|Page 33||History of Story County, Iowa||Page 33|
taining to our civilization are our courts of law. It is said that the title to all the real estate of a county passes through the courts on an average as often as once in thirty years. But if our first court in Story was appertaining to civilization and either invested or divested title to real estate we don't envy the early settlers of this county their civilization, but we might sympathize with some of the unfortunate owners of the soil for their misfortunes inflicted under the title of legal adjudication. It is said the first term of court in Story County was held at the farm house of E. C. Evans, (a small log cabin), on the east side of Skunk River in what is now Franklin Township. The officers of this court were Judge McKay, of Des Moines; Clark F. Thompson; Eli Deal, sheriff; W. W. Williamson, of Des Moines, prosecuting attorney. The records do not show the presence of any attorneys other than the prosecutor: but we learn from persons present that D. O. Finch, of Des Moines, was present.
The first Grand Jury consisted of Joseph P. Robinson, foreman; Adolphus Prouty, Elisha Alderman, Nathan Webb, Shadrick Worrell. G. Vest, Samuel Heistand, Jacob Wheeler, John Hughes, Geo. R. Zenor, Presley R. Craig, James C. Smith, Joseph Brouhard, Jonah Griffith, and Judiah Ray. The first indictment, and the only one found by this Grand Jury, and the only cause that appears upon the docket at this term of court was against Barnabas Lowell, an incident that is mentioned elsewhere. The records of this term of court were kept on loose sheets of paper which have been lost, and but a part of which were afterward transcribed into a journal of the court, and but little is known of what was done except as is retained in the memory of those who were present. As an example of the manner in which justice was dealt out in those days in this court, we mention the fact that Joseph P. Robinson was the magistrate before whom Lowell was taken for preliminary examination when first arrested for the murder, and he was committed to jail by the said Robinson to await the action of the Grand Jury of the county. When court convened the same J. P. Robinson was made foreman of the the Grand Jury that found the indictment against Lowell.
A change of venue was taken to Polk County by Lowell, where be was tried, found guilty of murder in the second degree, and sent to the penitentiary for life. It is said, upon good authority, that the magistrate after hearing the evidence upon the part of the State proceeded to and did pass the death sentence, and addressing the prisoner he said: "And it is the sentence of the court that you, Barnabas Lowell, be taken hence and hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead; and may God have mercy on your soul."' At this juncture some of the bystanders suggested to the magistrate that he had no power to pass sentence of death, whereupon he said: "I guess I know." Other bystanders then suggested to the magistrate that it might be better to postpone the execution a few days to give the culprit a. chance to make his peace with his God and