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History of Halifax County Courthouses
by Kenneth Cook

(Appeared in the Annual Tobacco Edition of the Record-Advertiser, September 7, 1972 and in the South Boston News, September 12, 1972.)

Although the original seat of government in Virginia was at "King James his Towne," during the first decade of settlement the natural curiosity to explore and the economic necessity for new means of livelihood caused settlements to spring up farther and farther away from the capital. Despite the fact that the colonists were in a region where rivers and numerous streams afforded easy transportation, interrupted only for short periods by ice in winter, attendance at court in Jamestown was burdensome.

By June of 1617, in an effort to relieve the situation, Governor Samuel Argall had established the four great divisions of the colony, namely "the incorporations and parishes of James City, Charles City, Henrico and Kikotan (later Elizabeth City)." Eastern Shore settlements were not included. Inferior courts were appointed in convenient places, to render justice more cheaply and accessible. The General Assembly of 1623/24 provided "that there shall be courts kept once a month in the corporations."

The colony, however, was growing too fast for the arrangement to continue adequate for long. In 1634 the population of Virginia was estimated at 5000, and the cry of "burdensome distances" to court was again being heard. Thus the government in London ordered the four corporations divided into eight shires, or counties. It might be noted that these units were designated as shires in the Act of the General Assembly creating them, but after that single instance were always called counties.

The names of the four corporations, Charles City, James City, Elizabeth City and Henrico, were retained, but their areas were lessened. The four new division-- were Warwick River (later Warwick), Warrosquyoake (later Isle of Wight), Charles River (later York), and Accomack; the latter embraced all of the Eastern Shore. It was from the first of these shires, Charles City that Halifax County was eventually to evolve.

Charles City County
A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland
with part of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. Drawn by Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson in 1751.
The Library of Congress - General Maps Collection

Charles City was described as extending on both sides of James River, on the south side from Upper Chippokes Creek to Henrico County, and on the north from Sandy Point to Henrico. This was a large area, and in 1703 the General Assembly decreed that all that part lying south of the James be set apart and called by the name of Prince George County. Twenty-one eventually would be carved out of Prince George, and always for the same reasons--size and inconvenience on the part of the parent county.

In 1720 the Assembly passed an Act, effective in 1721, to form a county from the southern part of Prince George, to be called Brunswick. The new county would begin "on the south side of the River Roanoke at the place where the line lately run for ascertaining the uncontroverted bounds of this colony toward North Carolina intersects the said River Roanoke and to be bounded by the direction of the Governor with consent of council so as to include the Southern pass." The reference to the line "lately run" is to the famous survey line made by Colonel William Byrd II. Major William Mayo, John Irvine and others and described by Col. Byrd in A HISTORY OF THE DIVIDING LINE BETWIXT VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA RUN IN THE YEAR 1728.

Because of the small number of settlers in the area, no steps were taken to carry out the Act until May of 1732, when it was directed that the earlier Act become effective the first of January next. Brunswick began to function in 1732 and grew rapidly. Land in the eastern counties had long before been overworked with the cultivation of tobacco, and new land was needed. In Brunswick the land was plentiful and rich, the sort to raise tobacco profitably. Thus began an influx of new settlers.

By 1745 the settlements in Brunswick had grown to such an extent that a new division was required. In February of that year an Act was passed ordering that the county be divided "by a line to be run from the county line, where it crosses Roanoke River, below the place called the Horse-Foard, to strike Nottoway River at the fork; and that part of the said county which lies below the said line be erected into one distinct county and retain the name of Brunswick; and all that other part thereof above the said line, be one other distinct county, and called by the name of the county of Lunenburg."

Lunenburg as originally established was a vast expanse of land stretching from the valley of the Roanoke River to the Blue Ridge Mountains, an area too large to be properly governed. By 1748 there were 1602 tithables living in Lunenburg, and those west of the confluence of the Staunton and Dan Rivers (the fork) were complaining that attendance at regular monthly meetings of court, then located between the branches of Bluestone creek, was "grievous and burdensome" due to the long distances it was necessary they travel.

In February of 1752 the General Assembly passed an Act ordering "that from and immediately after the tenth day of May next ensuing, the County of Lunenburg be divided into two counties, that is to say, all that part thereof lying on the south side of Black-Water Creek and Staunton River, from the said Black-Water Creek to the confluence of the said river with the River Dan, and from thence to Aaron's Creek, to the country line, be one distinct county and parish, and called and known by the name of Halifax and parish of Antrim; and all that other part thereof on the north side of Staunton River, from the lower part to the extent of the county upwards, shall be one other distinct county, and retain the name of Lunenburg and parish of Cumberland."

Thus was Halifax County created, the first of nine counties to be taken out of Lunenburg. As was related in an article in the Record-Advertiser last year, it was named for George Montagu Dunk, Second Earl of Halifax, First Lord of the Board of Trade, known as the Father of the American Colonies.

The first court for Halifax County was held "at Hampton Wade's house on Tuesday, the 19th. day of May, in the 25th. year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King George II, and in the year of our Lord Christ, 1752." This was the home of one of the justices of the county, and is thought to have been located on the south side of Dan River in an area called Spanish Oak Ridge.

"A Commission of the Peace from the Honorable Robert Dinwiddie, Esq., His Majesty's Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of His Colony and Dominion of Virginia, bearing date at Williamsburg the 28th. day of April in the year of our Lord 1752, directed to William Byrd, William Wynne, Peter Fontaine, Junr., James Terry, William Irby, Nathaniel Terry, Robert Wade, Hampton Wade, Andrew Wade, Hugh Moore, and Sherwood Walton, Gentlemen," was read. Oaths were administered to the various county officers, but since it was mostly a ceremonial occasion, no real business to speak of was taken care of.

Court for June met "at a plantation of Richard Dudgeon, where Thomas Hilton now lives," believed, according to Dr. N. H. Wooding, to have been near the present Creekside estate on the River Road. Richard Dudgeon came into court and agreed to build a prison for the use of the county. Andrew Wade, one of the gentlemen justices, was appointed "to project and order the strongest and best method for building the same." Nothing further is heard of this prison, although court continued to be held "at Hilton's" through March of 1753. One can only speculate as to whether it was built.

