History of the First Courthouse in Gallatin

Goodpeeds Histories of Sumner, Smith,
Macon, Trousdale, Counties of TN

Published 1887

By an act of the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, passed October 26, 1799 Sumner County was reduced to its constitutional limit, 624 square miles. And by subsequent acts creating new counties, it has since been reduced to its present limits. The General Assembly of the State, by an act passed November 6, 1801, appointed Samuel DONELSON, Shadrick NYE, James WISLON, Charles DONOHO and Maj. Thomas MURRAY commissioners to purchase forty acres of land and lay out a town for the seat of justice to be called Gallatin, to superintend the sale of lots, the erection of public buildings etc. The act also provided that all general elections and musters should be held at the house of Capt James TROUSDALE until the courthouse should be erected and accepted, a then at said courthouse. Accordingly the aforesaid commissioners on the 25th of February, 1802, purchased of James TROUSDALE, for $490 the original site of the town of Gallatin containing forty-two and a half acres in the public square. The town was surveyed and platted, and the sale of lots made in the spring of 1802. Andrew JACKSON, John C HAMILTON, James CAGE, Wm MONTGOMERY, David SHELBY, Robert TROUSDALE, Wm SAMPLE, Peter LOONEY, John BRIGANCE and G. D. BLACKMORE were among the purchasers of lots.
The first courthouse in Gallatin was finished to the acceptance of the commissioners in 1803. The court-room occupied the whole of the first story, and the county offices the second. This building stood until about 1837, when it was taken down and the present one erected in its stead. The latter, which is a commodious two-story brick structure, was repaired and remodeled in 1867. It contains the county court-room and four offices on the second floor, and the circuit the chancery court room and four offices on the second floor. The first jail, built about the same time the courthouse was erected stood about 100 yards north of the female academy, and between Main and Franklin Streets. It has dungeons underneath where some prisoners were incarcerated in total darkness. In an early day Mr. John TOMKINS was the keeper of this jail. It stood until some time in the forties, when it was abandoned, and a second one was built near where the present workhouse stands. This latter jail was abandoned in 1867, when the present one was built near the public square. All the public buildings in Gallatin thus far described were made of brick.

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