CLERMONT COUNTY FORMED---ITS ORIGINAL AND PRESENT BOUNDARIES, AND SUBDIVISIONS INTO TOWNSHIPS
In the present limits in the State of Ohio, part of the Territory of the Northwest, the first five counties were created by the proclamation of Governor St. Clair in the flowing chronological order: Washington, July 27, 1788; Hamilton, Jan. 2, 1790; Wayne, Aug. 15, 1796; Adams, July 10, 1797; Jefferson, July 29, 1797; Ross, Aug. 20, 1798; and Trumbull, July 10, 1800.
Up to the early part of the year 1799 all the country between Little Miami River and Elk River (Eagle Creek) was part of Hamilton County, and called Anderson township; but in the latter part of that year it was divided into two townships, called Washington and Deerfield, the latter embracing the northern part of the present county, with the southern portion of Warren County, and the former including the southern and central parts of all the territory, now in Clermont and Brown Counties, between the Little Miami River and Eagle Creek.
The first territorial Legislature, consisting of a council of five, appointed by President John Adams, on March 22, 1799, to wit,---Jacob Burnet and James Findlay, of Cincinnati; Robert Oliver, of Marietta; David Vance, of Vanceville, Jefferson Co.; and Henry Vandenburg, of Vincennes (Indiana),---and a House of Representatives of twenty-two members, elected by the people from the counties of Washington, Hamilton, Wayne, Adams, Jefferson, and Ross (in Ohio), and Knox, St. Clair, and Randolph (in Indiana), met and organized at Cincinnati on Sept. 27, 1799. This body passed the following act:
"An Act to establish a new County on the Ohio between the Little Miami River and Adams County.
"SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Legislative Council and House of Representatives in General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That from and after the first day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred, so much of the county of Hamilton as is hereinafter mentioned shall compose a new county, that is to say: Beginning on the Ohio River at the mouth of Nine-Mile Creek, otherwise called John's Creek; thence running in a direct line to the mouth of the east fork of the Little Miami River; thence up the main branch of said Little Miami River until it shall intersect the line drawn east and west on the north boundary of the first entire range of townships in the Miami purchase; thence east to the line of Ross or Adams Counties; thence on the said line or lines of Ross or Adams Counties to the river Ohio; thence down the said river Ohio to the place of beginning,---all that of said county contained within the above boundary lines shall be a new county, and known by the name of Henry.
"SECTION 2. And be it further enacted, that Richard Allison, Samuel C. Vance, William Buckhannon, Robert Higgins, Hezekiah Conn, Alexander Martin, William Perry, and Peter Light shall be, and are hereby, appointed commissioners for the purpose of fixing on the most eligible place in said county of Henry for the permanent seat of justice; and the said commissioners, or a majority of them, are hereby authorized to select and point out a place in the said county of Henry at which the permanent seat of justice shall be established, and to receive as a gift, or to contract and purchase of any person or persons, the quantity of two hundred acres of land, and to cause the same to be laid off in town lots; one-half thereof in half-acre lots, with convenient streets; and the other half in lots of two acres; allowing sufficient streets; and the said commissioners, or a majority of them, shall within three weeks after the laying out of said town convey the same in fee to the commissioners of the said county of Henry, and their successors in office, in trust for the use of the said county; and the said county commissioners shall proceed to sell the said lots for the use of the county, reserving two acres of the lots as near the centre of the in-lots as may be, to be conveyed to the justices of the court for the said county, and their successors in office, for the purpose of erecting such public buildings thereon as by the laws of this Territory are directed. And the said county commissioners shall cause the money arising from the sale of said lots to be paid into the county treasury for the use of the said county, and the county treasurer shall pay the original purchase-money of the said two hundred acres of land and the expenses attending the ascertaining the most eligible place aforesaid, with the charges for laying out the said town-lots, and also the sum of two dollars per day to each of the commissioners herein above named during their attendance out of the first moneys that shall be paid into the treasury not otherwise appropriated.
"SECTION 3. And be it further enacted, That the sheriff of the said county, within four weeks after he receives his appointment, shall give notices to each of the commissioners of their appointments, and direct the time the said commissioners shall meet at the temporary place for holding their courts, which shall not exceed three weeks from such notice, to execute the duties required of them by this law.
"SECTION 4. And it be further enacted, That until such place for holding the courts for said county be fixed by the commissioners, the justices of said counties are hereby authorized to hold their respective courts at Denham's Town, within the said county.
"SECTION 5. And it be further enacted, That it be lawful for the sheriff of the aforesaid county of Hamilton to collect and make distress for any taxes, forfeitures, public dues, or officer's fees for which the inhabitants of the said county of Henry, or any other person or persons holding property in the said county, are liable, and which shall remain unpaid at the time this act shall take effect, in like manner as if this act had not been made.
"SECTION 6. And be it further enacted, That the courts of the aforesaid county of Hamilton shall have jurisdiction in all actions and suits in law shall be depending therein on the said first day of February, and shall try and determine the same, issue process, and award execution thereon.
"SECTION 7. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the county commissioners of the said county of Henry, at the first meeting next after the appointments, to levy and cause to be collected, in the same manner of other county rates are levied and collected, a sum of money not less than one thousand dollars, no more than two thousand dollars, and sufficient to build a substantial county jail containing two commodious apartments at least; and the said commissioners are hereby directed to cause the said jail to be erected and completed at the permanent seat of justice in the said county of Henry within the term of two years next after passing this act.
"Speaker of the House of Representatives.
"H. VANDENBURGH, President of the Council."
The above act was lately discovered among the papers of Governor St. Clair, and is not printed in any of the early annual volumes of laws or other published archives or annals of Ohio. It never became a law, but the present county of Clermont had a narrow escape from being called Henry, and Denhamstown (now Bethel) came very near becoming shiretown.
The first session of the territorial Legislature passed thirty bills, but the Governor vetoed eleven of them, of which six were for the erection of new counties, including Henry, and these acts did not return to the Legislature, because, as he said in his speech of Dec. 19, 1799, proroguing and terminating their session, the two houses were under no obligation to consider the reasons on which his vetoes were founded; and, at any rate, as his negatives were unqualified, the only effect of such a return would be to bring on a vexatious and probably fruitless altercation between the legislative body and executive. The eleven vetoed bills were disapproved for various reasons, but mainly because the Governor St. Clair, a stern old Federalist, claimed that the power exercised in enacting them, and particularly those relating to the creation of new counties, was vested by the ordinance of 1787, not in the Legislature, but in himself; hence he pocketed and retained every act that he considered as infringing upon his authority, and those he did approve were grudgingly signed, and thus a running war was kept up by the Governor and legislators till the fifty-fifth day of the session, when the arbitrary executive dismissed them in high dudgeon, and Henry County existed only as a vetoed law, struck away among the rubbish of the dingy gubernatorial office.
