Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Than Just a Courthouse

When was a courthouse more than just a courthouse?

Courthouses were not always used only for storing public records and holding court. Sometimes they were used  to hold "preachings" or for meetings of fraternal organizations.

When the Livingston County courthouse was built, John Behag, who was caretaker of the courthouse, was permitted to the "let the courthouse for public worships or other useful purposes at the discretion of any one of the magistrates." In addition, "Rev. John Black, on  behalf of the Masonic Brethren of Smithland, were granted leave to occupy the Grand Jury Room as their Lodge room."  [County Court Order Book J, pages 44 and 46, 8 August 1845]

On 11 June 1860, The Independent Order of Oddfellows of Marion Lodge No. 144 was allowed to use and rent the North Room of the Crittenden County courthouse (upstairs) for the term of two years. The room was used also as a court room. [County Court Order Book 2, page 421]

Caldwell County often permitted organizations to use rooms in the courthouse.  The jailer was ordered to open the courthouse to the Campbellites for preachings whenever they desired. [County Court Order Book F, page 377, 20 March 1843].

 On 29 April 1844,  the Female Union Society in Caldwell County was granted the use of the courthouse on "Wednesday next" for the celebration of May Day. [County Court Order Book F, page 444] 

On Tuesday, 20 April 1852, Joshua Gore, the Caldwell County jailer, was ordered to have the doors and windows of the courthouse repaired and to "keep same locked up, unless in the time of preaching, courts and public speaking." The upstairs of the courthouse was to be used by the Sons of Temperance for their meetings "upon the condition they keep the same safe and in good condition and make all necessary repairs that the Grand Division of the Sons of Temperance of this State have the use of the same ... for the purpose of convocation." [County Court Order Book H, page 106]

Copyright on text and photographs
by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog

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