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January 29, 2010 / dcwisdom

Ok, class, today…

My little corner of the world is in Cass County.  There’s an old saying, apropos to anyone in any county or parish, “You can take the girl out of Cass County, but you can’t take Cass County out of the girl.”
Beg pardon, but I was neither born nor reared in Cass County.  However, my ancestors have a long history here in northeast Texas and southwest Arkansas.
Travelling through Linden the other day, I noticed that the court house is getting its l-o-n-g, overdue facelift.  This court house is the “Oldest Working Court House in Texas.”  Very historical.

In 1846, just after Texas won its independence from Mexico on December 29, 1845, by an act of the new state legislature, Cass County was declared an independent county.  The county had been included in with the current Bowie and Morris Counties (Morris being in Arkansas) making one big county.  Court was held in Jefferson and was moved in 1854 to Linden.
In 1848, E.W. Story donated 50 acres on which to build a new county court house.   That first two-story building was constructed of hand-sawn lumber with the logs transported to the saw mill by oxen.   The first court in that building was held in 1852, but the building was sold shortly thereafter to the Baptist church.
The county quickly contracted with T.J. Foster Sr. in May 1858 to construct the current brick building which was completed in May 1859.   The Civil War activity stopped just three counties away.
Two wings were added to the east and west sides around 1917.
Building used since 1859
On August 19, 1934, fire destroyed the top story.  It was quickly rebuilt to house jailbirds.
Being the “oldest working court house” means it’s the oldest court house in the whole BIG state of Texas still being used as a court house.
Initiation of the restoration project began about 10 years ago.  Texas Historical Commission is working to restore many of our state’s buildings.  I realize that this is a “young” building compared to those in the New England states and elsewhere, but we are proud nonetheless.
To appreciate what we have, we have to appreciate our history.
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