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162. The County Treasurer.—The county treasurer receives and holds all moneys belonging to the county. His books show all the receipts and expenditures, and are always open to the inspection of the supervisors. All taxes are paid to him, with the exception of the road taxes of cities and townships, the collection of which has been spoken of elsewhere (142). Taxes are due the first of January of each year, but they may be paid in two equal installments, on the first of March and on the first of September. After the first of April, there is a penalty of one per cent. a month, and on the first Monday in December the real estate on which taxes are still delinquent is required to be sold by the treasurer of the county. The title given to the purchaser is called a tax-title, and is subject to certain privileges of redemption by the delinquent tax-payer.
163. The County Attorney.—The county attorney is the legal advisor of the supervisors and other county officers, and appears for the State in the prosecution of criminals, or in civil cases where the county is involved.
164. The County Recorder. —The county recorder keeps a verbatim copy of all deeds and mortgages, with the exact time of registering each.
(1) A deed is a written document conveying the ownership of real property from one party to another. The original deed, by which real estate is granted by the United States government to an individual or corporation, is called a patent.
(2.) A mortgage is a deed conditioned on the nonpayment of certain obligations mentioned therein.
Mortgages are given on real estate and on personal property; the latter are called chattel mortgages.
165. Buying Real Estate.—When one buys real estate, it is necessary to consult the books of the county recorder to be certain that the title is clear, and that there are no mortgages recorded against it. If there is such a mortgage, it must be satisfied by the new owner, even though he was ignorant of its existence, and paid full value for the property. If the mortgage had not been entered on the books of the county recorder, the note which it was intended to secure cannot be collected from the new owner of the property. Sometimes several mortgages are given on the same property, and are called first, second, and third mortgages. These must be satisfied in their order, and, as the mortgage first recorded is, generally speaking, the first mortgage to be satisfied, the date and hour of registration is a matter of importance.
166. The County Clerk.-The clerk of the district court, usually called the county clerk, keeps the records, papers, and official seal of the court. He also keeps various books in which are recorded the judgments which the court has granted as satisfaction to parties in civil suits; also various other claims, such as mechanic's liens, attachments, and other incumbrances on property. Here, then, on the books of the county clerk is another list of items important to purchasers of property, inasmuch as the property, even after changing hands, is liable to sale for satisfaction of these liens. There are, then, three places where incumbrances are recorded, and which should be consulted when one buys property :
(1.) The treasurer's books, for evidence of delinquent taxes.
(2.) The recorder's books, for mortgages.
(3.) The clerk's books, for judgments and other liens.
One may obtain an abstract of title for a piece of property by consulting any person who keeps a set of abstracts. This person charges a price for the paper, which he guarantees to contain a statement of all liens recorded in these three places, as well as a full history of past changes in ownership.
167. Other Duties of the County Clerk.-The county clerk, under the supervision of the district court, appoints administrators and guardians, and attends to the probating of wills, and various other duties formerly pertaining to the circuit court (274). He keeps a register of births and deaths, and issues marriage licenses. He makes annual reports to the governor, describing the nature of the criminal offenses that have come before the county court.
168. The Sheriff.—The sheriff is the executive or ministerial officer of the district court. He serves all papers issued by the court, such as subpænas for summoning witnesses, search warrants, and warrants for arrest (143), and may serve similar papers for lower courts. He has charge of the county jail and the prisoners. He gives notice of general and special elections, and serves as the peace officer of the county.
169. The Coroner.—The coroner investigates any case of death under unusual or suspicious circumstances, and summons a jury of three men to “sit on the case" and render a verdict as to the probable
cause. He may issue a warrant for the arrest and examination of any person whom the jury may name. He has authority also to subpoena witnesses for the inquest, as the sitting of the jury is called. When the sheriff is absent, or unable to serve on account of relationship to the parties to be arrested in any case, the coroner serves the papers.
170. Notaries Public.-When important papers need signature, it is quite necessary that some official person should guarantee that the signatures are authentic, and are made freely and without constraint. This is especially true in regard to deeds, mortgages, and other papers which involve title to property. Notaries public are men selected and commissioned by the governor to give such guarantee, which they do by attaching a slip of paper to the document in question, stating that they know the parties and that the signers have declared their signatures to be free from constraint of every kind. The notaries sign these guarantees and stamp them with the notarial seal. Notaries are commissioned for a period of three years or less, and their commissions all end July 4, 1897, and each third year after that.
171. The County Superintendent.—The superintendent has charge of the examination of teachers and issuing of certificates. He is expected to provide an institute for the instruction of his teachers in methods of teaching, and local meetings for discussion of education, and to promote the interests of the schools in his county. He settles disputes about the location of school-houses and the removal of teachers, and hears complaints of various kinds touching school