PRIMGHAR, Iowa | I'll have a feature in Thursday's Journal about the upcoming 100th birthday celebration for the O'Brien County Courthouse, which takes place June 16.
I didn't quite have enough time in that piece to write a bit about Hannibal H. Waterman, so I'll share here. Waterman came to O'Brien County with his wife, Hannah Waterman, and their daughter, Emily Waterman, in 1856. They settled five miles northwest of Peterson, Iowa, which, for a time, was the Clay County seat.
Hannah Waterman taught school as other settlers became established locally. The first O'Brien County Courthouse was a log structure built on the Waterman farm. Eventually, the county bought 40 acres nearby and moved the log courthouse to that site, which became known as the town of O'Brien, about three miles west of Peterson.
For about four years, this site served as the county seat, although many residents went to nearby Peterson for their business needs. In 1872, voters in O'Brien County voted to move the county seat to a central location, a site that had nothing but prairie grass at the time.
The site became Primghar with two courthouses eventually being built in the center of town, followed by a third, which stands today. The $160,000 structure remains as a hub of government activity, the work-site for 32 employees.
The result would likely please Hannibal Waterman, who, according to the local history annals, "frankly stated that he wanted the county seat, its affairs and business as far away (from his farm) as possible."