A couple weeks back I made a trip around Hamilton County to grab a few town signs I was missing in the county. There were a few interesting discoveries.
Hamilton is the 4th county that I’ve knocked off.
Purple = Completed
Hopefully when we get through the pandemic, I can open these little trips to other people. Particularly when I come to visit your county.
Also, any tips on some small town treasures could move a county up in the pecking order. In fact, on Saturday I got a good tip on Woolstock, Iowa that moved Wright County up in the pecking order. Maybe passing Marshall and Carroll counties.
It is kind of a well documented fact that people from Webster County are a little bit untrustworthy. There is a reason I can refer to a town as “The Dirty” and everybody instantly knows I’m talking about Fort Dodge. A town known for having a liquor store in its slums that will sell alcohol to 4 year-olds.
I bring this up because there really shouldn’t be a Hamilton County. There should just be one big Webster County, with a County Seat in Homer. Haven’t heard of Homer, Iowa? Yeah, that is because it doesn’t really exist any longer. Why? Because people from Fort Dodge aren’t trustworthy. In fact, at a time when Homer was bigger than Fort Dodge and Webster City (then called Newcastle) combined the thugs from Fort Dodge stole an election from Homer. Legitimately stole an election. Homer didn’t get their butt kicked by Joe Biden and then sat in their office whining about it and spreading disinformation via social media while trying to undermine our democracy. The election was legitimately stolen from them.
Here is the tale from the Hamilton County History website:
Prepared by Martin E. Nass
Granville Burkley was successful in carrying his petition to the legislature in 1851 and they created the new county, Webster County, by taking all of Yell, all of Risley, and the lower half of Humboldt (then called Bancroft) Counties. The new county was assigned to Boone County for administration. Two commissioners, Elisha Anderson and Samuel McCall came to meet with Burkley to locate a county seat. Burkley persuaded them to select his site for the town and to name it Homer, for the epic Greek poet. They selected Secion 6-87-26. The new county obtained title to the land on October 14, 1854. Judge Pierce entered a warrant for $114.00 for the town plat.
Burkley built himself a cabin, then got himself appointed as postmaster. He kept the mail under his bed in a tin box. He constructed the first school in Homer, and then promptly padlocked it until the residents would pay him what he wanted. R. W. Alcon was first school teacher at this school. Burkley then arranged for the new state road, which came from Des Moines through Boonesboro (Montana) in Boone County, then through Mineral Ridge, entering our county and passing through Hook’s Point. The road then went to Homer before turning west through Border Plains, Brushy, and on to Fort Dodge.
Homer grew and prospered until it reached a population of about 600. Fort Dodge had about 200 and Newcastle about 100. It seemed that Homer’s future was secure.
Two men came upon the scene to change things. John F. Duncombe of Fort Dodge got together with Walter C. Willson of Newcastle and plans were made to “get” the county seat. They arranged for an election to be held to divide the huge county into two again, each to have a county seat. Since the population of Homer exceeded the combined population of Fort Dodge and Newcastle, Homer felt secure. Willson had arranged earlier to have the Western Stage Company run its line from Dubuque to Alden, Newcastle, and Fort Dodge. Fort Dodge had secured the federal land office in 1855. To ensure a legal election, Burkley stayed in Newcastle to supervise the balloting. He loved to argue politics and he loved to drink. The Newcastle people kept him busy with both, and he did not detect that stage passengers were alighting to vote and then get on the stage for a run to Fort Dodge and vote again. The results went against Homer. They complained and carried their case to the Iowa Supreme Court who ruled that there was evidence widespead cheating on both sides so the election results were upheld.
Duncombe helped Willson get elected to the state legislature to carry the petition for the split of the county. He rode a mule to Marengo and then took the stagecoach to Iowa City, the state’s capital. He planned to arrange for the west half to retain the name Webster and designate Fort Dodge as the county seat. He also had planned for the east half to take the name Sharon and have as the county seat, Newcastle, which was to be renamed Webster City. When he arrived at the state house he quickly realized that he needed some help to get his bill passed. William W. Hamilton, of Cascade, Iowa, was president of the senate. Willson changed the act to give the name Hamilton County to the east half to honor and recognize Hamilton’s help. This act was passed on December 22, 1856 to take effect on Jan 1, 1857.
Thus the name of Webster County was replaced by Hamilton County. Due to a mistake in the numbering of sections in the act, not all of Bancroft County was passed back to Humboldt County. The bottom tier of townships were left in Webster County, which accounts for the fact that the two county north lines do not align. Another act of the legislature required that any further adjusting of county lines would require a majority vote of citizens on both sides of the line. Hence, Webster County never gave back their townships, and never will.
The people of Webster County are so terrible they even stole land from Bancroft County. Never heard of Bancroft County? Yeah, cause it doesn’t exist any more either. That isn’t all the fault of the terrible people of Webster County. The terrible people of Kossuth County also had a hand in that. But we’ll get to that at a later date, I’m sure.
Here is a collection of the town signs of Hamilton County. (Population numbers are from 2010 census.)
Webster City – 8,070
If you are wondering about the history of Christy Town, I thought it might be the site of a religious cult, because there is a Lutheran Camp there (apologies to Lutherans) and the word “Christ” in the name, but turns out just a woman named Christy lived there. Not even for that long. Yeah, boring!
In Hamilton County, I would rank Stanhope as having the best sign and give Jewell the second best. Blairsburg and Ellsworth have the worst.
There were a couple towns that could have really upped their town sign game. For example, Stratford is named after the town that Shakespeare was from. Almost all the streets are named after famous English authors, like Milton Street, Shakespeare Avenue, Tennyson Avenue, and Dryden Street.
There is a lot to play with there. For example, this sign advertising their business district is way better than the town sign that greets you when you enter the town on 175:
Randall’s sign isn’t bad. As far as nice signs go, it is nice. But they have this sign in their park that is better:
Although, as far as I know, Randall has no peach history. No burgeoning peach industry. Maybe there used to be a peach tree where that sign stands. Randall is pretty far north to grow peaches. Even Reliance or Polly peaches.
If you can’t tell what I like in a sign. It is the following. I like something with artwork on it. It should have a good town slogan. Preferably something that relates to the name of the town. I also like signs that look like they weren’t put together by a professional. I also like signs that reference an athletic accomplishment of a local high school from a long time ago or reference to a (minor) celebrity that was born in that town. I also like signs that are somewhat weathered. Brick signs that just say a town name are the worst. The absolute worst.
Although there are a couple signs in Hamilton County that I like. My Top 5 remains unchanged. After the next county, I might open this up to Top 10.
Christopher D. Bennett Iowa Sign Power Rankings
#5. Scranton, Iowa
Now, that is how I feel today. I’m sure if asked tomorrow, I would rank a different Top 5. But I think the Top 3 is pretty solid.
The next county I’m going to knock off is Webster County. Visiting The Dirty! No Taco Tico though!