On July 21, "George Currie came into court and proposed to run a line from the mouth of Aaron's Creek a dew west course 25 miles up and to strike the center of the county, as near as can be estimated and as the convenience of water will admit of, at his own cost and charge, and that he will also at his further cost and charge build a courthouse, prison, stocks and pillory as soon as conveniently he can, to which proposal the court agreed." It was ordered that the courthouse be built "of the same size and dimensions of Lunenburg Courthouse," along with a prison, stocks and pillory, as soon as convenient, at the place where the line terminates, if said place should be convenient to water; "but if not then the said George Currie shall be at liberty to carry the same any course to the first convenient place for water." It was further ordered that until the buildings could be completed, Mr. Currie "do build a house at the place aforesaid fit for the reception of the court in January next."

This "house" must not have been built by the time prescribed, as at March, 1753, court, at Hilton's, it was ordered that the next court be held "at Punch Spring, where the courthouse is to be built and established." Court was first held at Punch Spring on May 15, 1753. This site apparently the result of George Currie's calculations, was south of "Elk's Branches of Bannister River" (present-day Elkhorn Creek) in what is now the easternmost part of Pittsylvania County.

On October 17, by order of the court, ten acres were laid off at Punch Spring, constituting the prison bounds, the same being ordered recorded ten days later. In that same year, George Currie, the court clerk, was granted a license to keep an ordinary "at the courthouse." In 1756, Mr. Currie, then living in Prince George County, sold to William Wright of Halifax 800 acres adjoining the land of the said George Currie, whereon the courthouse of the said county of Halifax now stands." It was part of a larger tract of 3320 acres which he had purchased from Hugh Miller in 1755, the deed to which listed as a part of the bounds of the property "the courthouse road." Thus it would appear that the courthouse, a solid brick structure erected by James Roberts, Jr., was standing by 1755.

(Ed. note: This brief story has been inserted here to provide an alternate theory for the location of Punch Springs.)

It was first decided to establish a courthouse in the perfect center of Halifax County, but a survey showed this to be impossible, as the point was a small island in the middle of Banister River. It was then decided to hold the first meeting at "Hampton Wade's house," in the year 1752. The first officers of the county were Nathaniel Terry, sheriff; George Currie, clerk; Thomas Nash, surveyor; Clement Read, King's attorney; John Light, Joseph Faris and Abet Lee, constables; and Nicholas Hayle, Robert Jones and James Irwin, justices.

Court was held in various locations, but of interest is the period 1753-1754, when sessions were held at Punch Spring. It appears that in the rear of the house only a few feet away was a large clear spring of exceptionally cold water. With this convenience, there is said to have been no end to the fine liquor brought to this courthouse. In fact, so much was brought that a pen was built around the spring for the storage of the beverage. Mint grew wild in Virginia and this, with the fine liquor and cool water, fits in with many of the traditions of the Old Dominion. But for inaccessible roads it is probable that the courthouse would have remained at this "charm spot" indefinitely.

As to the exact location of Punch Spring we quote from the Rev. R. W. Neathery: "when I was a boy the older people of the neighborhood told me that it was located at a point on the Coles Ferry Road, just beyond where the Roberts's home is, north of Winn's Creek. If I mistake not, it is just a few hundred yards. from where the Norfolk and Western Railroad crosses the Cole's Ferry Road, on the side of Crystal Hill, not four hundred yards from the Negro church. At the time of my childhood, it was called 'Hell's Half Acre.' That makes us say 'whew', but that is true. Perhaps it was because prisoners thought it so.

"This was just a few rods from Punch Spring, the source of Winn's Creek, which is now the home of Allie Epps. It is the old Hurt place and when I was a boy, Hurt Roberts, son of T. L. Roberts, and I, used to go to see Mrs. Hurt, the mother of C. E., H. H. and John Hurt and Mrs. Moorefield. Hurt Roberts, being named for Henry Hurt, was a special object of Mrs. Hurt's interest, and we used to go there to play. Mrs. Hurt used to put her butter, milk, and other eatables in a little stone house for safekeeping. Whenever we visited there, she would go to that little house, covered with shingles, and get something for us to eat. It was called Punch Spring then, but the little house is now torn down. But the house in which the court was held, stands now." Feb. 9, 1939

Taken from HALIFACTS, written in 1941 by Dr. B. B. Barbour

The interest that was always attached to court at once began to draw new settlers to Punch Spring. The territory was becoming more thickly settled, but the General Assembly for added safety wanted towns established in open areas. In 1759 it was ordered that 100 acres belonging to James Roberts,.Jr., and adjoining the courthouse be laid off into a town to be called Peytonsburg. Pursuant to the Act of Assembly, Sherwood Walton laid off 104 acres into 210 lots, the plat of same being presented at court on July 16, 1761.

On September 24, "in obedience to an order of the worshipful court of Halifax," John Donelson and Clement Read, Jr., "laid off the prison bounds of the said county, bounded as follows: beginning at a stake artificially set up near a spring, thence ... to a stake near the public house, thence crossing the road and a branch to a stake near the side of a small drain, and thence with a right line to the first stake containing ten acres of land and including the courthouse, prison, public house and spring."

In the next four years Halifax County began to experience the growing pains of an expanding population. As the line of settlement pushed westward, those living in that region began complaining, as had their ancestors in Lunenburg County, of the inconveniences imposed on them by the great distances separating them from the county seat.

In 1766 they petitioned the General Assembly to divide Halifax County. An Act passed in October read in part: "Whereas, many inconveniences attend the inhabitants of Halifax by means of the extent thereof; and the said inhabitants have petitioned this General Assembly that the said county may be divided; Be it enacted that from and after the first day of June next, the said county of Halifax be divided into two counties by a line to be run from the mouth of Straightstone Creek on Staunton River, to the county line, near the mouth of County Line Creek on Dan River: and that all that part of the said county which lies on the upper side of the said line shall be one distinct county, and called and known by the name of Pittsylvania; and that the other part which is below the said line shall be one other distinct county, and retain the name of Halifax. Be it further enacted that after the first day of June a court for the said county of Pittsylvania be constantly held by the Justices thereof, upon the fourth Friday in each month."

The division left the county seat Of Peytonsburg in the new county of Pittsylvania, and it was there., at "Halifax Old Court-House," that the first court of Pittsylvania was held. Just how long court continued to meet at Peytonsburg is not certain, but by the fall of 1769 at least a temporary courthouse was standing at present day Callands.

