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COUNTY BUILDINGS


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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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First Jail. —Before the seat of justice was permanently located, the County Commissioners did not feel justified in erecting any permanent public buildings. At their first meeting, however, June 11, 1804, they decided to erect a temporary jail, and agreed upon the plan of the building. On September 14, the contract for its construction was let to John Tharp for $275, and on the 30th of November, 1804, the Commissioners accepted the building completed. This, the first county building of Warren County, stood on the northwest lot of the public square of Lebanon. It was constructed of logs, hewed one foot square and notched so as to lie close together. The floor was made of the same kind of timber. The building was 24x16 feet on the outside, and two stories high. Eighteen months later, a log house, sixteen feet square, for the use of the jailer, was built in front of the jail, by Benjamin Sayres. at a cost of $75. The jail was not a secure one, and on March 5, 1807. it was determined to in close the building with "a wall or picket, for the better securing of prisoners." Notice of the letting of the contract for this work was ordered to be given in the Western Star. This notice, for which John McLean afterward received $1, appears to have been the first county official advertisement inserted in that paper On the 3d of April, however, the order for the " wall or picket" to sur-

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round the jail was annulled, and the Commissioners decided to construct a new jail.

First Court House.—The seat of justice having been permanently established by a special act of the Legislature, passed February 11, 1805, the Commissioners, at their meeting in March, 1805, received the donations of the proprietors of the town for the purpose of erecting a court house. The original owners of the land on which the town was laid out, in order to secure the seat of justice, had agreed to donate each alternate lot on the original plat to aid in the erection of county buildings, and the act of the Legislature establishing the seat of justice authorized the Commissioners to accept all subscriptions and obligations, whether given for money, property or labor, in behalf of the county, and to receive, from time to time, from any persons, voluntary contributions for the completion of county public buildings. On March 16, the proprietors of the town came before the Commissioners and delivered into their hands for the use of the county, notes on various individuals, aggregating as follows:

Ichabod Corwin, $425.75; Silas Hurin, $292.55; Ephraim Hathaway, $457; five lots donated and sold afterward for $66.50; total, $1,241.80.

On March 25, 1805, the Commissioners agreed upon a plan for a court house. The building was to be constructed of brick, and to be thirty-six feet square and two stories high—the first story twelve feet high, the second ten feet high. The floor was to be constructed of tile or brick twelve inches square and four inches thick. There were to be eight windows in each story, with black walnut frames, twenty-four glasses in each window of the lower story, and twenty in the upper story; a fire-place five and one-half feet wide in the lower story, and two fireplaces four and one-half feet wide in the upper story. Two summers were to extend through the house, and an upright post to be placed in the middle of each summer. The building was to be ornamented with a handsome gutter cornice. The contract for the erection of the building was let, April 27, 1805, to Samuel McCray, at $1,450; and on January 3,1806, the house was accepted from the contractor. Six years later, a cupola was placed on the house.

This plain building was one of the first brick structures in Warren County. It stood on the northeast lot of the public square, and was the court house of the county for about thirty years. The lower floor was the court room. The upper story was divided into three compartments, and occupied by the country officers. The contract for finishing the lower story was awarded, in March, 1806, to John Abbott, at $660.

Second Jail.—In October, 1807, the Commissioners contracted with Daniel Roe to erect a jail, which was built on the southwest lot of the public square. It was a stone building, and cost $990. It was forty-five feet long, twenty feet wide and one story high. It contained two apartments—one designed for imprisoned debtors, and the other for criminals, and a dungeon twenty feet square under the room for criminals. This was the county prison for nearly twenty years, but in the latter years of its use it was not a secure jail. Prisoners dug out an exit under the foundations. It is related of one character who was frequently incarcerated that it was his habit to remain in the jail during the day, but, after the jailer retired at night, he would make his way home and return to the jail before it was daylight Sometimes he was tardy in returning, and would meet the jailer, to whom he would say, "I'm a little late this morning, but I guess I'm in time to put in a whole day."

