Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996 Page: 116
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
prosperous settlement along the Navidad, and the huge plantation of Washington Green Lee
Foley, were henceforth to be in La Vaca County. Egypt and its area, with its prosperous
old plantations of the Mercers, Heards, Sutherlands, Menefees, John C. Clark, and
Alexander Jackson, and the comparatively new plantations belonging to John D. Newell
and Gideon G. Williams, were given over to Wharton County.2
With the county thus reduced in size, the commissioners court met on May 4,
1846 to reorganize the voting precincts. The next time they met, on August 24, 1846, they
resolved a dispute between William T. Townsend and William A. Naill over which of them
had been elected assessor and collector by setting a second election for September 3. At their
third meeting after being taken into the United States, the commissioners took up a long
delayed project, the construction of a courthouse. On October 14, 1846, they appointed Asa
Townsend, William T. Townsend, and William Bluford Dewees to look into the possibility
of securing subscriptions to build a courthouse. On January 30, 1847, the three-man
committee returned with their report, and with a proposal, submitted by N. H. Fisher, to
build a small, two-story, wooden courthouse for $950 within six months. Fisher's proposed
building was to contain the courtroom and an office for the district clerk on the first floor,
and two jury rooms and an office for the county clerk on the second floor. The
commissioners court immediately approved Fisher's proposal, appropriated $950 for the
construction, appointed another three-man committee, this one composed of Isam Tooke,
Robert Robson, and Kidder Walker, to supervise and inspect the construction as it
proceeded and to provide Fisher with funds as needed, and required of Fisher that he post
a bond of $1900. Fisher apparently completed the building within the specified six months.
Though no report of its completion has been found, on July 12, 1847, Fisher again appeared
in front of the commissioners, this time asking for another $65.50 to cover extra work he
had done on the courthouse. The commissioners gave him the money, almost certainly
signalling that he had completed his labors, and that therefore, for the first time, the county
owned a courthouse. Evidently, the completed building was somewhat different from the
one that Fisher had proposed. The courtroom, it seems, had been put on the second floor,
and the offices which eventually devolved to the county and district clerks on the ground
2 Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, ed., The Laws of Texas 1822-1897 (Austin: The Gammel Book
Company, 1898), vol. 2, pp. 746-747, 1344-1345, 1355, 1394-1396, 1534-1535; Petition to the Congress of
the Republic to create Lavaca County, n. d. [c. 1841], Memorials and Petitions, Texas State Archives, Austin.
Colorado County Deed Records, Book E, pp. 38, 90, 91, 276, 280, 281, 287, and 324 chronicle the purchase
of plantations by Newell and Williams. La Vaca County eventually adopted the spelling Lavaca, and Hidesville
eventually became Hallettsville.
3 Colorado County Commissioners Court Minutes, Book 1, pp. 5, 9, 21, 30-32, 34-35. That the
building had been redesigned is indicated by actions of the commissioners court on January 11, 1848 and
February 19, 1849. On the earlier date, they rented a room on the second floor of the courthouse to Thomas
J. Neavitt for use as a school, stipulating that it must be vacated when it was required "for public uses." On the
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996, periodical, September 1996; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151398/m1/4/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.