Small Town News

Local Politics

New evidence proves old courthouse was not built until 1916

The Adams County Record of Council, Idaho

- Advertisement -

History Corner

A few weeks ago I featured articles from 1914 New Meadows newspapers about a $25, 000 bond election held that November for a new Adams County courthouse. In a 1915 newspaper, it was announced that another bond election, this time for $15, 000, would be held that November. (More on that later.) This evidence, along with other clues, seemed to convincingly indicate that, even though the front entrance of the old courthouse has a "1915" sign over it, the building wasn't even started until 1916.

Now, I've found proof. It comes from a clipping of a newspaper notice inside the J.D. Neale scrap-book recently donated to the museum. The clipping itself is not dated, but fortunately the date is contained within the notice. It makes it obvious that the 1915 bond election passed and that the county commissioners were acting on that fact:

"Sealed bids will be received by the Honorable Board of County Commissioners of Adams County, State of Idaho up to February 4, 1916, at the hour of one o'clock p. m., for the doing of all excavations, furnishing all of materials, the furnishing, and installation of the heating plant, and the completion ready for occupancy, including plastering and painting of a court house and jail in Adams County, Idaho, except the steel cage for jail, which the County will furnish, but bid must include the setting of the same The said building to be complete and ready for occupancy on or before the 1st day of August, 1916. Dated at Council, this 28th day of December, 1915."

So there you have it, the courthouse was not built until 1916. J.D. Neale wrote in the margin of the clipping, This meeting 'died'." Your guess is as good as mine as to what he meant by this.

Even today, this would be an amazingly short construction schedule for such a big building. The bids were only out for a little over a month, and the construction was to be done and the building ready for occupancy no later than six months after the bids were opened. Bear in mind that this building was constructed entirely with hand tools. The concrete may even have been mixed by hand. Motorized mixers did exist by 1916, but whether one would have been available in rural Idaho, I don't know. I would assume that the excavation into that almost solid rock hilltop was done with blasting powder, picks and shovels.

Also, a piece to another puzzle was found in the scrapbook. A few weeks ago I featured a photo of Irene and Lillian McDowell in the windows of the old brick school at Council. I wondered why they would be in a Council school photo when they lived at Indian Valley. I still don't know exactly why, but apparently they did attend school at Council. A 1911 clipping in the scrapbook lists both girls as graduating from the eighth grade at Council.

There were ten schools in Adams County in 1911. The total number of eighth grade graduates was 44.

This is from "Commissioners Proceedings" in the October 22, 1915 Council Leader: "In the matter of the road subscription of L. J. Rainwater and others for money to complete the wagon road between Fruitvale and Starkey Hot Springs. It is hereby ordered that the said application be and the same is hereby denied for the reason that the board does not consider the said road of sufficient importance to justify the expenditure of the required amount of public money at this time." Other sources indicate the road was completed to Starkey that summer.

"In the matter of the Coeur d'Or Development Company for cancellation of part of their 1915 tax on the Hotel Heigho and lots covered by same." This application was denied because, "this matter should have been brought up by said company at the meeting of this board as a board of equalization held during June and July, 1915."

In the matter of the petition of L. H. 'Lee' Muckensturm and others asking that the road known as the Wilkie Traction Road [now the Ridge Road] be made a public road. In this matter it is hereby ordered that all obstructions across said road be removed, and the road overseer in Road District No. 6 be and he is hereby ordered to cause with the

assistance of the proper authorities, the removal of such obstructions."

This doesn't seem to have answered the petition to make the road public. I think my grandfather, Jim Fisk, was the road overseer on this road at the time.

Also under the October 1915 commissioner's proceedings, a detailed plan is laid out for the bond election for the construction of a new Adams County courthouse. The bond was, "to be payable and redeemable within twenty years and from the date of issue, and to be issued in denominations of $1, 000 each and to draw interest at the rate of six per cent per annum" Every detail of the printing of the ballots-their size, wording, etc.-was outlined. A list of people appointed to act as judges and clerks of the election was printed, as well as the building within each precinct where the voting was to take place. Here are the voting places in each precinct: Mesa, school house; Goodrich, school house; Council, Eagles Hall [theater], Fruitvale, Grange Hall [now the Joslin house]; Meadows, I.O.O.F. Hall; Indian Valley, school house; New Meadows, Brown Hall;

Tamarack, Dance Hall; Landore, school house; Bear, school house; Cuprum, school house; Summit, school house Dist. 8; Wildhorse, school house. I'm not sure what school would have been meant near Summit; maybe it was the Crooked River School.

Copyright 2011 The Adams County Record, Council, Idaho. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: September 15, 2011

More from The Adams County Record