On Dec. 6, 1800, Governor St. Clair created by proclamation the county of Clermont, the name taken from the Department of Clermont, in France, and derived from two French words originally signifying "a clear mountain" with the following boundaries:
"Beginning at the mouth on Nine-Mile, or Muddy Creek, where it discharges itself into the Ohio, and running from thence with a straight line to the mouth of the cast branch of the Little Miami River; thence with the Little Miami River to the mouth of O'Bannon's Creek; thence with a due cast line until it shall intersect a line drawn due north from the mouth of Elk River, or Eagle River; thence with that line south to the mouth of said Elk River, or Eagle River; and from thence with the Ohio to the place of the beginning."
After Clement only two counties were created by proclamation under the territorial government,---to wit, Fairfield, Dec. 9, 1800, and Belmont, Sept.7, 1801,---and Scioto was the first one erected under the State organization,---to wit, March 24, 1803.
The first court of the justices of General Quarter Sessions, held at Williamsburgh, Feb. 25, 1801, fixed on that town as the temporary seat of justice, which so remained till the Second General Assembly of Ohio, at Chllicothe, on Feb. 18, 1804, passed an act providing for fixing of the permanent seat of justice in Clermont; under which law William Patton, Isaac Davis, and Nathan Reeves, all of Ross County, were appointed commissioners to choose and designate the place, and who reported against its removal to Bethel and in favor of its being permanently located where it was. An act of the territorial Legislature, approved Jan. 23, 1802, provided that the boundary-line between the counties of Adams and Ross, west of the Scioto River, the dividing-line between Clermont and Adams, the one between Clermont and Ross, so much of the dividing-lines between Hamilton and Clermont as lies between the Ohio River and the mouth of the east fork of the Little Miami, and the division-line between Ross and Hamilton, should be ascertained by the surveyors of the said counties, with the proviso that the line commencing at the mouth of Eagle Creek, between Clermont and Adams, should be run and completed before the 1st of May following, as the inhabitants of the new county of Clermont were anxious to know as speedily as possible the exact eastern limits of their county.
The Justices' Court of General Quarter Sessions, at its first term, Feb. 25, 1801, divided the new county of Clermont into five townships,---Williamsburgh, Ohio, Washington, Obannon (a year or so later changed to Miami), and Pleasant (now in Brown),---but the records of the court preserved fail to give the boundaries of said townships.
At the regular session of the commissioners (Amos Ellis, Amos Smith, and George Conrad), on June 12, 1805, a petition of sundry inhabitants of Williamsburgh and Ohio townships was presented and read, praying for the erection of a new township, to be composed of a part of each of said townships, which was laid over for further consideration until next meeting. At their next session, On August 5th, the board ordered said new township of Tute to be laid off and created agreeably to the boundaries prescribed and filed (which cannot be found), and which were ordered to be recorded, but were not. Roger W. Waring, for himself and others of that part of Williamsburgh township which remained, gave notice that he would file a bill of exceptions and take an appeal to the board's act in establishing this new township; but the flat had been issued, and from that day henceforth Tate was a sovereignty by itself and an integral part of the Clermont body politic.
June 2, 1807, the journal of the commissioners shows that a petition of a number of inhabitants of the east end of Washington township was presented, praying to be set off as a new township; and the same being thought reasonable the prayer was granted, to extend from the east end of Washington township as far down as Bullskin Creek or the Denhamstown road, said township to be recorded and known by the name of Lewis (now in Brown County).
Clark township (now in Brown County) was created by the commissioners, Oct. 18, 1808, with the following boundaries:
"Beginning where the State road from Denhamstown and West Union crosses Whiteoak; thus running with the State road to Adams county-line; thence north with said line to Highland County; thence west with said county-line to the corner of Highland, and continuing west so far as to include Aaron Leonard and Moses Moss; thence south to Lewis township-line; thence with the same to the place of beginning."
On Feb. 18, 1805, the Legislature passed an act that all that part of Clermont, Adams, and Ross, with the following boundaries, be laid off and erected into a separate county, to be known by the name of Highland, to wit:
"Beginning at the twenty-mile tree, in the line between Clermont and Adams Counties, which is run north from the mouth of Eagle Creek, on the Ohio River, and running thence east twelve miles; thence northeastwardly until it intersects the line which was run between the counties of Ross and Scioto and Adams, at the eighteen-mile tree from the Scioto River; thence northwardly to the mouth of Rocky Fork of Paint Creek; thence up main Paint Creek, by the bed thereof, including John Watt's survey of one thousand acres, on which the town of Greenfield is situate, to the south line of Franklin County; thence with the said line west to the east line of Greene County; thence with the said line south to the southeast corner of said county; thence with the south line thereof west to the northeast corner of Clermont County, and from the beginning west to the north fork of Whiteoak; thence north to the south line of Warren County; thence with said line east to the corner between Clermont and Warren Counties."
Dec. 4, 1811, a petition of a number of inhabitants of the settlement of Ohio township was presented to the commissioners of Clermont County, praying for a new township, to be established agreeable to the following bounds, to wit:
"Beginning at the east fork, at the corner of Tate township; thence with the line of Tate township until it meets the State road leading from West Union to the mouth of Clough Creek; thence with that road until it meets with the county-line; thence with the county-line to the east fork; thence up the east fork to the beginning."
The board laid off and established the foregoing bounds into a new township, to be known by the name of Union. With the following changes in the boundaries:
"The new said township of Union to extend and border upon the south side of the State road from Tate township-line to Daniel Kirgan's; thence to border upon the north side of said road to the county-line."
Whereas a number of the inhabitants of the settlement of Stonelick Creek had filed a petition praying to be set apart into a separate township, the commissioners, on March 4, 1812, set apart the following boundaries into a new township, to be known as Stonelick, to wit:
"Beginning at the mouth of Dry Run, in Miami, on the east fork; thence northerly so as just to include Lewis Coddle to the county-line; thence east with said line to Highland county-line; thence south with said line to the State road, known by the name of Anderson's road; thence with the said road to where the Xenia road crosses; thence a straight course to the mouth of Whetstone's Run, on the east fork; thence down the same to the place of beginning."
But on April 13th following the line between Williamsburgh and Stonelick was changed by making the line of Stonelick "begin on the east fork, at the mouth of
Killbreath's Run, near Dimmitt's Ford; thence running northerly so as to strike John Long, Christian Long, and Joseph Brunk (and including them); thence a straight line to where the Xenia road crosses the Anderson State road".
On Sept. 5, 1815, Batavia township was created by the commissioners with the following boundaries:
"Beginning at the mouth of Slab Camp Run, where it empties into the east fork; thence up the run one mile northerly to intersect the road leading from Williamsburgh to Cincinnati, near the house of Daniel Kidd; from thence northerly to John Davidson's farm; thence the same course to the first branch of the waters of Lick Run; thence down the same to the mouth thereof; thence crossing the east fork; thence down the bank of said fork to David Dimmitt's lower ford of said fork; thence along the lower edge of the river-hill of the fork to Townsley's Mill-road; thence along said road, leading towards Daniel Kirgan's, leaving the road to the northeast corner of John Brazier's land; thence to a place known by the name of Nash's cross-road; thence on the road leading to Denhamstown to Tate township-line; thence down the line of Tate township to the east fork; thence up the creek, and crossing the same opposite to the mouth of Slab Camp Run to the place of beginning."
