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Title: County Capitol Dedicated
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Magnificent County Building Formally Dedicated to the Service of Justice

An Imposing Pile of Stone and Marble

Splendid Addresses Made by Hon. Joseph M. Rabb of Indianapolis, Judge of Appellate Court, and Hon. Ele Stansbury in the P. M. and by Judge Saunderson and Other Attorneys at Night

The handsome new capitol building of Warren County was dedicated with appropriate exercises at Williamsport Saturday. Honorable John W. Kern, who was to have made the principal address, could not be present on account of illness. Judge Rabb of Indianapolis and Honorable Ele Stansbury of Williamsport filled the time most acceptably. At the evening session Judge Saunderson made from Newtown and one from Lafayette, enlivened the occasion with street concerts. A large crowd was present and seemed to enjoy the day.

The present building is Warren County's fifth temple of justice, strictly speaking. Away back just after the state was admitted to the Union, December 11, 1816, a town was started on what was known as the Cicot Reservation. This was a tract of land granted by the government to a French trader who had considerable influence with the Indians of this vicinity. This town was located just north of the Attica levee. The rude court of the day was then held in private residences. In 1829 William Harrison, who came into possession of a large seat of justice was moved to that place where it has since remained. A log now the corner of Monroe and Bluff Streets, one block west of where the old woolen mill was located. This was a primitive affair but was used for many years for the purpose for which it was built. It is said that the jail was built of great logs and had but one opening--a trap door in the roof, Prisoners were dropped in from the top and when their time was up a ladder was put down for them to make an ascent. This was, literally, Warren County's first courthouse and jail.

Some years before the War, the town becoming more dignified, a brick court-house was built acroos the street from where the old dilapidated business block now stands in Old Town. The building did not contain the County offices, these being in two separate buildings, also of brick, on either side of the building proper. A brick jailer's residence and stone jail was also built at the rear of the courthouse. This building sufficed until 1870 and Judge LaRue was the judge, we believe, who was then presiding on the bench. In 1870 a new building was begun just on top of the hill to the west of the old building. This, for its day, was a handsome structure of brick and sandstone and the courthouse destroyed by fire on January 20, 1907, was almost an exact duplicate of it. This building was completed and dedicated in 1872 and, we believe, Judge Davidson was at the time presiding on the bench. The old jail was still continued to stand for several years.

Shortly after the new courthouse was built, the town of Williamsport began to move away from the river to the Wabash Railroad one mile distant and complaint was then made of the inaccessibility of the county building and agitation for its removal to the new part of town began. Consequently, at an expense of some $80,000 the building was torn down and in 1886 rebuilt (as we said before, in almost exact duplicate) on the present site in the new part of town. Judge Rabb was then on the bench and served for 24 years, being elected to the Appellate Court in 1907. This building was in use from 1886 until January 20, 1907, when it was almost totally destroyed by fire. From the ashes of this edifice arose the present handsome structure dedicated last Saturday.

This new and modern building is built of pressed brick, Bedford stone and marble, is of beautiful design and very commodious. It was erected at a cost of $115,000 which included the elegant massive quartered oak furniture throughout all the offices and court room. The floors are of tile, of handsome pattern, while the concrete walls are wainscoted with marble. The stairways are of iron with marble steps and the building throughout is almost entirely fireproof, only the door and window casings and the necessary furniture being made of wood. The building is heated by steam while the heating plant is located some distance away in a plant adjoining the new jail and sheriff's residence, also handsome buildings, to the east of the courthouse.

In the lower story is found a rest room for the ladies, the county surveyor's office, the GAR room and the janitor's room. On the next floor are the Treasurer's office, Auditor's office, Commissioner's room, Clerk's office, Recorder's office and Sheriff's office, besides broad corridors running east and west and north and south. On the third floor is found the Judge's private office as well as the County Superintendent's office, Jury room, Ladies' waiting room, Court Stenographer's office, Law Library and the Court Room.

The building is surmounted by an Oriental dome from which a beautiful view of the Wabash Valley and surrounding country may be had, though the view is in no wise different from that of the former building, the tower of which was considerably higher. The new edifice is lighted throughout with electricity.

The officials on duty at the time of the dedication are as follows: Judge, Hon. Jas. T. Saunderson; Prosecuting Attorney, J.J. Hall, Court Bailiff, Henry C. Johnson; County Commissioners: Runic W. Alexander, Pres.; Charles Lows, and F.B. Ogborn, who is serving the unexpired term of A.J. McKinzie, one of the commissioners to the contract but who died before its completion; County Attorney, Hon. Ele Stansbury; County Council: T. Cor Fleming, J.H. Crawford, Ed. C. Davis, P.W. Fleming, J.N. Rhode, J.F. Hildenbrand, and C.V. Cunningham.

County Officers: Treasurer, W.H. Stephens; Auditor, Robert L. Winks; Clerk, Ernest Grey; Recorder, John H. Wilsom; Sheriff, Daniel Tague; Superintendent, H.H. Evans; Surveyor, Rupert Gregory; Coroner, J.D. Bader.

Note: Mr. Abner Pence of near Carbondale recalls that there are a horse-drawn merry-go-round in the street in front of the courthouse at this dedication. When the horse was taken out during the noon hour, a group of small children was waiting for a ride, so the manager of the merry-go-round took the place of his horse and pushed the outfit himself so the youngsters wouldn't have to wait so long!

FIRST PAGE OF RECEIPTS IN THE ORIGINAL TREASURER'S BOOK OF WARREN COUNTY

(Transcribed as written)...May the 11, 1829--Received of William Harrison for ferrey tax at Williamsport $03. 50...June the 8, 1829--Received of William Harrison for permit to Retail Sperits and licures in Willaims Poart .37 1/2...June the 25, 1829--Received of Isac Martin for permit for vend faring merchendise in the town of Williamsport .50...July the 4, 1829--Received of William Harrison for tax paid in county order no. 29 for retailing Sperits licures in the town of Williamsport $05...July the 4, 1829--Received of Isac Martin for vending faring merchendise in the town of Williamsport $10...(On the facing page listing disbursements, the above were marked "paid over to the Board of Justice.")

Date: 11/26/1908
Origin: The West Lebanon Gazette
Author:
Record ID: 00002451
Type: Periodical
Source Archive: Warren County Historical Society
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Court House
Entered By: Leslie J. Rice

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