugh, Bloom; J Q Black, Buena Vista; C A Berghazen, Dayton; J M Craigo, Eagle; J A Loveless, Forest; P Dunn, Henrietta; A Misslich, Ithaca; P M Smith, Marshall; W M Brimer, Orion; B C Hallin, Richland; L M Thorp, Richwood; Col James Washburn, Rockbridge; George Henthorn, Sylvan; B M Jarvis, Westford; J R Smyth, Willow; D L Downs, village of Richland Centre.
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