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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin
(1925)

Chapter V: county government,   pp. 31-37


Page 32

HISTORY OF DUNN COUNTY
Probably between September 28 and October 18, 1858.
In the Eau Claire Free Press, a weekly paper established in September, 1858
appears a paragraph under date of October 14, 1858, as follows: "Destructive
Fire." "By a gentleman from Dunnville, we learn that the court house of Dunn
County was burned last night, at 11 o'clock. All the records of the county were
destroyed, except the record of deeds. We did not learn how the fire originated."
At first blush this might seem to fix the date of the fire during the night of
October 13, 1858. But no one can now tell when the paragraph was written,
October 14, or on some previous day of the week, before which the paper went to
press. In any event the time limit within which the fire occured is apparently
shortened to the week ending October 14, 1858.
The first official record of the meeting of the county board, now to be found at
the Courthouse, is that of its meeting on November 9, 1858. At that time the destruc-
tion of the county property and records was evidently'considered complete. Rooms
were rented for county offices. New record books were purchased. As to articles
saved no action seems to have been taken, except that a committee of the county
board was appointed whose sole duty was stated to be, "to dispose of one keg of
nails that was saved from the fire of the courthouse."
Register of Deeds-It is possible that William Cady elected register of deeds in
1854 did not qualify as such officer. The only records from the register's office
saved from the courthouse at the time of the fire in 1858 were the index of the record
of instruments. It does not appear from this index book nor from the deed book
who was register in 1855 or in 1856. The first date of the receipt of papers for
recording shown therein is of June 18, 1855. There appears to have been five deeds
received for record on that day.
An old appointment record at Madison shows that William B. Newcomb of
North Pepin was appointed register of deeds for Dunn County on May 3, 1855.
North Pepin was then in Dunn County. In the list of officers for 1855 heretofore
given, it appears that Samuel B. French was elected register of deeds in November
of thatyear. Mr. French in later years stated that after he was first elected register,
Mr. Newcomb refused to turn the books pertaining to his office over to him and that
finally he hired a young attorney-at-law who came to Menomonie to locate, to go to
North Pepin and get the books. Mr. French stated that the attorney got the books
but he was under the impression that they were procured by tact and force rather
than by writ and due process of law.
The appointment of Mr. Newcomb presupposes a vacancy in the office of
register of deeds. The election of 1855 being in an odd numbered year indicates
that it was a special election. At that time a vacancy in a county office might be
filled at a special election. Mr. French having been elected register of deeds at
such special election, would, if he qualified, take the office and supplant Mr. New-
comb, the appointed officer, for the remainder of the regular term of two years to
which William Cady had been elected in 1854, and for which he failed to qualify.
Probably the controversy between Mr. French and Mr. Newcomb was over the
question whether an appointee to fill a vacancy in the office of register of deeds held
for the remainder of the full term or only until a successor should be elected at a
special election to fill such vacancy and should qualify. Following are the registrars
succeeding Mr. French: J. H. Green, 1857-58; F. R. Church, 1859-60; Francis
Breck, 1861-64; W. S. Grover, 1865-66; F. R. Lockwood, 1867-69; J. Kelly Jr.,
1870-75; S. A. Peterson, 1876-81; Peter Peterson, 1882-88; and Charles Knutson,
1889-92; Charles Knutson, 1893-94; Martin Fladoes, 1895-1902; Hy. S. Inenfeldt,
1903-10; Edward C. Quilling, 1911-18; M. F. McLeod, 1919-25.
County Judge-An Act of the Legislature of 1856 provided for the election of a
county judge for Dunn County on September 1, 1856, he to take office January 1,
1857, and hold for the term of two years. There is however no record of either
an election or an appointment. W hether elected or appointed, William Cady
seems to have become the first county judge of Dunn County. The record book
now preserved in the office of the county judge shows a probate proceeding com-
menced before Mr. Cadv as county judge and an order therein made by him as
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