Daviess County’s “Temporary” Courthouse

In March 1838, the county judges of Daviess County ordered the building of a new jail ($400) and a courthouse ($6,000). The judges were John Freeman, Vincent Smith and Joshiah Moran. Judge Moran had replaced William Morgan on the court on Aug. 7, 1837. The bids for the buildings were to be taken May 25, 1838. A “temporary” courthouse — largely unnoticed and forgotten in county history — was opened in Gallatin on July 17, 1839, and was first put in use on Aug. 24, 1839. This first “temporary” courthouse was in use from Aug. 24, 1839, to Sept. 5, 1842.

In March 1838, the county judges of Daviess County ordered the building of a new jail ($400) and a courthouse ($6,000). The judges were John Freeman, Vincent Smith and Joshiah Moran. Judge Moran had replaced William Morgan on the court on Aug. 7, 1837. The bids for the buildings were to be taken May 25, 1838. A “temporary” courthouse — largely unnoticed and forgotten in county history — was opened in Gallatin on July 17, 1839, and was first put in use on Aug. 24, 1839. This first “temporary” courthouse was in use from Aug. 24, 1839, to Sept. 5, 1842.

The selection of Gallatin as the “seat of justice” for Daviess County had been made in November, 1837. Gallatin then included all of the northwest quarter of Section 20 (T59W-R27N). Gallatin lots were authorized to be sold starting Jan. 8, 1838, for $12 each with one or two years credit allowed. That would have been $96 per square block.

Gallatin was just beginning. On March 26, 1838, the county court issued the first busienss license for Gallatin which was for Jacob Stallings to sell wine and liquors in his Dram shop.

On June 5, 1838, the court ordered a general election to be held in Gallatin on Aug. 6, 1838. White male taxed freeholders would be allowed to vote, which was the normal Missouri state law.

On June 18, 1838, the court met at John Freeman’s residence to replace John A. Williams as county treasurer since Williams had resigned. Elisha B. Creekmore wAs selected to take that office.

After the election, the new county judges took office on Aug. 24, 1838. They were James Wilson and Adam Black with Merisether Green presiding. In September, the court sold a grocery license to Stallings for Gallatin.

On Thursday and Friday, Oct. 18-19, 1838, the Stallings’ businesses were looted and burned. The county treasury and Creekmore records were taken by force. Stallings soon reopened for business, renewed his liquor license in December and Patrick Lynch was sold a Galaltin merchandise license to run for six months.

In December, 1838, the county court met at Elisha Creekmore’s cabin since there were no houses in Gallatin. Tobias Miller got a dram shop license for Gallatin in January, 1839.

The contract at the courthouse that went to Tom Awbrey and Robert and William Peniston was rescinded March 6, 1839. In April, M.T. Green got a grocery license for Gallatin.

On June 4, 1839, the court ordered John B. Comer to have the jail done by Christmas. William Morgan, county collector, reported collections of $126.45 of $460.30 assessed, and he got $27.50 for his work. By July, Adam Clendenen also had a legal dram shop in Gallatin. In August, William Livcy got a dram shop license.

In December 1839, Treasurer Creekmore was replaced (because of bad record keeping) by Adam Clendenen. The court paid a $50 bill for a Franklin stove that was purchased for the temporary courthouse. New plans for the courthouse constuction were made, and the cost estimate was increased to $8,000.

Charles Blakely was deputy sheriff and Jesse Blakely was appointed as the 1840 assessor. John Comer was given another year to complete the jail and advanced $200 at 2% interest. Morgan had resigned as sheriff in September and was replaced by Pinkerton, who was succeeded by Marshell K. Howell on Jan. 10, 1840.

In February 1840 Daniel Smoot got a dram shop license for Gallatin. In March 1840, Richard Grant’s petition to move the seat of justice from Gallatin to Cravensville was rejected for lack of support. The court ordered that the new courthouse be placed under contract in May, 1840, and was to be completed in two years. The court ordered that the general election be held at Gallatin’s temporary courthouse with polls open for two days.

The county paid $631.75 to Clay County for jail services and in December 1840, the county paid the ferry fee for 47 Missouri State Militia to cross and recross the Grand River on O.W. Smith’s Ferry. The expense was paid for the militia to parade in Gallatin.

The jail (located on Lot 1 and 2 along North Main Street today) was accepted by Daviess County on March 3, 1841, at a cost of $600; $12.75 was paid for jail bedding.

In March, 1842, the court met at the temporary courthouse in Gallatin and ordered that the temporary courthouse and all other unsold lots in Galaltin be sold at auction. The people who had paid for the temporary courthosue were to be repaid after one year. Isaac Lawson got a new dram shop license for Gallatin.

In April and May, 1842, the court noted that the walls of the new courthouse were higher than was contracted. Two additional windows were added to the east side of the courthosue for $40. Blankets for the jail were purchased for $10.13 and O.B. Richardson was given a dram shop license for Gallatin.

In June 1842, the court met at the temporary courthouse and orderd (June 7, 1842) that a public well be constructed near the new courthouse. In August a $17 lightning rod was ordered to be put on the new courthosue by the builder, Joseph S. Nelson. The new courthouse was completed and first placed into use on Sept. 5, 1842. A payment was made to Nelson at that time of $4,914.19. In December, 1842, $40 was paid to Robert Lawson for courthouse furniture. Nelson was not given final payment for his work until Nov. 15, 1845.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin, for the Gallatin North Missourian printed March 14, 1990.