Since its courthouse fell within the new county of Pittsylvania, Halifax was forced to relocate its seat of government. June, 1767, court, the last to be held at Peytonsburg, was "adjourned till the third Tuesday in next month, and then to be held at the house of John Apperson, Jr., ... pursuant to a writ of adjournment for that purpose from his Honour the Governor."

Because of its importance as one of the seats of court of Halifax County, a few paragraphs concerning Peytonsburg and its brick courthouse are in order here. The town grew rapidly after its establishment. As the county seat of Halifax from 1753 until 1767, and as the same for Pittsylvania very briefly, it contributed much toward the eventual success of both counties. It survived as a thriving village for many years after the county seats were moved. It was an important supply center during the colonial wars and the Revolution; a military prison was there, along with a canteen factory. Wagon trains went out from this point to supply the army of General Nathaniel Greene in his Southern Campaign of 1780. In its blacksmith shops horseshoes were made for the army. During his Southern Tour of 1791, George Washington spent the night of Saturday-Sunday, June 4-5, in a tavern here arriving after dark and departing at dawn.

Very little remains at Peytonsburg today. Scattered foundations to show where buildings stood, broken glass, ancient trees. Tradition says there was a county cemetery here, used for the burial of criminals whose bodies were not claimed by relatives. There is no trace of it. Courthouse Branch still flows nearby, and the spring at the foot of the hill where the village stood is still called Courthouse Spring.

The brick courthouse was sold by the county (Pittsylvania) to a private owner; in 1788 the building and one acre of land, lying "near the line ... on John's Run ... east side of the spring," were acquired by the Baptist Society for use as a church. The congregation, known as Sandy Creek Baptist Church from 1771 until 1787 since then as County Line Baptist Church, used the building until 1882, when a new frame structure was erected nearby. The old building was dismantled and its brick, windows, doors and flooring sold. The soapstone steps were moved to the new church. Excavations in recent years have uncovered the foundations of Halifax County's first real courthouse.

Following the dissolution of Halifax County court at Peytonsburg, the seat of government was moved almost due east approximately 14 miles to the land of John Apperson, Jr. The site was several miles north of present-day Halifax, on the Rich Point Branch of Terrible Creek, west of the N & W tracks and before one reaches the Negro Baptist Church at Crystal Hill. Dr. Alfred J. Morrison, in his HANDBOOK OF HALIFAX COUNTY (1907), referred to the site as Faulkner's Crossing.(Ed. Note: The following plat image shows this as Hawkin's Crossing.) Other writers have mentioned this site, but for some reason always placed it south rather than north of Halifax. The site was thought to be satisfactorily convenient, though not in the center of the county as had been desired. This, according to tradition, would have been in the middle of Banister River.

D.T.Tolbert Plat of 1909
The original linen plat was created in 1909 by M. French and was provided by A. T. "Tommy" Talbott, Jr.
(Click on the image to see the 300k version.)

The court first met in a barn belonging to Mr. Apperson, who, in February, 1768, came into court and agreed to sell the building for the sum of ten pounds current money. Robert Wooding and James Bates, commissioners, were then appointed to meet with a workman "to make such repairs and conveniences in and to the said barn for holding court as they shall think necessary," and also to erect stocks and pillory. At the same time Mr. Wooding was paid "for attending the surveyor who laid off the dividing line of the county, and for laying off the prison bounds."

The repairs to the barn were made by Mark Milner, who was ordered paid in June, 1769. Two months later Joshua Stone agreed to lay off the prison bounds,including "the prison, the spring and courthouse," for 100 pounds of tobacco.

During the next several years those citizens living south of Banister River twice petitioned that the courthouse be moved to their side of the river. In January, 1772, Nathaniel Terry and Walter Coles were appointed "to wait on His Excellency the Governor to know of him whether he will be pleased to grant a writ of adjournment of this court from the place where the same is now held to a place at or near the center of the county after the necessary buildings for the purpose of holding court shall be erected." The request was denied.

Fifteen months later Walter Coles and Isaac Coles were appointed for the same purpose, but this time the site named was "the most convenient place near Fontaine's old House." Again the petition was denied as being unreasonable. Thus was the question of locale settled for a time.

At the August, 1774, court, it was ordered that a new courthouse be built at the Apperson site, with four justices appointed to contract for same with the lowest bidder. Sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco was levied for the construction. The work was to be "finished and performed within such space of time as may be agreed on," and the gentlemen were to contract for the price, taking proper bond.

The new courthouse was to be "44 feet by 20 feet, with a room in the manner of a 'T' 20 feet square. In the ends of the first mentioned part to be two jury rooms of 12 by 20 feet each., four windows with 18 lights in each and folding doors in the front. A window of the same size in the side of each jury room, a window of the same size on each side of the room intended for the Justices' bench with two other windows of the same size at the back of the bench, and proper doors into each jury room; the said building to be 14 feet pitch, with good and sufficient sawed frame for a building of this size, the sides and ends to be planked with featheredge plank, cornished eaves and the roof covered with heart shingles and tar'd. and the body of the house painted.

"The said house to be underpin'd with brick and the inside coiled with plank, with a genteel and strong bench and Lawyers' Barr. The whole to be finished in as sufficient and workmanlike manner with such regulations and additions within as shall be deemed necessary by persons to be appointed to let the same."

Three months later, November, 1774, two of the four justices previously appointed were again instructed to let the building of the new courthouse. The contract was let to one George Watkins, who was in May, 1775, paid, through his assignee, John Echold, "93 pounds, 11 shillings and seven pence current money," in partial payment for the new courthouse.

Work progressed at a snail's pace, to say the least. In August of 1776 four justices were "appointed and ordered and desired to view the timbers prepared by George Watkins for the building of the new courthouse and report the progress he has made therein to the court. Nathaniel and William Terry reported the next month that they had examined the timbers and found most to have been already prepared.

In the meantime Southside citizens presented petitions to the General Assembly asking that the courthouse be moved, charging difficulty in crossing Banister River as their reason. Northern residents, arguing for their own convenience, and for the cost of moving materials already gathered across the river, filed counter-petitions. George Watkins himself filed a statement objecting to a change, saying he was in no way obligated to move his lumber across Banister. As an alternative he offered his own land, nearer the river but still north of it, and further offered to build a bridge across the river for the convenience of the Southerners.

Then came John Boram, who lived south of the river, offering his land, which he said was at almost the center of the county and had the advantages of a very high and healthy situation and a spring of excellent water. In addition, he offered to move the lumber of Mr. Watkins across the river at his own expense.

