INVESTIGATION AND EXONERATION - AND MORE TAXATION
Wanted an Investigation
There having been some talk that the financial exhibits of Certain years had not been correct, and that the collectors were short in their accounts, the matter was brought before the grand jury at its April session in 1871. The jury, after an investigation, made a request upon the county court for an examination of collectors' accounts from 1867 to 1870, inclusive, and to appoint a committee for that purpose. The court promptly acted upon the suggestions of the grand jury, and appointed Harvey W. Salmon, Charles H. Snyder and William E. Brinkerhoff such committee.
The report of the special committees to examine into the financial condition of Henry County for the years 1867, 1868, 1869 and 1870, reported errors in the aggregate of $671.68, in the collector's returns for these years. The sums aggregating the above amount were nine in number, from $18.78 for the smallest to $150.25 for the largest, and belonged to all the different levies, such as revenue, bridge, railroad, etc. There was no evidence adduced to show a criminal intent, but more a want of an arithmetical education on the part of the collectors. James M. Miller was collector for 1867, and Henry T. Dodson for the three following years, called for by the county court for examination.
The report also stated that the inaccuracies for the year 1867 was caused by the mistake of the clerk of the county Court in turning over two pages at once in footing the gross amount, missing entirely the page so turned. The errors discovered were in 1867 and 1868; in the former they amounted to $394.39, and in the latter $277.29.
The years 1869 and 1870 proved relatively correct. The committee so appointed and reporting were C.H. Snyder (then county clerk), Hon. H.W. Salmon and William E. Brinkerhoff. The report was accepted by the county court and was made to them at the October term 1871.
The committee asked for more time to go more fully into an examination of the financial condition of the county, but made the above report of work done in the collector's office. They also asked for more specific instructions in regard to their future work.
On the 16th day of January 1872, Collector Miller came forward and paid $295.50, which the court explained was the amount he was short by the report of the commissioners. The amount short for 1867 was, as above reported, $394.39, but it is probable that a portion was collected by Mr. Miller's successor.
Whether the committee ever done anything further is not of record, and if the other collector paid it is also left out of the county court proceedings, but it is probable that all was satisfactorily settled. It may not be considered remarkable by the people of Henry County that there should never have occurred a defalcation among any of its officials from the date of its organization, yet such is the case, and it is and would be considered remarkable in almost every other county. The writer has examined the records of no less than seven counties' within the past eighteen months, and not one but had a blemish spot among some of those who had been chosen to conduct their county affairs.
This purity of action on the part of the official conduct of those entrusted with the welfare of the county deserve a few words of praise, and the record is entered here as worthy of all commendation.
The formation of the new townships required the appointment of registering officers at once to register the voters for the coming election (1873). These appointments in the different townships were as follows.
Windsor, William Goforth
Tebo, Davis Mann
Shawnee, Thomas F. Hill
Big Creek, A.M. Butcher
Bogard, James Kepner
White Oak, John Schroeder
Honey Creek, Luther I. Stewart
Fields' Creek, John Hopton
Deer Creek, J.W. Middelcoff
Springfield, Henry Shafer
Leesville, John Venlemans
Bethlehem, H.C. Jury
Clinton, James V. Bergen
Davis, John E. Severs
Walker, Henry B. Hicker
Deepwater, Joseph Capehart
Bear Creek, John J. Teller
Fairview, Robert W. McFarland
Osage, C.F. Mercer
The County Court
Not only did the new township organization law entail upon the county court the making of new and many more municipal districts and the appointment of registering officers, but it also called for the laying out of the county into four justices or judicial districts, the law giving each county five justices of the county court, instead of the three which had composed the county county court since its organization. One of the justices was to be voted for by the county at large, his term was four years, and he was to be the president of the court, the other four were to be elected from the four districts into which the county was to be divided. This division was not made until July 22, 1873, and a special election was held on the 21st day of August for their election. The county was divided as below:
FIRST DISTRICT - District No. 1 is composed of municipal townships, named and numbered as follows: Windsor No.1; Tebo No. 2; Shawnee No. 3; Big Creek No. 4; Honey Creek No. 7, and Fields' Creek No. 8.
SECOND DISTRICT - Bogard Township No. 5; White Oak No. 6; Davis No. 14; Walker No. 15; Deepwater No. 16, and Bear Creek No.17.
THIRD DISTRICT - Clinton Township No. 13.
FOURTH DISTRICT - Deer Creek No. 9: Springfield No. 10; Leesville No. 11; Bethlehem No. 12; Fairview No. 18, and Osage No. 19.
The election resulted in the election of William R. Taylor, judge-at-large, M.A. Stewart, 1st year, F.M. Groff, 2nd year; Lewis P. Beatty, 3rd year, and B.L. Owens, 4th year.
The years for which each was to serve was decided by lot between the four justices elect, as above shown, the law requiring one of the associate justices to retire each year.
The tax levy and assessment from 1870 to 1874 was not of special interest as no attempt had been made to show fully the financial condition of the county at any time. In April 1874, a full exhibit of the levy and back taxes uncollected was made, and also the amount collected
and what was left still delinquent in the hands of the collector. It will be observed by the figures that follow that the railroad tax and its delinquent in other years was a trifle over one-third of the amount to be collected. The tax collections are given in detail and will be good for reference.
