Lincoln County Kansas Courthouse Centennial KansasGenWeb Logousgenweb.gif

Lincoln County Kansas

COURTHOUSE
Centennial
1900-2000

What you'll find here on the Courthouse........

A SHORT HISTORY OF HOW THE PRESENT BUILDING CAME TO BE


THE WOMAN WHO WAS BORN IN THE COURTHOUSE



PERSONAL MEMORIES OF THE COURTHOUSE



1899 LAW PASSED BY KANSAS LEGISLATURE ALLOWING A SPECIAL TAX TO REBUILD THE COURTHOUSE



HOW THE PRESENT COURTHOUSE CAME TO BE BUILT

(From: Lincoln-- That County in Kansas, by Dorothe Tarrence Homan, published in 1979. Entered here with permission of the Homan family. Text transcribed by Tracee Hamilton.)

On the night of December 7, 1898, the members of the Woodmen's Lodge adjourned a little after midnight, and as they left the hall over the Lincoln State Bank and came down the stairs on Main Street, they noticed the air was heavy with smoke. A quick investigation revealed that it was the Lincoln County Courthouse that was on fire.
An alarm was given and the volunteer firemen and citizens quickly responded, but there was little that could be done, for the building was completely gutted in one hour. The walls and safes were all that remained of the structure.

The fire had started in the county treasurer's office in the southwest corner of the building and apparently had been burning for some time before discovered. The county treasurer, W.M. McCanles, said that he and his associates had left the office quite late and that all was well then, for there was very little fire in the stove. ...
The great concern was for the county's records. Although most of them were in safes, the doors were so badly warped that it was feared the contents were destroyed.

It was several days before the vaults were cool enough to open. The contents of the vault of the Clerk of the District Court were safe, but when the other vaults and the large safe in the Treasurer's office were opened, the contents were found to be practically destroyed.

The building and furniture were valued at from $12,000 to $15,000 and it was learned that there was only $2,400 insurance on the building and $1,100 on the contents.

But the people of Lincoln County agreed that a new courthouse was needed and should be built as quickly as possible: how the funds were to be acquired was the problem. Finally it was decided to make use of the redemption fund. In that fund, there was between $12,000 and $15,000. When the railroad would pay the back taxes this fund would go over $15,000 and by September over $18,000. This money, of course, was to be distributed to the townships, but since the records were destroyed, there was no possible way to allocate the funds. Since the money couldn't be put in the general fund or returned, the logical decision was to use the money plus the insurance for the new courthouse building. By this means, the county wouldn't need to issue new bonds or borrow money.

By January 19, 1899, the Lincoln Courthosue bill passed both houses of the legislature, and the county commissioners were now empowered to proceed with the plans and erection of a new and suitable building.

After much deliberation the commissioners decided on a building to be patterned after the Ellis County Courthouse at Hays, which had been built the year before at a cost of $18,000. The commissioners selected C.W. Squires as architect and employed S.H. Brunt to modify the floor plan to make it more adaptable to the county's needs, but in general they chose the two-story, stone-turreted structure with three windows on each side of the main entrance.

By September 6, 1900, the courthouse had been completed at a total cost for the building and contents of $25,000. All of the stone used in the building was taken from quarries near Lincoln. For the citizens the best part was the fact that the building was completely paid for and no debts had been incurred. On that date the new, debt-free courthosue was dedicated.

The dedication was a time for great festivity. The program started at ten with a parade and flag-raising exercised by the grade school children; these events were followed by the bicycle races. The bicycle had become a craze in the eastern part of the state in 1895, and as the fad became more popular, people even sold their buggies to obtain the coveted bicycles, so the races were the highlight of the day. A large basket dinner at noon was followed by speeches by the Honorable T.F. Garver, of Topeka, Judge Thomson, and others. At 3:30 was the scheduled baseball game. All the brass bands in the county played throughout the day as well as the grand chorus and orchestra, which featured competent musicians. The day concluded with a grand ball at the Opera House. All of this celebration was under the supervision of F.H. Dunham, who was the grand marshal of the day.

