Early Courthouses and Jails

The first court held in the county was a court of pleas and quarter sessions, and was held on the third Monday in February, 1810, at the house of Lewis Kirk, who lived in a log cabin on a bluff on the bank of Richland Creek at the foot of the "shoals" and about 200 yards above where the Nashville & Decatur Railroad depot now stands. The magistrates who had previously been appointed as such by the General Assembly, were sworn into office, and they at once elected John Dickey, chairman, German Lester, clerk, Jesse Westmoreland, register, and Charles Neeley, sheriff, By order of the court a log cabin was erected in Kirk's yard, in which the courts were held, and in a short while thereafter a rough log house was erected on the same yard for a jail. In this rude prison were kept those convicted of misdemeanors, contempt of court, etc., while the felons were sent to the Williamson County jail, and afterward to the Maury County jail for imprisonment. After the sale of town lots, August 1811, the cave having been previously cut from a portion of the Public Square, a second court house was erected on the Public Square, and the records and courts moved thereto. This second building was constructed of round logs, which were covered with boards. The house stood for about two years, when it was destroyed by fire, presumably by the citizens, they having become impatient and indignant at the delay of the commissioners in giving them a more commodious and sightly building. A log jail was erected on the southeast corner of the Public Square at about the same time of the log court house, and it, too, was destroyed by fire soon after the court house burned.

The commissioners then contracted with Archibald Alexander, of Pulaski, to erect a new courthouse, and with Philip P. Many, of Williamson County, to build a new jail. This courthouse was a two-story brick, and answered well the purpose for which it was built. In about 1850 the building was torn down, and on the same site a handsome brick was erected, which stood until 1856, when it was destroyed by fire. The present courthouse was completed in 1859, and cost the county about $27,000. It is a large two-story brick, 6Oxl50 feet, with four entrances and halls. Two large court rooms are on the second floor, while on the first are located six large well ventilated and lighted offices, including a chancery court room, an artistic cupola surmounts the building in which is a town clock, which was presented to the county court by Judge Henry M. Spafford, deceased in 1880. During the time between the destruction of the courthouse in 1856, and the completion of the present building in 1859, the courts were held on the first floor of the Odd Fellows Hall. The jail contracted by Philip P. Maney was of brick and was erected on the northwest corner of the square. When within a few hours work of completion it was destroyed by fire, having caught fire by sparks falling from someone's pipe or cigar into the shavings. Another jail was soon erected by the same contractor which stood until about the close of the late war, when it was destroyed by fire by the retreating Confederates. The present jail is a handsome brick building, situated on First Main Street, about 150 yards from the Public Square, and was completed in 1867 at a cost of $25,000. It is provided with suitable apartments for a jailer's family, and has ten well-constructed cells, with necessary corridors.

In 1865, the County Court purchased 130 acres of land in the Eleventh District, four miles east of Pulaski, for a county poor farm, and erected log buildings thereon for the accommodation of paupers. In 1867, frame buildings took the place of the log house, and these were replaced with a good brick building in 1884, which cost about $4,000.