Friday, November 23, 2007

The Infamous "Hell-Roaring" Jacob Smith

The following story of Gen. Jacob Smith, "Portsmouth's General," was first published in the Portsmouth Free Press, 2nd Series, Vol. 1, no. 2 (November-December 2005). In addition to my recent and new research, I plan on occasionally republishing some of my earlier writings on local history for those who might have missed them when they first appeared in the PFP.

Portsmouth, Ohio, it turns out, was the hometown of one of the Philippine War’s most infamous generals, “Hell-Roaring” Jacob Smith. His story is one well worth remembering, though you won’t find this one depicted in the historic flood wall murals of Portsmouth.

This bloody Philippine War, which lasted from 1899 through 1913, resulted from the foreign policy of a group of imperialists within the Republican Party of President William McKinley. After their quick victory in the Spanish-American War in 1898, the United States military found themselves playing the part of an occupying army on the Philippine Islands. A Filipino independence movement had been working to overthrow their Spanish colonizers for years. Emilio Aguinaldo, the charismatic leader of the movement, provided critical aid to the Americans during their war with Spain. However, when US armed forces did not withdraw from the islands and the US government did not recognize Philippine independence, Aguinaldo and his compatriots rose up against the United States.

It was a choice, ultimately the Ohioan McKinley’s choice, to annex the Philippine archipelago and deny the Filipinos their independence. The imperialists chose to conquer these far off islands in the Pacific and more Americans died fighting the Filipino insurgents than died fighting the Spanish.

The Balangiga Massacre and Samar Campaign

General Jacob Hurd Smith led American forces during one of the most brutal and controversial campaigns of the war. The Samar Campaign of 1902 was an offensive aimed at punishing and crushing the insurgency on the Island of Samar. An American garrison in the town of Balangiga was attacked in September 1901 by the local population, with the support of the local police chief and members of the insurgency. The people of Balangiga revolted in reaction to their abuse at the hands of the Americans. The US commander at Balangiga had sent troops out to destroy crops and grain reserves, to keep such food from flowing into the hands of the insurgents; he had also ordered all males over the age of thirteen, at gun-point, to work at clearing brush and repairing the streets of the town.

Fifty-four of the seventy-eight American troops stationed at Balangiga were killed; their bodies were mutilated and burned; only four escaped uninjured. Like the story of American mercenaries (or “military contractors,” as the US Department of Defense prefers to call them) who were captured, killed, burned, and put on display in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, the mutilation of Americans at Balangiga triggered a massive response that left Samar in taters and General Smith seated before a court-martial.

The Balangiga Massacre, as the Americans called it, occurred two months after the government of the Philippines was transferred from the US military to US civilian authorities, headed by future President William Howard Taft. Aguinaldo had been captured in March of 1901 and it was hoped that the transition to civilian rule marked the beginning of the end of the war. The Balangiga Massacre, however, ended all talk about the reduction of troop levels in the Philippines.

Jacob Smith's Background

Jacob Smith was born 29 January 1840 near Jackson Furnace, in Scioto County, and he spent his boyhood in Portsmouth and in Greenup County, Kentucky. Having briefly attended a military academy in Connecticut, the home state of his parents, Smith joined the Union’s Second Kentucky Infantry, receiving a commission as a First Lieutenant. Severely wounded during the Battle of Shiloh, Smith was brought back to his parent’s home in Portsmouth to recuperate. After the Civil War, he obtained a commission as a Captain in the Regular Army and rose through the ranks, serving in Louisiana during Reconstruction and then later on the Great Plains, where he participated in a number of the so-called “Indian campaigns,” against the Northern Cheyenne, the Apache, and the Uncompahgre Ute. Contrary to some claims, there is no record of Smith’s participation in the Wounded Knee Massacre of Sioux in 1890. Nevertheless, he had participated in some of the most brutal campaigns in the Plains Indian Wars of the late 19th-century.

Smith went on to lead American forces in Cuba, during the Spanish-American War, where he was again wounded in action at the Battle of Santiago. Smith then took command of troops in the Philippines, where he was promoted to Brigadier-General in March of 1901. After fighting a number of successful campaigns against the Filipino insurgents, Smith was given the task of crushing the resistance on Samar and exacting revenge for the deaths of the American soldiers at Balangiga.

