From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Todd County Courthouse in Elkton, KY

A handsome 1830s building



Todd County KY CourthouseThe historic Todd County Courthouse sets on the town square in Elkton, Kentucky. It was built in 1835-1836 to replace a smaller courthouse, built in 1821.

This structure served as the seat of county government for the next 140 years, until a new, one-story courthouse was built in 1975-1976.

Near the end of the Civil War (1865), the Todd County Courthouse was occupied by Union forces. They left the building in a damaged state, and a major renovation was carried out in 1871. The cupola was added at that time.

Ironically, the occupation of the courthouse probably saved it from being burned. Confederate General Hylan B. Lyon torched 7 courthouses in Western Kentucky to prevent them from falling into Union hands, including the courthouses of Christian, Trigg, and Caldwell counties, just west of Todd County. Courthouse cupola

The Wikipedia entry for the old Todd County Courthouse says that the cupola was originally painted orange, olive green, and beige. Wow.

The old courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Many other fine old buildings surround the courthouse square. They were added to the National Register in 1989 as the "Elkton Commercial Historic District."

Photos of the interior of the old courthouse appear at the Old Courthouse Preservation Project webpage. The October, 2006, minutes of the Elkton City Council state that a museum is planned for the second floor of the building, and a Welcome Center is planned for the first floor.

I admire Elkton and Todd County for choosing to preserve their old buildings rather than demolish them. Downtown Elkton has its own unique atmosphere, and the old Todd County Courthouse is its jewel.

Most of the historic information in this post comes from two great books about Kentucky:

  • John W. Carpenter's Kentucky Courthouses by John W. Carpenter & William B. Scott, Jr. (Copyright 1988 by John W. Carpenter and William B. Scott, Jr. and published by John W. Carpenter, London KY.)
  • The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John E. Kleeber. (Copyright 1992 by the University Press of Kentucky, Lexington.)

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.