Third Jail.—David Bone, in September, 1820, contracted to erect the third county prison. It was built on the lot on which the present court house stands, and northeast of the court house. It was a two-story brick building, and cost about $4,000. The front rooms were the jailer's residence. In the

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rear were two cells in the lower story, and two in the upper story. Each cell was lined with logs, and over the logs were fastened two-inch planks. Under one of the cells was a small, underground dungeon. This jail was not completed until 1828.

Before the erection of this county prison, the question of removing the county buildings from the public square to what was then the eastern limit of the town was agitated, and, as is usual in such cases, two factions were formed. The removal party was victorious, and ground for the county buildings on East and Silver streets was donated to the county, one of the conditions named in the deed being that "the next court house and jail of Warren County shall be erected on said lots." The jail just described was built on the new site, and for several years the jail and court house were five squares apart

Second Court House.—On November 1, 1830, a committee appointed by the Commissioners reported that they had examined the walls of the old court house, and that they were insufficient for repairs. The Commissioners thereupon resolved to build a new court house. They afterward determined to erect it on the ground donated for the purpose in the eastern part of the town. In February, 1832, the Auditor was instructed to advertise in Lebanon, Cincinnati and Dayton newspapers for proposals for furnishing the materials for the edifice. The plan of the court house at Ravenna, Portage Co., Ohio, was adopted on the recommendation of some Judges of the court. John E. Dey was appointed Superintendent of the construction, and work was commenced in the spring of 1832. The walls were so far advanced in September of the same year that serious damages were caused by a wind storm in that month to the south wall The building was not completed until 1835. The total cost was about $25,000. When completed, it was looked upon with pride by the people of the county, and was regarded as one of the most convenient and finely finished court houses in the State. It continues to be the court house of Warren County to-day, and for forty-five years no additions were made to it, nor were any considerable sums expended to keep it in repair.

In 1879, the Commissioners issued a proclamation to the voters of the county, announcing that the court house had been pronounced unsafe, and that the erection of a new court house was deemed necessary, and that it might be found best to procure a new site therefor, more conveniently located. The questions of building a new court house and procuring a new site were submitted to a vote of the electors on the first Monday in April, 1879. The voters, by an overwhelming majority, decided both questions in the negative. The Commissioners, still believing that a new court house was demanded by the best interests of the county, and an affirmative vote being requisite under the laws of the State before a new edifice could be contracted for, again submitted the question, unencumbered by any proposed change of site, to a popular vote in October, 1879, and again the voters gave a majority of more than two thousand against the tax for a new court house. Nothing was left but to repair the existing building, and in 1880 the house was enlarged, improved, refitted and given a new appearence at a total cost of $13,000.

Fourth Jail.—The present jail was erected about 1844. Ebed Stowell was one of the chief contractors in its construction. It is a two story building. The front half, which is the residence of the jailer, is constructed of brick. The prison is built of cut stone, surrounded on the outside with brick. It contains six cells, which are large enough to hold four prisoners each. One of the cells in the lower story was so arranged that it could be darkened, and in the days when the laws of Ohio provided for imprisonment in the dungeon of the jail, it was used as a dungeon. This jail has been repeatedly, within the last fifteen years, condemned by Grand Jurors as both insecure and an unhealthy

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place for the confinement of prisoners. The cells and interior have, however, generally been kept in as clean and comfortable a condition as practicable, and it still continues the only Warren County prison.

Infirmary.—Until 1831, paupers in Warren County were under the charge of township officers, who let the contracts for the maintenance of the unfortunate poor to the lowest responsible bidders, after due public notice had been given in accordance with the provisions of the law. A farm for poor-house purposes was purchased by the county in 1829, and the same year the construction of a two-story brick infirmary was commenced. The building was fifty-six feet long and thirty feet wide. Smith Ludlum was the contractor for its construction. A large addition was built to this infirmary in 1836. In 1845, a small brick structure was erected for the separate accommodation of insane persons cared for by the county. The infirmary was almost entirely destroyed by fire, in the day-time, December 31, 1866.

The present infirmary was commenced in 1867, and is the largest of the county buildings. It was planned by Capt William H. Hamilton, who was one of the County Commissioners at the time of its erection. He also served as Superintendent of its construction. The building is three stories high, with a basement nine feet in the clear under the whole structure. It is nearly square, being 90x98 feet, with an open area or court in the center, 36x46 feet It is built of brick, and contains about seventy apartments. Most of the sleeping rooms are 12x10 1/2 feet. The total cost was $51,459.