Brig. Gen. Smith's Murderous Orders

The Manila News reported on 4 November 1902, that General Smith ordered all inhabitants of Samar’s interior to relocate to coastal towns, “saying that those who were found outside would be shot and no questions asked. …. All suspects, including Spaniards and half-breeds, were rounded up in big stockades and kept under guard.” At the same time, Smith cut off all food shipments and trade from the towns into the backcountry, carrying out a policy designed to starve the resistance into submission. Detachments of American troops then traversed the island’s interior, in search of rebel bands, burning villages and destroying crops and livestock. It was not these general policies that ended up getting Smith into trouble, rather it was the specific orders he gave to one of his main subordinates, Marine Major Littleton W. T. Waller.

At the beginning of the campaign when officers had gathered at the site of the Balangiga Massacre, Smith told Waller, “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn; the more you kill and burn the better it will please me. …. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States.” When Waller asked Smith to set an age limit for the kill orders, Smith said, “Kill everyone over ten.” Smith would later send Waller a written order “that the interior of Samar must be made a howling wilderness.” During the four and half month-long campaign, an estimated 15,000 Filipinos died on Samar as a result of the actions of US forces.

The Courts-Martial of Major Waller and Brig. Gen. Smith

Smith’s orders were first revealed during the court martial of Major Waller, who was charged with ordering the summary execution of eleven Filipino civilians, who had worked as baggage carriers during one of Waller’s missions into the interior. The eleven civilians turned out to be boys and young men, who were accused of hoarding food and threatening mutiny while helping the US troops march through the jungles of Samar. Waller’s defense would become known after World War II as the Nuremburg Defense – I was only following my orders. Waller would be acquitted on the charges of murder, but the testimony during his trial would lead to the court-martial of his commanding officer, Brigadier-General Jacob H. Smith.

Smith was charged with having committed “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline.” The court-martial found Smith guilty and recommended an “admonishment” by his superiors. The Samar Controversy hit the American press just when the US Senate was investigating the abuse of Filipino prisoners of war by the American military. Soldiers back from the islands testified to having observed and participated in the torture of prisoners. They described the common practice of the so-called “water cure,” wherein a person is tied down to a board and a bamboo shaft is inserted into their mouths. Water is then forced into their stomachs and pressure applied to their abdomen, forcing the water back out of their mouths, or, in some cases, causing the stomach to rupture, which can and did lead to the death of prisoners.

Members of Congress and editorials in the nation’s papers called for a severe punishment of General Smith. “In the records of all the great wars since the Middle Ages,” declared Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado, “you cannot find such a disgraceful and wicked order as that issued by Gen. Smith.” Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, one of the most ardent supporters of the war, stated: “Gen. Smith’s order is one which every American should regret. On the surface those orders seem to me to be revolting.” In the House of Representatives, Republican Joseph C. Sibley of Pennsylvania called on President Theodore Roosevelt “to discharge Smith dishonorably from the service that he has disgraced. …. He is a disgrace … to every man who ever wore the uniform of the United States, and he is a blot and a disgrace to our present civilization.” The New York Times editorialized, “These orders are bloody and cruel to a degree which the American people will not believe to be justified even against the most treacherous savages. They will not regard as fit to remain in the service an officer capable of issuing them.”

The politics of the moment proved fateful. Roosevelt, upon reviewing the records of the court-martial decided against a simple admonishment, as had been recommended by the court. Instead, he forcibly retired Smith, two years before his scheduled departure from the service. Smith learned of his punishment upon his return to the United States, when his ship docked in San Francisco. From there Smith traveled by train to Portsmouth, where he was given a hero’s homecoming welcome.

Smith's Return to Portsmouth

Smith’s train arrived at the Norfolk and Western Depot on the evening of 11 August 1902 and an estimated 3,000 residents came out to meet him. Among the crowd, waiting in a horse-drawn carriage was Smith’s mother, Charlotte Maria Hurd Smith, who had told a reporter just a few days before, “What matters what he said? Look upon what he has done. Look upon a record without a blot or blemish. Then shall we consider a few words spoken when the atrocities to American soldiers were confronting him on every hand.” Two companies of the Ohio National Guard, one from Portsmouth and the other from Manchester, along with the Portsmouth Cycling Club Band, dressed in khaki, escorted the General and his entourage to the Hilltop home of Judge James W. Bannon, his brother-in-law. Just before dispersing the guardsmen gave three hearty cheers.

