Jefferson County Seat War

Date in History: 1850’s

The small village of Jefferson was chosen as our county seat because of its central location. But by the 1850s the citizens of prosperous Watertown felt that they should have the county government. In 1856 the Mayor of Watertown convinced the state assembly to let the voters decide, and to ensure victory he started litigation to annex the five southern townships of Dodge County.

On election day, it was pretty apparent that both sides were cheating. At one polling place, pro-Jefferson men voted under their own name and then again using a name pulled out of the Cinncinnati City Directory. But the additional Dodge County voters were too much for them. Lucky for Jefferson, the State Supreme Court later invalidated the annexation scheme as well as the Dodge County voters, giving the victory to Jefferson.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 02/17/2003.

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