Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Delaware County Courthouse

On a day trip to Northeastern Iowa and Wisconsin last month, we stopped at the Delaware County Courthouse in Manchester.  Delaware County was established in 1837; formerly, it was a part of Dubuque County.  
The citizens of the county wanted the seat to be located near the center of the county, but there was no water or timber available in that area to make for a suitable location.  Finally, at a spot near Dehli, the selecting committee saw a deer jump up and run.  They decided to kill the deer and build the first courthouse there.

The land for the county seat would cost $200, and the county couldn't afford to spend much.  Finally after four long years, two residents loaned the county the $200 (which was later re-reimbursed).  A hickory log courthouse was completed in 1844.  It was replaced by two others, one in the early 1850s, and another in 1857.
But the town of Manchester didn't want Dehli to remain the county seat.  Several elections were held as the two towns battled for the seat.  Dehli won them all until November 2, 1880, when Manchester won one election.  The citizens of Manchester quickly constructed a temporary two-story frame courthouse, which was replaced with the current structure in 1894.  

This building cost $36,860 to construct, plus $800 for plumbing.  The clock was bought in 1895 by seven hundred citizens of the county.

I was impressed by the elegance of the foyer (above), and the beautiful ceilings.  The displays at the end of the room, beneath the flags, contain items and photographs relevant to the history of Delaware County.

The offices seemed very clean and modern, but did still have some neat old-time touches  (above right is the clerk of court's office).  
The courtroom, upstairs, is very spacious and--with hardwood floors and the original high ceiling--very beautiful!

Although it's a rare occurrence I get to visit a clock tower, I still always ask.  This time I asked the ladies in the office of the clerk of court if it would be possible to go up to the clock tower.  They said it was--with the permission of the board of supervisors.

Fortunately for me, one of the supervisors had just walked in!  The lady asked him, and he said sure.  Next she called the maintenance man, Dave Timmer, to see if he was around and willing to giving a tour.  He said yes, and pretty soon I and the family members who were with me were on the elevator to the attic!
Like at the Grundy County Courthouse, this attic contained old files and records.  Mr. Timmer told us that a while back someone doing genealogical research had found an ancestor in one of the record books--and learned he had paid his taxes with a cow and a chicken!

We took stairs up to the room that held the works of the clock.  The walls were covered in graffiti--with signatures dating back to the early 1900's.

There are plenty of windows, giving a wonderful view of the town, which was alive with fall colors.  
When Mr. Timmer started working here, eight years ago, the clock wasn't working, and this room was full of more files and similar things.  He and others cleaned out the room, and soon he had the clock working again.  Ice used to break the gears operating the clock-faces every winter, so he added screws, which are much easier to replace. However, the bell still doesn't work.

He said the school used to bring first graders up into the clock tower, but now they just bring the high school students for photography classes.  

When we asked if we could go up any higher, he indicated he'd love to take us up (even to the bell), but insurance policies would not allow it.  We could, however, climb the ladder to look into the room with the clock faces.  
 It was a fascinating tour, and Mr. Timmer was a wonderful docent, with plenty of great history and stories to tell.  Many thanks to him, the ladies at the clerk of court's office, and the county supervisor!
The Delaware County courthouse is officially now on my list of favorites.  What a wonderful surprise to get such a comprehensive tour, and what a wonderful way to spend a morning!

38 comments:

  1. what an interesting way to build a courthouse.
    to kill a deer first.

    ...

    thanks so much for sharing, Bethany!
    i always love reading your posts- i learn so much!
    many blessings to you!

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    1. Blessings to you as well, Ashley. Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. poor deer i wish he was not there ,bad timing though.
    loved this marvelous historical building .

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    1. I guess the deer was in the wrong place at the wrong time; but at least he earned his spot as perhaps the most well-remembered deer in the history of Delaware County.

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  3. Hi Bethany, Congrats on getting up to the clock! Another well done post on the Deleware County Courthouse!

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    1. Getting to visit the clock-tower was a wonderful surprise. I was so happy!

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  4. My, what a lovely courthouse! Like Baili said, it's quite the marvelous historic building. And that was very interesting about the deer....

    Have a great day, Bethany! Hugs!

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    1. Have a great day as well, Stephanie. Thanks.

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  5. Such a beautiful building! This history alone... Wow. My allergies would probably murder me for hanging out in a place like that, but it would be so amazing to see it in person!

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  6. That's an impressive building. I love the old books.

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    1. A while back I looked through the old books at the Hardin Co. courthouse (the county my ancestors are from). The old handwritten records are beautiful--and there were some pretty interesting entries!

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  7. Very interesting to read of the contest & rivalry involved in building this courthouse! It is a very impressive courthouse & to see up in the attic & the clock was great!

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    1. Agreed. It's interesting how many counties did have a rivalry for the county seat...but I guess having the seat increased the chances of the town growing and having more business.

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  8. Thanks for the tour! Such a beautiful building ♥

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  9. Poor little deer. Loved the shot of the books.

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    1. I love it. Truly.

      Just put together a batch of dough as it proves. Sunny here today but still snow on the ground. Very pretty.

      Have a yummy day!

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    2. Mmmm...we are going to have to invent a way to email batches of goodies! I see so many pictures of your concoctions, but never get to eat any!

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  10. I love seeing the beautiful, majestic buildings like this one! Thank you ever so much for sharing your adventures with us!

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  11. What a beautiful old building and I love all the history behind it. I love that you do such great explorations! xo Diana

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  12. You have such beautiful buildings around you. I love, love, love that photo of the old books!

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    1. I was just at a church built in 1907 today. It had a beautiful pipe organ and lovely stained glass windows! I was wishing I had my camera on me! At least it's only about 30 miles from home, so hopefully I will think of an excuse to go back there sometime. :)

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  13. What a nice building. I like when modern is mixed in with the old. And a clock tower visit! Oh, what fun.

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  14. WOW...that's beautiful! I love historic buildings. There's something about the architecture that you just don't see in more modern buildings.

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  15. Building a courthouse on a dead deer! That's a new one!

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  16. What a wonderful tour you were able to take - top to bottom! Such history to places like this...I always find it so fascinating. Thanks for sharing with me dear Bethany! Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving dear Friend! xoxo

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  17. Hello dear Bethany!
    I love such structures. They are beautiful. Thank you, that I could watch it.
    Have a nice day.
    Kisses and greetings.
    Lucja

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