Click here to return to the top

A PERSONAL REMEMBRANCE OF THE LINCOLN COUNTY COURTHOUSE

I grew up in Lincoln--my parents ran a hardware store (Holl Cash Hardware, formerly Dodd's Hardware) downtown from 1947-1984. It was alway a treat when I was a child to go with my dad to the courthouse to pay taxes or do other business. It is the most prominent building in town and seemed even more so to me as a child--the long hallways, tall ceilings, etc. And the place was filled with curiosities--there used to be long display cases with historical items on the first floor hallway. One item that stands out for some reason is a paving brick that says "Please do not spit on sidewalk." I think all these items are now in the Kyne House museum. A few years ago I got a real treat. My brother, Steve, and I were in Lincoln visiting relatives and happened to wander into the court house to look around. We got into a conversation with someone who worked there (who should probably remain nameless) and he asked if we'd ever been in the tower. We hadn't, so he took us up into the tower, directly under the clock. There are windows up there that look out each direction--a marvelous view of the town and surrounding countryside.
-----Scott Holl
Click here to return to the top

THE LINCOLN COUNTY LEVY TAX LAW PASSED BY THE KANSAS LEGISLATURE DURING ITS 1899 SESSION


from:
STATE OF KANSAS
SESSION LAWS, 1899

Topeka, Kansas
J.S. Parks, State Printer
1899

CHAPTER 264
(pages 459-460)

"LINCOLN COUNTY TO LEVY TAX"


An ACT authorizing the board of county commissioners of Lincoln county to provide a fund and appropriate the same for the purpose of building a court-house in said county, and authorizing the said board of county commisioners to transfer certain funds and to use the same.

WHEREAS, The court-house in Lincoln Center, Lincoln county, Kansas, has recently burned down; and

WHEREAS, There is no suitable building now belonging to the county in which to hold the county offices and transact public business; and

WHEREAS, There are certain funds belonging to said county that are not now in use that can be used as a temporary fund to assist in the immediate erection of a new court-house in said county; and

WHEREAS, Public necessity requires a suitable building for said county purposes: therefore,

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:
SECTION 1. That the board of county commissioners of Lincoln county are hereby authorized, from year to year, to levy and cause to be collected, at the same time and in the same manner as other taxes are collected, a tax which in the aggregate will not exceed two mills on the dollar upon all the taxable property in said county in any one year, for the purpose of erecting and establishing a fund to be used in building a court-house at the county-seat in said county, on the site of the former court-house, and for the purpose of reimbursing any fund that many be temporarily used for court-house purposes; which said tax, when collected, shall be kept separate and apart from the other funds of said county, and shall be applied only to the use and purposes above specified; provided, that the entire fund collected in said county under the provisions of this act shall not exceed the sum of twenty thousand dollars.

SEC. 2. That said board of county commissioners in building said court-house shall be governed by the provisions of the General Statutes of Kansas relative to letting the contracts for the same, and said board shall from time to time appropriate said funds in the performance of all contracts made under the provisions of this act

SEC. 3. That said board of county commissioners are hereby authorized to cause the county treasurer of said county to transfer all or any part of the fund known as the "redemption fund" arising from the sale of lands sold for delinquent taxes, except such part of said fund as belongs to the several school districts in said county, to the general fund of said county, and said board is hereby authorized to use said fund so transferred, or any other fund of said county not required to be used under any existing law, until the same can be replaced by levy of the tax as provided in section 1 of this act, as a temporary fund with which to begin the building of a court-house as provided in this act.

SEC. 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its publication in the official state paper.

Approved January 26, 1899.

Published in official state paper February 8, 1899.
Click here to return to the top


Return to:[Lincoln County Kansas Genealogy][Lincoln County Kansas Queries]


DO YOU HAVE
QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, CONTRIBUTIONS FOR US?

Bill and Diana Sowers, Lincoln County Coordinators
Tracee Hamilton, Lincoln County Coordinator


Home Page for Kansas Search all of Blue Skyways

Copyright 1997, 1998 by Bill and Diana Sowers