(Re: History of DeKalb County, Indiana; B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc., Indianapolis, 1914, pages 249 to 258)
The political history of DeKalb county is, in many respects, similar to that of the other counties in the state of Indiana. In fact, politics is a subject that permits of various and equally truthful viewpoints. Graft, injustice and favoritism are, of course, present wherever men are chosen by popular vote to fill official positions; but, on the other hand, there are more clean elections and proper campaign tactics in force than a public is allowed to believe. The newspaper is the means of communication to the people, but upon reading two different papers, two theories, apparently each tenable, are learned. However, this is not the purpose of history, and in the discussion of DeKalb county politics, no recourse will be made to the party issues and the attitude of the voters and newspapers; an effort will simply be made to tell the facts, results and the general character of the county during the campaign times; also a complete list of the officers chosen in the county from the date of organization until the present year.
Pages 249 & 250
The first election after the organization of the county of DeKalb was held on August 6, 1838, and resulted in the choice of Luther Keep for commissioner, Wesley Park for Sheriff, Lott Herrick for school commissioner, and Robert Work for coroner. These men had very little opposition. In addition, a representative was voted for, and David B. Herriman was chosen with a majority of fourteen. Peter Fair, A. F. Beecher and Samuel Widney were chosen commissioners in 1837, but the county could hardly be said to have been organized at that date.
The first presidential election in which the county participated was the one of 1840, when Harrison and Van Buren were the candidates for President. Glowing descriptions have been given of the "hard cider" campaign of that year, and the glorious and enthusiastic rallies where the slogan of "Tippencanoe and Tyler too" was sung by marching crowds. Harrison was successful in the county, for of the three hundred and thirty-four votes cast, he received a majority of ten; thus the Whigs were strongest in DeKalb.
Four years later, during the memorable campaign of 1844, the Whigs had as their candidate Henry Clay of Kentucky, and his chances were regarded as very favorable. However, a compromising letter penned by this son of the "dark and bloody ground country" just before election caused his chances to decrease, and when election came the Free-Soilers, with James K. Polk at the helm, were victorious. Polk’s plurality in the state of New York was but five thousand. It is interesting to note the "ifs" of this result---thus, had one-third of the votes given to James G. Birney in that state been given to Clay, the whole course of history would have been changed; New York would have given a majority to the Whig party, Clay would have been named President, and the annexation of Texas defeated, and the Mexican war of 1849 would, in all probability, never have occurred. The total vote of this election was over twice that cast during the campaign of 1844.
In 1848 the Democrats nominated Cass and Butler, the Whigs Taylor and Fillmore, and the Free-Soil men, Van Buren and Adams. DeKalb county favored Cass in this election.
The election of 1852 came just after the famous compromises of 1850, and before the renewal of the agitation over slavery, caused by Kansas-Nebraska troubles. Both Whigs and Democrats adopted platforms in favor of the 1850 compromises, but General Scott, the Whig candidate, was not trusted by either the friends or enemies of slavery restriction. The result was that he carried only the states of Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee, while Gen. Franklin Pierce, of the Democrats, carried twenty-seven states. DeKalb county gave Pierce a majority of her votes.
In 1852 a new state constitution was adopted, fixing the general annual election in the month of October. Previously, it had been held in August. The Whig party expired with the disastrous defeat by 1852, and the Republican party rose and nominated John C. Fremont for President. James Buchanan was the Democratic choice, and Millard Fillmore headed the American Party. Buchanan was elected. He received the largest number of votes in DeKalb, with Fremont second.
ELECTION OF 1860
Pages 250 & 251
The presidential election of the year 1860 was easily the most important of the government until that time, and afterward until the present. A big issue was existent, and the country was divided as it never was nor probably ever will be. The Republican party, representing the North and Union, nominated Abraham Lincoln for the presidency; the Democratic party, for the South and slavery, chose John C. Breckenridge. The regular Democratic party, other than the Democratic party of the South, nominated Stephen A. Douglas, who advocated popular sovereignty, a middle ground. A fourth party, designated the Union party, named John Bell as candidate, but the party was of little importance in the campaign, as it had very indefinite views. By running Breckenridge, the South threw the presidency to Lincoln, when it might have supported Douglas as a whole, and won.
DeKalb county gave Lincoln a plurality of one hundred and one, and a majority of seventy-five. Breckenridge received but two votes. The townships in favor of Lincoln were: Butler, Concord, Newville, Stafford, Wilmington, Union, Franklin and Troy. Jackson, Richland, Fairfield and Smithfield gave Douglas the majority.
