Two weeks after the legislature established the county it authorized
the initial inferior court to select a county seat and provide for
construction of a courthouse (Ga. Laws 1822, p. 23). The home of Imlay Vansciver was to serve as a
location for courts and elections until the courthouse could be built. legislature
designated Knoxville as county seat a year later. Inferior Court minutes of
May 1830, refer to records “destroyed by fire when the courthouse was burned.”
One historian has dated the fire to February of that year. Whether a courthouse
had been built or the Vansciver home burned is unclear. Since marriage
records survived, they may have been stored elsewhere.
In August, 1830, the county treasurer was ordered to pay Henry Crew $200, but
there is not indication of why. The county grand jury meeting in September objected
to the payment, “which was paid without any order of court.” Henry Crew was builder
of the 1830-1831 courthouse. Had he built an earlier courthouse or did the objection
refer to construction already begun on a second? The grand jury presented “as
public grievance the letting and building of the Court House in the county aforesaid
as it does not appear of record . . . of public notice given. We therefore protest
against an order prepared in favor of Henry Crew for the building of said Court
Superior Court minutes of Sept. 2, 1830 record the grand jury’s presentment
finding the tax collector’s records correct except for the payment of
$200 to Henry Crew “which was paid without any order of court. We . .
. find a balance of $137.33¾ .
. .(We) recommend the Inferior Court of this county appoint a committee
to examine the actings and doings of all former treasurers. . . We present
as public grievance the letting and building of the Court House in the
county aforesaid as it does not appear of record . . . of public notice
given. We therefore protest against an order prepared in favor of Henry
Crew for the building of said Court House.”
In January 1831, the treasurer was ordered to pay Crew $300. In April,
E. W. Dennis was to be paid $301 “provided the courthouse is finished by the
first day of July next; that is to say finish the floor above and below, run
two stair cases and banisters to same, make three partitions above with panel
doors and furnish locks for same, make a circular table, make seats, in the jury
rooms, make two jury boxes and rough cast the underpinning, all to be done in
a workmanlike manner. This order payable when the above mentioned
work is received by the Inferior Court .”
Over the years, repairs and remodeling have included changes in the exterior
finish and construction of a small addition in the late 1960s. For many years
Crawford was the only county in Georgia in which an unincorporated community
served as county seat. The courthouse was used until August, 2002, one of the
oldest still in use in the country.
In the minutes of the inferior court dated May 30, 1830, the clerk was
ordered to copy in "substance" instances of the court prior to February 1830,
and that it be established record in lieu of the lost originals. All
of the records were lost when the courthouse was destroyed by fire in
February of 1830.
Since no records were found of the minutes of meetings of the inferior court
from May, 1830 to April 27, 1831, the details of planning the courthouse or the
manner of letting the contract is unknown.
April 27, 1831 - it was ordered that the county treasurer pay E.W. Dennis
$301.00 out of any monies in hand not otherwise appropriated, provided
the courthouse is finished by the first day of the next July (finish
the floor above and below, run two stair cases and banisters of the same
make through partitions above with panel doors, furnish locks for same,
a circular table, seats in the jury room, two jury boxes, and roughcast
the underpinning). This order payable when
the above mentioned work is received by the inferior court. On
the same date, a Henry Crews received $999.00 from the inferior court
in full payment for the courthouse so far as it is finished.
July 18, 1831 - when the court met in Chambers, it ordered that the county
treasurer pay Henry Crews $50.00 for extra work done on the courthouse. The money
to be paid out of monies not otherwise appropriated. It was also
ordered that the courthouse be received so far as the same is completed
and that William McGee, tax collector, be authorized to pay Henry Crews
$301.00 in full payment for completion of said courthouse agreeable to
an order paid heretofore.
January 25, 1832 - the inferior court ordered that Joseph Bemille of Macon to
be paid by the county treasurer the sum of $270.00 for plastering the lower rooms
of the courthouse.