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County Seat of Washington County

By Frank McNeely  (source)

In 1855 an act was passed by the territorial legislature reorganizing Washington county and designating Fort Calhoun as the county-seat.

De Soto, a small village five miles north of Fort Calhoun, wished the county-seat to be moved there. In the winter of 1858 a crowd of De Soto citizens organized and with arms went to Fort Calhoun to take the county-seat by force. Fort Calhoun citizens barricaded themselves in the log courthouse and held off the De Soto band until the afternoon of the second day, when by compromise, the county-seat was turned over to De Soto. One man was killed in this contest, in which I was a participant.

The county-seat remained in De Soto until an election in the fall of 1866 when the vote of the people relocated it at Fort Calhoun, where it remained until 1869. An election in the latter year made Blair the county seat.

A courthouse was built in Blair, the present county-seat of Washington county, in 1889, at a cost of $50,000.

NOTE – In the early days every new town, and they were all new, was ambitious to become the county seat and many of them hopefully sought the honor of becoming the capital of the territory. Washington county had its full share of aspiring towns and most of them really got beyond the paper stage. There were De Soto, Fort Calhoun, Rockport, Cuming City, and last but not least – Fontenelle, then in Washington county, now a “deserted village” in Dodge county. Of these only Fort Calhoun remains more than a memory. De Soto, was founded by Potter C. Sullivan and others in 1854, and in 1857 had about five hundred population. It began to go down in 1859, and when the city of Blair was started its decline was rapid. Rockport, which was in the vicinity of the fur trading establishments of early days, was a steamboat landing of some importance and had at one time a population of half a hundred or more. Now only the beautiful landscape remains. Cuming City, like De Soto, received its death blow when Blair was founded, and now the townsite is given over to agricultural purposes.

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