The County Seat Fight

A special election was held on the 12th day of September, 1881, for the purpose of determining the permanent location of the county seat of Alturas county, Idaho Territory. The minutes of the Board of County Commissioners under the date of September 25, 1881, are as follows: “The returns from the various precincts (excepting Canon Creek and Indian Creek) having been received, the said meeting was held publicly, the returns or poll books were received by the Clerk of this Board, were presented to the Board, were found duly sealed and were then publicly opened, and the Board proceeded to canvas and count the votes and it was found that the town of Hailey received 1070 votes for the county seat, and that the town of Bellevue received 1071 votes, the town of Ketchum 356, and the town of Rocky Bar 236 votes. On motion the Board adjourned sine die.” There is nothing more in the minutes in regard to the result of this special election, nor is there anything to show whether the election returns from Canon Creek and Indian Creek precincts ever were received. From what follows, it is reasonable to presume that they were received and counted later, and that the town of Hailey got a majority of those votes.

The next thing in the minutes in regard to this matter is as follows: “Ordered by the Board that G. L. Bixby be and he is hereby authorized and empowered to employ counsel to take all and any steps necessary in defense of any suit now pending in the District Court of the Second Judicial District of Idaho Territory in and for Alturas County, against the Board of County Commissioners of said county in regard to the removal of the county seat from Rocky Bar. “Ordered that the clerk of this board notify James H. Hawley, district attorney, to appear for and defend any suit or suits now pending in Alturas County, I. T. in which the Board of County Commissioners or Alturas County is a party.” In the minutes of the District Court under date of October 26, 1881, is the following entry: “Joseph A. Rupert vs. The Board of County Commissioners of Alturas County. On motion of F. E. Ensign, Esq., Ordered that this cause be placed on the calendar.” On the following day the case was set for trial on November 2, 1881.

On that date the motion to dismiss the appeal was argued, submitted, and taken under advisement. On November 3, 1881,the Court denied the motion to dismiss the appeal. The case was thereupon tried before the Court and the Court rendered its decision on the same day, as follows: “The Court Ordered, Adjudged and Decreed, that the town of Hailey having received the highest number of votes for county seat, at the Special Election held in said County of Alturas on the second Monday of September A. D. 1881, said town of Hailey is hereby established and confirmed as the permanent county seat of said Alturas County, and that each party pay his own costs. H. E. Prickett, Presiding Judge.’ In the County Commissioners’ minutes of July 6, 1882, a county warrant for $700.00 was ordered drawn to defray the expenses of removing the county records from Rocky Bar to Hailey. The Board then adjourned to meet at Hailey. On August 2, 1882 the Board met at Hailey, I. T., pursuant to adjournment. There being no Court House at Hailey, the Board rented various rooms for the county officers.

On July 12, 1882, the following order was made and entered: “Resolved that the Chairman and Auditor be and they are hereby authorized and empowered in behalf of the county to enter into a written lease with L. H. Woodin & Texas Angel, owners of Bullion Block, for the use of the county for County Jail and County offices from the 15th day of April, 1883, to such time as the Board of County Commissioners may decide, at a monthly rental of $425.00 payable quarterly in warrants.” This was a two-storied building with a stone basement and was situated on Lot 1, Block 32. The basement was used for a jail. The building, now occupied by Jacobs Variety Store, is situated on the same site.

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