On June 6, 1815, the township of Perry (now in Brown)was established by the commissioners, with following boundaries:
"Beginning on Clermont county-line at the corner of Warren and Clinton Counties; thence a straight course to Samuel Ashton's old place, on Anderson's State road; thence east by south to the line between Clermont and Highland Counties; thence north with Clermont county-line to Clinton county-line; thence with Clermont and Clinton counties-line to the place of beginning."
On Dec. 27, 1817, Clermont lost the townships of Pleasant, Lewis, Clark, and Perry by the legislative act passed that day creating Brown County, and which provided that so much of the counties of Clermont and Adams as comes within the following limits should be and was erected into a separate and distinct county, to be known by the name of Brown (after the gallant officer of the war of 1812), to wit:
"Beginning at a point eight miles due west from the court-house, in the town of West Union, in Adams; thence running due north to Highland county-line; thence west with Highland county-line to Clermont county-line; thence north with Clermont county-line to Clinton county-line; thence west with Clinton county-line so far that a line running south will strike the Ohio River two miles above the mouth of Bullskin Creek; thence up the Ohio River and with the same so far that a line running due north will intersect the point of beginning."
The courts were ordered to be held at the house of Alexander Campbell, in Ripley, until the permanent seat of justice was located, and which not long afterwards (Jan. 19, 1821) was fixed at Georgetown.
May 5, 1818, Franklin township was established by the commissioners, in response to a petition signed by citizens of the fractional part of Lewis and the upper part of Washington township, the boundaries of which were as follows:
"The beginning at the upper corner of Clermont County, two miles above the mouth of Bullskin Creek, on the Ohio River; thence with the county-line between Clermont and Brown to the original line of Lewis township; thence westwardly with the line of Tate township to where the State road crosses Indian Creek, about eight poles south of William Winter's; thence with the line of Washington township two miles; thence in a direction that will strike the Ohio River twenty poles below the house where Dr. R.W. Hale now resides; thence with the meanders of the Ohio River to the Brown county-line."
March 15, 1819, Wayne township was created on the application by petition of a number of inhabitants of the southeast part of Stonelick township, with the following boundaries:
"Beginning at the crossing of Xenia and Anderson State road; thence crossing the road leading from the mouth to the head of Stonelick at a bridge next above the farm of William Cowan; thence to the line between Miami and Stonelick townships where the same crosses the Indian Camp Run."
It was ordered that the electors of said new township of Wayne hold at the house of Joseph Smith their first election for township officers on the first Monday in April following. Next day, March 16, 1819, Goshen township was organized and established, on the petition of a number of citizens of the northeastern part of Miami, with these boundaries:
"Beginning at the county-line, northwest of Joshua Cox's; thence along the northeastern side of the road leading from Lebanon to Williamsburgh to within one mile of Jesse Smith's, on the road aforesaid; thence crossing the said road to the southern side; thence along the southern side of said road to the line between Miami and Stonelick townships; thence with the line of Stonelick to the county-line; thence with the county-line to the beginning."
Monroe township was created June 9, 1825, with the following boundaries (petitioned for by citizens of Ohio and Washington townships):
"Beginning at the corner of Ohio township, near Jacob Ulrey's; thence south ten degrees east till it intersects or strikes the Tate township-line, one hundred and ten poles from Peter McClain; thence south forty-four degrees west to the mouth of Little Indian Creek; thence with the Ohio River to the mouth of Boat Run; thence north twenty-eight degrees east until it strikes the State road from Cincinnati to Bethel; thence with said road to the beginning."
On June 3, 1834, the commissioners, having had under consideration the petition of Ebenezer Hadley and other citizens of Wayne, Williamsburgh, and Stonelick townships for the erection of a new township, found it to be to the public interest to erect one, which they did, and called it Jackson, with the following boundaries:
"Beginning at the point where the line dividing the counties of Brown and Clermont crosses the Anderson State road; thence south and with said line to Four-Mile Run, near the farm of James Waits; thence a westwardly course to Isaac Hartman's saw-mill, on the east fork; thence a straight westwardly course to John Bridge's old place, on the Deerfield road; thence north and with said road, or Batavia township-line, to Stonelick township-line; thence northeastwardly and with Stonelick township-line to the new county road running from the cross-roads to Obadiah Ireton's; thence to the Anderson State road, at the farm of James Barr; thence a northeastwardly course, including said Barr, Schobard Willis, and Arthur Clark, to the line dividing Stonelick and Wayne townships, near Frederick Everhart's; thence northwest and with said line one mile; thence an easterly course to the line dividing the counties of Brown and Clermont, three miles north of the Anderson State road; thence south and with said line to the place of beginning; to contain the legal quantity of square miles, and so as to leave John Marsh and John Needham in Stonelick township."
On Dec.8, 1852, the board of county commissioners took up and considered the petition of J.C. Smith and others for the division of Ohio township into two townships, and it was thereupon ordered that said Ohio township be divided according to the prayer of the petitioners, to wit:
"Beginning at the mouth of Twelve-Mile Creek, and running with the meanders of said creek to Monroe township-line; thence with said line to the Ohio turnpike; the division or township in which the town of New Richmond is situated to be known and designated by the name of Ohio township, and the other division or township to be called Pierce township, in honor of Franklin Pierce, President-elect of the United States."
The boundary-line between Hamilton and Clermont Counties was run again in 1858 and permanently settled, and since then the lines dividing Clermont from Warren, Clinton, and Brown have been run and more accurately determined and fixed than before. The line between Clermont and Hamilton begins at a stake on the bank of the Little Miami River and opposite the mouth of the east fork; thence on a bearing of south two degrees thirty-three minutes west by the magnetic needle course, and in a straight line to the mouth of Nine-Mile Creek, where it empties into the Ohio River, said Nine-Mile Creek being called in the earliest days John's or Muddy Creek. This line is exactly nine miles in distance.
THE COUNTY BUILDINGS, PAST AND PRESENT---COURT-HOUSES---JAILS AND INFIRMARIES---THE THREE SITES OF THE COUNTY-SEAT---THE ANCIENT WHIPPING-POST, INCLUDING MANY INTERESTING FACTS IN THEIR HISTORY, WITH NAMES OF PERSONS JUDICIALLY FLOGGED
The Court of General Quarter Sessions made Williamsburgh the county-seat in 1801, on the fourth Tuesday of February, by entering in an agreement with Thomas Morris, whereby he agreed to furnish the court with a convenient house, tables, benches, fuel, etc., for the purpose of holding court, for the term of four years, at twenty dollars per year. Mr. Morris kept a log hotel, adjoining which was another log building, which was the jail, and adjoining it still another log building, The which was the court-house, and the first in the county, and one in which many men who afterwards sat in Congress, on the State Supreme bench, and on the Supreme Court bench of the United States pleaded cases before the frontier juries, and discussed law with Quarter Session justices fresh from the clearings and newly-opened fields of their pioneer homes.
