Thursday, February 14, 2013

Those Places Thursday - Jefferson County Courthouse x 5 - Mt. Vernon, Illinois

Most people who are from, or who have lived in, Jefferson County, Illinois know a little something about the County Courthouse located in the town square in Mt. Vernon.  In the nearly two-hundred year history of the Mt. Vernon/Jefferson County area there have actually been five courthouses constructed throughout these two centuries.  The first, a log building 18 feet by 20 feet by 13 feet high, was erected in 1819 for a total  of $160.00 by John Sanders.  

That building soon became obsolete and in 1821 county commissioners contracted for a second building to be built.  That courthouse was not actually completed until 1829 by builder McBride.  The building was made of brick, twenty by thirty feet, two stories high and the total cost was $780.93.  In 1839 a portion of the courthouse fell down and the entire town came together and razed the entire structure.  By the end of 1841 a third courthouse had been constructed for a cost of $5500.  This 40 feet square structure had a cupola supported by pillars and surrounded by a railing.  This courthouse was destroyed by the great tornado/cyclone of 1888.

A fourth courthouse was erected after the disaster (see postcards#1, #2 and #3 below) and was in use until 1939.

Jefferson Co Courthouse - Postcard Postmarked Sep 1912

Jefferson Co Courthouse - Postcard Postmarked Sep 1913

Jefferson Co Courthouse (note steeple removed) circa1935

A fifth and final courthouse was erected in 1939 (see postcards #4 and #5 below).  Please note Civil War canon at Northwest corner of the square.

5th & final Jefferson Co courthouse erected 1939

5th & final Jefferson Co courthouse erected 1939 postmarked 1949

1.  Mt. Vernon A Pictorial History by Thomas A. Puckett, 1991, G. Bradley Publishing.
2.  Facts and Folks, A History of Jefferson County, Illinois, 1978, Jefferson County Illinois Historical Society, Taylor Publishing company, Dallas, TX.

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