After dinning with his closest friends and relatives, Smith welcomed newspaper reporters into the home and fielded questions. He attempted to justify his brutal orders. The inhabitants of the interior of Samar were, according to Smith, “savages of the most degraded kind. They were nomads and had no fixed habitation. …. The childhood of the natives is a dream by the time they are thirteen years of age. They are ready to take up the burden of life before that time. …. The natives of Samar are treacherous and barbarous. They mutilate the bodies of the dead in the most horrible manner.”

Smith won over the local press. Perhaps, they had never left his side. One reporter, writing for the Portsmouth Daily Times, opined that “He is a small man, rather slim, and is very bald. He is a neat dresser and in his citizens clothes did not look like the fierce soldier who had carried terror to the hearts of the most savage tribes in the Philippine islands.” Smith may have looked well that evening, but the following day he had a nervous breakdown. The planned formal reception and banquet had to be postponed. Smith’s illness made headlines around the nation, with the New York Times reporting “a complete nervous collapse.”

When Smith had recovered, the elite of Portsmouth celebrated Smith’s long career of military service and formally welcomed him home. The event was held at the Washington Hotel, Portsmouth’s most exclusive address. The Portsmouth Daily Times reporter captured the scene: “The lobby itself was a maze of red, white, and blue. The national colors were everywhere. Bunting circled about the columns, and hung in festoons from the balcony and … railings. Flags were unfurled here and there about the room to give the whole a general artistic effect. Pictures of McKinley, Washington, Grant, and Lincoln, draped with the national colors, hung upon the walls. …. Suspended from the center of the balcony was the greeting “Welcome” prettily made from crimped tissue paper.” The PDT also reported that that the absence of a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt “was noted by all who viewed the scene.”

During the after dinner toasts, Smith, wearing his most formal military uniform, addressed the gathering. Again, he sounded unrepentant and the gathered crowd loved him for it. Reviewing his forty-years of army service, Smith declared: “We have fought to make this a united country; to wrest the great West from the hordes of Indian savages and to protect the frontiersman and his wife and children in their homes; to bring the blessings of liberty and good government to our neighboring and distant isles of the sea; to avenge the massacres in the harbor of Havana, to compel obedience to our authority in the Philippine Islands and to pacify and subdue the most savage tribes of the earth.”

The Island of Samar, explained Smith, was “peopled by savage tribes who do not recognize any rules of civilized warfare, but are treacherous and brutal to the lowest degree. Still, they must be brought into subjugation, and kept so until they learn that the purpose is to give them freedom and the blessings of that good government which we enjoy.” Spontaneous applause interrupted the speech numerous times and upon its conclusion, Smith received a standing ovation and another round of three cheers for “Portsmouth’s General.”

The General’s defenders in the press and in Congress claimed that he had been singled out and punished for political reasons, that other officers had implemented similar orders and the brutal tactics of taking no prisoners had been practiced at various times throughout the archipelago by American forces. The press and influential members of both political parties, however, demanded that some high-ranking official be held accountable.

The Iraq War Parallel: From Fallujah to Abu Ghraib

The deaths of hundreds of Iraqi civilians during the various stages of the US assault on Fallujah, along with the televised execution of an unarmed and injured Iraqi prisoner inside a mosque during the campaign, never led to court-martialing of any soldier or officer in the Battle of Fallujah. The Iraq War, however, has had its share of courts-martial for the torture and abuse of prisoners. In addition to the prosecution of low ranking soldiers, a one star general, Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski, the officer in command of the Abu Ghraib prison complex, was removed from her command and demoted to the rank of colonel.

In her defense, Karpinski stated that Major General Geoffrey Miller had told her to treat the Iraqis “like dogs” because “if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them.” Miller denied ever making such comments and was later given command over of all US detainee operations in Iraq, including the prison facilities at Abu Ghraib.

In the first weeks and months after his forced retirement, Jacob Smith hoped he would be reinstated; rather than blame his superior officers for their role in setting the general policies and standards of conduct of US forces, he kept his silence, claiming the circumstances on the islands required what might be construed to be brutal and uncivilized tactics in other places, particularly if it those tactics were used against Americans – an odd and racist form of moral relativism. However, like Karpinski, Jacob Smith would ultimately try to shift some of the responsibility for his actions on to the shoulders of his superiors.