The General Assembly settled the matter once and for all by ordering the courthouse removed to the Boram plantation. In February, 1777, commissioners were appointed to let to the lowest bidder "the building of a new courthouse on the plantation of John Boram, to be 40 feet by 20, and in such manner and mode as they in their discretion may think proper and convenient."

The next month, George Watkins appeared at court and proposed that since the courthouse "formerly let to be built, and by him undertaken, is not to be built, but by Act of Assembly is to be removed to the house Of John Boram," he would "give up and surrender the timbers and materials, which he has got and prepared towards erecting the said house, to the use of the county upon his being reimbursed the value of the said timbers, materials, his trouble and expense in such preparation." He indicated he would take value as adjudged by two justices less the 93 pounds 11 shillings and seven pence already paid him.

The court,accepted the proposal and appointed two justices to adjust the account. Two months later justices were ordered to see to the removal of the timbers to the Boram land, while the sheriff was ordered to pay unto Caleb Townes the sum of 40 pounds "toward erecting the new courthouse."

Although Dr. William H. Gaines, Jr., writing on "The Courthouses of Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties" in the VIRGINIA CAVALCADE, says the courthouse was built sometime between May, 1777, and September, 1779, there is nothing in the court records to substantiate the theory. Indeed, an order in September, 1779, calling for repairs to the courthouse, along with similar orders in 1780, would seem to indicate that it was not built. Why would a new building have required frequent repairs so quickly?

It was ordered in September, 1784, that plans be drawn for building a new courthouse (still another clue that the courthouse just mentioned was not built) and prison. The plans were returned the following month, at which time commissioners were appointed "to let to the lowest bidder the building of a courthouse in the plan and mode here shown, also a prison In the same mode, as they may direct, each to be erected at the plantation of John Boram."

The Boram plantation, according to deeds, lay on both sides of Little Polecat Creek. This gave rise to the assumption that a courthouse was built at a site on what is present-day Polecat Greek, on the Chatham road. According to Julian Sizemore, Deputy Clerk of Court, a map in one of the survey books shows that what was then Little Polecat Creek is today's Toot's Creek. Thus the site of the Boram land was present- day Halifax.

John Boram sold 400 acres to Edmund King on January 31, 1785, for 800 pounds, "it being the land and manor plantation whereon the said John Boram formerly lived." It was from Edmund King and his wife Elizabeth that the county, on January 20, 1793, purchased, for the sum of four pounds, "two, acres, the same more or less, with all and singular the premises thereunto belonging ... with all the appurtenances for the use of Halifax County, being the land whereon the public county buildings do now stand."

Little is heard of the 1784 courthouse, either, if indeed it was built. Again, there is nothing to definitely indicate that it was built, and repairs again became frequent--June, 1787; December, 1789; January, 1790. In January, 1792, commissioners were appointed "to enlarge the capacity of the courthouse.." but the order was voided the next month.

The subject of the courthouse next arose in March, 1793, when commissioners were appointed to let "the building of a courthouse on the two acres of land laid off for the use of the county, and that the house be built agreeable to the form, pitch and size of Pittsylvania C. H., except that the courthouse for this county be built two feet wider." They were also to contract for the sale of the "present" courthouse, with 100 square feet of land, but retaining it for the use of the county until the new one was completed. This order, too, was "rescinded and quashed" the next month.

Even though the courthouse that was to be built like that in Pittsylvania definitely was not, the order itself backs up to a degree the theory that as yet a new courthouse had not been built on the Boram site. If one had previously been built, why would the order not have referred to the proposed one as a 'new' courthouse instead of 'a' courthouse? It is possible, and very probable, that ever since the court moved to the Boram land at the order of the General Assembly in 1777, it had been meeting in some make-shift structure, possibly even John Boram's house. (In the deed of sale to Edmund King it was spoken of as the land whereon he "formerly lived."

After the March, 1793, order was nullified in April, nothing further is heard of the courthouse until June, 1797, when repairs were ordered. Similar orders followed in January, 1798, November, 1798, and July, 1800. In October, 1800, the commissioners appointed for repairs in July were further ordered to contract for "the building of a piazza on the southeast side" of the courthouse. This order was withdrawn in February, 1801.

By this time, though, the courthouse situation must have been approaching the crisis stage, as in November, 1801, it was ordered that the sheriff "summon all the justices named in the commission of the peace for this county and now residents to attend at February court next to take into consideration the propriety of building a new courthouse."

If in the past the gentlemen justices were not given to haste in their actions, that was behind them. At February, 1802, court, it was ordered that James Bruce, William Terry, Berryman Green, Isaac H. Coles and William Thomas, or any three of them, "do let to the lowest bidder the building of a new courthouse for this county, 52 feet in length and 28 in width, the pitch of the body 14 feet, underpinned three feet above the surface of the earth with brick or stone.

"A partition wall at the southeastern end and subdivided so as to afford two jury rooms, with an angle chimney and fireplace in each of the said rooms. The inside to be ceiled with plank throughout, the outside to be painted, body of a buff and the roof of a Spanish brown color, and to be done in other respects as the said commissioners shall direct, taking bond . . ."

In September a bond was returned to court, drawn "between Thomas C. Stone and David Hunt and His Excellency James Monroe, Esquire, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, for the building of a courthouse for this county."

Just when Messrs. Stone and Hunt started on the new courthouse is not disclosed, but in February, 1803, a year after its construction was ordered, the sheriff was directed to pay Thomas Stone $500 in partial payment for work done. Commissioners were appointed in July to let to the lowest bidder "the railing in, and necessary steps to, the new courthouse."

Also in July, it was ordered that Thomas Stone be authorized to make alterations and additions in his contract for the courthouse to wit: "that the Justices' bench and bar be only circular two feet from the corner on each side, instead of semicircle; and that two 18-light windows be made, one on each side, about five feet from the northwestern end, and upon a level with the other windows, and sufficient pillars of brick or stone, under the girders and summers, for the support of the floor. And to cover the cappings of the chimneys, and around the same, where it joins the roof of the house, in such manner as may be necessary for its security. To which this Court pledges itself to make him an adequate compensation."

The new courthouse apparently was nearing or had been completed by August, 1803, as in that month it was ordered "that the same commissioners who let the building of the new courthouse for this county be authorized to view the same if done agreeable to contract and to draw upon the sheriff in favor of the undertaker the surplus remaining due him, if received by them."