Taxes and Collections
The levy of 1873 with the back taxes due on each fund added was as follows:
Here was this enormous sum to be paid by the people of Henry County in one year. To be sure a large portion of it had been accumulating from year to year, and was not of that year's levy, but it was due and must be paid. Very little force so far had been used to compel payment, for it was well known the people were struggling to regain their standing and to pay off arrears, and to distress them by suit had not often been attempted. However, they responded that year nobly. Here is the returns of amount on each fund paid in:
The people paid in $108,315.58 for the year 1873, leaving a total balance due on back taxes of $23,262.75. That was a pretty prompt meeting of this enormous obligation, and reduced the back tax list over $12,000. The amount due in 1873 being a little over $35,000.
The county clerk made the following report of the receipts and expenditures of the county, for the fiscal year ending April 1875:
In October 1875, a notice was served upon the delinquents of the years 1869 to 1873, inclusive, that they must pay their taxes by the coming January, or suit would be commenced to enforce it.
The new township organization law, which went into effect in 1873, was repealed by a vote of the people in 1877. The County court therefore was changed again from five members back to three. At their regular meeting in February 1858, the county was divided into two districts for associate justices, the presiding judge, as under the previous law to be voted for by the people of the county at large. This division was as follows?
DISTRICT NO. 1 - To be composed of the townships of Windsor, Tebo, Shawnee, Big Creek, Bogard, White Oak, Honey Creek, Fields' Creek, Deer Creek and Springfield.
DISTRICT NO.2 - To be composed of the townships of Leesville, Bethlehem, Clinton, Davis, Walker, Deepwater, Bear Creek, Fairview and Osage.
There was a slight change made in the boundary line of Fairview and Clinton Townships, being a desire on the part of Fairview to run a straight line east from the northwest corner of township 40, of range 26, to the dividing line between sections 4 and 5, of the same township and range. Grand River being the cause for this desired change.
Taxes of 1878
The amount of the tax levy in 1878
There was of this collected:
There was collected the same year on back taxes 1877, and penalties on real and personal:
This condensed statement shows what amount of taxes was assessed that year, and how the people paid. Nineteen thousand dollars of this sum was for school purposes.
A Sinking Fund
The railroad suits and a desire to compromise caused a good deal of trouble to the county court at this time, and money was an object, and so an application was made to Judge Wright to grant an order for the levy of five mills on the dollar of the assessed valuation of real and personal property in the county as stated, "As a special tax to create a sinking fund to be used in the purchase of outstanding railroad bonds of Henry County at their lowest market value in the discretion of the county court."
The order was granted and made of record in the county court proceedings at the May adjourned term, as was also the petition to the circuit judge by the county attorney, C. C. Dickinson. They will be found in full on pages 100, 101, 102, and 103, of Book I, County Court record.
James B. Gantt was appointed county agent of the August adjourned term 1879, to dispose of the 4,000 shares of Tebo & Neosho Railroad stock for the same amount of stock in the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Road, and then sell the same. This is fully treated in the article on railroads in this work. The assessed valuation put upon the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway at the February term 1880, was more than double the valuation of the previous five years. As assessed in the county and townships it footed up:
They did not, however, collect tax on this sum as the state board of equalization placed the assessed valuation for taxation at $322,258.35, and the levy at forty cents. The county made the same levy for county purposes and then a further levy of fifty cents on the $100 in Clinton, and thirty cents on the $100 in the city of Calhoun as a city tax.
The county court at its session, May 16, 1881, made the following order, as a well merited compliment to the citizens of Clinton for their noble, praiseworthy and generous treatment of those in sickness and poverty who had received kindly ministration at their hands. The order reads:
"It is ordered by the court that a warrant be drawn on the county pauper fund for the sum of 500, payable to T.W. Collins, mayor of the city of Clinton, as a donation to the city of Clinton for expenditures, aid and assistance rendered to paupers and destitute persons during the recent small pox scourge in Clinton.
The state claimed an indemnity on 1,000 acres of swamp land located in 1851, 1852 and 1853, the proof of which they were ready to make under act of congress, March 2, 1855. 640 acres of this was in township 42, range 28; the remainder in township 40 and 41, ranges 26 and 27. Mr. A.C. Avery was appointed agent to look after and secure from the government the amount of the indemnity demanded of them by the state.
The gold fever struck Henry County forcibly in 1849 and 1850.
The largest loss by the county up to 1866 was the deposit made by the county with Miller & Kaist, St. Louis. The question has since been, how much was the loss and what was done about it? Answer still reserved.
The railroad fever struck Henry County in 1867 and raged violently to 1871. It cost the people $1,225,000 in round numbers. The fever spent its force and is not likely to ever get a serious hold in Henry County again.
The year 1875 is known as grasshopper year.
Warren & Foote published the present county map of Henry County in 1877.
In the year 1878 the poor farm harvested a rat crop numbering 1,100 rats. The year was memorable for cheap sausage meat.
The first snow storm in Henry County in the winter of 1879-80 did not come until the 12th day of March 1880.
The first marriage license under the license law of 1880-1 was that of Roy Driggs and Miss Mattie Ogden, June 29, 1881.
The compromise year for railroad bonds was 1882.