Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hardin County Courthouse

The Hardin County Courthouse in Eldora, Iowa is a particularly special courthouse to me because William Lockard and his wife Elizabeth Steinbarger Lockard, my great great great great grandparents, moved to Hardin County in 1852.  They came from Ohio in a covered wagon, bought land from Greenberry Haggin (the first white man to settle in Hardin County, in 1849), and broke up the virgin soil.  
They lived in a log cabin, where, as Mrs. Lockard reported, they could not stand up straight, and where she did her cooking for eight to ten years in an old-fashioned fireplace.

Last summer, I visited the grave of their son Philander Lockard at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis (Read more about my family in the Civil War at the post here).  Hardin County has a monument to honor those who served, including both Philander and John Lockard.  
William Lockard served as a grand-juror in the first term of the court in Hardin County, held in September 1854.

In 1856, the first courthouse was built, but it burned and had to be replaced the next year.  In 1892, the current courthouse was built for $48,000.  In 1921, the building was damaged in a fire.  It was declared unsafe by the fire marshal in 1967, and repairs totaling $422,000 were done to restore and  majorly improve the building.
Underneath the clock tower are statues of Justice, Mercy, and Liberty. Unfortunately, for insurance reasons, visitors aren't allowed up to the bell and clock tower. I may consider becoming a courthouse insurance inspector for the sole purpose of getting to visit clock towers...

In front of the building, there are benches and a map showing Hardin County and its townships.
The main courtroom is formatted circularly, and in that respect is quite different from every other courthouse I've visited so far.  I think this gives the atmosphere a relatively modern, though definitely not boring, feel.  

Also in the courthouse are the regular county offices, a room of law-books, a small courtroom (with photos of judges on the walls), and a meeting room.
Hardin County was named after Colonel John Hardin of Illinois, who died at the Battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican-American War.  Hardin was a former U.S. Representative.  He's also credited with helping keep Abraham Lincoln and State Auditor James Shields out of a duel.
Eli and Melissa Carson finally made it to Hardin County in the 1870s, and their son Clair married Ethel Lockard, granddaughter of William and Elizabeth Lockard. She lived to be 102, passing away in 1987, and was a genealogy enthusiast who went to great pains to help preserve our family history.  

Her advice to posterity?  Hard work never hurt anyone.

We'll probably never know the meaning of hard work quite as well as those who broke the soil to settle Hardin County.

20 comments:

  1. Fantastic story and inttesting courthouse

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  2. A fascinating post, Bethany, and your photos are stunning!

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  3. Great looking courthouse and I loved reading about your family history.

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  4. Great post, Bethany! It's very enjoyable learning about family history.

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    1. Thanks Martha! Indeed. I've really enjoyed researching my family history. I have a decent database with over a thousand names, and dates going back for centuries...but haven't had the time to get verification on everything (yet, at least).

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  5. Thanks for sharing some interesting history and how your family influenced it and it them!

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  6. Another visit to a historically important courthouse well documented! Nice work Bethany! Your idea to become a courthouse insurance inspector for the sole purpose of getting to visit clock towers, is perfect! :-) Yes, I know you were kidding ... but *maybe* it would work!

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    1. It's the best idea for getting up there that I've come up with so far.. ;)

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  7. Wow, you have such an interesting family history!
    Thank you so much for sharing that- it was quite special.

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    1. Thanks Ashley! I'm a bit of a family history buff...I have a database filled with names, and more names, and dates! But it is special to know more than names and dates on some family members.

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  8. Very well written and I enjoyed how you ended the piece. Now, I want to run around in my socks, in that last room and slip n' slide about.

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    1. Heh! You always find a way to have fun! :)

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  9. That's so awesome to be able to visit a place that's tied to your family's history!

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    1. Agreed. I actually don't live too far from this courthouse, so I get to see it relatively often!

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  10. Interesting post, rich with history!

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