Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick

The Governor was received well in Bonaparte

Probably no other politician to visit Van Buren County received a greater welcome and acclamation than did Governor Albert Baird Cummins when he came to Bonaparte in 1908.

Cummins (1850-1926) was born February 15, 1850 in a log cabin in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania where he worked as a carpenter with his father, attended country schools, then went four years to Waynesburg College although he didn't graduate.

He studied to be a civil engineer and helped build railroads in Indiana. He also studied law and with his brother had a practice in Des Moines. When he first came to Iowa, he worked in the Recorder's Office in Elkader. He went on to become the most influential leader in Iowa politics during the first quarter of the 20th Century.

As a lawyer, he once represented farmers who were trying to break an eastern syndicate that controlled barbed wire. That in itself was unusual, since he usually represented corporations and businessmen. He was always a polarizing figure, going against the grain at the expense of "standpatters" who controlled the Republican Party who were opposed to change.

He was the 18th governor of Iowa, became a U.S. Senator, and was a presidential candidate in the elections of 1912 and 1916. He had campaign experience, having taken an active role in the McKinley Campaign of 1896.

When he visited Bonaparte, almost a thousand citizens greeted him enthusiastically at the railroad station. The band played, and he was ushered to Hugh Meek's beautiful and elaborate Hill Crest home where a party was held in his honor, along with a 10-course dinner that began at 7 o'clock. It seems that Bonaparte has always held a special knack for food.

At the Opera House earlier, Dr. Cresap introduced the governor, who spoke about the prevailing issues of the day to an appreciative audience. He left on the following morning for Farmington, and the Opera House became the scene of Commencement Exercises for three Bonaparte high school graduates receiving diplomas that year.

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick