Perry County, Illinois
|Return to : Perry County|
Perry County, Illinois
Established January 29, 1827
( Laws, 1827, page 110 ) - - - Perry County was formed in 1827 out of Jackson and Randolph Counties.
It was named in honor of Oliver Hazard Perry who defeated the British fleet
at the decisive Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.
County Seat - Pinckneyville
Approved June 1828
Early Perry County History|
Establishing a County Seat
Perry County's Court Houses
Perry County's Jails
Perry County's Poor Farm
|Establishing County Seat 1|
First Proceedings In Relation to The Establishment of County Seat|
At the request of a number of the citizens of the county by petition, James Crain, Abner Pyle, sr., and Thomas Swanwick met at the house of George Franklin on the twenty-second of October, 1827; and after an examonation of a certain section of county designated by said petitioners, reported to the county court on the twenty-ninth of October, 1827, that they believe the east half of the northeast quarter of section twenty-four in township five south, range three west of the third principal meridian, to be the " most eligble and best calculated for the permanent seat of justice of this county."
In pursuance of which an order was made adopting said tract of land as the "site for the future seat of justice for the county;" and appointing Joel Manning, of Jackson county, and William T. Swanwick and Humphrey B. Jones commissioners, to lay out twenty acres of said tract into lots "with a public square, streets and alleys so that the whole shall be conveniently and properly situated and arranged in conformity with the most approve plan of towns or villages similarly situated."
As yet the land had not been entered from the government. At the December term, 1827, an agreement was made that the land should be entered in the name of the county commissioners, H. B. Jones, or some person to furnish half the money, and to receive a deed to the south half of the tract.
William C. Murphy was appointed agent to make the entry, and on the third day of December, 1827, an order drawn in his favor for fifty dollars in specie or its equivalent in state paper at the rate of seventy-five cents to the dollar, and was afterwards paid the discount, five dollars and twenty cents, and the amount due from Humphrey B. Jones was advanced out of funds placed in his hands by parties in Kentucky for the purpose of speculating in lands. The money was placed in the hands of William C. Murphy, who proceeded to Kaskaskia, and on the twenty-eighth day of December, 1827, entered the tract in the name of the county commissioners David H. Mead, John R. Hutchings, and Elijah Wells. The south half of tract, excepting a small part included in the original survey of Pinckneyville, was afterwards conveyed to Humphrey B. Jones.
The commissioners, who wre instructed at the time of their appointment, to so lay off the twenty acres that there might be two tiers of lots on each side of the public square, made their report to the county commissioners on the fifth day of January, 1828; but it was not placed on record until the twenty-first day of that month.
Report of Commissioners to Plat the Town
In pursuance of the order of said court, and by virtue of the power vested in us as commissioners aforesaid, wet met at the house of H. B. Jones, in siad county, on the third instant, and a fter a critical and thorough examination of the ground to which we were limited in laying off the said town. proceeded and made the following survey, to wit: Beginning at the half mile corner between sections thirteen and twenty-four of the town and range aforesaid, from which a hickory, twelve inches in diameter, bears south forty-seven degrees, east thrity links, thence south upon the east line of the northwest quarter of section twenty-four, town ficve south, range three west , seven chains and eighty links to a post on said line, thence west one chain and fifty links to a post, from which last mentioned point we proceeded, and surveyed and laid off a town, consisting of a public square, town lots, streets, etc., which is particularly exhibited, set forth and described on a platy, which we hereby make a part of this, our report. The whole of said survey was made with a variation of the needle seven and a half degrees west. The twwenty acres mentioned in the said order being laid off sixty-four rods north and south, by fifty rods east and west, and disposedof so far as exhibited on the plat. There still remains a strip of ground of fiteen feet wide upon the west side and one of one hundred and twelve feet wide upon the north side, subject to future disposal.
All of which is respectfully submitted, Perry county, January 5th, 1828.
The county commissioners court at its session of January 21st, 1828, approved the report of the commissioners to plat and survey the town site, and on the same day passed the following order:
First Sale of Town Lots. -- Ordered, that H. B. Jones, John R. Hutchings and William C. Murphy be and they are herby appointed commissioners to sell the lots in said town, and that the same be exposed to sale to the hgihest bidder on the fourth Monday of February next, and that the time, palce, nature, etc. of siad sale be published in the Illinois Corrector for three weeks preceeding said sale, and that the clerk be and he is hereby required to issue his order on the treasurer of this county for a sum of money sufficient to pay for the said publication.
The bill for advertising sale of lots was $10.50 "in specie or its equivalent in State paper." R. K. Fleming was the publisher.
|Perry County's Court Houses 1|
|The First Court House|
"Ordered, That at the same time when and the place where the lots in the said county seat are offered for sale, there shall be by the aforesaid commissions let to the lowest bidder the building of the court house on lot numbered 32 in said town, which house is to built of the following description and dimensions, to wit:
The contract was awarded to Berry Anderson for the sum of fifty-four dollars, and a bond, with Amos Anderson, Joseph Wells amd Humphrey B. Jones, as sureties, was accepted and filed at the March term of the county court. At the September term, 1828, the building was received and the contract price paid.
An order made at the June term, 1828, declaring Pinckneyville the seat of justice, and requiring all process issued by the clerks of the county and circuit courts to be made returnable thither, and was a the September term rescinded.
The first term of the county commissioners' court, held in the new court house in Pinckneyville, began on the second day of March, 1829, Theophilus W. Smith, prsiding as judge. In 1829, the court house was weather-boarded with four foot boards, neatly shaved, and a large stray pen was also erected on the same lot with the court house. The pen was thirty-six feet square and six feet high. The work was done by Fergus M. Milligan, contractor, and the price of both jobs, $22.62½.
Remonstrance Against Building Second Court House.
Be it known to the people of Illinois and the county of Perry, that the county commissioners' court of said county have agreeded to build a brick court house, forty-three feet square and twenty-four feet high with a square or hiped roof, and a brick floor with two doors and twenty-four windows, and two chimneys with fire-places each. We the undersigned, knowing the annual income of our county to be insufficient to perform such mighty work, without essential and everlasting injury, do hereby protest against said proceedings, and pray said court to recall said order until we are better able or approved of by a majority of said county, given under our hands, this third day of February, 1836.
Names of signers : Frederick Williams, Lewis Wells, Paris A. Hickman, Michael J. Taylor, Jacob House, Thomas Wells, Obediah West, Jonas Lipe, Reuben Kelly, Jonathan McCollum, Hezekiah Balsch, John King, John A. Crofford, John Lype, Cornelius Godwin, Samuel McElvain, John Pyle, Sr., Joseph Williams, John R. Teague, Leonard Lype, Van M. Tegue, Jeremiah Walker, Van S. Teague, Jacob Lipe, William Throop, Siprian Davis, Guilford H. Haggard, Solomon Woolsey, Robert M. Galloway, Lewis Wells, Sr., Thomas Wells, J. H. McElvain, Elija Laine, Bennet Lain, Elisha L. Lane, Abner Pyle, Sr., Simpson Williams, W. Williams, Jordan Harris, Johnzy Orten, John Harris, Thomas Morris, Edgar M. Thompson, Abraham Morgan, Isaac Lee, Laban G. Jones, Abraham Lee, Edmund Lafferty, Edmond Callaway, Hiram Lafferty, Samuel T. Therton, David Dial, Richard Williams, William Dyal.
Second Court House
Perry County Court House 1857 2
The second building erected for a Court House was a brick structure of two stories, situated about the centre of the present public square.
It was forty-three feet square, with a door in the North, South and West sides of the lower story, two or three chimneys, and open fire places above and below. The lower floor was brick set on edge. Five windows of twenty-four lights each were placed in each of three sides of the upper room, and two in the other side corresponding to the number of doors and windows below.
The building was erected by Amos Anderson and completed in the fall of 1837, nearly two years after the enterprise was undertaken. One thousand seven hundred and sixty five dollars was the cost, and (owing doubtless to the stringency of money matters) the contractor was paid largely in notes taken by the County commissioners, for sale of lots in Pinckneyville. The present Bank building of Murphy, Wall & Co. at Pinckneyville, was subsequently built of brick of this Court House.
In 1838 the court house was finished by Thomas L. Ross, carpenter and Andrew Hays, plasterer, at an additional cost of eight hundred and forty dollars, and eighty-seven and one half cents.
In September, 1840, and order was made by the county court authorizing the sheriff to employ some mechanic to repair the doors and windows of the court house, so as to cause them to shut and bolt, so that they cannot be opened from without.
On another occasion an order was made for letting of bridge contract "to the highest bidder."
In 1841 the appointment of assessor was given to person offering to do the work in the shortest time. John Gilliam took the office, agreeing to do the work in twenty-six days, that is for the amount of twenty six days' wages.
The Third Court-House
At the March Term, 1849, of the County Commissioners' Court, Joel Rushing, Reuben Dye, and Isaac A. Bradley, being the commissioners, William Edwards presented a petition signed by five hundred and twenty voters, praying that a suitable court house be built. In compliance with the request of the petitiones, the court, on the seventh day of March, 1849, appointed Humphrey B. Jones, Chester A. Keyes and Charles L. Starbuck commissioners to procure plans and report the same at a special term, to be held in the following April. At the same time the clerk of the commissioners' court was instructed to give notice for letting the contract for building the walls. The notice was to be published in the Sparta Register, Chester Reveille, and Belleville Advocate. The inside frame-work, roof, windows and doors were to constitute a seperate contract, of which notice was to be given at the same time. On the ninth of April the court met is special session, received the report of the committee, and after making certain amendments thereto, adopted the same. The new building was to be erected upon the public square, west of the old courthouse. The dimensions were to be forty-six by thrity-six feet. The foundation was to be of limestone two and one-half feet thick below the surface, and twenty inches in thickness above. It was to extend two feet and eight inches above the surface, and that portion to be bush-hammered, range stone-work, with water tables. The remaining portion of the walls were to be brick, sixteen inches thick for the first story, and thirteen inches for the second and twenty five in height. The brick masonry was to be of the Tuscan order, as was to also the cornice. The partitions in the first story were to be brick, and ten feet high. The wall was to have two coats of light-colored drab paint. The plastering to consist of two coats and in white finish. The windows were to be supplied with twelve light sash, the glass to be twelve by sixteen inches, and to have Venitian shutters.
The terms of the contract required the completion of the building on or before the first day of September, 1851. Bonds of one thousand dollars each, bearing six per cent. interest, were to be issued by to the contractor, reserving thirty per cent until the building was received. The contract was let to Daniel W. Norris, St. Clair county, for seven thousand five hundred dollars, on the 10th day of April, 1849. The contractor filed his bond for twelve thousand dollars, with Christian Raysing, Isaac Griffin and John Reynolds as sureties, on June 5th, 1849. The next day the ground was staked off by the court, and the building ordered to stand with the cardinal points of the compass. Work commenced at oncem and on the fifth day of December, 1849, the first bond was issued to the contractor, and the clerk was further ordered to issue five hundred dollars in six per cent. interest-bearing county orders of such denomination as the builder should desire. A new county court, consisting of a county judge, Hosea H. Strait, and two associates, Edward A. Whipple and Robert H. Williams, having been elected under the new constitution, held a meeting on the 9th day of July, 1850. At this meeting Hosea H. Strait was appointed to go to Mt. Vernon and select competent wortkmen to inspect the building in course of construction. Edward H. Whipple was sent to Chester, and Robert H. Williams to Washington county on a similar errand. The workmen were procured, and after an examination, made the following report to the court, July 16, 1850.
Pinckneyville, July 16th, 1850.These building experts were allowed for their services the following amounts: Judson Clement, twelve dollars; H. D. Hinman, nine dollars; and Matthew Forrest, five dollars. On the strength of this report, Mr. Norris was allowed one bond of one thousand dollars, and two of five hundred dollars each; and an additional allowance of ten dollars for extra work in cutting a scuttle-hole in the roof. The building was completed and received by the county court on the third day of December, 1850, and the balance paid in four bonds of one thousand dollars each.
The Present Court House
Drawing of Perry County Courthouse c1880s 1
The rapid increase in the population of the county, and the increase of litigation, made more commodious quarters necessary. Much uneasiness was also felt for the security of the many valuable records which were under no protection from fire, and but slight from the incursions of evily-disposed persons. Many valuable court papers mysteriously disappeared and cases coming on for trial were continued on account of missing papers. To afford the requisite accommodations, supply a safer receptacle for the records, the county commissioners, John Baird, Chairman, John Schneider and John W. Pyatt, at their meeting, October 9th, 1877, passed the following order: "Ordered, That there be submitted to the legal voters of this county, to be voted on at the ensuing November election, a proposition for the erection of an addition to the county court house, and to levy a tax therefore in the years 1878 and 1879, not exceeding five thousand dollars in each of said years. Such addition is to be of brick, two stories high, with fire-proof protection to the public records. The necessary funds to meet the expense of such building to be borrowed in one or more loans, to be redeemed when said taxes shall be collected : The vote upon said proposition shall be "For taxation for addition to court house." and, "Against taxation for addition to court house." And, if authorized, the board shall let a contract without delay, and shall have said work completed during next summer. The proposition met with defeat at the polls, there being seven hundred and ninety-four votes for the proposition, and nine hundred and sixty-one against it. In April, 1878, the people seeing the folly of their actions at the polls, sent numerous petitions to the county board, asking for what they had just denied by their votes. By the ninth day of April, 1878, no less than one thousand and eighty-five names were presented to the commissioners asking that the proposed improvement be made. On the same day, the county commissioners ordered that John Chapman, of Du Quoin, be employed to prepare a plan and the specifications for the improvement. The plans and specifications were presented to the county commissioners on the seventeenth of the following May and adopted. The county clerk was ordered May 3, 1878, to give notice in the Du Quoin Tribune and Pinckneyville Independent, that bids would be received up to noon on June 3d, 1878, when the contract would be let to the lowest bidder. On the 5th day of June, 1878, the contract was let to William G. Wilson, of Pinckneyville for the sum of nine thousand seven hundred and forty two dollars. He gave bond in the sum of nineteen thousand four hundred and eighty four dollars, with J. L. Murphy, Charles Guemalley, Henry Driemeyer, Charles A. Hoffman, Jacob M. Kinz, Fred Behrends, Joseph Bischof, Fred Mueller, William Klotz, A. K. Kalbtleisch, William H. Smith, Evan B. Rushing, R. N. Davis, Philip Gruner, G. R. Hincke and Joel M. Sullivan as security. The building was to be completed by the twenty-fifth day of October, 1878. The bond was approved July 9, and an order made to advance the contractor two thousand dollars. The house of Lewis Yung was rented for the use of tghe county officials, while the work of remodelling was in progress. On the twelfth of October of the same year, two thousand dollars was paid on the contract with a further order to pay two thousand more when the roof was completed. Work was at once commenced, the walls of the old building razed to the top of the windows of the first story, and the whole interior removed. A wing was added to the east side of the old building and carried up two stories high. The wing is forty-five feet fronting south by a depth of thirty-six feet, making the building present a front of eighty-one feet. The building is a handsome brick with stone facings window-sills and caps. It is well ventilated and lighted by large windows, which are finished with blinds on the inside. Two halls run through the building from north to south. On the first story of the old building are four handsome and commodious offices. On the same floor in the wing are the offices of the county and circuit clerk, both supplied with large fire-proof vaults, with burglat-proof combination locks upon the doors. The vaults are conveniently fitted with racks for the records and pigeon holes in which to file the numerous papers. The second floor of the main building contains the court room, with handsome bar and comfortable seats for the audience. To the tight of the judge's desk, a handsome and life-like oil painting, nearly life-size, of the late Judge Sidney Breese, looks down upon the auditorium. The portrait was painted by E. C. H. Willoughby, and purchased by the bar, since Judge Breese's demise. The second story of the wings contains two large rooms for the use of the grand jury, and the petit jury, with witness rooms adjoining each. The grounds are yearly becoming more attractive, containing many handsome shade trees. On the 22d day of January, 1879, John Chapman and William G. Wilson were appointed agents to purchase furniture and the necessary supplies for the new court house. They were to receive two dollars and fifty cents per day for their services. John Chapman, on the 10th of April, 1879, made his report and presented a bill for two hundred and ninety dollars, the total cost of furniture for the building. At the same meeting John Schneider was instructed to purchase a chandelier for thirty dollars. John BBaird, John W. Pyatt and John Schneider, county commissioners, received the building from the contractors on the thirtieth day of April, 1879; and ordered the balance of six hundred and forty-two dollars, due on the contract, paid. The custody of the new building was placed in the hands of the clerk of the courts. A handsome iron fence now surrounds the entire square, the cost of which was one thousand five hundred and thirteen dollars and fifty cents. E. T. Barnum, of Detroit, was the contractor for the work, and John W. Pyatt, Thomas Stevenson and Lysias Heape were the commissioners at the time.
Perry County Courthouse Square, Circa 1950s 3
|Perry County's Jails 1|
The first jail was built in 1833 and 1834, and stood upon the site of the present jail until torn down and removed to make rtoom for the present one. It was of brick, with three inner walls of square timber, two of which were built up in the usual manner -- logs notched together -- and the middle wall of square timbers, set in perpendicularly. This jail consisted of two rooms one above the other. The dimensions were 14 by 16 feet inside. Two small grated windows in each room afforded a scant supply and ventilation.
Amos Anderson was the contractor for this jail, the cost of which was $750.
|The Present Jail|
Drawing of Perry County Jail c1880s 1
By a special act of the General Assembly the present county jail was built.
On the twentieth day of September, 1866, the county court, then composed of William Elstun, county judge, and Ephraim T. Rees and James L. Primm, associates, the following order was passed :
"Ordered, that a tax, at the rate of two mills on the dollar, be levied on all taxable property in the county of Perry, to be expended for the purpose of erecting a common jail in the town of Pinckneyville, under and by virtue of an act of the Legislature of the State of Illinois, approved February 15th, 1865, and published in Vol. II, Private Laws of Illinois, 1865, page 542."Nothing further was done until the tenth day of October, 1870, when the court, Charles E. R. Winthrop, James L. Primm and James Ervin, ordered that a special tax of three mills be levied upon the taxable property of the county, under and by virtue of "An act to amend an act to authorize the county court to issue bonds, approved February 16, 1865, and in force February 28, 1867. Private Laws of Illinois, 1867, Vol. I., page 890."
Plans were at once solicited, and those submitted to the court by Samuel Hannaford, of Cincinnati, Ohio, were adopted by the county authorities, April 21, 1871.
On the 26th of the same month notices were issued soliciting bids for the erection of the building, and all bids were to be presented by the 10th of the folowing May. The old jail was sold to Thomas Turner for $15. The contract was let to E. Haugh, of Indianapolis, Ind., on the 10th of May, 1871. The contract price was $14,150, and the payments were to be made on the first day of each month. Ninety per cent. of the value of the materials and labor were payable at that time.
The contractor gave bond in the sum of $15,000, on the 18th of May, with B. F. Haugh, J. R. Haugh and Thomas H. Butler as sureties, and work was commenced. The brick work was sub-contracted to Norris & Hinckley. To provide the means to pay for the work, James Ervin was appointed financial agent for the county to borrow $11,000. Bonds were to be issued, payable in one and two years, and to bear interest at the rate of 10 per cent. per annum. James L. Primm was also appointed superintendent of the building on the same day, July 6th, 1871, at which time the contractor was also paid $1000. On the 18th of the same month the financial agent reported that he had effected a loan from the Belleville Savings Bank, and a bond for $5000, payable in one year, and one for $6000, payable in two years, were issued to that institution. On the 16th of August of this year a tax levy of 40 cents on the $100 was levied for jail purposes. On the fourth day of December, 1871, a furnace was purchased from Blanchard & Garrison, at a cost of $200. On the 15th of the same month a final settlement was made with the contractor and the building received. The only extra cost above the contract price was the additional allowance of $200 for extra plumbing, and $391.50 for extra masonry. In connection with the jail is a handsome two-story brick residence for the sheriff. The jail is of brick, and best described by the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities, in their report for 1878, It is as follows :
"The jail is in the rear of the sheriff's residence, two blocks west of the court house; brick walls, not lined; boiler-iron floor; ceiling of lath and plaster; eight iron cells, with grated fronts, double row, back to back. These cells are surrounded on four sides by an inner corridor for the use of the prisoners, and jailor's corridor surrounds this again on four sides, next the outer walls. The two are seperated by cross-barred grating, which also extends over the inner corridor making a perfect cage; the effect is very light and airy. Bar locks, with levers in jailor's corridor. Eight large windows; good natural ventilation; heated by by furnace; privy seat in corridor; force-pump; wooden tank in attic; bath tub and fixed basins. Large cell for female prisoners in upper story of sheriff;'s house; in good repair, clean and roomy, and would be strong if a better quality of iron had been used in its construction."
