First Courthouse

Historical Marker #1263 in Murray commemorates the history of the first courthouse constructed in Calloway County.

The Calloway County courthouse originally functioned as a one room log structure and was built in 1823, one year after the county was founded. Community tradition claims that the primitive courthouse was the first public building constructed in the Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky. The Jackson Purchase is located in far western Kentucky, an area bordered by the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Rivers. It is called the Jackson Purchase because of General Andrew Jackson's role in negotiating the land from the Chickasaw Indians in 1818. Jackson and former Kentucky governor Isaac Shelby agreed to pay the Chickasaw Indian Nation $20,000 a year for 15 years; a total of $300,000. The Jackson Purchase added more than 2,000 square miles of land to Kentucky.

The Calloway County log courthouse was originally constructed in Wadesboro, which at that time functioned as the county seat. The log building remained in use until 1831, when a new courthouse was constructed. In 1843, the town of Murray became Calloway County's new seat of government and the log structure was moved there. The 1831 courthouse was a two-story brick structure and featured office space for county officials. The building doubled as a place of worship on Sundays.

Another building was constructed after Murray became the county seat, which unfortunately, burned in 1906. After an incidence of vote tampering, a new courthouse was constructed in Murray in 1913 to replace the burned structure. Today, this 1913 building still serves as the county courthouse. While the original log courthouse no longer serves its original intended function, it has remained in service as a residence for more than a century.

Images

Calloway County Courthouse

Calloway County Courthouse

The Calloway County courthouse is shown in this picture from the 1960s. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Calloway County Courthouse

Calloway County Courthouse

The 1913 Calloway County courthouse in Murray is shown here. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson, the subject of this bust sculpture by Kentucky artist Joel T. Hart, negotiated the purchase of Chickasaw Indian lands in 1818 where Calloway County now exists. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Shelby Pocket Watch

Shelby Pocket Watch

This pocket watch was owned by Isaac Shelby. It was apparently lost on his return from negotiating the Jackson Purchase, but was recovered by Shelby's son Thomas. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Isaac Shelby

Isaac Shelby

Former governor Isaac Shelby, pictured on this commemorative medal, assisted in the negotiation of the Jackson Purchase. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Katie Crawford-Lackey, “First Courthouse,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed May 23, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/486.

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