The man who owned the log hotel and kept it, who rented to the new county of Clermont a log jail and a log court-house, in six years' time was on the Supreme bench of Ohio, and in less than a third of a century was in the United States Senate, the idol and the stay of thousands---soon to be millions---of hearts looking to the overthrow of that accursed system that kept three millions of human beings in bondage. John McLean spoke as well in the log court-house of Clermont in 1803 as he did when announcing decisions in the Supreme Court of the land at Washington City twenty-seven years later, and Jacob Burnet pleaded the case in that old and diminutive log court-house, in 1801, of the poor squatter with as much warmth as when he spoke for his country in the United States Senate or delivered his able judicial opinions from the Supreme Court of Ohio but a few years later.
The old log jail contained no desperate criminals,---occasionally a horse- thief,---but it and its prison-bounds often held many a poor unfortunate debtor, and one of these was technically its owner,---Thomas Morris,---there for a brief period till released by a supersedeas from the General Territorial Court.
The Second General Assembly of Ohio passed an act on Feb. 18, 1804, providing for fixing the permanent seat of justice in the town of Williamsburgh, and then the county authorities and the good people of that town began to be-stir themselves about the erection of the necessary buildings for holding courts, transacting the public business, and executing the laws of the State by having suitable prison accommodations for unlucky offenders of the law's stern decrees. The contract with Thomas Morris, in February, 1801, for use of a room for court-house having expired, the county commissioners, on June 12, 1805, entered in an agreement with Nicholas Sinks, "who agreed to furnish a room with convenient benches, tables, and seats for the purpose of holding courts in the house that said Nicholas Sinks resided in, together with a room or rooms for the grand or petit juries to sit in, and also a room for the county commissioners to sit in during the time they may be sitting as such, and to keep the necessary fires for the comfort and convenience of the court and commissioners while sitting aforesaid, " all for eight dollars for each term of court,---that is, twenty-four dollars per year, as the court and commissioners then sat quarterly.
At the August and September terms of court the year before, it seems, the associate judges had appropriated at each of said terms one hundred dollars, under the act of Feb. 18, 1804, ordering a new court-house, and under other special laws giving them that power, and of this money, William Perry (the first sheriff) got one hundred dollars in June, 1803, for hauling stone to build a new court-house; and John Kain and Archibald McLean got together the same in November (19), 1804, for same services.
On June 12, 1805, the commissioners decided to erect a court-house, and appropriated a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars for that purpose, to be paid out of the taxes of the non-resident land-owners of the county, in addition to the appropriations, heretofore made by the court, and to let out the contract at the next meeting of the board. On Aug. 1, 1805, the board proceeded to sell out the contract to the lowest bidder, and John Wright and John Charles were the undertakers thereof as the lowest bidders, at the sum of fourteen hundred and ninety-nine dollars, to be paid as follows, to wit: "One hundred dollars as soon as the walls of said house are raised one foot above the ground; and the further sum of one hundred dollars as soon as the walls are raised up to the second story and the timbers laid thereon; and the further sum of four hundred dollars on the first day of December next, provided the house is at that time under cover (or so soon thereafter as said house shall be under cover); and the further sum of two hundred dollars to be paid on the first day of May next; and lastly, the further sum of six hundred and ninety-nine dollars on the first day of January, which will be in the year of eighteen hundred and seven." The contractors gave bond in two thousand nine hundred and ninety-eight dollars to do the work as they agreed, and the commissioners also gave bond in two thousand dollars to meet the payments promptly as they fell due.
In August the contractors drew one hundred dollars, and two hundred dollars in November, and the sum of five hundred dollars in January,1806, and in June, 1806, two hundred dollars. In December, 1806, they received three hundred dollars more; fifty dollars in August, 1807, and fifty dollars more in September following, and twelve dollars in September, 1808. In February, 1809, they were paid eighty-seven dollars, the balance due of the fourteen hundred and ninety-nine dollars, the contract price, but the commissioners allowed them fifty-seven dollars twenty-two and a quarter cents for extra work done. The delay in finishing the court-house---it being nearly four years in its erection---was occasioned by the lack of funds and various other causes that postponed its completion beyond the stipulated time.
It was built on the public square, specially set apart for that purpose by the original proprietor of that town, Gen. Wm. Lytle, in his plat and deed of dedication, and in 1858 was taken down to give way to the magnificent school-edifice that adorns the lot where for fourteen years stood the old two-story stone court-house as the county's temple of justice, ---from 1810 to 1824.
The Legislature, on Dec. 27, 1817, passed an act creating the county of Brown, thus taking away from Clermont the extensive territory comprised in the then four very large townships of Pleasant, Clark, Lewis, and Perry, and leaving Williamsburgh, the shiretown of Clermont, only about two and a half miles from the boundary-line of the new county. This led to discussions and propositions for changing the county-seat from Williamsburgh to some more central point in the county, as that town, since the organization of Brown, laid on the extreme eastern part of the county, and in the then condition of the roads and bridges limited facilities of traveling was very inaccessible to a larger part of the people of Clermont. But the inhabitants of Williamsburgh, alive to the interests of their own good town,---the first laid out in Clermont,---saw the storms encircling around and about them, and quieted the matter and agitation for a brief period by taking snap judgement in getting the Seventeenth General Assembly of Ohio to pass the act of Jan. 28, 1819, providing and fixing the permanent seat of justice where it was,---in their town. But this did not settle the place for the shiretown, and let to renewed strife and agitation, and the Twenty-first General Assembly of the State, on Jan. 25, 1823, passed a law removing the county-seat to New Richmond; which act was obtained mainly through the influence of Thomas Morris, then a State senator,---a man of great influence in the Legislature, and strongly opposed to the interests of Williamsburgh, from which town he removed, in 1804, to Bethel. The contest now became warm and stirred up the whole county, leading to violent harangues, discussions, and several street encounters and affrays.
The law of Jan. 25, 1823, did not, in words, change the county-seat from Williamsburgh to New Richmond, though its effect was to do so, for it appointed three commissioners,---Anthony Banning, of Mount Vernon, John C. Wright, of Steubenville, and James Clark, of Wooster (three distinguished men of the State, but close personal friends of Thomas Morris, so opposed to Williamsburgh), whose duty it was to examine so much of the county as would enable them to determine what place in said county would be most eligible and best calculated to promote the general interests of its inhabitants as a permanent seat of justice, having regard to the present and future population thereof and the advantage of placing the same as near the centre of said county as possible, or on the Ohio River. These men came and went casually over the county, and determined that it was not contrary to justice to remove the county-seat from Williamsburgh, and that a removal therefrom would be conducive to Clermont's best interests, and that, in their opinion, it was not necessary that the boundary-line between Clermont and Brown should be altered (a step necessary to be done to keep the county-seat at Williamsburgh), and that, having good policy and justice in view, they decided for the permanent seat of justice a point on the public square easterly of lots 105 and 106, in New Richmond, where, in great solemnity and amid the hurrahs of the good people of that town, they drove and placed a stake as the proper place, in their opinion, for the centre of the front of the court-house, and thereupon selected lot 460, in said town of New Richmond, and near to the court-house, a lot, as a site for the jail, jailer's house, and such other buildings as might be necessary. These three wise men then proceeded to determine and assess the damages which the several owners of lots and buildings in Williamsburgh would sustain in consequence of the removal of the seat of justice from their town; in making which assessment, they inquired how much the value of the property of such persons would be reduced by the removal below its cash value, and did assess and find the said damage to amount to the sum of six thousand three hundred and sixty-seven dollars and fifty cents. They also took a bond from John Emerson and others interested in favor of the New Richmond site, so selected, with good and sufficient security in double the amount said damages assessed, and payable to the county treasurer, conditioned for the payment of aforesaid damages in four years. They also took a deed of conveyance from Thomas Ashburn for said jail lot 460, one hundred feet of the avenue, and also one from Jacob Light for other parts of the said avenue, and likewise a bond from Thomas Morris and George C. Light for a future conveyance for part of lot 105 to thus complete the title of all of said avenue in fee-simple to Clermont County. They also received from Peter Turner and others a bond for erecting a court-house and jail on the aforesaid sites for a seat of justice, or to furnish materials and labor towards public buildings to the amount of two thousand dollars, at the option of the county commissioners, and also to provide a place for holding courts in said county, and for a clerk's office free of rent for one year from July 4, 1823. These three men (honorable and good men though they were) were the recipients of a perfect storm of indignation from a vast majority of the people of the county, and which found vent in the public prints and memorials to the ensuing Legislature by the bushels.
