Mills County, Iowa

Mills County Tribune
Thursday, 26 March 1903

Mills County's First Court House Being Torn Down
Glenwood, Iowa, p. 6

After weathering the storms of upwards of a half century Mills county's first court house is this week being demolished. The Latter Day Saints of Glenwood recently bought the building and lot of A. J. Fair on lower Locust Street and are tearing it down in order to build their new church. For nearly 35 years Mr. Fair has used the little building as a wagonmaker's and carpenter shop. It is only about 12x20, with a little "lean-to" 8 feet square.

Small and dingy as it is, it nevertheless constituted the first court house of proud Queen Mills. This was used as the county capitol from 1853 to 1858 when the present court house was moved into. In the meantime, however, an old frame building that formerly stood where the State Bank now stands was used in which to hold the district court and the county court still being held on Locust street. In the early 50s all of Glenwood's business houses were located on Locust street.

A Tribune scribe started to hunt up an old citizen to ask questions. The first one he found was E. C. Byers. He came to Glenwood when 11 years old. He said his father, John Byers, ran a shoe shop for several years in the little "lean-to" or annex to the "court house." Cor recalls a political meeting in the present court house presided over by Samuel Kirkwood (Iowa's war governor) and General Dodge. This was just before the war. The upper floor was not yet finished. He remembers seeing shavings on the floor and carpenters benches in the room.

A. J. Russell was next sought out. He remembered well the little court house and the county officials who held forth there. He said that Azor Richardson, father of Z. A. Richardson of Center Township, was then county treasurer and that his office was in the "lean-to" or annex. It was safe enough for the county's cash box in those days as taxes were paid principally with coonskins.

Mr. Russell says Wm. Snuffin, father of Chas. Snuffin, now residing in Glenwood, was county clerk, while Hiram P. Bennett was county judge and held sessions of court in the little room. Here in this modest structure, made of oak and walnut, was enacted many an interesting chapter in the early history of Mills County.

It seems a shame the old building had to go. It would have been an interesting relic for several generations yet to come. The enduring native lumber would probably have held out another fifty years. At least a photograph of the old historic structure should have been preserved.

Contributed by Deb Hascall

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