The central portion of the present courthouse at Sullivan has stood for over half a century. It was built immediately after the fire of February 7, 1850. It was the seat of government during the war, and was the arsenal from which the first militia company was supplied with muskets. To an old resident, many memories cling about the old brick courthouse. The building is about as old as the recorded official history of the county, since no record remains of the transactions of the county officers before the fire.


The county commissioners (Joseph W. Wolfe, Jesse Haddon, Levi Maxwell) took action on March 15, 1850, toward the erection of a new seat of government. In the meanwhile the clerk's office was in a store building, and circuit and other courts were convened in the Methodist church building. In April an appropriation of $2,500 was made to begin work. It was October before the lumber and brick were delivered on the square, and the county contracted with James F. Pound and William Reed to erect the structure for $7,853. The ground dimensions were 40 by 60 feet. When it was completed on January 1, 1852, the courthouse had cost the county nearly $9,000.


The first jail after the removal of the county seat to Sullivan stood on Broad street, just south of the present jail. It was a two-story building, with double walls of logs, the ground dimensions being about 32 by 16 feet. The south end of the lower floor was intended for the residence of the sheriff. In the jail portion of the lower floor was one window, and in the upper story were three windows, each about eighteen inches square, latticed with iron bars riveted at their crossings, leaving open squares of about two inches through which came light and air. Heavy wooden shutters were used to close the windows.

In 1858 a new jail was built on the same lot occupied by the one just described. The contract price for the brick and wood work was $2,750, and for the iron work, $2,462. The building was completed in October, 1858. and was in use for over thirty years. The county commissioners began considering the building of a new jail in 1885, but did not act until 1889. In June of that year the bid of B. B. Harris, of Greensburg, was accepted for $24,875. The commissioners decided to locate the new building on the corner north of the former jail, buying two lots on Washington street for $1,860. The contractor began the construction of the brick and stone building at once, and it was completed in the following spring and accepted by the commissioners in April. A bond issue of $30,000 provided the funds for this building. The old jail building was sold to Joshua Beasley for $881.

Poor Asylum.

Sullivan county did not have a poor farm and asylum for the destitute and helpless until 1855. Previous to this time there was a county official who looked after the poor, but the few paupers in his care were assigned to some individual who, for a certain amount each year, agreed to house and feed the unfortunates, at the same time getting the benefit of their labor so far as he was able to utilize it. The amount bid for the care of the poor in 1852 was $35 for each person.

In the summer of 1855 the county board bought from Henry K. Wilson eighty acres of land lying in sections 35 and 26, of town 8, range 9, for $1,825. The little house on the farm was to be the asylum, and was improved for that purpose. In that year the pauper contract was let to Thomas Hale at $20 per person and the use of the poor farm.

The first asylum building was erected during the last year of the Civil war. The bids were received on July 27, 1864. The accepted bid was $4,480 for a two-storied front, 18 by 45 feet, and a one-story rear structure, 25 by 48 feet. The building was complete at the time called for in the contract, which was September 1, 1865. A frame building put up in 1877 was used for an infirmary. In 1885 a new infirmary was completed. In 1896 plans were laid by the commissioners for the erection of a new building, modern in arrangements and sanitary conditions. The building was designed 120 feet long by 95 feet wide, the front to be for the use of the superintendent and family and the center and rear to contain twenty sleeping rooms and two sitting rooms and two dining rooms for the inmates. Steam heat, electric light and the most approved plumb- and ventilation were provided. The contract for the building was let in May to Briggs and Freeman of Sullivan for $15,307, without plumbing, which was a separate contract, bringing the total up to $18,554.