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Official Website of Lookout Mountain Alabama

The Dekalb County Tourist Association welcomes you to Lookout Mountain Alabama


         


Suggested travels plans to Lookout Mountain 

History of DeKalb County Alabama -  DeKalb County Courthouses and County Seats

 

On January 9, 1835, just 11 days after the signing of the Treaty of New Echota, DeKalb County was created by the Alabama legislature as one of three counties carved from the Cherokee cession of 1835. The early white settlers to the area, most of whom were from South Carolina, gave the county its name in honor of Major General Baron DeKalb, who was killed in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War.

The first officials for DeKalb County were: Robert Hooks, judge of county court; Robert Murphy, sheriff; John Cunningham, clerk of county court; Benjamin F. Green, justice of the peace; and A.H. Lamar, constable.

The first of seven county seats was at Rawlingsville, a community near what is now the northern section of Fort Payne. After a special election, it was moved to Bootsville in Sand Valley. Then in succession, it was moved to Camden, Lebanon, and Portersville.

After five changes in four years, it was agreed to again locate the county seat at Lebanon on the condition that a courthouse and jail be erected there. A two-story brick building was constructed in 1842 on land donated by the Frazier and Dobbs families to serve as the first permanent county courthouse. The building has been renovated several times and owned by a number of different owners, but remains an attractive, historical building.

Lebanon was the center of activity during most of the 38 years it served as the county seat. A post office and a government land office were located there and the county’s first newspaper was published there in 1867 by P.J. Smith. After the Civil War, the railroad played an increasingly significant part in developing the resources of the county. Because most people believed that the county seat should be changed to a town served by the railroad, an election was held to choose between Fort Payne, Brandon (Collbran), and Collinsville. By a three-vote margin, Fort Payne was chosen as the new county seat in 1876, just a few years before the town was to experience an incredible industrial boom and bust during the 1880s coal and iron speculation.

The first of three courthouses in Fort Payne was built and donated to the county by Dr. A.B. Green in 1876. The masonry work was done by John Napoleon Bonaparte Faulker, assisted by an experienced bricklayer named Dilly Towers. The bricks were made on the grounds, with rabbit hair added to the ingredients. Some of these unusual bricks were purchased by the Oddfellows in 1891 when the second courthouse replaced the original and can still be seen in the old Oddfellows Hall located by the Black Building.

In 1888, a three-year boom period began for Fort Payne, based on heavy New England financial investment in potential coal and iron production. At the peak of the boom, in 1890, the second permanent courthouse was built in Fort Payne. The architectural style was influenced by the New England culture then prevalent. Also of brick, this second structure was much more elaborate than the first and had a large clock tower on top. The clock tower is now located in the Town Square of Collinsville, Alabama.

After 52 years of service, this courthouse was replaced by a new one in 1950. Built of structural concrete and consisting of four floors, the new and present courthouse is located two blocks from the site of the first two.

In 1974 the new courthouse was renovated, with a fifth floor added and an additional circuit courtroom constructed. A public safety annex was constructed nearby to house the sheriff’s office, the jail, and the state troopers. In 1977, this annex was renovated to add quarters for the district judge’s office and courtroom. Minor renovations were made in 1977 and in the early 1990s. (At the beginning of the year 2000 a complete renovation to the facility began, giving it a grand appearance today.)

(This article on DeKalb County Courthouses and County Seats was written by Jim McGee, and appeared in a 1981 edition of Court News, a monthly newsletter published by the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts in Montgomery.)

 

Lebanon Courthouse still stands today in the beautiful Lebanon Valley

The Lebanon Courthouse still stands in the
beautiful Lebanon Valley of Fort Payne.

Built in 1950, this courthouse serves the people of DeKalb County and is located in the county seat of Fort Payne.

This Courthouse that now serves DeKalb County is located
in the county seat of Fort Payne

 


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