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1811 "Old Buckeye," the first courthouse in Madison

According to the late Judge Harry E. Nichols, an old and respected barrister of the county, “Jefferson County was organized by an act of the Territorial Legislature passed November twenty-third 1810. The act organizing the county did not take effect until the first day of February 1811. Prior to this time it formed a part of the Territory of Clark County. On the fourteenth day of June 1812, the common pleas court of Madison met and proceeded at once to transact the business of the county. It continued to act in this, as well as its own capacity until the organization of the state when the board of commissioners was appointed. The circuit court did not convene for almost two years after the court of common pleas. It convened in Madison on November the seventh 1814. The judges of these courts were Jesse Holman, presiding, and Samuel Smock, William Cotton and Williamson Dunn, associates.”

The first court room was rented from a local resident, who in turn sold “refreshments” while court was in session. After that first session there was an outcry for a proper courthouse. It was built in 1811 and was of hewn buckeye logs. It was two stories high with a staircase on the outside for access to the upper floor. Benches within the courtroom were also made of hewn buckeye logs. The building was plain but substantial and it was affectionately called “Old Buckeye”. Court sessions were held in the lower chamber with offices and a jury room above. It stood on the south half of the present courthouse square. In this unimposing building the county business, such as the filing of deeds, marriage records and wills took place. Here trials within its jurisdiction also took place.
The old log courthouse was replaced with one made of brick. It was of an octagonal shape and said to have been an attractive and commanding building. It served until 1852-53 when the present courthouse was built.

MJCPL: Historical files