The one-sided vote in DeKalb county does not represent the general spirit that prevailed her during those stirring times. The county was a hotbed, and political enthusiasm reached a high point. Meetings where inflamed oratory abounded were numerous, and rallies, processions, and barrel-head speakers proclaimed the excitement of the people. There were many "butternuts" in DeKalb county, but upon becoming to obstreperous they were promptly, sometimes with coercive measures, man-handling, forced into silence.
Pages 251 & 252
The Republicans drew a great deal of strength from the election of 1860, and afterward bore out this prosperity with repeated successes. In 1868 U. S. Grant received a majority of twenty-four in DeKalb county, out of a total vote of three thousand four hundred and seventy-six. In 1872 Grant was again nominated by the Republican party, and the new division, the Liberal Republicans, nominated Horace Greeley. Grant was again victorious. The following paragraph, written in the Auburn Courier after the election, is interesting:
"From a careful glance over the late battlefield, the probabilities are that we have met the enemy and they have somewhat gobbled us in. That’s nothing. Twelve years’ experience has taught us that Salt River is a navigable stream. The air at its headwater is pure, but not so very ‘healthy.’ The county is inhabited by white men exclusively, and although many of these are barefooted they submit with Christian fortitude. There is not a postoffice in the neighborhood. National banks are as scarce as hen teeth, and there is not a very large number of brigadier-generals in the country. A few army contractors are there, but they are as poor today as they were ten years ago. Our boat on this occasion started from the Ohio river and was propelled by Kentucky darkies. When we shall leave the country is not yet determined. It is only a question of time. We shall return to plague our enemies who have contributed so freely to send us ‘up the river.’
"We have a mournful pleasure, or a pleasing mournfulness, we don’t know which, to perform. Greeley, you know Greeley. He was for President. Now he ain’t. Well, Greeley, he wore a-running for an orfice, and Grant, being on horseback, beat him. You see there was a hole, or a chasm, as H. G. called it, in the way, and the thought it was nothing, that he could reach across it just as easy as falling off a log. But he reckoned without a host (of voters). When U. S. came to it, he jumped it with his horse, but Uncle Horace, in attempting to shake with a fellow on the side, fell in, and that was the end of him. The main reason why H. G. was not elected was that he could not get enough states. If Grant hadn’t been round, Greeley would have been ahead, as he beat O’Connor in every state. There was another reason, the hor(ac)se disease was bad in New York, and it kept spreading until it was everywhere. Whenever a thing spreads, then you may know it gets thin, and thus you may account for H. G.’s vote. We’ll be opposed hereafter to having elections, when such things are around."
PRESIDENTIAL VOTE IN DEKALB COUNTY
Pages 252 to 254
In 1840 Harrison and Taylor received one hundred and seventy-seven votes, and Martin Van Buren one hundred and sixty-seven.
In 1844 Polk and Dallas received three hundred and twenty-seven votes; Clay and Frelinghuysen, two hundred and sixty-nine; and James G. Briney, six.
In 1848 Cass and Butler received nine hundred and sixty-eight votes in the county; Taylor and Fillmore, five hundred and seventy-seven; and Van Buren and Adams, three hundred and forty-seven.
In 1852 Pierce and King received seven hundred and eighty votes; Scott and Graham, three hundred and ninety one; Hale and Julian, one hundred and sixty-four.
In 1856 James Buchanan received one thousand two hundred and forty-seven votes; John C. Fremont, one thousand ninety-seven; Millard Fillmore, seventy-five.
In 1860 Abraham Lincoln received fifteen hundred votes; Stephen A. Douglas, thirteen hundred ninety-nine; John Bell, twenty-four; and John C. Breckenridge, two.
In 1864 Lincoln received fourteen hundred and eighty-four; George B. McClellan, fourteen hundred seventy-two.
In 1868 U. S. Grant received seventeen hundred and fifty votes; and Horatio Seymour, seventeen hundred twenty-six.
In 1872 W. S. Grant received eighteen hundred and sixty-one votes; Horace Greeley, fifteen hundred forty-four; and Charles O’Conor, ninety-four.
In 1876 Samuel J. Tilden received twenty-five hundred and fifty-three votes; Rutherford B. Hayes, twenty-three hundred and eighty-one; Peter Cooper, thirty-eight.
