Sunday, November 3, 2013

Special Court House Edition, February 17 1950

On the morning of February 19, 1948 the citizens of Dresden Tennessee awoke to find the 90 year old court house in flames.  Although the building couldn't be saved, volunteers worked hard to get most of the records out of the burning building.  Two years later, on February 17 1950, a Special Court House Edition of the Dresden Enterprise & Sharon Tribune was released in anticipation of the opening of the new court house. I've posted selected articles, photographs and advertisements from that very special edition of the newspaper.

New Court House Near Completion
Representing many months of Labor, new building will be
monument to present and gift to generations of the future

Historical Notes About Weakley Court Houses
First was Log Cabin, built in 1827
Discussions incident to the burning of Weakley's old Court House and the building of the new have brought to light some interesting facts about the organization of the county and its Court Houses.

According to old records, the organization of the county was completed in 1825; Dresden was platted and the first court house, a log building, was erected in April, 1827.

The first session of the county court was held in this building in April, 1828.

Previous to this the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions was held at the homes of John Terrell and Benjamin Bondurant in Dresden.  Some of the members of the bar practicing before this pioneer court were A.G. Bondurant, H.A. Sample, John A. Gardner, S.A. Warner, John Grundy (son of Senator Felix Grundy) and, history relates, Dresden was the home of Emerson Ethridge, lawyer, orator and statesman.  The original court house was replaced in 1858 by a new structure, which was a part of the building pictured on this page, which was destroyed by fire.  Additions were made to this structure in 1911.

Weakley county was originally formed in 1823, and named for a pioneer settler, Col. Robert Weakley.  The first settlers of the area are said to have been Reuben Edmonston and John Bradshaw, his brother-in-law, who settled on Mud Creek in the year 1819.

It has been told that in 1822, when Alexander Paschall settled in the north part of the county, he invited neighbors to help erect a house, he could find only 31 helpers in a radius of 12 miles, evidencing that the county was sparsely settled at that time.

The first preaching in the county was done by a negro evangelist, whose name has not been recorded in history.

The first Cabin was built in the county by John Bradshaw.

Weakley, one of the oldest counties in West Tennessee, is located directly along the famous Natchez Trace, along which the Indians traveled in their annual pilgrimages to the "happy hunting grounds" of East Tennessee.

One of the points of interest in early Weakley county was the health giving running springs of northeast Weakley, at what is now Austin Springs, to which people from all sections of the nation flocked to partake of the remedial waters. The famous springs finally played out, but the community there still bears the name.

And today another chapter is added to the history of grand old Weakley County, which in 123 years has developed from a new and sparsely settled area with a log cabin court house to one of the leading counties in the state, with a magnificent Temple of Justice to better serve the needs of its more than 30,000 people.

Construction Men Did wonderful Job
Two men who had the responsibility of seeing that the new court house was built according to the specifications, and who in complete charge of the project for Seth E. Giem & Associates locally, are L.O. Cooper, general superintendent of construction, and W.W. (Bill) Rogers, construction foreman.

These two men went quietly about their direction of this $720,000 project, and even more quietly fitted themselves into this community while doing their job.

They employed many local men, as well as experts in construction work from other places.

They are to be commended not only for the fine job of construction, but also for their conduct and that of their co-workers during their stay in Dresden.
We Are Proud of the new court House....of the Progress the County has made.......and Proud of the Progress that our Business has made and wish to exttend (sic) Congratulations to all of Weakley County in this Fine Achievement and also to add that we are proud of being a business firm in such a progressive county as Weakley.

Frozen Food Locker, James Pritchett, Manager, Dresden, Tennessee

Here, for the first time in 90 years, is a veiw (sic) looking north across the courtyard from a point near the Weakley county Bank.  This picture was taken after the yard was cleared of bricks, etc., and was the only time the north side could look across to the south side of the square, and vice-versa, in 90 years.  Photo by Virginia Brooks.

Like Thousands of Others We are Proud of the NEW COURT HOUSE.  A Real Monument to Progress When Grandpa Was a Boy his mother struggled and slaved over hot wood cokk stoves.  later came the "wood or coal" cook stoves...then ice refrigerators and no convenient sinks with handy hot water.  these are things to be pointed out hesitantly, and something modern women know nothing of, thanks to the progress of the twentieth century, which has brought along with modern buildings such as the new Court house, all types of Home Appliances for Mother's convenience to make life easier and more leisurely.  To use the words of a lady recently, "I have all kinds of time now, with everything electrical, and can enjoy living."  (quoted from Memphis Commercial Appeal)

Hotpoint Ranges...Refrigerators...Washers...Water heaters and other modern day conveniences  Brings all the modern comfort and convenience to the home with an entire family of appliances to make life worth living.
Make Yours a HOTPOINT Family--Throughout
Refrigeration Service
Dresden, Tenn.

Old Building Burned Just Two Years Ago
It is coincidental that the completion of the new Court House, and the publication of this special issue, is almost two years to the day after the disastrous fire that swept through the old building.  It was on a thursday morning--February 19, 1948--that the old Court house was discovered to be on fire, a disastrous blaze that defied efforts of some five companies, with Demon Fire coming out victorious and consuming the historic 90-year-old temple of justice.

That day remains a memory in the minds of most people, and with the old building went fond recollections of much history that was made through the passing years beneath its roof and around the spacious lawn under the copious shade of its trees.

Now, with the entrance to the new building, comparisons can be made as to the efficiency of the present and the inefficiency of the former building.

We Are Also Proud of Our Contribution To The Construction of THE NEW COURT HOUSE---Having
done the WELDING
which, like all work done by us, will last indefinitely and stand out with the rest of the splendid work on this building as a monument to the present generation.