How the new county buildings progressed at New Richmond is attested by the proceedings of the county commissioners, at whose session on Nov. 10, 1823, the memorial of Peter Turner, David Dickinson, Daniel Light, and James Robb was received, setting forth that they had complied with their contract for the erection of public buildings and asking to be discharged from their bond; but the commissioners, being satisfied that the parties aforesaid had not complied with the conditions of their bond in the erection of court-house, jail, and public offices of equal value of those at Williamsburgh, resolved that, inasmuch as the said parties have not completed the public buildings aforesaid agreeably to their bond, they cannot with propriety be received at this time.
This backset to the new county-seat at New Richmond was soon followed by an act of the Legislature, passed Feb. 24, 1824, making Batavia the shiretown of Clermont, and where ever since the county-seat has remained. In the General Assembly that finally settled upon Batavia as the county-seat, the members from Clermont were Owen T. Fishback (senator) and William Williams (representative). The only terms of the Common Pleas Court held at New Richmond were the August and November terms of 1823, and the March term of 1824, and the first court held at Batavia, now the shiretown by legislative enactment, was a special one of two days, convened May 14, 1824, consisting of Associate Judges Alexander Blair, John Pollock, and John Beatty, and which assembled at the Methodist Episcopal church (the old stone structure, still standing), and where all the courts continued to be held until the present court-house was fully completed. The first regular court in Batavia was at the July term of 1824, with Judge Joshua Collet as presiding judge.
On Dec. 9, 1826, at a regular meeting of the Clermont County commissioners, consisting of Samuel Perin, John Boggers, and James Blackburn, Andrew Foote being auditor and clerk of the board, it was determined to build a court-house in the town of Batavia. An order was then made that notice be given that the labor to be performed and the materials to be furnished necessary for the erection of said building be offered at public auction to the lowest bidder on the 11th day of January, 1827. At an adjourned meeting on the 30th of the same month, the board proceeded to the selection of a plan for building, agreeably to their determination of their last meeting. On the next day they investigated further as to the cost and description of the contemplated house, and it was resolved that one of their number (Samuel Perin) procure at Cincinnati a complete draft of the most approved plan; whereupon the honorable board adjourned until Jan. 5, 1827, for further proceedings. At the adjourned day the board received and accepted said plan, to wit: Said building to be of brick, erected on a foundation of stone, size of forty-five feet square, with a cupola or a steeple annexed thereto, and finished in a suitable style, agreeably to said draft. It was further resolved that Samuel Perin, taking to his aid John Charles (who, in 1805 to 1809, had built the Williamsburgh court-house) and such other assistance as he could obtain, should draw a profile and description of said building on or before the day of sale. On Jan. 11, 1827, the advertised day of sale to the lowest bidder, Ezekiel Dimmitt agreed to furnish all the materials, erect, finish, and complete the said court-house for the sum of three thousand four hundred and eighty-three dollars, and, no other person offering to do it less, he became the purchaser and contractor, and went into a contract and bond for the faithful performance of this undertaking with Holly Raper, William A. White, Daniel Duckwall, and John Dimmitt, Jr., his securities, conditioned as the law directed, which was immediately approved by the commissioners.
At the following March session of the board an advancement of five hundred and eighty dollars and fifty cents was made to the builder as per agreement. At the June sitting of the board, with the consent of the Common Pleas Court, there was levied one mill on the dollar, to be exclusively appropriated to the court-house in process of erection, and a second advancement given to Ezekiel Dimmitt, the contractor, of seven hundred dollars. At the September meeting the board, after inspecting the progress of the work, and with great satisfaction thereat, as its journals indicate, made a third allowance, of eight hundred dollars, to the builder, and also ordered John Jamieson to dig a well on the public square in pursuance of a contract, and further ordered a board fence to be constructed around two squares of the jail, such fence not to cost over twenty-six dollars. At the December session another order was given Mr. Dimmitt for five hundred and fifty-two dollars and fifty cents in part payment of the new temple of justice. At the April sitting of 1828 the board examined the progress and status of the tabernacle of law with feelings of great satisfaction at its most excellent condition, and at the succeeding June hearing made another order to the contractor for four hundred dollars, and again made a like allowance at the following September sitting. At the December session of the commissioners the balance, of fifty dollars, due Ezekiel Dimmitt was voted him. On "New Year's Day", 1829, the board met (no change had occurred in its members since the project was first started), and after a most thorough and minute examination of the edifice it was unanimously, and with proud satisfaction, decided that it had been constructed and completed by its maker according to the contract in every detail and letter of the agreement, and it was formally received as finished from him, and an order was voted the builder for three hundred and twenty-seven dollars and fifty-three and three-fourths cents in full of his account for extra work and extra materials furnished.
Mr. Ezekiel Dimmitt lost money, some fifteen hundred dollars, on his contract, as he did an honest job and more than filled the stipulations of the bid,---too low for the splendid work he so honestly made for the county,---and the Legislature, by an act of Feb. 7, 1829, authorized the commissioners to settle and adjust his accounts in that special enactment for his relief. At the March sitting of the board, in 1829, Mr. Dimmitt presented his accounts, in pursuance of the above-mentioned law, but the journal entry of the board states that, not producing satisfactory evidence as to the correctness of his said accounts, nothing was then allowed him, nor subsequently, owing to the ill-feeling produced in neighborhoods of New Richmond and Williamsburgh on the location of it in Batavia.
While the court-house is not an imposing structure, and does not conform to modern style of architecture, it has ever been the testimony of all the judges who have held court in its sacred temple that in the matter (and the most essential and important requisition) of acoustics, and for ease to the speakers in the delivery of their arguments, it has no superior in the State. It has been the theater of many hard-fought legal battles, its old walls have resounded with many able and eloquent speeches, but its full history cannot be written---its bygone scenes and incidents, its secret associations and deliberations---until the future historian shall write the lives of the individual actors who have participated in the acts that have rendered it so famous in the county's history.
