Franklin co. IAGenWeb

Franklin County Court House Album


Franklin county has had 3 court house buildings. The first was constructed in 1857, the second in 1866-67 and the third in 1890-91. All of the buildings were built on the court house square, downtown Hampton.

Franklin county, Iowa; unknown date, period 1866-1890
The second Franklin county Court house
~image is from the Library of Congress
Historic American Buildings Survey collection

National Park Service
Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C.

Franklin county courthouse, Hampton, Iowa, 1898
The new Franklin co. Court house, 1898
Carter & Birdsall, Photographers
~picture contributed by Don Turner


Franklin county court house history

The first Franklin County court house
~from The History of Franklin County Iowa, 1883
pgs 152 & 153
~transcribed by S. Ferrall

The contract for building the first court house in Hampton must have been let early in 1857, as under the date of May 29, 1857, an order was issued to F. A. Denton for $200, being the amount due him as the second payment for building the court house. The court house was built on the southeast corner of the court house square, in Hampton, and was a one-story building about 18x30 feet in size, built mostly of native lumber sawed at Maysville and Hampton. It was finished about the 1st of July, 1857. July 4, 1857, it was informally dedicated by a celebration, the first Fourth of July celebration ever held in Hampton.

No committee of arrangements was appointed and no preliminary meeting held, but the settlers generally hitched up their ox teams and came together. If they organized by electing any president of the day, his name has not been mentioned to the historian. Speeches were made by W. R. Jamison, of Union Ridge, S. H. Vankirk, of Reeve township and others. It is believed that Mr. Vankirk read the Declaration of Independence. All were patriotic and inspiring, and as the honest people started for home in time to do the night chores, they felt as well repaid for the day spent as their descendants of today, when returning from a celebration in their carriages, where more pomp, fuss and feathers, but perhaps no more patriotism and enthusiasm were exhibited.

The old court house did duty until 1866 when the erection of the new court house was commenced, and the old one was sold to some members of the M. E. Church and moved on to a lot just south of J. S. Cole's residence, on Main street, the intention being to fit it up as a place of worship. This was never done, however, but it was remodeled into a dwelling house and was so used until 1879, when it was removed to lots belonging to Peter Chance, at the south end of Reeve street, and is now doing duty as a stable.

The old court house was for years the place for all public gatherings, even dances; and many and bitter were the controversies between the dancing and anti-dancing parties as to whether it should be used for such purposes or not. Generally, however, the dancing party carried the day.

After the sale of the court house, the county officers moved their records and apparatus to the rooms of the school house, where they remained until the present court house was built. This building was erected upon a contract to U. Weeks, for $12,500, but the actual cost somewhat exceeded this amount. It is a neat stone building, 48x70 feet in size, and stands in the center of the court house square, in the midst of the business portion of Hampton. The grounds are decorated with an abundance of shade trees which were set out in 1872 or 1873 by C. J. Mott.


The second Franklin County court house
~from the Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service
~information paraphrased & extracted by S. Ferrall

sources cited in the survey:
Franklin County, Iowa. Minute Book of Board of Supervisors, Volume A.
"Our Courthouse",
Franklin Weekly Reporter, Hampton, Iowa, 11 Jan. 1867
History of Franklin County, Iowa, Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1914

The original Franklin county court house was constructed in 1866-1867. The contract for construction was signed on January 3, 1866. A newspaper article written near the time at which the contract was signed mentions both Usiah Weeks and W. H. Personnett (at that time deceased) as "contractors for building the house" Personnett's name does not occur in the minutes of the Board of Supervisors, and nothing further is known of him. The same newspaper article also mentions that Rother and Gale executed the masonry.

On January 8, 1867 Weeks announced completion of the building, and the board accepted it. It was insured for $6000 with
Phoenix Insurance Co. of Hartford, Conn., and the pruchase of three stoves was authorized for heating the building. The care of the building was entrusted to the Clerk of the Board, and he was not to open it for religious or secular meetings, nor for exhibitions or dances.

The building is described in a newspaper article written shortly after its completion as constructed of cream-colored limestone "which abounds in our county". The building was 70 feet long and 40 feet wide and measured 60 feet from the ground to the top of the cupola surmounted by a vane. On the first floor was a central hall ten feet wide running the full length of the building. On one side there were two rooms, each about 18 feet by 20 feet, whose use was not given. On the other side were two rooms, each 18 feet by 30 feet "designed for the use of the County Treasurer and the Clerk of the District Court". These two rooms communicated with each other and had counters and tables. Each of them also had fireproof vaults six feet square "surrounded by solid masonry two feet thick". There was also a vestibule at the first floor, and at either side of it was a stairway leading to the second story, where a 14 foot wide hall extended across the building. Two doors lead from this hall to the main hall which was 44 1/2 feet by 52 feet in size and was "furnished with settees". The floor heights are given as 12 feet for the first floor and fourteen feet for the second.

The old building was in use until 1890, when it was condemned. It was replaced on the same site by the present courthouse, on which construction began in the spring of 1890. The new court house was designed by T. D. Allen, an architect in Minneapolis.

~interested researchers can read the entire document at the Library of Congress website


The third Franklin County court house

~Vintage Franklin co. Court House photos contributed by Jim Brower from his personal collection
~note: some of the photos had estimated dates, they may not be correct

Franklin county courthouse, Hampton, Iowa

Franklin county courthouse, Hampton, Iowa ca1910

Franklin county courthouse, Hampton, Iowa ca1919

Franklin county courthouse, Hampton, Iowa ca1912
Franklin county courthouse, Hampton, Iowa ca1912

Franklin county courthouse, Hampton, Iowa


Album Index

This page was created on October 17, 2012
2012 by IAGenWeb & the various submitters.