Demonstrating that we are in position to come to your job, no matter where it is, we offer the fact that OUR WELDING EQUIPMENT WAS USED ALL OVER THE NEW COURT HOUSE, FROM TOP TO BOTTOM--AND EVEN HOISTED TO THE VERY ROOF-TOP FOR QUITE A LOT OF WELDING.

When in need of WELDING, call us--the job doesn't get too difficult, too high or too low.

Moran & Brooks
Phone 3311

Estate of Sara Emmah Holt, late of Weakley County, Tenn.  Notice is hereby given that on the 2nd day of Fegruary, 1950, letters testamentary, of administration, in respect to the estate of Sara Emma Holt, deceased, were issued to the undersigned by the County Court of Weakley County, Tennessee, on the 2nd day of February, 1950.

All persons, resident and non-resident, having claims, matured or unmatured, against her estate, are required to file the same with the Clerk of the above named Court withing nine months from the date of the first publication of this notice, other-wise their claim will be forever barred.

All persons indebted to the above estate must come forward and make proper settlement with the undersigned at once.

This 2nd day of February, 1950.

J.T. Holt, Executor
Estate of Sara Emma Holt
by Cayce L. Pentecost, Atty.

After Fire Took Its Toll
This is the scene of desolation a day or two after fire-gutted the 90 year old court building.  All that stands is blackened walls, the wood and plaster interior crumbling because of the terrific heat and powerful streams of water poured into the structure in an heroic effort to save the old landmark.  Photo by Virginia Brooks.

Directory of Offices in New Building
In order that the public may know just where to find the desired official, office, court room, etc., we herewith print a directory of the new Court House:
Basement: Janitor room, furnace room, fuel room, sheriff's office, county highway office, AAA office, two storage rooms, county agent's space, and, of course, rest rooms for both white and colored men and women.

First Floor: Register's office, register's records, county judge, public service room, county court room, county court clerk, clerk records, one unassigned room, storage room, private office, and trustee.

Second floor: Circuit court room, circuit judge's office, jury room, three witness rooms, attorney general's office, grand jury room, circuit court clerk, chancery court, clerk and master's office, and an office for lawyers.

Third floor: Soil conservation office, farm replacement office, central library, book rooms, lunch room, supervisor's office, county superintendent's office, veterans service office, Red Cross headquarters, and tax assessor's office.

Plaque In new Building Honors Court Members and Commission
A beautiful plaque that will adorn the walls of the new Weakley County Court house will be emblazoned with the names of all members of the Quarterly Court as well as those of the five-member Court House Commission.  the latter are: Esq. Dean Grooms, who is chairman, Esp. John Hatler, Esq. J. martin Adams, Allen J. Strawbridge and R.A. Nants.

The late Judge R.A. Elkins will be remembered as being very instrumental in getting construction started on the new building, being the first chairman of the Commission, his untiring efforts in this endeavor being cut short by his death.

When Grandma Was A Girl
Grandpa took her courtin' in a buggy.  they lived in a gas lit house with pumpwater supply.  this was in keeping with the times, when people traveled to and from the antiquated court house in wagons, buggies and horseback.

The present new Court House is in keeping with the march of progress of the Twentieth Century--the Golden Fifties, and it is coincidental that the new building should be built and occupied at the turn of the century.

Our firm can boast of the fact that it has been located within sight of the Weakley County Court House for many years, watching the crowds attendant to such a place, and it is with pride that we can point across the street to this newest accomplishment and we want to congratulate Weakley County upon this great step of progress.

E.T. Reavis & Son

Congratulations TO ALL THE PEOPLE
It has been my pleasure to work with the magistrates of the county, as well as with members of the court house commission, in the construction of the new Court House; and, as we are advised by the supervising architect that this new and modern building will soon be completed, I take this opportunity to commend to all the people of Weakley County, the untiring efforts and genuine cooperation of every justice of the peace, all members of the court house commission, the finance committee, all county officials, and so far as I am advised, every progressive and public spirited citizen in the county, in planning and building our new court house.  Perfect and unanimous agreement, from the naming of Judge Elkins as chairman, to the writing of this message, and in the expenditure of every dollar going into this building, has prevailed.  Every action of the Quarterly Court has been directed by a majority vote, and only on two occasions have there been two or more magistrates who registered their objections.  I believe I can truthfully speak for every person who has had anything to do in planning, building and furnishing our new Court house--and I assure you that they did the very best they were capable of doing.  I do not believe there is a county in Tennessee that has a better informed, a more representative and patriotic group of magistrates than we have in Weakley county, and they are to be congratulated, along with the court house commissioners, for their untiring efforts in replacing the ninety-four-year-old court house with this new one.

Congratulations to all our people, including the architects, the contractors, the superintendents, the inspectors, the furnishers, and every workman, for a job well done.


Greenfield Monument works
The Best in Memorials
Large Displays-Prices Right
No Agents--Dependable
Come to our yard
17 years in this Business
J.B. MANESS, Owner
Phone 69                 Greenfield, Tenn

A Disastrous Fire on February 19 1948, destroyed the Weakley county Court house here in Dresden.  Fortunately nearly all the important records were saved.  The county Court in its wisdom decided to rebuild and very wisely arranged for a handsome and substantial structure.  Ample room was provided with additional space for growth.  The building now nearing completion is modern in every respect, fire-proof and air conditioned.  Weakley County moves forward in spite of temporary setbacks.

The position of this bank is somewhat similar.  The Maloan Building on the north side of court square next to the Post Office was purchased for a home for this bank.  Here again a fire occurred and very shortly the bank plans to remodel for occupancy.  This institution takes its place along with other business concerns as part and parcel of Weakley County.  Here you will find a strong institution eager and willing to assist in financial matters.


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