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Corrigan, Walter D., Sr. / History of the town of Mequon, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, brought down to about 1870

The county seat and county government,   pp. 13-15

The contest over the county seat,   pp. 15-16

Page 15

county commissioners might hold their sessions in the house of William T.
Bonniwell. While the first vote on the location of a county seat determined
on Hamburg (now Grafton), the honors for Grafton were as empty as
those had been for Wisconsin City, because the county commissioners con-
tinued to hold their meetings and transact the county business at the
house of William T. Bonniwell until January 1, 1845, under the authority
of the act of February 19, 1841. Grave doubts had arisen concerning the
legality of the proceedings held at the Bonniwell house after Hamburg had
been designated as the county seat, but that was settled by an act passed
January 20, 1844 ratifying the acts of the commissioners, and determining
that the commissioners might meet where they wished. It appears that no
court proceedings whatever ever took place in the Bonniwell house. The
acts relating to county government done there were the acts at sessions of
the county commissioners, who met there as a matter of convenience,
though their acts were both authorized and again finally approved by law.
Therefore, for some purposes it may be considered that the Bonniwell
home was a quasi seat of county government, but it was never actually
declared to be the county seat. Nevertheless, it has the honor of having
been a place for the administration of about all the county government
that existed during that period from February 19, 1841 to about 1845.
While the Town of Mequon only had a small part in the contest over
the location of the county seat of Washington County, it was a contest so
sharply fought out, and in such bitterness that it ought to be mentioned
briefly in any attempt at writing a history of the town. The location of
the county seat had been kicked about, as already appears, as between
Wisconsin City and Hamburg (Grafton), and, in a quasi sort of way, the
Bonniwell home. An act of the legislature of January 20, 1846, which
erected the townships and established the county government more def-
initely, provided for a vote on the subject of the county seat, at which the
location of the county farm was chosen as the county seat. It was by a
plurality of votes only. Because the county farm had no buildings, and
there were a large number of indefinite votes for such places as the "cen-
ter of the county" and "good location near the center", those votes were
all thrown out, and Port Washington was left with 164 votes, Cedarburg
with 100, Hamburg (now Grafton) 74, West Bend 12. About this time
movements were on foot for both West Bend and Hartford. This contest
then resulted in the passage of a legislative act January 25, 1847 making
the Village of Washington, now Port Washington, the county seat for five
years. Port Washington was so remote from the center of population that
its choice was generally very unsatisfactory.
Bad blood was stirred up everywhere on the subject. As a result, the
legislature provided for a new election on the county seat by an act passed
August 8, 1848. A vote was taken on that question September 25, 1848, as
the result of which Cedarburg had 570 votes, West Bend 336, and Port
Washington 697. There were other scattering votes. No place had anything
better than a small plurality, and a second vote was taken November 7,
1848, resulting in the following: Cedarburg 944; West Bend 1,117; Port
Washington 640. Again there was nothing better than a small plurality,

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