In 1906, Smith authorized his nephew, the newly elected Congressman Henry T. Bannon, to vindicate his honor on the floor of the House of Representatives. Bannon, for the first time, revealed part of the orders that had been issued to his uncle on the eve of the Samar campaign. “I do not propose to hamper you at all,” General Adna R. Chaffee wrote to Smith, “but on the contrary, give you all the assistance you need to crush the insurrection in Samar…. The interior must be made a wilderness if that is the only remedy.” Neither Chaffee’s, nor Miller’s words amounted to express commands to kill “everything over ten” or to violently torture and humiliate prisoners. Yet, there is no doubt that in both cases, responsibility for war crimes went higher than one-star generals and were more widespread than might appear because of the handful of courts-martial.

Rather than hold those at the highest levels of the military responsible, where the general policy and orders originated, both Roosevelt and Bush have scapegoated low-ranking generals. For Smith and his supporters it was pure politics. “To my knowledge,” Smith told a crowd in 1911, “Theodore Roosevelt has never hesitated in sacrificing a friend to further his own insane ambitions and desires for popularity.”

When “Hell Roaring” Jake Smith died in 1918, his remains were transported to Washington, D.C., where he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Battle of Houlton’s Mill

My research continues to uncover further material on the Pike County anti-abolitionist mob that disrupted Rev. Edward Weed’s lecturing in Sinking Spring, Ohio, in early August 1836. I recently came across a letter written to the editor of the Hillsborough Gazette, which was first published on September, 4th,1836, about three weeks after violent confrontations had taken place, yet before anti-abolitionist James Houlton had succumbed to his knife wound. The Hillsborough Gazette letter caught the attention of the editor of The New-Yorker, which reprinted it on the 24th of September, under the title, “Lynch Law in Ohio” – the day before James Houlton died.

The anonymous letter writer fills in more detail on the “crisis” that Edward Weed had predicted following the near riot in Waverly the previous July. With help of the author’s references to dates we can now better establish the chronology of events the led to the fatal stabbing of James Holton. After arriving in Sinking Spring via Piketon in the last week of July, Weed and his supporters spread word that a series of public lectures on the issue of slavery and abolition would begin the evening of Monday, August 1st. Members of the Paint Valley Abolition Society, which had members in Highland, Ross, and Fayette counties, including a number of inhabitants of the Sinking Spring region of Highland, organized the meetings, helping Rev. Weed, the traveling agent of the American Anti-slavery Society, publicize his lectures. At some point before the start of the first lecture, a group of eight or ten men from the Sunfish Creek community in Pike County’s Mifflin Township “came into town and told some of Mr. Weed’s friends that” the abolitionist speaker would not be heard “in peace.” According to the Hillsborough Gazette letter, “Mr. Weed’s friends replied that he should lecture, let the result be what it might.”

When the evening came, the Sunfish Creek anti-abolitionists attended the lecture and just as the Reverend began his talk, they rose from their seats and began pelting Weed with rotten eggs. Immediately, the local constable, who was also in attendance, placed the men under arrest. He told them that he would release them if they immediately left the premises and the larger village of Sinking Springs. They agreed and were allowed to return to Pike County.

The Sunfish men had surrendered to rally the like-minded and fight another day.

Weed would resume his lecture and upon its completion, but when he finished, “some of the citizens requested him to leave the village. He said he would do so if his friends wished it; but his friends said they wished him to lecture, and would defend him.”

The next evening Rev. Weed gave his second lecture with no disturbance. However, on the third evening a large Pike County mob showed up just before the start of the lecture. Although the Hillsborough Gazette letter does not relate the detail, it may have been at this point that a mob of “seventy or eighty men from Sunfish” led to the call up of local militia members. In Weed’s account of the incident, he estimated the mob’s size to have been around forty and stated that “as soon,” as troops “appeared in the village with guns our mobocratic gentlemen began to talk about home, and … soon ‘put out.’” Weed’s account, however, failed to mention that the showdown between the militia and rioters led to the cancellation of his evening lecture. He would resume the schedule of lectures the following day, concluding the series after three or four more lectures in as many days.