The next month commissioners were appointed to advertise and sell to the highest bidder the old courthouse on terms they considered "discretionary." In February, 1804, they returned to court to report on the sale, saying that "after having previously advertised the time and place" the 'building was sold to John Foulks for 15 pounds two shillings, "on credit until the first day of September next." Mr. Foulks was one of the commissioners appointed to sell the structure. The sale was cried by Robert Milner.

The court in November, 1803, authorized commissioners to contract for and purchases at some convenient situation near the courthouse an acre of land for the purpose of building thereon a clerk's office ... for the use of the said clerk and his successors." They were to let the contract to the lowest bidder and use their own discretion as to its "size and form" so long as it was composed "of such materials as the law require."

Also in November, the sheriff was authorized to pay Thomas Stone $40 for the alterations and additions to the new courthouse that were ordered in July.

As had happened when the court was established at Peytonsburg, a town began to grow up around the Boram site. In 1818 the town of Banister was established at the courthouse. It grew rapidly, and by 1835 its population was about 250, making it nearly as large, people-wise, as the rest of the towns and villages in the county together. Joseph Martin, in A NEW AND COMPREHENSIVE GAZETTEER OF VIRGINIA AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, published in 1835, described Banister:

"Post Village and seat of justice of Halifax County, situated on the south side of Banister River, 130 miles s.w. by w. of Richmond ... and about 10 miles below the head of navigation. Besides the usual county buildings it contains 25 dwelling houses, with a number of out houses, mechanics' shops etc, two spacious houses of public worship, one Episcopalian and the other Methodist, a large and handsome Masonic Hall, which has lately been erected of brick in an elevated and advantageous situation about the middle of the village, several handsome and commodious taverns, three general stores, and one grocery. The mechanics are a saddler, coach maker, two wheelwrights, three blacksmiths, two tailors,, one cabinetmaker, and two boot and shoe manufacturers. There are in the vicinity two extensive flour manufacturing mills, two saw mills, and two cotton gins.

"The face of the country on each side of the village is very much broken, which causes it to be very long and narrow and the houses to be built in a scattering manner, except immediately around the courthouse, where all the stores and mechanics' shops are located. The village is remarkable for its health, being well elevated by a gradual ascent of three quarters of a mile from the river. It is situated on the main road from Fredericksburg to the south. Seven stages pass through weekly, and eleven mails are received at the post office. There is a race course in the neighborhood, over which races are run once a year. Population about 250 persons, of whom three are attorneys and three physicians.

"County courts are held on the 4th. Monday in every month, quarterly in March, June, August and November. Judge Leigh holds his circuit superior court of law and chancery on the 1st. of April and September."

Referring to the town as the "capital of Halifax County," Richard Edwards in his 1855 STATISTICAL GAZETTEER OF THE STATE OF VIRGINIA, said this:

"Banister, or Halifax Court-House, a flourishing post-village on Banister River... The situation is elevated and pleasant. Banister has a very active mercantile business, in which a capital of $200,000 is invested. It is the terminus of three lines of stages. The Banister River is navigable for batteaus from its mouth to Meadeville, about ten miles above the courthouse. A. rich mine of plumbago has recently been opened six miles from this place. Population in 1853, about 1600".

The name of Banister was changed In 1800 to Houston, in ,honor of William C. Houston, Jr. , of Philadelphia, president of the Lynchburg and Durham Railroad recently run through. It caused some unknown person to observe that "there is little in a name, but there is less in some than in others." In l907 the town boasted an electric plant, two banks, a brickyard of good capacity, a flour mill, two corn mills, two hotels, two hardware stores, two drug stores, three dry goods stores, and four groceries; six churches and a high school. Population was put at 800.

The name of Houston was never a popular one, and after the first world war it was changed to Halifax. There are those today who would like to see it changed once more to Halifax Court House.

The new courthouse, completed in late 1803, served Halifax County for a period of 35 years. Because it was of frame construction, repairs were often necessary., and the order books for the period contain many such references. A sampling includes the following:

March, 1806: "to put steps of hew'd logs at the door," for which Adam Toot was paid $10; February, 1807: to let the rebuilding of a chimney; May, 1810: to let a railing in the courthouse, the rebuilding of the pillory and stocks, and "the enclosing and improving of the courthouse spring."

November, 1811: Samuel Williams was paid $20.57 for repairs, including putting locks on doors and lights in windows; August, 1814: repairs to the steps leading over the railing around the yard, to the courthouse spring, and the building of a clerk's table; March, 1819: the building of new steps to the courthouse doors; May, 1821: repairs to the courthouse and the rebuilding of a chimney.

In June, 1831, several commissioners were appointed to view the courthouse and report to the next court the alterations deemed "necessary and proper." The acting justices were ordered to appear at the same time "to consider the expediency and propriety" of letting the alterations that might be found necessary. Their report was slow in coming, apparently, as repairs were not let until February, 1833, and were not completed before May, 1834, at the earliest.

1835 found the courthouse getting in bad repair. In October the sheriff was ordered "to summon all acting justices to attend the next court to take into consideration the subject of building a new courthouse ... or of making such repairs to the present one as may seem necessary." Repairs to or the rebuilding of one of the chimneys was ordered in November, but the work was not finished before the next October.

The acting justices were again summoned to court in February and March, 1837, to consider the construction of a new courthouse, but instead repairs mere ordered. Glass was to be put in some windows, the steps repaired, the arch of the western fireplace repaired and a new hearth built in the eastern jury room, along with other minor work..

The new year, 1838, began with a statement as to the poor condition of the courthouse and a call for the justices to meet in February to again consider the propriety of erecting a new one. "The justices of the county being summoned for that purpose and the court having taken the vote, determined to build a new courthouse for this county by the following vote: Charles T. Harris, William Bailey, Charles A. Ballow, John B. Carrington, John H. Wimbish,, John S. Lewellen, Elisha Barksdale, Br., John Cobbs, Giles H. Vaden, Elisha Barksdale, Jr., and James Medley voting for; John Sims, Thomas D. Spragins, Thomas G. Coleman, John B. McPhail, William S. Owen and Charles B. Coleman against the same.

