County government in 1913

Stutsman County commissioners had certain tasks to do.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig
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Many government boards reorganize with any newly elected members during the first meeting of the year in January. The Stutsman County Commission was no exception in 1913.

Among the first thing they had to do was arrange for bonds or insurance for the commissioners. A new state law required that each commissioner carry a $5,000 bond “intended for the faithful discharge of all duties … and protect the county against acts of omission or commission of errors caused by carelessness, etc.”

The county government had to pick up the cost for the bonds.

The commission appointed a number of local residents to boards associated with the health and well-being of the citizens of the county. In another important matter, it extended the gopher bounty program for another year.

A report from the county poor farm showed six human residents along with five hogs ready to butcher, four cows that would start milking in April and 150 chickens.


They then reviewed the report from the county judge. The report included some startling changes between the records of 1911 and 1912.

The number of marriage licenses went up from 150 to 182 in Stutsman County. That is a jump of about 21%.

The same report found the number of insanity cases brought in Stutsman County dropped from 15 to nine. That is a decrease of about 40%.

Records show 1912 was a leap year and had one more day in it than 1911 although it is hard to see that as causing those levels of change.

In the coverage by The Jamestown Alert, the county judge did have an explanation that is likely as good as any for the changes.

“Good crop conditions,” said the judge.

The explanation makes sense. In a rural and agricultural county, good crops translate to less stress and mental health issues and more optimism that can lead to marriage.

There really isn’t anything the Stutsman County Commission could do about those things but hope for good crops again in 1913.


Author Keith Norman can be reached at

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