The Warren County Infirmary was opened for the reception of inmates on April 13, 1831, on which day eleven paupers were admitted The whole number admitted during the year 1831 was twenty-two. The first Board of Infirmary Directors consists of James Cowan, John Osborn and Joseph Kibby, who were appointed by the County Commissioners at their June session, 1831. Robert Porter was the first Superintendent of the Infirmary. Other Superintendents have been: A. Thomas; Bonham Fox; Aaron Stevens, 1841-1854; Joseph Jameson, 1854-1858; John Pauly, 1858-1864: William G. Smith, 1865-1872; A. D. Strickler, 1872-1875; E. F. Irons, 1875-1881; David Glasscock, 1881.

A record has been kept and preserved, giving the names and dates of admission of all the poor who have been admitted into the institution from its opening to the present time. The record also shows what persons have died and were buried at the infirmary, and the persons who have been removed by their friends or had become able to support themselves. On April 13. 1881, the semi-centennial anniversary of the infirmary, there had been received into the institution 3,816 persons.
[also see 1903 Atlas, page 12]

Orphan Asylum and Children's Home.—Mary Ann Klingling made a bequest of about $35,000 for the endowment of this institution. She died August 16, 1867, aged sixty-nine years. She was a native of Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany, and had resided in Lebanon for about twenty years preceding her death. Two of her brothers had been druggists in Lebanon before her arrival in this country. After their death, she had no relatives in America. She was never married, and, although possessed of considerable property, much of which consisted of real estate, she lived with great economy and plainness. Exaggerated reports of her wealth and a peculiar bonnet and dress worn by her, which may have been in vogue in Germany a generation before, attracted to her the gaze of the people whenever she appeared upon the streets. Miss Klingling was buried in the old graveyard at Lebanon, and at her own request, expressed in her will, no tombstone was erected over her grave

The will of Mary Ann Klingling, after providing for two small annuities, contained the following: "Believing that great good may be done by the

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erection and endowment of an orphan asylum, where poor white children who have lost one or both of their parents may receive a sound moral and Christian education, and, if necessary, be supported during their minority, and trusting that the fund set aside by this will for that purpose may receive large additions from those disposed to favor so charitable an enterprise, I do, therefore, devote to this purpose all the rest and residue of my estate."

The will further provided that if, within three years from her death, there should not be such additions made by others as would produce an equal income, then the whole amount should be tendered to the village of Lebanon, or to Warren County, or to both, the said corporations furnishing a like sum for the benefit of the asylum. But if no arrangement of this kind was effected within six years, the whole estate was to be conveyed to the German General Protestant Orphan Asylum of Cincinnati. The testatrix desired that the site of the proposed new orphan asylum be at or near Lebanon; that it be not controlled by any particular sect, and that the income of the estate be not expended in costly buildings James M. Smith and Robert Boake were the executors of the will.

Warren County accepted the bequest and complied with the conditions on which it could be received. As the will provided only for an asylum for orphan children, an act of the Legislature was obtained enabling the county to unite with the asylum a home for indigent children whose parents were both living.

Fifty three acres of ground, one mile west of Lebanon, were purchased for the institution in 1873, at a cost of $8,162. A building planned by Joel Evans, with rooms to accommodate 100 children, was erected in 1874, at a cost of $22,928, to which additions and improvements have since been added costing $8,500. The first Board of Trustees, appointed by the Court of Common Pleas, consisted of J. P. Gilchrist, President; Joel Evans, Secretary; Benjamin A. Stokes, William H. Clement, Lewis G. Anderson and John P. Keever.

The object of the institution is to furnish an asylum for orphans and indigent children of the county under sixteen years of age, where they will be supported and provided with physical, mental and moral training, until suitable homes in private families can be procured for them, or until they are capable of providing for themselves, or their parents or guardians for them.

Persons desiring to adopt children, or to take them as apprentices, must present to the Board of Trustees satisfactory testimonials of character and fitness to have charge of the training of such children. The Trustees reserve the right of supervision over the children sent out from the institution, and the privilege of visiting them.


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