Courthouse photo published Oct. 10, 1895, in the Carthage Press.

From the 3rd floor
of the Webb City Public Library

Old News

The Carthage Courthouse was built for $100,000 in 1895

Webb City Area Genealogical Society

April 3, 2024

With the 100 mph straight-line winds that damaged the tops of buildings on the square in Carthage on Monday, we were reminded of how lucky the citizens of Jasper County are to still have our beautiful courthouse located on the square. 

Jasper County’s first courthouse was a one-story building built in 1842 on the north side of the Carthage square. By 1854 this structure was replaced by a two-story brick building that was used until it was destroyed in 1863 during the Civil War.  For the next 30 years, the court was moved to various locations while the county recovered from the devastating effects of the war. 

Finally, in 1891, officials tried to begin the project of building two courthouses. One, a joint Carthage-Jasper County project costing $100,000, and the other, a special $20,000 one at Joplin for holding Circuit Court. This didn’t happen because Webb City residents challenged the election based on a technicality in the voting procedure. The disagreement ended in the Supreme Court, which decided the issue be resubmitted to the people. In May 1893, the tax funding for the building received an affirmative vote.

The $100,000 costs were shared equally by the city of Carthage and Jasper County, with the city being granted the use of not less than four rooms. M. A. Orlopp was selected as the architect, and the building would be constructed of native Carthage stone in the Richardsonian Romanesque design. The cornerstone was laid on Aug. 21, 1894, and the building was dedicated on Oct. 9, 1895.

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people attended the dedication, most traveling on street cars from Webb City, Carterville and Joplin. A parade around the square was held at 2 p.m., including Grand Marshall J. W. Halliburton, the Twin Cities band, school children and their teachers, numerous floats, citizens in their carriages and many other participants.  After the parade there was band music at each of the four entrances to the courthouse.  Mayor E. D. Porter of Joplin presided over the festivities at the north entrance, Mayor J. J. Funk of Webb City was at the west entrance, Mayor W. A. Dumbauld of Carterville was at the east entrance, Mayor Jacobs of Carthage presided over the south entrance in the place of the Sarcoxie mayor who could not attend.

Clipping from The Carthage Press, October 10, 1895.

On an interesting sidenote, Annie White Baxter was elected as county clerk at the time the courthouse was approved. She was the first woman to be elected as a county clerk in the United States.  She had a significant influence in planning the new courthouse as a member of the county government.

Webb City Area Genealogical Society

WCAGS members staff the Genealogy Room on the third floor of the Webb City Public Library. Current hours are noon to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month in the Genealogy Room.

Everything you want to know about Jasper County Missouri Schools is available at a site compiled by Webb City Area Genealogical Society member Kathy Sidenstricker.