A few years subsequently the two offices now occupied by Judge S.F. Dowdney and his law partner, J.S. Parrott, and by Col. William Howard and his son, John J. Howard, were built for the offices of the clerk and auditor; and in 1842 and 1843 was erected, by James and Newton Carter, for the treasurer, the office next to the jail, and now occupied by Judge George L. Swing and his son, James B. Swing. Several years later was put up, by John Finley, the office now used (by R.J. Bancroft)---next to the court-house---for special benefit of the clerk. These were called "Rat Row" in popular parlance, and were the regular county offices until the year 1864, when was completed the new "Public Building", on the public square and partly on the site of the old jail.
The contract for erecting this was let out on March 25, 1863, and was awarded to Robert Haines (of New Richmond) for four thousand three hundred and fifty dollars, who took the contract for furnishing the materials and doing and performing all the labor necessary for its erection. On November 4th, he was allowed fourteen hundred and fifty dollars; on Jan. 16, 1864, two thousand and thirty-six dollars and sixty-seven cents; and on March 7th, six hundred dollars. This structure contains offices for probate judge, recorder, surveyor, clerk, auditor, and treasurer; is of brick, two stories high, with a good cellar under the whole building, and, like the court-house, is on the public square donated for public uses by the original proprietors of the town, George Ely and David C. Bryan, as formerly dedicated in their plat of Oct. 24, 1814.
The court-house was well repaired in May, 1879, its inside greatly beautified, and the old wooden fish weather vane, high above the cupola, replaced by a metallic arrow of modern style.
JAILS---WHIPPING POSTS---PERSONS WHIPPED; WHEN AND BY WHOM
As heretofore stated, the first jail in the county was a log building, situated just between the log court-house and the log hotel, all really connected together and under one roof, and built and owned by Thomas Morris. This was the jail legally made so in February---4th Tuesday---of 1801, and so continued for some time, till the authorities built one---still of logs, but larger and stronger---on a site by itself; concerning which, the records and history are silent as to the precise time of its construction. It contained at various times many luckless debtors, but its chief offenders were horse-thieves,---the terror of the early settlers, and on whom the law had no mercy, and, like in all new countries, it was visited on them sternly and promptly,---with occasionally parties held for larceny, and sometimes for robbery and burglary.
In front of this jail stood the whipping-post, or, rather, posts. Two sticks of oak about six inches square were planted about five feet apart, and projected the same distance from the earth. To the top of these the culprit was tied by the extended hands, while the "cat-o'-nine-tails" was applied on his naked back with cruel vigor. There several unhappy offenders satisfied the majesty of the law for misdeeds of the body, principally horse-stealing, the most heinous of crimes in early days.
At the October term of Common Please Court, in 1808, John Clark, for stealing a horse of John Gaskins, was found guilty, and sentenced to be whipped twenty-five stripes on his naked back that afternoon at three o'clock; pay said Gaskins fifty dollars (the value of his horse), also a fine of ten dollars and costs; to be imprisoned three days in jail, and not to be let out till the restitution, fine, and costs were all paid. On the same day this same culprit, John Clark, for stealing a bell of Conrad Hersh, was sentenced to be whipped with five stripes, make restitution to said Hersh of the value of the bell (one dollar), pay a fine of one dollar, and be imprisoned twenty-four hours, and not to be released till restitution-money, fine, and costs were fully settled. On same day Mordecai S. Ford, who in 1801 bought, in Washington township, some seventy-five acres of land from Philip Buckner, was up before the court for stealing a horse from James Johnson. He was found guilty, and sentenced to pay said Johnson, the owner of the stolen horse, twenty dollars as restitution, pay a fine of ten dollars and costs, be imprisoned three days, and not discharged till restitution-money, fine, and costs were all paid, and be whipped twenty-five stripes on his naked back that afternoon at three o'clock. A big day's work in court,---three trials and three convictions, with two public whippings in the afternoon as early as three o'clock; but justice did not sleep on horse-thieves.
The hour came, and Sheriff Levi Rogers---or rather his deputy and court constable, the stout and quick William Stout---administered the two judicial whippings, to the complete satisfaction of the court, bar, and public officials, town people, and, in short, all save the two downcast and back-sore offenders. John Clark took the five other stripes for purloining the bell next week, and soon after Ford died between Felicity and Calvary meeting-house, in the graveyard of which he was the first person interred. Three men, Brown, Ferguson (both flogged by Sheriff Oliver Lindsey), and another man, name unknown, being all non-residents and all guilty of the same terrible crime of horse-stealing. After Brown was whipped he said, in a spirit of braggadocio, that he was a much better man than the sheriff or any of the spectators, and no one felt like disputing the assertion.
At one time two horse-thieves, named Killwell and Joseph Knott, were confined in this old log jail, when Killwell slipped off his handcuffs and fled. Pursuit being instituted, he changed his appearance as much as possible in a successful disguise, and joined in the effort to recapture him, asking the people, in his going through the sparsely-settled country, whether they had seen anything of or heard of the whereabouts of the notorious outlaw and horse-thief, Killwell, and succeeded, by his coolness and daring, in escaping for good, and excelling "Dick Turpin" for his bold effrontery.
Joseph Knott, tried for horse-stealing, escaped thus: When the jury returned their verdict, "Joseph Knott, (not) guilty", his attorney exclaimed, "Joseph, not guilty! Put Joseph!" and before the court recovered itself or the sheriff collected his wits, Joseph had "put" for the woods, and escaped for that time, but was afterwards shot on Stonelick by the infuriated citizens in a posse who had suffered from his continual depredations.
In that jail an unoffended man, a traveler and stranger, was once confined for long weary months through the machinations of wicked parties, and his misfortune destroyed his reason, and when released he was a raving lunatic, and so died. This man, whose name was Sharton, came from Kentucky, was looking over the country to purchase lands, and stopped at the Stockton tavern, where were wont to congregate the usual loafers and tough customers of the new frontier town. It always, in their opinion, being in order to drink, they asked the stranger to join them. He declined to do so; whereupon they said, "It will cost you the drink-money anyhow"; whereupon he started to go out of the room, when he was followed by the assembled roughs, and, to defend himself, stooped down to pick up a rock. His assailants also picked up rocks, and, hurling them at the fleeing and frightened man, struck a Mr. Smith, who was coming up the street, severely injuring him. The rowdies then charged the stranger with having inflicted the wound and caused him to be lodged in jail. For a number of days no complaint was made against him, and brooding over his troubles caused his reason to weaken, and finally to fail altogether. His brother came over from Kentucky and took him home to that State, but he never fully recovered from the shock his nervous system had received, and wasted away, a hopeless and broken-minded man.
A German, imprisoned in the jail for some trivial offense, in its midnight gloom calmly adjusted his fate, and in the morning was found hanging, ---dead. By using some loose boards he was enabled to suspend himself from the joists, and thus the life of the rashly-unfortunate man---far from his native land, and held some alleged light offense---went out into eternity, and, according to an ancient custom handed down as traditional law, his body was sacrilegiously buried in the forks of the cross-roads near the town of Williamsburgh.
