Jasper County, Illinois

History & Genealogy

Old Records in Court House

Held Court in Homes in 1835 and Court Ruled County

May 3, 1927

From the "Newton Press"
©Transcribed by Kim Torp

There is an old volume all written by hand, slightly dimmed by the passing of more than ninety years, but still plain and easily legible, in the county clerk's office. This is the earliest record of Jasper county, the commissioner's court which carried on the work now done by the supervisors and by the court. Circuit court was held at that time too.

LEWIS W. JOURDAN was the sheriff at that time. The county commissioners in 1835, ninety-two years ago, were WILLIAM M. RICHARDS, GEORGE MATTINGLY, W.H. CLAYCOMB, and JOHN BARNS was the clerk. In 1835, there were two precincts in the county. The Price precinct in the south part and the Claycomb in the north east, and in that year a Newton precinct comprising the entire northwestern portion of the county was established.

THOMAS M. LAY was paid $25.00 to lay out the town of Newton in that year, and the county paid his stake-holders and chain men also.

This proved to be a poor investment for the county for JOHN BARNS who was appointed county agent to sell the town lots in Newton up to 1838 had received only $20 for the plots. The fact that the county was growing, however was illustrated by the fact that several immigrants became citizens in this period. Instead of making several applications at various times and waiting seven years to become citizens, they simply made affidavits of their intention of living here and renouncing allegiance to their former king or ruler. Among those who became citizens at this period were CHARLES GUTHNECK, JOHN WEISE, CHARLES KINSEL, BERNARD FALLER and NICHOLAS ADAMI from France, and FRANCIS CARTER from Great Britain.

Instead of applying to an Illinois state commerce commission for authority to build a dam, THOMAS GARWOOD was given a writ of aquadamus by the county court. They had the power to fix prices in almost every business. Grocery licenses and tavern keeper's licenses were issued together with the prices each could charge. Tavern keepers were to receive $1.50 for board and room for a week and 6 ¼ cents for a bed for a night. All kinds of liquors were enumerated and the price of each was fixed.

Many roads were laid out in this period and the most of them were laid out in relation to the county line, certain trees, lanes and homes. Every able bodied man in the county had to work five days on the roads by order of the sheriff. Money for their upkeep and for any other purpose was entirely lacking. The taxes for 1835 amounted to less than a hundred dollars, and the assessor, TIMOTHY GARWOOD, was paid $9.00 for furnishing a list of the taxable wealth of the county. In 1838 the total tax amounted to $130. Expenditures were equally small. Election judges received 50 cents per day. The honorable county judges, the clerk and the sheriff drew $1.50 per day. The county usually was in debt at that time. The expenditures were largely met by fees and by licenses.

The first mention of Sainte Marie or Saint Mary as it was then called, was found in the year 1840 when JOSEPH PICQUET and F. HARTRICH appeared before the court and asked for a road to Sainte Marie.

In 1839 a court house was built by BENJAMIN HARRIS. It was a brick structure two stories high and forty feet square. Up until this time court was held at the residence of the sheriff. A jail was built a year earlier at the cost of $370. This wooden structure was furnished with palisades and a deep ditch around it. They could secure no one to put iron bars in the building.

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