"Whereupon it to ordered that Thomas J. Green, John H. Wimbish., Isaac Medley, Sr., William T. Ballow, Thompson Baker, Charles T. Harris and William Holt, or any five or more of them do prepare a plan for a new courthouse and let the building of the same according to such plan and make report thereof to the court for their approval or rejection." .

The matter was again voted on in April, and again it was passed. The commissioners previously appointed presented their plans and report to the court. "It appearing to this court from the said report that Dabney Cosby, Sr., hath undertaken the building of said new courthouse according to the said plan at the price of $6657, the court doth ratify and approve the said contract, and it is ordered that upon the said Dabney Cosby entering into bond with ample security payable to the Governor for the time being and his successors in the penalty of $13,314, conditioned for the due and faithful execution of the work according to the specifications therein contained;

"That the said contract shall be binding upon the county, and thereupon the said Dabney Cosby, with Dabney Cosby, junr.., William Bailey and John S. Lewellen his securities, entered into and acknowledged a bond according to the said order.

"And it is ordered that the same commissioners who let the said building or any five or more of them do select the most suitable site on the public square upon which the said building is to be erected. And it is further ordered that the same commissioners be empowered and required to superintend the said building and see that the specifications in the contract are complied with."

Thus was the new courthouse born, so to speak. The man to whom the contract was awarded, Dabney Cosby, had previously built at least two other Virginia courthouses, those being in Sussex (1825) and Goochland (1826) Counties. The same year that he undertook the Halifax courthouse, a Presbyterian church, called Spring Hill, was built at Black Walnut (Cluster Springs). The brickwork was done by a Mr. Cosby of Prince Edward County, but whether it was Dabney cannot be said. After building the courthouse, Dabney Cosby remained in Halifax the remainder of his life, building some of the county's finest homes. He lies buried in the Episcopal cemetery, almost within sight of the courthouse.

The new courthouse was apparently nearing completion in June, 1839, when commissioners were appointed to sell the old one, "upon credit of twelve months." The ones who let the building of the new structure were instructed "to contract with the builder to ceil the courtroom with plank instead of plastering if they shall think it proper to do so." They were further ordered to contract for plastering the upper room from the casing up the windows of that room "in a plain manner."

September found the commissioners who had been appointed to view the new courthouse reporting that the work had been completed according to contract, and the court accepting the report. The sheriff was ordered to pay Dabney Cosby"the amount still due him for the construction, $20 to John McDeaman for two dozen chairs and $130 to Dabbs, McDeaman & Company for extra work done on the new building.

The Cosby courthouse still is in use today. Though there may possibly have been some, back in 1838, who thought the building too large or the cost too high, it was as fine a building as could be built at that time, and it has served our county well.

During its first 65 years repairs were minor and rare, consisting mostly of work to shutters, gutters and roof. It was not until 1904 that it was necessary to enlarge the building. At that time a large fireproof vault was built at the back of the "tee", the courtroom moved upstairs to its present location and the clerk's office moved inside from its quarters in the yard.

The remodeling was done by the South Boston Lumber Company after plans drawn by the B. F. Smith Fireproof Construction Company, at a cost of $6500. The contract called for "building a new addition to the courthouse of Halifax County and for remodeling the present courthouse and furnishing the same and the clerk's office included therein, and for removing the present clerk's office from the courthouse square."

All furniture and materials were to be supplied by the company, were to be of "first class and good quality", and all work to be done in "a first class and workmanlike manner ... the woodwork on the old part of the courthouse building, where not renewed, shall have two coats of pure white lead and boiled linseed oil with Japan dryer instead of one coat as called for in the specifications . . . that wherever the mantels, doors, door frames and facings, windows, window sills, frames and facings, have been cut, mutilated or injured in any way, that the same shall be replaced, renewed and placed in good and perfect condition throughout the entire building."

Although the contract called for all work to be completed and ready to be turned over to the Board of Supervisors by January 1, 1905, this was not done until April. At that time the builders were paid $700 for additional work.

Two years later Dr. Morrison described the courthouse in his county handbook: "The county and circuit courthouse at Houston is a fine old building in the classic style. It stands in a square about which are ranged, after the accepted fashion of other days, county officers' and lawyers' sanctums. The courthouse is equipped with one of the safest and most commodious records depositories to be found in Virginia. It is a matter to be devoutly thankful for that when county records are going up in flames elsewhere these valuable documents, containing data since the establishment of the county 154 years ago, are placed beyond the reach of the vandal fire."

Following the renovation of 1904-05, the courthouse again served the county for a long period--nearly six decades. By the mid-1950's, the quarters were nearly outgrown, and in l957 Commonwealth's Attorney Frank L. McKinney called to the attention of the Board of Supervisors the "pressing need" of the additions which had been proposed.

Plans were authorized, and in October, 1959, were approved. In three stages., the plans called for a new jail, which was built first, then additions to and renovation of the courthouse, and finally additional county office space. Bids for the courthouse additions were advertised in 1962, and the completed work dedicated on Friday, May 1, 1964, in an impressive ceremony in the courtroom.

With this work completed the county has one of the best equipped courthouses in Virginia or the nation. It has served us well since its construction in 1838 and gives promise of doing so for many, many years to come.

No history of the courthouses and their many locations would be complete without mention of Green's Folly. Court is supposed to have been held here; in fact, tradition would have it that Captain Berryman Green built his home, with its great hall, with this purpose in mind. There are, however, no direct references to the house in the court records, only very vague, enigmatic ones to "the courthouse."

According to Mrs. Wirt J. Carrington in her HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY, court was held at Green's Folly (Oakland) about 1775. The former clerk of court, E. C. Lacy, agreed with her, but went further to say that court met there at various times between 1781 and 1800. Dr. Morrison did not credit this as a site for the court in his handbook, nor does Dr. N. H. Wooding In his article.

Mrs. Ovid Webb Moore says that court was held at Green's Folly during a period of about a year sometime between 1830 and 1832. This would have been after the death of Berryman Green. During this time repairs were being sought for the courthouse in Halifax, so possibly the court met here until they could be made.


Courthouse square may have began to take on something approaching its present situation in 1838, when in June, Joseph C. Terry was appointed "to make a survey of the public lot upon which the courthouse and other public buildings stand, by the original title papers for the same, and that he cause stones to be placed at each corner, to be numbered, and that he make a report to the next Court stating therein what part thereof, if any, is in the occupancy of other persons."

