Friday, August 21, 2015

Van Buren County Courthouse

The Van Buren County courthouse in Keosauqua, completed in 1843, is the oldest courthouse in Iowa and the second oldest courthouse in continuous use since its completion in the United States.  
It currently appears to be undergoing renovation, so although the two brick buildings with offices on either side appeared to be open, we didn't make it into the courthouse.  We only admired it from the outside. 
 This courthouse is where the first legal death penalty in Iowa was handed down (in 1845).  The convicted was hanged in April of 1846, north of the courthouse at a place called Hangman's Hollow.  That was the only time a person was sentenced to death in Van Buren County.  

 Van Buren County was formed December 7, 1836, and named for Martin Van Buren, the president-elect, who was inaugurated March 4, 1837.  Keosauqua, the name of the town, was derived from the Meskwaki and Sauk name for the Des Moines River.
We saw a couple retaining walls like this one in Keosauqua on our trip.  It's made of  wire fencing filled with rocks.
The Honey War took place just south of Keosauqua in 1839.  Due to unclear wording in important documents, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations, there was a dispute over a 9.5 mile strip extending the entire length of the border between Missouri and Iowa.

Missouri tax collectors attempted to collect taxes in Van Buren and Davis Counties, but as the story goes, they were chased away by residents with pitchforks after chopping down three hollow trees containing honey to collect the honey in partial payment for the taxes.

The Missouri governor sent 11 mounted militiamen to protect the tax collector.  But Missouri General Willock didn't want to see blood shed between the two states over an issue that should have been settled legally.  An Iowan mob captured the Clark County, Missouri sheriff and put him in a Muscatine, Iowa jail.  The Iowa militia was called out to guard the border, which they did, armed with flintlocks, blunderbusses, swords, plow coulters, and sausage stuffers.  However, the two governors decided to let Congress decide the issue instead of fighting it out, and the only casualties remained the three honey trees.
The flower on the right was blooming in front of the courthouse's office building.  To the side and across the street from the courthouse is a veterans memorial.
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40 comments:

  1. What a beautiful building! It's amazing it's been in use for so long already :) Thank you for sharing the interesting history with us. I'm happy there were no more casualties than the honey trees.
    Have a wonderful weekend, Bethany :)

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  2. It's a lovely historic building with quite some history involved! We've noticed that those kinds of gabion walls are on the increase
    Hope you can visit my new blog Christineandhercamera.blogspot.com and follow my travels in pictures!
    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Ah, gabion walls?! Nice to know the name; I didn't realize what they were called. I'll head over to your new blog now. :)

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  3. honey war. now that's an interesting bit of history - thankfully no one else was killed!

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  4. Such pretty pictures. Our courthouse, in this little town, is the oldest in Colorado. Janey

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  5. Such fascinating history. And beautiful photos too! Thanks for sharing Bethany and happy weekend to you!
    xoxo

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  6. an interestinf post with both history and lovely photographs.

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  7. Great pics, Bethany. I always learn something new when I visit your blog and I find out about so many interesting places that I never knew about. Thanks for taking us on the tour with you and have a lovely weekend... :)

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  8. Bethany it is a nice building with rich history

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  9. I thought it was nice how the Honey War was resolved in the courts instead of with bloodshed. It was very sensible of them.

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  10. I'm sure the honey war was no laughing matter, but when I read sausage stuffer, I had to laugh. Great story, and as always, I enjoyed seeing another historical courthouse.
    Have a lovely weekend!

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    1. Iowans were willing to defend themselves against Missourian tax collectors with whatever they had!

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  11. What a pretty building and area around it. This was an interesting post. I love to hear history like that.
    There is a VanBuren County near me in Michigan as well.

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    1. There are a couple towns here in Iowa that were renamed because other towns had the same names...but I guess Michigan is far enough away that it's not too bad to share a county name. ;) Neat to hear.

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  12. A great history lesson, Bethany. And, some great photos.

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    1. We don't have any like that in our area that I know of, so I thought it was interesting!

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  14. Lots of great history! I get the urge to chase away tax collectors with pitchforks, too ☺

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    1. Haha! Ahh, Martha! :D I think a lot of us have to fight that urge!

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  15. I had never heard of the Honey War...I suppose there is a lot we have never heard of.

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  16. This is a very majestic building, Bethany!
    The fences, both the metal ones and the rock fence, are very impressive.
    Nice report with crisp photos!
    Have a Beautiful Day!
    Peace :)

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  17. Very interesting and love the old building and its sign.

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  18. Hi Bethany! Back from my recent galavanting I just had the pleasure of scrolling back and catching up with some of your news :) I loved getting to see photos of your mom and grandma as well as your parody pose with your papa! The arched bridge is beautiful and the air museum, historic sites and cafes are uniquely interesting. As much as I have traveled around our great country there is so much I have not seen and I appreciate your efforts to enlighten me. Having spent fifteen years living in the Show Me state of Missouri [just south of Kansas City] I am looking forward to seeing what you have to show me on the next installments of your St. Louis trip. I'm praying for the Lord's blessings on you and yours from the smokey wildfire Northwest. xx

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Gracie! There are so many interesting sites to be seen. Blessings to you as well (and I hope the wildfires are soon controlled)!

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  19. The Honey War is a fascinating piece of history! Thank you for sharing this strange tale and for the beautiful photos of the court house. The hibiscus flower sure is pretty, too.

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  20. Hi Bethany, The old courthouse building looks impressive. I think I would expect to see that building more back in New England. That is neat ... the second oldest in continuous use in the US. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing your visit.

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