I turned on my heel, went back to Governor Wade, and signed the petition for Monterey Centre; and then Magnus Thorkelson did the same. Then we both signed another petition carried by both parties, asking that an election be called by the judge of the county south which had jurisdiction over us, for the election of officers. And just as I had expected one side to begirt crowing over the other, and I had decided that there would be a fight, both crowds jumped into their rigs and went off over the prairie, very good naturedly it seemed to me, after the next settler.
“Jake,” said N.V., as they turned their buggy around, “you’ll make some woman a damned good husband, some day!” and he took off his hat very politely to Virginia, who blushed as red as the reddest rose then blooming on the prairie.
That was the way counties were organized in Iowa. It is worth remembering because it was the birth of self-government. The people made their counties and their villages and their townships as they made their farms and houses and granaries. Everybody was invited to take part—and it was not until long afterward that I confessed to Magnus that I had never once thought when I signed those petitions that I was not yet a voter; and then he was frightened to realize that he was not either. He had not yet been naturalized. The only man in the county known to me who took no interest in the contest was Buck Gowdy. When Judge Stone asked him why, he said he didn’t give a damn. There was too much government for him there already, he said.
We did get the election called, and after we had elected our officers there was no county-seat for them to dwell in; so that county judge off to the south appointed a commission to locate the county-seat, which after driving over the country a good deal and drinking a lot of whisky, according to Dick McGill, made Monterey Centre the county town, which it still remains. The Lithopolis people gained one victory—they elected Judge Horace Stone County Treasurer. Within a month N.V. Creede had opened a law office in Monterey Centre, Dick McGill had begun the publication of the Monterey Centre Journal of fragrant memory, Lithopolis began to advertise its stone quarries, and Grizzly Reed, an old California prospector, who had had his ear torn off by a bear out in the mountains, began prospecting for gold along the creek, and talking mysteriously. The sale of lots in Lithopolis went on faster than ever.
I BECOME A BANDIT AND A TERROR
When General Weaver was running for governor, a Populist worker called on my friend Wilbur Wheelock, who was then as now a stock buyer at our little town of Ploverdale, and asked him if he were a Populist.
“No,” said Wilbur, “but I have all the qualifications, sir!”
“What do you regard as the qualifications?” asked the organizer.