In 1880 Winfield S. Hancock received twenty-five hundred and eighty-two votes; James A. Garfield, twenty-four hundred and forty-one; James Weaver, one hundred and ten.
In 1884 Grover Cleveland received twenty-seven hundred and ninety-nine votes; James G. Blaine, twenty-four hundred fifty-one; Benjamin F. Butler, ninety-five; John P. St. John, fifty-nine.
In 1888 Grover Cleveland received thirty-one hundred and sixty votes; and Benjamin Harrison, twenty-eight hundred seventy-nine.
In 1892 Grover Cleveland, Democrat, received twenty-eight hundred and one votes in DeKalb county; Benjamin Harrison, Republican, twenty-four hundred and ninety-nine; Bidwell, Prohibitionist, one hundred ninety-eight; and Weaver. Peoples, seven hundred and forty-six.
In 1896 William J. Bryan, Democrat, received thirty-six hundred and seventy-eight votes; William McKinley, Republican, thirty-one hundred and thirty-seven; Levering. Prohibitionist, thirty-three; Palmer, Gold Democrat, twenty-five; National ticker, fourteen.
In 1900 Bryan received thirty-four hundred and eighty-eight votes; McKinley, thirty-two hundred and eighteen; Woolley, Prohibitionist, two hundred and fifty-nine; the Social Democrats, Union Reform and Peoples tickets received two, one and seven votes, respectively.
In 1904 Alton B. Parker, Democrat, received two thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven votes; Theodore Roosevelt, Republican, three thousand four hundred and sixteen; Prohibitionist ticket, three hundred and forty-three; Peoples, sixty-seven; Socialist, one hundred fifty-four; Socialist Labor, twenty-nine.
In 1908 William J. Bryan, Democrat, received three thousand six hundred and twenty-four votes; William H. Taft, Republican, two thousand nine hundred and ninety-one; Prohibition, two hundred eighty-seven; Socialist, sixty-three; People, five; Socialist Labor, two; Independent, eighteen.
In 1912 Woodrow Wilson, Democrat, received two thousand seven hundred and sixty-six votes in DeKalb county; William H. Taft, Republican, one thousand one hundred twenty-five; Theodore Roosevelt, exponent to the new Progressive party, one thousand six hundred twenty-three; Prohibition, two hundred forty-four; Socialist, four hundred thirty seven.
Following is the list of senators who have served in the state Legislature from DeKalb county: Elias Baker, 1839-41; David B. Herriman, 1841-3; David B. Herriman, 1843-6; Madison Marsh, 1846-9; Reuben J. Dawson, 1849-50; Robert Work, 1850-2; George W. McConnell, 1852-6; Miles Waterman, 1856-1860; Timothy R. Dickinson, 1860-2; William H. Dills, 1862-4; Enos B. Noyes, 1864-8; George A. Milnes, 1868-1872; William G. Croxton, 1872-76; Samuel S. Shutt, 1876-1880; Jesse H. Carpenter, 1880-1884; Lafayette J. Miller, 1884-1888; _____ Jackson, 1888-1892; James E. McDonald, 1892-96; W. H. Nusbaum, 1896-1900; Charles H. Bruce, 1900-4; Cyrus E. Gallatin, 1904-8; Stephen A. Powers, 1908-12; Glenn Van Auken, 1912-1916.
Page 254 & 255
The following list comprises the representatives who have served in the state Legislature from DeKalb county, or such territory as the county has been identified with: Asa Brown, 1839-41; Madison Marsh, 1841-3; Jacob Helwig, 1843-4; Jacob Helwig, 1844-6; David B. Wheeler, 1846-8; Reuben J. Dawson, 1848-9; Edward R. May, 1849-50; Edward R. May, 1850-1; Gilman C. Mudget, 1851-2; E. F. Hammond, 1852-3; Robert Work, 1852-3; A. P. Clark, and James Hadsell, 1853-6; Bushrod Catlin and W. I. Howard, 1856-8; Miles Waterman, 1858-60; Henry Feagler, 1860-2; Miles Waterman, 1862-4; Robert M. Lockhart, 1864-6; Ezra D. Hartman, 1866-8; Lewis D. Britton, 1868-70; Lewis D. Britton, 1870-2; Samuel S. Shutt, 1872-4; Miles Waterman, 1874-6; William H. Madden, 1876-8; Samuel S. Shutt, 1878-1880; Samuel S. Shutt, (joint) and Daniel D. Moody, 1880-2; Eli B. Garber (joint) and Daniel D. Moody, 1882-4; William Barney (joint) and Daniel D. Moody, 1884-6; J. D. Leighty and William M. Barney 1886-88; ______ Jackson (joint) and Freeman Kelley, 1888-1890; Norman Teal (joint) and Freeman Kelley, 1890-92; Marion F. Franks, 1892-4; Frank A. Willis, 1894-6; Norman Teal (joint) and C. M. Brown, 1896-8; Charles M. Browns, 1898-1900; Jefferson W. Jackman, 1900-2; Russell S. Hull, 1902-4; Howard W. Mount, 1904-6; Luther W. Knisely, 1906-8; Edward M. McKennan, 1908-10; Edward M. McKennan, 1910-12; Edward M. McKennan, 1912-14.
