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 Jefferson County Illinois

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The First Courthouse

Source: A History of Jefferson County
By: John A. Wall Copyright © 1909
Pages 34 - 35

  At the first meeting of the Jefferson County Commissioner's Court, it was resolved to build a court-house. It would be a curiosity to see it in our public square now, but people were not so numerous, prosperous and proud as we are now. Its size was eighteen by twenty feet, built of hewn logs that faced ten inches, closely notched down, to have good roof boards, a plank floor closely laid; to have one door and one window all done in a workman-like manner, to be completed and delivered to the Commissioners' Court at the next September term, said house to be built in the public square, the timber furnished by Isaac Casey and Joseph Jordon; John Sanders' bid on the job was eighty-five dollars, and gave as bondsman, James Kelley.
  On the ridge west of town the timbers were "got out" and the boards "rived". Henry Tyler hewed the logs secured on the lands of Isaac and William Casey and Joseph Jordon. The building was ready for use in September as ordered the court, whereupon John Sanders recieved an eighty-five dollar certificate for the same.
  It stood about where the present court-house stands, its one door facing south and its only window west. As winter came on it was discovered that the house was too large to keep warm inside without fire; hence the court ordered that the finishing touch to the building, the adding of a fire-place, be let to  the lowest bidder, and this was the style of it: " A chimney place to be cut and a good chimney built, back and hearth to be like the one in the house of Lewis Watkins and to be as good - an upper floor or loft of same plank to be closley laid and the cracks to be chinked and daubed with good morter. Also a platform, constructed in the west end of the room, to be of proper height, four feet wide, of good hewed puncheons, to lack but three feet of reaching from one side of the house to the other; at the end of said platform, are to be steps, composed of blocks or planks and a hand rail in front of the platforms of proper height and a seat in the rear of the platform (supposedly the seat of justice) and two seats in front, all to be made of good hewed puncheons. The platform to be supported by good substantial posts or pillars or blocks, to be completed by the first Monday in March next, in workman-like manner. Oliver Morris undertook the job for eighty dollars, but when March came the Commissioners' found the work but imperfectly done, and forthwith docked the architect and builder five dollars, and he had to accept seventy-five dollars. And the court-house complete cost Jefferson county what was then considered the exorbitant sum of one hundred and sixty dollars. Such was Jefferson county's first temple of justice.
  Following the courthouse, a stray pound and a jail were constructed and these were followed in 1820 by a clerks office.


The Second Courthouse
Source: Jefferson County Facts & Folks
By: Jefferson County Historical Society
Copyright © 1978
Pages 23 - 24
 

In 1821 it was decided that a new courthouse was needed in the community. The walls were to be built of brick, twenty by thirty feet, two stories high; the first story to be nine feet and the second seven and a half. The building was completed in 1829. The cost was $780.93.
 


The Third Courthouse
Source: Jefferson County Facts & Folks
By: Jefferson County Historical Society
Copyright © 1978
Pages 23 - 24


The third Courthouse circa 1873

  One morning in 1839 the town awoke and found that the Court House of 1821 had fallen and there was a hole in one side large enough to drive through with a wagon. The town accepted this fact with good spirits. Everyone equipped himself with a rope and razed the building by pulling the walls to the accompaniment of much dust, noise and fun.
  Jefferson County had another new Court House on the plan of the Court House at Carmi, Illinois. The building was to be the same size and finish. William Edwards recieved the contract for $5,500.00. The building was completed in 1840. The Court House was forty feet square, square roof, cupola supported by pillars, and surrounded by a railing.
  It is said that cattle and sheep used the old Court House  during vacations, but the people had outgrown this and through the efforts of a Dr. W. S. VanCleve, the public square was fenced and the weeds and bushes cleaned out. One of the good things about it was that the final settlement and payment were made on October 1841. This Court House served until about 1868 or 1870, when there was a fire.
 


The Fourth Courthouse
Source: Jefferson County Facts & Folks
By: Jefferson County Historical Society
Copyright © 1978
Pages 23 - 24


   After the fire of 1868 or 1870  Jefferson County had another Court House, which was remodeled  in 1888 after the cyclone. This remodeled building fulfilled the needs of the County until 1939 when our present Courthouse was constructed for about $300,000.00.
 


Jefferson County Court House
Built in 1938 - 1940

   


The Appellate Court House

The Supreme Court records, Illinois Reports, Vol. 27, page 64, shows that on November 18 and 19, 1859, Abraham Lincoln appeared in the Southern Division of the Supreme Court at Mt. Vernon as the attorney for the Illinois Central Railroad Company in the case of The State of Illinois vs. Illinois Central R.R. Company.The case was heard on Friday and Saturday during which time Lincoln remained in Mt. Vernon.

Submitted By: Cindy Ford



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