|Perry County's Poor Farm 1|
|The County Almshouse|
In 1865, a tract containing ninety acres of land was purchased at a cost of seventeen hundred dollars, for a poor farm. The farm lies one mile due south of the county seat. No attempt was made to utilize it for many years, the farm being rented to various persons in the meantime. The support of the paupers, scattered all over the county as they were, became burdensome, and presented many opportunities for exorbitant charges from all sides. John Baird, Charles Gaemalley, and Elihu Onstott, the board of County commissioners at the time, entered an order, on the twelfth day of October 1874, for a vote to be taken at the ensuing November election, on the proposition to build an almshouse by levying a tax, in the years 1875 and 1870, not to exceed twenty-five hundred dollars each year. The vote was taken and the proposition receiving six hundred and fifty-five votes for, and there being but five hundred and sixty-two votes against it, a plan was prepared by John Chapman of Du Quoin, and adopted on the seventeenth day of March, 1875. At the same time bids were ordered to be received up to noon of April 8th. At the last named date, the proposals ten in number were opened, and the contract for the erection of the building given to D. P. Delano and John M. Bayless for the sum of four thousand three hundred and thirty seven dollars and fifty-four cents. The payments for the work were one thousand dollars on the fifteenth of May, 1875 ; one thousand dollars when the brick work was completed, and the balance when the building was completed, and received by the county commissioners. On the 13th of April, 1875 the contractors filed a bond for five thousand dollars, dated April 9th, 1875, with H. R. Pomeroy, B. F. Pope, Sr., and P. N. Pope as sureties. The bond was approved the same day. To provide for the payments, it was ordered that the following sums be borrowed from the following named persons, at the several different times, and that the county clerk, W. S. D. Smith, issue nine per cent. interest bearing county orders, receive and pay out the money. The loans effected were as follows :
Drawing of Perry County Poor Farm c1880s 1
The rooms are well lighted and ventilated by large windows. The building is a credit to the county, and a blessing to those, who have to seek shelter beneath its roof. It is doubtful whether there is a county in the whole state, that takes more care of its indigent poor than Perry. The average number of inmates has been thirteen, annually. The county commissioners appoint a superintendent, annually, and the following named gentlemen have held the position : John M. Bayless, appointed, January 1st, 1876 ; Alexander A. Kimzey, January 1st, 1877 ; and William E. Gladson, January 1st, 1878, and has held the position to the present time. The physicians in charge since its commencement, have been Dr William L. McCandless for the year 1877 ; Dr. R. S. Peyton, for 1878; and Dr. William L. McCandless since that time. There were twenty inmates, according to the state report of 1880, twelve of whom were children We append the closing remarks of the state visiting agent for 1878. "This is one of the best kept Almshouse in southern Illinois ; the county supplies everything required and pays the keeper three hundred and fifty dollars a year."
1 Combined History of Randolph, Monroe, and Perry Counties, Illinois|
J. L. McDonough & Co., Philadelphia, Corresponding Office, Edwardsville, Ill.; 1883
2 1857 Perry County Court House photo courtesy of Shauna Williams
3 Perry County Courthouse Square, Circa 1950s photo courtesy of Bill & Karen Miller
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