Second Morgan County Courthouse (1830-1868), The
Image Courtesy of Elaine Shemoney Evans
The marker is located in the southwest corner of the Downtown Plaza in Jacksonville.
The Morgan County Historical Society, The City of Jacksonville, The County of Morgan, and The Illinois State Historical Society. In Memory of Former Jacksonville Mayor Ron Tendick.
Jacksonville’s first courthouse on the square was a primitive structure built in 1826 that burned down on December 6, 1827, the second Morgan County courthouse played a significant role and was located on the southwest corner of the town square. This building was the center for judicial and political activities in Morgan County from 1830 to 1868.
On May 12, 1868, at the laying of the cornerstone of the new Morgan county courthouse, then-prominent Jacksonville attorney Murray McConnel addressed the details of the second courthouse. This two-story building was approximately 50 feet by 40 feet and was the first brick structure of this size in Morgan County. William Cullen Bryant, a writer from the east, described it as the “the ugliest of possible brick courthouse with a spire and weathercock on its top.”
McConnel stated that “some of the great men of the nation made their first debut” in this courthouse. James A. McDougall was an early lawyer who served as Illinois Attorney General and later a U. S. Senator. Others were Governors Joseph Duncan, John Reynolds, and Thomas Ford; Judges Samuel D. Lockwood, William Thomas, William Brown, Jesse B. Thomas, Jr., David M. Woodson, and Charles Hodges. Many well-known attorneys tried cases in this courthouse including McConnel, James Berdan, Waller Jones, David A. Smith, Josiah Lamborn, Richard Yates, A. H. Buckner and John H. Hardin. Two of the great politicians in Illinois and the nation, Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, were also associated with this courthouse.
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