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...
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.