The concluding evening finished with the enrollment of forty new members in the Paint Valley Abolition Society, an affiliate of Weed’s national organization, the American Anti-slavery Society. I also recently came across a short report published in an April edition of James G. Birney’s Philanthropist, which announced the formation of a separate Sinking Spring Anti-Slavery Society. Founded on the 5th of January 1837, five month’s after Weed began his lecture series, the society enrolled thirty-seven members, the core supporters who first publicly embraced abolitionism in the midst of the turbulent summer of 1836. They elected John Weyer, president, and John Forbuish, secretary. The members pledged $50 to the Ohio State Anti-slavery Society and an additional $20 to purchase abolition literature for “general circulation.” In response to Weed’s lecturing and the violent opposition of Lower Scioto Valley anti-abolitionists, Sinking Spring abolitionists resolved to assist the newly organized state-wide abolition campaign.

Our Hillsborough Gazette letter writer provides further information about the deadly events that followed Weed’s lecture series. “Some eight or ten days afterwards the Abolitionists of the village concluded that it would not do for Sunfish to dictate to them, and determined to punish them for the course they had taken.” On the first of August 1836, the abolitionists secured arrest warrants for a number of Pike countians from the Sunfish Creek community.

The local constable refused to sign the warrants unless the abolitionists would accompany him as a posse comitatus. Relying on a provision of common law, the constable could legally conscript residents over the age of fifteen to assist him in maintaining peace or pursuing and arresting suspected law breakers. With warrants secured, the “constable, with ten or fifteen Abolitionists, took up their line of march to Houlton’s Mill, on Sunfish,” starting out at 3 AM in the morning, in order to arrive at their destination just after dawn. Houlton’s Mill on Sunfish was a community center, where the rural inhabitants of Pike County ground their grain and rallied for public events. News of the posse and the warrants reached Sunfish in time for the anti-abolitionists to call their own rally in expectation of the arrival of the posse. “Some seventy or eighty of the citizens of Sunfish had collected for the purpose of making battle.”

The Sunfish anti-abolitionists sent two men on horse back to intercept the posse and deliver a message of defiance. They advised the constable “not to go any further as they would not be taken” without a fight. What happen next became a source of controversy. The abolitionists would claim “that the constable told them to go on.” The constable, however, would counter that he had not authorized them to proceed all the way to Houlton’s Mill. Whatever the case may have been, the abolitionists pushed on and the constable and his guard followed. Soon thereafter the “battle commenced.” Although our letter writer states that “one of the Sunfish party was stabbed with a knife, and was the only person seriously injured during the engagement,” the abolitionists, facing a crowd seven or eight times their size, retreated after their attempt to serve the warrants was met by force – Our Hillsborough Gazettee letter writer tells us that “the constable and his party were forced to run to save their lives.”

The Sinking Spring abolitionists had been repulsed and with James Houlton lying in bed with a mortal knife wound, it appears that the Sunfish anti-abolitionists sent word that they wished “to have the matter settled on peaceable terms.” They were “perfectly willing to drop it as it is,” noting that they still would “never be taken by force.” Houlton’s death on the 25th of September, changed things. The young father, who himself had once been orphaned, left nine young children in the care of his now-widowed young wife. Houlton was also well connected with one of the most influential families in the state. When James Holton’s own father had died, former governor Allen Trimble served as the teenager’s legal guardian. Holton’s death at the hands of an abolitionist posse was not going to be tolerated by the Sunfish community. They sought and secured the indictment of William H. Mitchell on charges of murder. Cooler minds were now prevailing; the anti-abolitionists would use the state court system to go after the man they believed was Houlton’s murderer.

As mentioned in a previous post, the case of Ohio v. Mitchell came before Pike County presiding Judge John H. Keith, who had only recently taken up the courtroom gavel, after having handed over the speakership’s gavel of the Ohio House of Representatives. Records of this trial have not yet been uncovered, but it appears that Judge Keith provided legal rulings that helped lead to the acquittal of William Mitchell in October 1836.

In light of the jury’s judgment in favor of Mitchell, it appears that the Sunfish anti-abolitionists backed off their campaign to disrupt the activities of the Sinking Springs abolitionists. The abolitionists appear to have rallied around Mitchell’s case and further organized their support for the larger cause of abolition, by spinning off a new chapter of the Ohio State Anti-Slavery Society from the original Paint Valley Abolition Society. And their pledge in January 1837 to raise $20 for the express purpose of circulating abolitionist literature within the state of Ohio amounted to open resistance to the demands of the Piketon Anti-abolition Resolutions of the preceding July.