The railing around the square was an almost constant source of irritation to the court. Frequent repairs had to be made to it and to the steps across it prior to 1840, when a new fence was ordered. It too, soon began to require repairs, and in 1861 James Traver (best recalled as the man who built South Boston's covered bridge across the Dan) built a new one at a cost of $280. This one, too, gave out, only to be replaced by R. H.Owen, in 1883, for $75.

In 1910 the Banister Brick Company contracted to build a concrete block wall around the square, at a cost of $1.35 per running foot. The contract was let in August of 1912, but only for a fence "on two sides of courthouse square", to be three feet high and ten inches thick. (Why the court called a wall a fence is not known.) This wall stood until about 1966, when it was replaced with a brick one thought to be more in keeping with the architecture of the courthouse itself.

Since the building of the present courthouse in 1838, considerable attention has been paid to the square itself. Commissioners were appointed In May, 1840, to contract with Richard Edmondson "for a small slip of land lying in front of the courthouse between the public square and the land upon which a tailor shop occupied by Gilliland now stands." In August, 1841, the keeper of the courthouse was ordered to cause the pigeons roosting in the trees and on the courthouse, and doing injury to the building, to be destroyed, "unless their owner shall prevent them from annoying and injuring the courthouse." Two years later new trees were being planted and old ones that might be unsafe cut down.

In 1845 commissioners were ordered to contract for the digging of a new well "within the courthouse enclosure" and to afix a pump chain, at a coat not to exceed $200. Lightning rods were placed on the courthouse, jail and clerk's office in 1852, with from one to three being ordered for the courthouse. Enoch Taylor was hired in 1853 to do stonework on the square.

The well was repaired in 1867, while a well-house was built in 1869. In 1873 the superintendent of the courthouse was ordered "to prevent stock and people from trespassing on the courthouse green, under penalty of the law." The following two decades saw curbing laid and holes filled in with dirt, 30 benches placed about the green, and a public horse trough built. A hitching post was erected, and soon there came an order to prevent "horse traders" from tying their horses to the public racks.

In May of 1916 it was reported that Senator Claude A. Swanson had promised "to get some cannons" for the adornment of the square, provided the county pay freight. The clerk was instructed to write and thank the Senator for this gesture, but the cannons apparently never came. In 1932 the Halifax Woman's Club was granted permission to plant an evergreen tree on the square, in commemoration of the 200th. anniversary of the birth of George Washington, the tree to be used as a community Christmas tree.

1941 saw the laying of a concrete walk from the front of the courthouse to the county office building, replacing one of flagstone which was sold. The ladies of Halifax were the next year granted permission to beautify the green by planting flowers and shrubs in any way they thought proper.

The first Confederate monument was erected by the Halifax Camp, United Confederate Veterans, and was unveiled on April 17, 1911. There was some discussion in 1909 between the Halifax Camp and the Henry Edmunds Camp as to where the monument should be located. The former wanted it in South Boston; the latter on the courthouse square. The Board of Supervisors decided it should be on the square, and selected the northeast corner, near the treasurers office, as the site.

When the statue arrived it turned out to be of a Union soldier, and this sent the community into an uproar. A committee of members of the Halifax Camp, U. C. V., and of local citizens appeared before the Board to question whether or not, since there was a great deal of feeling against the figure, the statue ought to be erected. The Confederate Monument Committee was thanked by the Board for their work and told that the current criticism was no reflection on them, but suggested that a new statue ought be selected.

Because of the cost involved in sending the Yankee back up north, the statue was disposed of locally (it has been for many year a familiar fairgrounds landmark) and a new one ordered. This one was placed atop the high pedestal and dedicated in 1911. In the 1920's a high wind blew a tree over, which knocked the statue off and broke it. This one was discarded (the late Heber Shapard bought it) and a third one ordered. It was not erected until about 1935, and not before the high pedestal was shortened to its present height.


After the courthouse itself, the most noticeable buildings on the square are the two neat rows of lawyers' offices. The first mention of buildings on the square other than county buildings was in 1869, when the court refused to permit H. H. Hunt to build a store on the green. At that same April court a survey of the square was ordered to see if any public buildings were not on public land.

In August of '69 Wood Bouldin, Jr. and John W. Riley were granted permission to build a brick office near the northwest corner. The next year W. E. Howerton was likewise permitted to build a brick office "on the public grounds." N. T. Green built his office, in 1875, to the right of the office of Riley and Logan, on the corner above the courthouse. An order to permit H. W. Flournoy to erect an office on the front of courthouse square was voided in May, 1878. Instead, he and R. W. Watkins were granted permission to build "a one-story frame building with two rooms, to be used by them as law offices; to be erected between the Clerk's Office and the county jail, to front on a line with the rear of the main building of the said Clerk's Office; to be covered with tin or iron and the roof to be painted with fireproof paint and not to front more than 30 feet. It is further ordered that the said building be at least 22 feet from the said Clerk's Office."

In 1879, E. W. Armistead was permitted to build a one-story, 14 x 16 foot frame office adjacent to the office of W. P. Howerton, on the west side and fronting a parallel with it, again with iron or tin, fireproof-painted roof. The next year Mr. Armistead was granted permission to build instead on a lot next to N. T. and A. R. Green, "so as to front on the street." W. P. Howerton was allowed to build an office on the southern side of the square near the office of S. C. Perrow and on a line with it, to be held by him "as other law offices are held by other attorneys, subject hereafter to restrictions as may be placed on all of them."

When James S. Easley died in 1879 his real estate holdings, appraised in 1880, included, "two brick buildings on the public square, with no land attached," their value put at $1000. In 1883 Major. H. A. Edmondson was notified "to remove at once" a building on the square that he had purchased. Five years later Benjamin Watkins Leigh was permitted to build an office on the front of the square "between the front stiles and the treasurer's office or on the west side of Riley and Leigh's office, "on the same conditions that the other offices were built."

Watkins and Watkins and James H. Guthrie, whose offices on courthouse square were destroyed by fire March 2, 1901, petitioned the county that same month to be permitted to rebuild. They were allowed to do so "north of the clerk's office and west of the courthouse within not less than 60 feet of either of the said buildings ... to be only one story high, the outer walls of brick and the roof to be of tin, iron or slate, not to exceed 16 by 24 feet in size." The order was later changed to permit the Messrs. Watkins and Mr. Guthrie to build "above the site of the old kail, west of and on a line with the office of B. W. Leigh."