The old jail had become an eyesore to the authorities from its inefficiency, the many prisoners escaping therefrom and the heavy costs of guards to keep with safety its inmates, and the many and continued sums expended in locks, irons, and other articles for the safekeeping of offenders. Therefore, at the March term, 1809, of the commissioners, they resolved to build a new one, of stone, and to advertise its sale to the lowest bidder on the 10th of April ensuing, at which date the sale was adjourned to the June meeting, then again to October 17th, when its erection was sold to John Charles for two thousand nine hundred and eighty-six dollars, who gave bond and security for its building. On March 5, 1810, seven hundred and ninety-five dollars and thirty-three and one-third cents was allowed John Charles on his jail contract; in June, sixty-three dollars and thirty-one cents; in September, seventy-two dollars and ninety-three cents; in December, one hundred and eighty dollars and seventy-seven and one-third cents; in April, 1811, five hundred dollars; in September, one hundred dollars; and on Dec. 3, 1811, two hundred and thirty-nine dollars and thirty-three and one-third cents,---being in all two thousand and twenty-seven dollars and eighty-nine cents. The balance to make up the contract price was paid along at different periods to sundry parties on orders from the contractor for materials, labor, and the like. So the jail was finished in two years from its beginning, and in time for the important December term of 1811.
There was another whipping by judicial decree in the old jail not yet mentioned by us. One William Thomas, at the August term of the Common Pleas, 1810, was found guilty of horse-stealing, although ably defended by his attorney, David C. Bryan, who tried to get a new trial, but which was refused. The court then asked the prisoner if he had anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced against him; and, having nothing to offer, the court said, "William Thomas, it is your sentence that at seven o'clock to-morrow morning you receive seventy-five stripes on your naked back, pay a fine of five hundred dollars and costs of prosecution, and be imprisoned for twenty days." The record shows that next morning the jolly sheriff, Oliver Lindsey (lately inducted into office), administered the judicial flagellation and charged it up promptly in his fees, which the county had to pay, as the execution against Thomas was returned "nulla bona" but a sore and stiff back.
The new jail was finished in December, 1811, and the first man whipped by order of court in its yard was one James Lewis, who on the 7th---four days after the new jail was opened---was found guilty of an assault with intent to murder, by a jury composed of the following then well-known citizens: William Megrue, John Ross, James McCall, Jesse Fee, Samuel Wardlow, George Little, John Kite, William Ross, James Ralston, Stephen Medaris, William Judd, and Allen Woods. All the eloquence and ingenuity of Thomas Morris could not get the prisoner a new trial or arrest of judgement, and the prisoner, James Lewis, was sentenced to be whipped at four o'clock that afternoon on his naked back with fifty stripes save one, be imprisoned in the common jail of the county sixty-five days, pay a fine of five hundred dollars and the costs of prosecution. Sheriff Lindsey attended to this flogging, and well, too, for Lewis was the most notorious criminal in the State,---a regular outlaw. But before giving the whipping Lewis was tried on another indictment for robbing Michael Weaver of six hundred and seventy-five dollars and eighty cents in silver coin, and was found guilty; for which the court, John Thompson presiding judge, sentenced him to receive thirty-nine stripes saving one on his naked back at four o'clock Monday evening three weeks, pay a fine of five thousand dollars, be imprisoned two months, pay costs of prosecution, and make restitution to Michael Weaver of the six hundred and seventy-five dollars and eighty cents stolen from him. It will be seen how merciful Judge Thompson was in letting three weeks and a few days elapse after the first flogging before the second was administered. But the fellow Lewis richly deserved his fate: he attempted murder and committed a heavy robbery. It is not known that he ever paid his fine, the largest ever assessed in the county, nor can it be learned what became of the hardened offended, Lewis, on his discharge from jail.
The county commissioners, at their session in December, 1825, resolved that it was necessary to erect a county jail in Batavia, and therefore ordered a notice to be published in the Western Patriot, printed in Batavia by Z. Colby & Co., that on Jan. 2, 1826, they would sell out to the lowest bidder its construction. Therefore, on Jan. 2, 1826, agreeably to the aforesaid advertisement and resolution, the sale took place; whereupon Ezekiel Dimmitt offered to build it for nine hundred and forty-nine dollars, and no person appearing and offering to construct it for a less sum, it was struck off to him, and he entered into a bond, with John Mitchell and Daniel Duckwall as securities, for the faithful compliance of his contract. This jail was on that part of the public square cornering on the alley, and now occupied by the county treasury, and was completed on Jan. 12, 1827; on which day, on application of Ezekiel Dimmitt, its builder, the commissioners proceeded to an examination of the same, and found the contractor was entitled to receive, for extra work thereon, after deductions for omissions and bad workmanship, the sum of twenty-four dollars, sixty-four and one-half cents; whereupon they received it, and ordered the auditor to draw an order on the county treasury in his favor for that amount, together with a balance of the original contract of one hundred and twenty dollars and seventy-two cents, in full discharge of the said contract for the erection of the first jail in Batavia.
The county commissioners, seeing the necessity for a new jail,---one that would meet the demands of justice in size and safety for the accommodation of the prisoners,---at their June session in 1836, resolved to erect one and to sell out to the lowest bidder, on July 7th, the excavating and erecting of its foundations, the excavation to be sold by the cubic yard and the masonry by the perch. On July 7th the excavation was sold to Benjamin R. Hopkins for ten cents per cubic yard, and on the 16th the laying of the foundation (the sale having been adjourned from the 7th) was sold to John W. Robinson at six dollars and seventy-five cents per perch of twenty-four and three-fourths cubic feet per perch. The commissioners, with the assistance of the well-known surveyor, John Hill (who was allowed seventy-five cents for his services), on July 22nd laid off the foundation for the proposed jail on the site of the present one. August 16th the bonds of Hopkins and Robinson, the contractors, were presented and approved for the faithful compliance with their agreements, and it was ordered that the sale of the erection of the jail-building be sold out at public vendue on the 16th of September; on which day it was continued over to the next, when it was struck off to the lowest and best bidder, Brice K. Blair, at two thousand three hundred and ninety-nine dollars; whereupon John W. Robinson came forward as the person for whom the bid was actually made, and he, together with Robert McFarland, Samuel Maham, and Daniel Kidd, entered into a bond, payable to the State of Ohio for the use of Clermont County in the penal sum of four thousand six hundred and one dollars and ninety-eight cents, for the faithful construction of said jail on or before Dec. 25, 1837, agreeable to the conditions of said sale and speculations placed on file. William Curry was allowed three dollars for crying the above sale, and Benjamin R. Hopkins five dollars and fifty cents for removing dirt from the foundation of the jail.
