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Lincoln County Kansas Courthouse Centennial

Lincoln County Kansas
COURTHOUSE
Centennial
1900-2000


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 theair 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 ofthe 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 themwere in safes, the doors were so badly warped that it was feared thecontents were destroyed.

It was several days before the vaults were cool enough to open. Thecontents of the vault of the Clerk of the District Court were safe, but whenthe 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 itwas learned that there was only $2,400 insurance on the building and $1,100on the contents.

But the people of Lincoln County agreed that a new courthouse was neededand should be built as quickly as possible: how the funds were to beacquired was the problem. Finally it was decided to make use of theredemption fund. In that fund, there was between $12,000 and $15,000. Whenthe railroad would pay the back taxes this fund would go over $15,000 and bySeptember over $18,000. This money, of course, was to be distributed to thetownships, but since the records were destroyed, there was no possible wayto allocate the funds. Since the money couldn't be put in the general fundor returned, the logical decision was to use the money plus the insurancefor the new courthouse building. By this means, the county wouldn't need toissue new bonds or borrow money.

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

After much deliberation the commissioners decided on a building to bepatterned after the Ellis County Courthouse at Hays, which had been builtthe 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 tomake it more adaptable to the county's needs, but in general they chose thetwo-story, stone-turreted structure with three windows on each side of themain entrance.

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

The dedication was a time for great festivity. The program started atten with a parade and flag-raising exercised by the grade school children;these events were followed by the bicycle races. The bicycle had become acraze in the eastern part of the state in 1895, and as the fad became morepopular, people even sold their buggies to obtain the coveted bicycles, sothe races were the highlight of the day. A large basket dinner at noon wasfollowed 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 inthe county played throughout the day as well as the grand chorus andorchestra, which featured competent musicians. The day concluded with agrand ball at the Opera House. All of this celebration was under thesupervision of F.H. Dunham, who was the grand marshal of the day.

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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 Iwas a child to go with my dad to the courthouse to pay taxes or do otherbusiness. It is the most prominent building in town and seemed even more so tome as a child--the long hallways, tall ceilings, etc. And the place was filledwith curiosities--there used to be long display cases with historical items onthe first floor hallway. One item that stands out for some reason is a pavingbrick that says "Please do not spit on sidewalk." I think all these items arenow in the Kyne House museum.A few years ago I got a real treat. My brother, Steve, and I were in Lincolnvisiting relatives and happened to wander into the court house to look around.We got into a conversation with someone who worked there (who should probablyremain nameless) and he asked if we'd ever been in the tower. We hadn't, so hetook us up into the tower, directly under the clock. There are windows upthere that look out each direction--a marvelous view of the town andsurrounding countryside.
-----Scott Holl
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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.
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