In April of 1910 the Board, having recently ordered that E. G. Dorsey remove his frame store-house from the public square, resolved to have the owners of all frame buildings on the square remove them within 30 days. At the same time it was decided to erect a brick building for the county treasurer, consisting of two rooms and a hall; and a water closet "for the use and conveniences' of the county officers and the public. "Private citizens desiring to use same are permitted to use a part of the water closet on payment of their proportionate part of the cost of erecting and installing same."

Before 1910 the county purchased from N. T. Green, R. W. Watkins and William Leigh, trustee, for $400, the office on the square formerly occupied by N. T. and A. R. Green. A frame buildings at the northeast corner, it was purchased for use by the county. In 1910, for $375, the county purchased from B. W. Leigh, with the stipulation that no ground rent be charged against the east room, the west room of his brick office, for use by the county. On June 27 of that year it was being occupied by the county treasurer.

In 1910 the Banister Brick Company built a water closet and office for the use of the judge at the rear of the courthouse, at a cost of $660. The next year Mr. Leigh was ordered to remove his coal house from the square, while C. C. Barksdale was told to remove the frame office building belonging to the W. P. Barksdale estate. Little else is heard of these offices and other buildings after l910. One of the last mentions came in May, 1937, when it was agreed to build a new office building "similar to the one now occupied by Mr. B. W. Leigh and William Leigh, Jr." The contract was let the next month.


The courthouse itself has on occasions, mostly in the last century, been used for purposes other than county business. One of the first times this is mentioned was in January, 1814, when Littleberry Royster, postmaster, was granted permission "to keep the post-office in one of the jury rooms of this courthouse except at quarterly courts until the further-order of this court." This of course was not in the present building, but in its predecessor.

The first non-court use of the new courthouse mentioned came in December, 1848, when the Olive Branch Lodge #53 was authorized to use "the large room over the courthouse room" as a lodge room. The ladies of Antrim Parish were granted permission to hold a bake sale in the same room on July 4, 1849. The Order of the Sons of Temperance used the room for meetings beginning in June, 1849.

The professional services took over in August of '49 when Dr. Pleasants was told he could use "the left half of the upper jury room" to practise dentistry "during the pleasure of the court." Not to discriminate, Dr. Randolph used the right half for the same purpose. Thomas J. Greens Jr., used the upper south jury room as an operating theatre in 1854, and W. W. Breedlove, sheriff, had his office in the upper north jury room.

The ladies of the Presbyterian church held a fair in the "upper big room" July 4, 1853, while the "young men of Halifax Court House" held a dance there in June of 1860. The sheriff still was in the upstairs jury room in 1866. The Messrs. Gilliland were allowed to have a concert in the upper room May 25, 1869, to be followed by a meeting of the Friends of Temperance (old group, new name?) in November.


Anyone visiting modern-day Halifax is almost immediately aware of the courthouse, standing so stately in the green of courthouse square. One of the loveliest in all Virginia, it is a classic example of the style of building made popular by Thomas Jefferson and widely known as "Jeffersonian Revival." Surrounded as it is by the other county buildings and the two rows of lawyers' offices, it is a fitting focal point for what has been called "the prettiest village in all Virginia."

Unfortunately, though, our courthouse is a building that too many take for granted. How sad it is that there are probably thousands who have never put foot within its walls except to buy auto tags or get a marriage license. And of those, how many have taken the time to pause in the hall and read the bronze plaque erected to commemorate the last renovation or to study the Barksdale canvas of the Battle of Staunton River Bridge? Very few, in all probability.

Our courthouse, aside from being one of the most beautiful in Virginia, is also one of the most modern in the state. The courtroom, with its panelled walls, polished benches and rich oil portraits, is a quiet, serious place, well suited to its purpose. The clerk's office and the adjacent vaults are modern, well-lit rooms. Within the vaults one will find a priceless collection of county records, dating back to 1752. A paradise for genealogists and local historians, these records are among the most complete in Virginia, never having been subjected to war and fire as have those in other counties. They are kept in modern steel storage racks that are a far cry from the day in October, 1800, when the clerk of court was authorized "to contract with some person to build a press for the use of the county for the safekeeping of the records and papers of the court."

Those who do visit the courthouse, for whatever purpose, be it county business or family research, find themselves in the capable hands of our genial clerk, Mr. H. Mason Sizemore. He and his staff, Mr. Julian Sizemore, Mrs. Claire Walton, Mrs. Ann Royster and Mrs. Mary Layne, can and will do everything possible to be of assistance. No county could be fortunate to have finer people than these working for it.

It is hoped that those who have read this brief history of the courthouses of Halifax County, and who have not previously done so, will visit the courthouse, admire it, get to know it, try to sense something of the more than 200 years of history it represents. Let this article serve only as an introduction, not as a substitute for a visit. After all, the courthouse belongs to each and every citizen of this county, not just to the judges and lawyers who happen to use it most frequently.

Records of the Clerk's Office, Halifax County Courthouse, Halifax, Virginia.

Records of the Clerk's Office, Pittsylvania County Courthouse, Chatham, Virginia.

BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF THE COUNTY LINE BAPTIST CHURCH, 1771- 1971, by Dr. Aubrey M. Keesee and the Rev. Wesley T. Garner.

THE COURTHOUSE IN VIRGINIA COUNTIES, 1634-1776, by Mrs. Evelyn T. Adams.




HALIFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA, HANDBOOK, edited by Dr. Alfred J. Morrison.










THE OLD FREE STATE, by Dr. Landon C. Belle

VIRGINIA CAVALCADE: 17/4, Spring, 1968; 19/2,Autumn, 1969; 20/4, Spring, 1971.



Notes on Spring Hill Presbyterian Church compiled by the late Mrs. Sue Markey Caldwell and lent by Mr. William B. Caldwell.

Notes prepared by the late Hon. E. C. Lacy, clerk of court.


The pictures of the courthouse were lent by Mr. H. Mason Sizemore; he also provided the several plats. The picture of George Montagu Dunk, Second Earl of Halifax., is used through the courtesy of His Grace, Charles Ingram Courtenay Wood, the Earl of Halifax.

To Mr. Mason Sizemore and the others in the Clerk's Office I express my sincere gratitude for all the assistance they have given me on all my visits to the courthouse. They are a fine group of folks.

Kenneth E. Cook
August 21, 1972

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