Letter: Clark County Courthouse

Clark County Courthouse
Completed December 1871
Written in the past

Joanne’s Comments- When the courthouse was built, it was outside the city limits with only about 200 inhabitants. So much has changed since 1871. Now it looks as if this stately landmark, with so much history, will be destroyed. To help save our one and only Clark County Courthouse please vote NO on April 6, 2010.
When the war ended men came home and most families were reunited. Kahoka continued to grow, the founding fathers were in a battle of their own, to move the county seat to Kahoka.
In 1847 the county seat was moved to Alexandria from Waterloo, but was moved back in 1854 because of the flooding. It was then that the struggle began, which continued for several years
In February 1865 an act was finally approved to move the seat from Waterloo to Kahoka or within 2 miles of Kahoka. Then in November 1866 another vote was taken and voters agreed to move it to Clark City, but the controversy continued, then in Feb. 1869, Samuel Spangler, Hiram M. Miller, Geo. M. Ochlertree and others requested the appointment of 5 commissioners who would pick the site. The Court over-ruled their application, but not to fall to defeat, they appealed to the state and obtained a writ.
When all was settled the county seat was to be moved to Kahoka, but because of the problem with the city park the courthouse was built outside the city limits. Wm Johnson is noted on record to having donated the land where the courthouse was built, but other facts indicated the land was sold to Hiram Miller and others who had formed a corporation, but was given in Johnson’s name. Between Johnson, Miller & Co. land site was obtained and some $12,000 raised for the building.
The courthouse was started in 1871 with Orr and Conner as contractors, for a sum of $18,935. It is not know for sure who the architect was, but according to articles found in old newspapers two men are credited with this task- W.B. Larkworthy and Thomas Broadwater (Broadwater was from Memphis).
The building was completed in December 1871 with the first term of court held January 15, 1872. See book on the Court Houses of Clark County for more history)
I have included some interesting facts and events, which happened or occurred at the courthouse in Kahoka. These were taken from the Clark County Courier and the Gazette Herald.
3-2-1884 -A new matting adorns the stairway and upper hall of courthouse
5-22-1884 – Memorial service to be held at the courthouse under the auspices of G.A.R, May 25.
8-27-1885 – Sidewalk from the northeast corner of the public square to the courthouse is being rebuilt and widened.
8-17-1894 – Hitching rack around courthouse square has been repaired. 7-12-1895 – The fence enclosing the courthouse yard has been torn down. 3-18-1896 – Fred Bronstine kills wife and is committed to jail.
2-5-1895 – County Court has rented the front upstairs room in the old Clark County Savings Bank building as an office for Probate Judge.
2-19-1897- Jailer A. Townsend has placed a number of spittoons along the stairway and aisle at the Courthouse and insists that hereafter persons attending court shall use them instead of dousing the floors with tobacco spit.
4-30-1897 – County Court meets next Monday and will receive bids for reroofing courthouse
A shingle roof is to take place of the old iron one.    .   ..
5-7-1897 – John Williford awarded contract to re-roof courthouse for $127.90. Chas Kirch will do the tin and guttering work.
5-28-1897 – Two burglars confined to the jail had made considerable progress tunneling under the wall of the jail when discovered by the sheriff. They are now yoked together at the ankles.
1899 -    Fred Bronstine, the condemned wife killer, made his second escape from the jail but was again captured.
3-24-1899 – The skull and other bones of a human head found in the courthouse privy vault. The skull is believed to be that of a young man named Boon who was shot by Jacob Horter. It was believed that students from the Keokuk Medical College dug up the body and cut Boon’s head off in order to study it.
7-1-1898 – Courthouse crowed to hear
Judge McKee pass the death sentence on Bronstine, convicted of killing his wife.
5-12-1899- Fred Bronstine hanged May 8, for the::murder of his wife. His -relatives failed to claim the body and he was interred at      
the POOr farm Cemetery.    W0ul by the Ueri hand of Uio Ouxo’.lf’s iirtim—dom- lii this shop and oi»,’
5-9-1902 – Bolt of lightning struck flagpole on courthouse and tore a hole in the shingles.
11-27-1903 – Frank Clark hung for criminal assault.
10-15-1909 – 28th anniversary session of AHTA held at courthouse
2-28-1919 – Overhead stove in 0ffice of collector causes fire.
3-7-1919 – Court reports salaries to be raised for $1,500 to $2,000. Circuit Judge salary from $3,200 to 4,700
12-1933 – Clark County Court buys Miller building across the street for probate court 1934 – Courthouse stuccoed 1952 – Oct 31, outside painted
1976 – Inside work done, lowering ceilings, paneling work done
 1981 – Outside woodwork covered with aluminum
1983 – The 111 year old windows replaced
1985 – New roof put on. Courthouse put on National Register. And as each year passes more history is made at this historical old  building

Submitted by Joanne Ragan

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