From the year of 1837 to 1850 Wesley Park, Thomas J. Freeman, Jonathan Puffenbarger and S. W. Ralston successively held the office of sheriff. Since 1850 the following have held the office in DeKalb county: W. K. Straight, 1850-4; Isaac Brandt, 1854-6; S. W. Ralston, 1856-1860; J.N. Chanberlain, 1860-2; J.N. Miller, 1862-4; H. Willis, 1864-8; J. Plum, 1868-1872; W. L. Meese, 1872-6; K. Garrison, 1886-88; J. Plum, 1888-90; Philip Plum, 1890-2; George C. Ralston, 1892-4; Henry P. Stroh, 1894-6-8; John Hathaway, 1898-1902; George W. Bleeks, 1902-4; James W. Reed, 1904-6-8; R. L. Thomas, 1908-10-12; John P. Hoff, 1912-14.
John F. Coburn, 1837-1841; S. W. Sprott, 1841-1851; J. P. Widney, 1851-5; S. W. Sprott, 1855-9; John Ralston, 1859-1867; J. R. Lanning, 1867-1875; G. H. K. Moss, 1875-1880; John W. Baxter, 1880-4; D. Y. Husselman, 1884-6; George A. Bishop, 1886-98; George O. Denison, 1898-1904; Charles A. Jenkins, 1904-1908; Warren A. Austin, 1908-1912; John Hebel, 1912-14.
Pages 255 & 256
S. W. Sprott, 1841-2; Aaron Hague, 1842-9; Miles Waterman, 1849-55; M. F. Pierce, 1855-60; A. J. Hunt, 1860-2; George Kuhlman, 1862-6; W. W. Griswold, 1866-70; W. McIntyre, 1870-4; Isaac Hague, 1874-8; Albert Robbins, 1878-82; Thomas H. Tomlinson, 1882-6; Cyrus C. Walter, 1886-90; Herman N. Coffinberry, 1890-4; Frank A. Borst, 1894-8; Frank P. Seiler, 1898-1902; Herman D. Boozer, 1902-6; Emery A. Shook, 1906-10; A. W. Madden, 1910-1914.
The office of recorder was combined with that of the clerk for the first fourteen years of the county’s existence. The incumbents of the office since it was created have been: John McCune, 1851-5; W. W. Griswold, 1855-9; S. W. Widney, 1859-64; G. R. Hoffman, 1864-8; D. Z. Hoffman, 1868-76; M. Boland, 1876-84; John Butt, 1884-6; George M. Crane, 1886-90; Samuel Williams, 1890-4; Milton C. Jones 1894-8; Daniel Herrick, 1898-1904; John W. Henderson, 1904-8; Samuel G. Haverstock, 1908-12; William McNabb, 1912-(deceased); Harvey O. Williams appointed to fill out unexpired term.
Wesley Park, 837-51; S. W. Ralston, 1851-3; J. E. Hendricks, 1853-5; E. W. Fosdick, 1855-7; Jacob Helwig, 1857-9; R. B. Catlin, 1859-61; George Barney, 1861-5; L. J. Blair, 1865-7; F. D. Ryan, 1867-72; Nicholas Ensley, 1872-6; Daniel Gonser, 1876-80; L. J. Miller, 1880-4; ______Brandon, 1884-6; John L. Davis, 1886-8; George W. Probst, 1888-90; Reuben Sawvel, 1890-2-4; David W. Fair, 1894-6; Henry Hines, 1896-8; Francis M. Hines, 1898-1900-2; George W. Probst, 1902-4-6; H.H. Slaybaugh, 1906-8-10; John J. Oberlin, 1910-12.