October 14th the commissioners received the foundation of the jail from the contractor, John W. Robinson. June 7. 1837, the commissioners settled with John W. Robinson for the erection of the foundation of the jail, which was found to contain one hundred and forty-three perch and seventeen feet, at six dollars and seventy-five cents per perch, equal to nine hundred and sixty-nine dollars and eighty-eight cents, which was allowed him. October 20th the board examined and inspected the progress of the work in the erection of the jail, and gave sundry directions. April 21, 1838, the commissioners received the jail from its builder, John W. Robinson, having found it completed according to contract, and gave him an order for "two thousand three hundred and ninety-nine dollars, the stipulated contract price, and canceled his bond. Edward Frazier, elected sheriff the previous October, now assumed control of the new jail,---a worthy and safe structure for those days. On June 6th the old brick jail building, with ten feet of ground on its south and ten on its east, was leased to Thomas J. Buchanan for a term of twenty years at an annual rental of thirty-five dollars, and Thomas S. Bryan for crying the sale or lease was allowed one dollar. In March, 1841, Mr. Buchanan released and relinquished to the county forever all his right and title to the old jail and lot for fifty dollars, thus giving up his lease.
While Edward Frazier was sheriff, the jail having burned down in the spring of 1841, the commissioners on June 18, 1841, began arrangements for the erection of a new one, and on July 1st completed their plan. On July 24, 1841, the building of the new jail was sold out to William H. Robinson and Alexander Stark, the lowest bidders, for thirteen hundred and ninety-four dollars, who gave bond in two thousand dollars for compliance with the contract in the rebuilding of the burned jail, the foundations and part of the old jail building being preserved and in tolerably good condition. The contract, by alteration, called for the side walls of the building to be built up two thicknesses of a brick above the tops of the upper joists, with wall plates and four girders, the fire-walls to be the same height above the roof that they were in the old building; in consideration of which alteration, made on August 21st, the builders were to be granted an additional twenty-five dollars. Jan. 10, 1842, the rebuilt jail was received, and the contractors allowed fourteen dollars for extra work not stated in the original contract or subsequent alterations.
Michael Cowen, elected sheriff the previous October, was the first sheriff to occupy the rebuilt jail, which, with various improvements and repairs, has remained the common jail to this day. The experience of thirty years, as shown from the many escapes, has demonstrated that it is insecure, and its location poorly adapted to secure prison discipline, as its inmates have too free communication with persons on the streets, which enables them to plan to secure their liberty.
THE INFIRMARIES---WHEN BOUGHT OR BUILT, AND THEIR SUPERINTENDENTS
Up to July 21, 1854, there was no county infirmary, at which date the then commissioners, Benjamin Brown, Henry Chapman, and Andrew J. Thompson, purchased for four thousand three hundred and twenty dollars, of Jacob and Henry G. Duckwall, their farm of one hundred and eight acres, in Batavia township, on the Williamsburgh turnpike, in Gray's survey, No. 1116, and about one and a half miles cast from the court-house. This farm had a large and long two-story brick building, in which the paupers from the different townships were collected and placed under charge of Andrew J. Sherman, its first superintendent, who was succeeded the next year by James Wilson. This was a splendid farm, but the accommodations of the building were insufficient to meet the required wants in comfort, health, and safety; hence the authorities in two years began to look about for better quarters. On Sept. 1, 1856, Reader W. Clarke entered into a contract with the commissioners, Holly R. Perine, William P. Daughters, and A.F. Morrison, whereby he agreed to sell to the county one hundred and twenty acres on the east fork, just above Townsley's mill, a mile from Batavia, for eight thousand four hundred dollars , and take in part payment, to the amount of four thousand one hundred dollars, the infirmary farm then occupied by the county, which was to pay him four thousand three hundred dollars cash to boot,---one-half January 1st, and the remainder Nov.1, 1857, with permission to the county to retain possession of the old infirmary place till Dec. 1, 1857. Clarke's deed to the commissioners for the one hundred and twenty acres aforesaid was executed Oct. 26, 1856, when the commissioners in turn conveyed their one hundred and eight acres to him.
The county now had a most eligible site, but no buildings; and at the October election of 1856 the question of building a new infirmary on the lands purchased of Clarke was submitted to a vote, but, owing to the animosities engendered by the sale to and purchase from Clarke, largely influenced by political feeling, the proposition was voted down, the vote standing,---yea, 1595; nay, 1716; not voting, 2015. Still, under the then existing laws, the commissioners had the power to construct buildings for infirmary purposes, not to exceed five thousand dollars in cost, without submitting it to a vote of the electors. Therefore, on Dec. 11, 1856, the board entered into an agreement with George A. Miller, of Cincinnati, who for four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars agreed to build the proposed infirmary buildings according to the speculations and plans of the architects, Rankin and Hamilton, of Cincinnati, and to be finished and completed by Dec. 1, 1857. Miller was to receive five hundred dollars as soon as he gave bond, one thousand dollars when the first tier of joists was laid in said building (built of brick), five hundred dollars when the second tier was laid, five hundred when the third tier was put in, five hundred dollars when the roof was finished, one thousand dollars when the plastering was finished, and the remainder of the contract price in thirty days after the commissioners were satisfied the building had been completed in full compliance with the stipulated contract. Dec. 10, 1857, the commissioners examined the infirmary building, and declared it completed according to the original agreement, received the same from its contractor, canceled his bond, and settled in full for the balance due him.
In 1867 the necessity arose for building a house on the infirmary grounds for insane people, and an order was made that sealed proposals would be received for the construction of a brick asylum till noon on June 27th, when the following bids were opened: Edwin House and Theodore Nichols, for seven thousand nine hundred and ninety dollars; Sylvester Binkley, for seven thousand eight hundred dollars; Tice & Hannold, for nine thousand eight hundred dollars; John B. Wheeler, for seven thousand four hundred and ninety dollars; and William Hawkins, for seven thousand dollars; and to the latter was awarded the contract, who entered into a written agreement in regard to all particulars of said building and its materials, and gave bond to the satisfaction of the Board, and who in January, 1868, had it finished; on the 24th day of which month he received thirteen hundred and ninety-five dollars in full payment of the balance due him on the contract.
The annual report of the infirmary directors made in December, 1856, shows the entire outlay and expenses for all purposes of the infirmary for that year to have been nineteen hundred and thirty-two dollars and twenty-two cents, being the second on the first infirmary farm.
In the summer of 1877 the infirmary, including the asylum building for insane persons, caught fire and burned down just after its inmates had finished their dinner, and has never been rebuilt to this day. The county received seven thousand eight hundred dollars as insurance money from Aetna Insurance Company, in which, fortunately, the authorities all had their public buildings insured. The commissioners immediately built temporary frame buildings in the bottom of the infirmary farm, on the road, which are in use at this date, and a standing disgrace to the county. The commissioners submitted a proposition to the electors at the October election of 1877 to build a new infirmary, but, not having stated the amount required, the project was voted down by a small majority.
The following are the superintendents of the infirmary since December, 1857, when the building was finished on the east fork, on the land bought of R.W. Clarke: In December, 1857, and till March, 1858, Samuel Bicking, who had been a few months in the old one as superintendent; March 1858-61, Eben McGrew; 1861-64, John Fowler; 1864-65, B.F. Acra; 1865-68, William J. Rust; 1868-72, Rev. Joseph D. Hatfield; 1872-78, Benjamin F. Acra; and 1878 to present time, Zebulon Dickinson, the present efficient incumbent.
This institution has generally been well conducted, and with humane efforts for the comforts of its inmates as far as its limited accommodations in buildings would permit.