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SEAT OF JUSTICE


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Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 27 November 2004

Sources:
The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter VI. General Progress
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)
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The towns of Lebanon, Deerfield, Franklin and Waynesville all contested for the seat of justice. Lebanon and Deerfield, however, were the principal contestants. Deerfield was the older and the more important place. Lebanon had the advantage of a more central location. One of the two or three houses on the town plat of Lebanon was designated in the act creating the county as the temporary seat of justice. On the 15th of April, 1803, the Legislature, by a joint resolution, appointed James Barret, John Brownlee and Cornelius Snider, Commissioners, under the act of March 28, 1803, to locate the seat of justice in Warren County. These Commissioners were non-residents of the county, and owned no real estate within its limits. They were required by law to give twenty days' notice to the inhabitants of the county of the time and place of their meeting, and then to "proceed to examine and select the most proper place as the seat of justice, as near the center of the county as possible, paying regard to situation, extent of population and quality of the land, together with the general convenience and interest of the inhabitants" They were required to make a report to the next Court of Common Pleas, but no report from the Commissioners for Warren County is found in the records of the courts. Tradition says that two of the Commissioners were in favor of Lebanon, and one in favor of Deerfield. Whatever may have been their report, the contest was not finally settled until nearly two years later. The proprietors of Lebanon made offers of liberal donations of the proceeds of the sale of lots for the erection of county buildings in order to secure the seat of justice. What offers were made by the advocates of other towns is unknown. The contest was finally settled in favor of Lebanon by a special act of the Legislature. The act "establishing a seat of justice for the county of Warren" bears the date of February 11, 1805. At the time of the passage of this act, the county was represented in the House of Representatives by Matthias Corwin and Peter Burr, and in the Senate by William C. Schenck and John Bigger. The House of Representatives was nearly equally divided on the passage of this act, and a motion to reject the bill was lost by the casting vote of the Speaker.


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