Joseph Nodine, 1852-4; Joseph Nodine, 1854-6; Daniel W. Altenburg, 1856-8; Daniel W. Altenburg, 1858-60; Marius Buchanan, 1860-2; Daniel W. Altenburg, 1862-4; Henry M. Stoner, 1864-5; George W. Weeks, 1865-7; Joseph W. McCasslin, 1867-70; Isaac K. Shaffer, 1870-2; Chauncey C. Clark, 1872-4; Winfield S. Bangs, 1874-6; Jay J. Van Auken, 1876-8; J. J. Van Auken, 1878-1880; Azam P. Foltz, 1880-3; J. J. Van Auken, 1882-4; J.J. Van Auken, 1884-6; I F. McDowell, 1886-8; Jacob M. Hook, 1888-90-2; Calvin E. Van Auken, 1892-4-6; J. H. W. Krontz, 1896-8-1900; Commodore P. Hamman, 1900-2-4; John Eakright, 1904-6-8; Charles L. Wagner, 1908-10-12; A. L. Link, 1912-1914.
Robert Works, 1838-9; Bryon Bunnell, 1839-40; Wesley Park, 1840-1; John O. P. Sherlock, 1841-2; James Goetschius, 1842-3; O. A. Parsons, 1843-5; David Weaver, 1845-6; David Weaver, 1846-7; Joseph Nodine, 1847-8; John McClellan, 1848-9; Charles C. Knapp, 1849-51; Lyman Chidsey, 1851-2-4; Lyman H. Coe, 1854-6; Jeremiah Plum, 1856-8-60; Henry Willis, 1860-2; Jeremiah Plum, 1862-4; George W. A. Smith, 1864-6; Henry Feagler, 1866-8; George Metcalf, 1868-70-2; James J. Latson, 1872-4-6-8-80-82-84; Francis Picker, 1884-6; J. B. Casebeer, 1886-8; ______ Wood, 1888-90; Lafayette D. Miser, 1890-2-4; Vincent C. Bronson, 1894-6; J. W. Hughes, 1896-8; Emlin G. Campbell, 1898-1900; Charles Comesky, 1900-2; William H. Ettinger, 1902-4; John C. Baxter, 1904-6; Frank Broughton and Fred Briggs, 1906-8; Fred Briggs, 1908-10-12; E. Treesh, 1912-14;
Reuben J. Dawson, 1843-5; John W. Dawson, 1845-7; Reuben J. Dawson, 1847-9; Timothy R. Dickinson, 1849-50; Egbert B. Mott, 1850-2; J. M. McConnell, 1852-4; John W. Dawson, 1854-6; Sanford J. Stoughton, 1856-8; James M. Schell, 1858-9; George D. Copeland, 1859-60; Augustus A. Chapin, 1860-2; James H. Schell, 1862-4; Joseph W. Cunningham, 1864-6; Thomas Wilson, 1866-7; Thomas J. Smith, 1867-70; Thomas Wilson, 1870-2; Leigh H. Haymond, 1872-4; William B. McConnell, 1874-6; Daniel H. Moody, 1876-8; George B. Adams, 1878-80; George B. Adams, 1880-2; Harry Reynolds, 1882-4; Francis M. Powers, 1884-6; E. A. Bratton, 1886-8; H. Leas, 1888-92; Joseph Butler, 1892-6-8; Cyrus B. Jackson, 1898-1900; Joseph Butler, 1900-2; Alphonso Wood, 1902-4; Charles S. Smith, 1904-6; J. Delano Brinkerhoff, 1906-8; Joseph Butler, 1908-10; William H. Leas, 1910-12; James R. Nyce, 1912-14.
COMMON PLEAS PROSECUTORS
W.W. Griswold, 1852-4; Asa M. Tinker, 1854-6; Leland H. Stocker, 1856-8; Abner Pinchin, 1858-60; Joseph W. Cummings, 1860-2; Alexander B. Kennedy, 1862-4; Asa M. Tinker, 1864-6; Joseph D. Ferrall, 1866-8; William G. Croxton, 1868-70-2; Daniel Y. Husselman, 1872-4. The office was then abolished and the business turned over to the circuit court.
In the chapter, "Bench and Bar," is given a full list of the judges (common pleas, associate, and circuit) who have served DeKalb county or territories comprising the county.