By 1837, when Sinking Spring abolitionists organized, certain homes in the community were already serving as stations on the Underground Railroad. With area abolitionists’ previous connections with members of the Paint Valley Abolition Society, lines of the railroad ran through Sinking Spring, northward from Adams and Scioto Counties to stations in the northern townships of Highland County and on into Fayette and Ross Counties.

Reverend Edward Weed’s visit in the summer of 1836, at a time when anti-abolitionists were stirring up race riots in Cincinnati, when the office of James Birney’s antislavery newspaper, The Philanthropist, had been ransacked and the press destroyed, at a time when a violent clash between a local constable’s posse comitatus and anti-abolitionists in Pike County ended in the death of one of the rioters, Weed’s tumultuous tour of the Lower Scioto Valley had won over new converts and hardened the prior commitment of existing antislavery activists to the larger cause of abolitionism.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Portsmouth’s First City Building

Although Portsmouth was incorporated as a city in March 1815, it was not until twenty-one years later, in 1836, that a city hall was constructed to house the mayor’s office, a council chamber, and a police station. As in modern-day Portsmouth, its location and construction was not without controversy.

The story of Portsmouth’s first city building starts with the construction of another public building, the first county court house. In 1807, as part of a coordinated effort to have the seat of Scioto county government shifted from Alexandria to Portsmouth, Henry Massie, the proprietor of Portsmouth, donated several city lots to the county commissioners, with the stipulation that the lots be sold to raise money for the construction of a county courthouse. Two years later, in 1809, Massie donated lot 31, on the south side of Second Street, between Market and what is now Court Street, for the exclusive purpose of erecting a courthouse on the lot. The sale of the donated lots, however, did not raise enough funds to construct the building; to cover the shortfall, the commissioners implemented taxes on the owners of horses and cattle and tapped funds raised by fines and licenses for ferries and taverns.

By 1814, with necessary funds now raised, the commissioners were ready to contract for the construction. For some reason, however, the commissioners decided not to use lot 31, which Massie had donated for that express purpose. Instead, in a bizarre decision, they chose to build smack dab in the middle of Market Street, on the block between Front and Second Street.

The commissioners awarded the contract to John Young, a Portsmouth resident who operated a dry goods store near Market on Front Street. “English John Young,” as he was known around town, subcontracted with Nathan Wheeler (of Wheelersburg) to provide the brick, which were made with an 8-inch mould, an inch shorter than the standard. When Wheeler’s brick ran out, the building was completed with 9-inch brick, causing the upper part of the structure to extend an inch out over the lower part. Young apparently underbid the actual cost of the construction and ran into financial trouble in his attempt to finish the structure; he was forced to liquidate his dry goods store to complete the project. When finished the structure was a bit strange -- forty-feet square, having the look of a barn, with two stories, toped with a low square cupola, twelve-to-fifteen feet high, with a spire rising another fifteen feet towards the sky, “on which was a figure cut or carved out of a common pine board, intended to represent an angel blowing a trumpet.”

The location of the court house proved to be problematic. Although situated at the center of the old town, the modern-day Boneyfiddle District, it’s placement in the middle of Market Street prevented the Commissioners from inclosing the structure behind any kind of fence. As one resident later recalled, “if the door should accidentally be left open, any cattle or hogs straying around could enter without molestation or trouble.” Unsurprisingly, the structure also came to obstruct business and traffic on Market Street, which was meant in the original design of the town to provide direct access to the Ohio River waterfront.

In 1836, the Portsmouth City Council voted to condemn the building, declaring it a nuisance; the city notified the County Commissioners, demanding that they remove it from the street or it would be pulled down by city authorities.

Whether the scheme had already been launched or not before the council’s vote, once the building had been declared a nuisance and the county commissioners had laid their plans for the construction of a new county court house, city officials began openly discussing the possibility of using the old court house for a new city building. The mayor, it appears, believed that it was time that he have an official office and the councilmen believed it was only right that they have their own official chambers; and the city constable, of course, was looking for an official, city-owned “watch-house.”

When word of their plans swirled around town, the City Council decided that such a scheme “would look too much like swindling to take possession of it themselves after having driven the county out of it.” In the end, the council did the right thing. As one resident recalled in 1869, “in order to be consistent in the matter, and as people were not as corrupt in those days as they are now, they pulled the old court house down.” Council then voted to tear down the old the old city-owned market house, removing the market house’s roof and placing it upon a new city building, constructed from the now dismantled court house bricks.