Over the years, Dallas Center, Waukee and Perry tried to promote their towns as the most logical place for the county seat.
In February 1893, Waukee made a very serious effort to get the county seat away from Adel. M. J. Wragg visited around the county to promote Waukee. It was reported in the Dallas Center paper that the entire town was enthusiastic in regard to the removal of the county seat. Waukee had the grounds ready to donate, “a handsome park well set with hard and soft maples and evergreens, all grown trees.”
In May 1893, a newspaper was started called the Waukee Advocate, under the name of M. F. Danford, who had it published in Des Moines. It appeared that it was started to help in the removal of the county seat to Waukee. The other papers in the county took up the fight against Waukee, except for a Perry paper. It was reported later that Perry felt it they could help Waukee win their fight, they would have an easy time in getting it later for themselves.
Waukee argues that because of their two railroads they were the most accessible place in Dallas County. Of course, the Adel editors felt this was not a valid argument. The people were urged to look at a map of Iowa and see that the majority of our counties had a central location for their county seat. The editor also felt that the railroad argument proved nothing. He reminded the farmers if they took the rails to the county seat they would also have a livery bill to pay. We quote, “It don’t pay to keep a horse and then do one’s riding on the cars.” He also argued that it would be more expensive for the county seat to be in Walnut township. Legal officers received 5 cents per travel mile and Adel was only five miles from the center of population, whereas Waukee was twelve miles from that point. Besides, in 15 years it would amount to enough to build a good courthouse.
On June 7, 1892, Waukee filed a petition for a vote on relocation of the county seat. The board ordered an election to be held. The editorials got hot and heavy, the fight was on. In July, the Waukee Advocate advertised that it wanted a bank, creamery, a butter and egg house, a millinery store and a hardware store. The editors for the opposition took this up immediately with the comment, “A town that enjoys a location in the midst of a ‘rich farming country’ and that has enjoyed the superior advantages of one railroad since 1869 and two railroads for the past fifteen years and yet lacks the common essentials to prosperity can hardly be said to present any great inducements to the people as a suitable location for the county seat of so good a county as Dallas.” Then, a couple of weeks later, we find this comment, “The best argument Waukee has yet advanced why she should have the county seat is that if the county would spend 60 or 70 thousand dollars in improvements it would help the town. But the good that the county would get out of it has not yet become apparent.”
From the Dallas County Record of Nov. 10, 1893, we copy this report: “The county seat contest ended as it began and was conducted throughout on both sides in a good natured honorable way in which no man lost his good name as an honest, upright fighter for that which his heart yearns and has a right to have if he can get it.
There were a little less than 4,000 votes on both sides of which less than 1,000 were in favor of moving the county seat to Waukee. Waukee made an honest, upright, energetic fight for that which she has a right to seek and obtain if the people grant it. She failed, going down good-naturedly, her colors flying as did Democracy throughout the north on the same day. J. H. Carter was in Adel Wednesday and acknowledged their defeat in a good-natured way without spleen as did also Isaac Yetter.
The Democrat believes this will be true of all Waukee’s advocates with very few exceptions. They made a fight of which they need not feel ashamed and that made Adel feel feverish and chilly by turns but the contest ended last Tuesday and it seems that all will be serene hereafter as between Waukee and Adel. It also seems clear that the people of Dallas County would have the county seat remain permanently at Adel.
It must be noted here that not long after the election for Waukee as the county seat was voted down, Dallas County held a special election to vote for building a new courthouse in Adel. This was also defeated.