Covering 2,660 square miles of what used to be the southeastern portion of Douglas County, the new area was originally to be called Big Bend County. Protests from the towns of Wilbur and Davenport, however, forced a compromise. It was instead decided to name the new county after President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885).
The measure signed by Lt. Governor Hay appointed three individuals to serve as the first Board of Commissioners for Grant County, holding office until the second Monday in January 1911 or until successors were elected. The first meeting of this Board -- made up of John Erickson (Ephrata), M. F. McAnelly (Wilson Creek), and R. A. Heathman (Hartline) -- took place in Ephrata on February 26, 1911. Their first official business was to make several appointments to fill out local government, including (Hawley, pp. 1-2):
- M. F. McAnelly -- Chair, Board of Commissioners
- D. J. Peters (Quincy) -- Assessor
- J. H. Hill (Hartline) -- Auditor
- C. T. Sanders (Wilson Creek) -- Treasurer
- E. O. Whitney (Hartline) -- Sheriff
- George M. Ryker (Coulee City) -- Prosecuting Attorney
- Charles E. Smith (Stratford) -- Superintendent of Schools
- M. C. Christensen (Waterville) -- Surveyor/Engineer
- Dr. P. C. Mikkelsen (Ephrata) -- Physician
- Dr. H. D. Vail (Quincy) -- Coroner
After appointing county officials, the first major act by the Grant County Board of Commissioners was to review proposals for a courthouse. This contract was awarded to J. O. Cunningham of Wilson Creek on May 7, 1909, whose winning bid totaled $4,975. (This first courthouse was replaced by the current Grant County Courthouse in 1917. The original courthouse building was later converted into the Community Methodist Church.)
McAnelly, Heathman, and Erickson continued to serve on the Grant County Board of Commissioners until January 7, 1911, when they stepped aside. The minutes of that last meeting conclude with the following:
"Having completed the many duties which were naturally incumbent upon the Board of County Commissioners, and especially with the varied conditions under which they have been subjected by being the first commissioners of the baby county (Grant County), the residents of which should congratulate themselves for having a Board that has endeavored to serve their cause without fear or prejudice, with an eye ever to the best interests of the county, we transfer our obligations to the incoming Board with full confidence in those who have been chosen to assume the responsibilities of which we have been relieved" (Hawley, p. 2).