A Road, A Well and a Train
Chapter title – Batesville City Government
Batesville City Government
In accordance with laws passed by the Indiana legislature for the preparation of villages to incorporate as towns, a census was taken, a town plat prepared and an application prepared. The necessary documents assembled, Mr. Charles Johnson, Sr. Christian Schwier, William Hillenbrand, Theodore Greeman filed them at Versailles, signed by 96 residents of the prospective town in September 1882. The census was required to have the names and addresses of all residents listed in the proposed town.
The application was approved on November 17, 1882, followed by immediate preparations for the first town election. State law stipulated that town officials would include one trustee for each district, or ward, a clerk and a treasurer. The officers elected at this election would hold their office until the following first Monday in May or until their successors elected and installed. The first election apparently took place during the first week in December and the officers sworn in around December 11, 1882.
Town Government Begins
Charles Johnson, Justice of the Peace, swore this first slate of town officials into office. Apparently, there is no written record of these events, however state law mandated this timetable and procedure, so it is assumed that that is what happened. The first town board members were Jacob Blank Jr. John Lehmkueler, John Hillenbrand, William Hillenbrand and Christian Schwier. R. N. Papet gained election as the first town clerk and the town marshal was Frederick Schrader. Jacob Blank was chosen as president of the Town Board. The council’s first act was to adopt a town seal. This would be called the “Corporation Seal of Batesville.” John Lehmkueler received the assignment to acquire a book to use to record the Board’s activities. The board held their second meeting on December 15 when Henry Decker was appointed Treasurer.
The Town Board contracted with several local men to build a jail. The men completed the work, the town council paying a total of $211.50 to the men on January 9,1885.
Incorporation Not Legal
During the summer of 1887 questions arose over the legality of the town’s incorporation. Ripley County Circuit Judge John G. Barkshire examined the case and ruled since the town’s incorporation had been approved during a special Board of Commissioners meeting on November 17, 1782, the incorporation was not valid since state law states that town incorporations must be approved during a regular Commissioner meeting. The men that petitioned for incorporation had not wanted to wait for the December meeting when they presented their petition after the meeting had officially ended. Thus, the commissioners had convened a special meeting after the regular meeting and granted approval to the petition. The judge ruled that if the town would present the petition again at the next regular Commissioner’s meeting the incorporation would be legal. Batesville officials complied with this request and the Board officially approved the town’s incorporation on December 9, 1887.
Questions Over Legality Continued
Despite the action of the County Council in December 1887, many continued to question whether the town’s charter was legal. This state of affairs could be troublesome, leading to litigation over statutes the Town Board had passed prior to the official approval by the county council. Batesville resident Donald McCallum, who was a member of the Indiana legislature, introduced a bill into the legislature that would legalize the incorporation and solve the problem. The legislation would ratify all statutes, ordinances, legal contracts, minutes and other proceedings conducted by the Town Board. The legislature approved this bill on June 24, 1907. A full reading of this legislation can be found on page 135, Book II, of Minnie Wycoff’s Builders of a City.
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