History of Palo Alto County, Iowa
By J.L. Martin as prepared for the Celebration at Emmetsburg
July 4, 1876



but the earth could be found for a floor. The first County Superintendent of Schools was John McCormick, Jr., who was elected on the 6th day of Nov., 1860. It does not appear who (if any one) taught in this house during that season and the first school of which we have any authentic record was taught on Sec. 34,97,33, just north of Martin Loughlin's residence, in the spring of 1861; a few days later a school was commenced by Miss Mary Matthews at West Bend township in the house first referred to. In 1870 there were 14 schools in the county, 11 school houses, 6 log and 5 frame, 24 teachers examined, and 420 persons of school age. And in the year 1875, there were 74 teachers examined, 53 school houses, all framed, 63 schools, and 1180 pupils.
     The total amount expended for educational purposes in 1870 was about $3,300, and in 1875 it was $15,618 nearly.
     The first marriage in the County was that of Thos. H. Tobin to Miss Ellen Loughlin, Jany.7th, 1860.
     The first law suit was S.B. Olney vs. Washington Reed, May 3d, 1859.
     While noting the progress of our people from the trials and struggles of the early time up to so respectable a position as they now assume among the highly civilized people of Iowa, it may not be amiss to take a glance at their


which, to those concerned, was always full of interest, and may be of some interest to us to-day. At the first election there were 44 ballots cast, a number too small to be missed from our more ponderous but no more exciting elections of to-day. We would naturally suppose this to be too limited a number in which to get up any divisions, or out of which to construct any factions, but we have both recorded evidence and evidence of living witnesses, that there was division, and one of the most bitter contests ever waged within the sacred precincts of Palo Alto swept every citizen

into its giddy vortex on one of those occasions. Such is the strange power of politics to excite the people. We find no record of the cause of division but the vote stood distinctly on every man and measure proposed 17 to 27, with the exception of Thos. H. Tobin who, according to the records had no opposition, and was unanimously and triumphantly "elected High Sheriff of Palo Alto County."
     The first contested election was brought to trial Oct. 17th, 1861, John M. Mulroney contestant and John Nolan, James Nolan and Thomas McCormick, incumbents, but what might have been the cause of action, or the nature of the defense, history fails to record.
     Of the 47 ballots cast Oct. 11th, 1859, Samuel J. Kirkwood (Rep) for Governor received 3 and A.C. Dodge, 44.
     Of 34 ballots cast Nov. 8th, 1864, George B. McClellan had 33, and Abraham Lincoln, 1.
     Of 624 ballots cast on the 12th day of October, 1875, the Samuel J. Kirkwood above named, had, for Governor, 324 votes and Shepherd Leffler had 300.

     But we will return more directly to our local government, which though showing some extravagances and errors-and what government does not?-has been such as to lead the careful historian, in most of even the blamable cases, to look at least with charity, upon the acts of those inexperience young statesmen, who had everything to provide, and much to endure, and in the following list of county officers from its organization to the present time, will be found dozens of men whose private word was a faultless bond.

     The following are the names, including the present incumbents, of the County officers, in chronological order from its organization to the present day:
     Treasurers: John M. Mulroney, James P. White and M.L. Brown.

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