Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

Several of our readers have sent in reminiscences concerning materials which we have written in this column. From time to time we plan to include these in this space. It is our hope that more of you will become contributors, for the preservation of our valuable local historical heritage requires the cooperation of all of us.

A short time ago we mentioned the fact that the first two Kosciusko county court houses were built on the site of the present Warsaw city hall. After reading our account, Orville B. Kilmer gave us a bit of detail about the first court house which is very interesting. Information which has come down to him through his family indicates that the first court house is now a part of the residence of his neighbor, iceman, John Lucas.

The first sessions of court and the first meetings of the county commissioners were held at the unofficial county seat, Leesburg, because it was the center of population at the time. When Warsaw was made the county seat, a court house was built at the northeast corn of Center and Indiana streets and court was held in that building in March of 1837. Early records disclose that this building burned a very short time after it was built. The people who lived in the more populous area around Leesburg, Oswego and Monoquet were rather "put out" over the fact that the upstart village of Warsaw had been selected as the county seat, and they felt that the new court house was entirely inadequate for the needs of Kosciusko county. so it was probably with a great deal of relief that they received word of the fire. Early county histories do not give us any details concerning what happened to this first county building after the fire. They do mention that the larger court house was built on the same site.

According to Mr. Kilmer's information, the first court house was not completely destroyed, but was damaged too much for further use as a county building. It was moved away to Water street (now Fort Wayne) where after being remodeled, it became a residence. The building has been altered and added to from time to time, but the original court house is still a part of the residence at 419 E. Fort Wayne street. Records disclose that the first court house was 20 x 30, having a court room 20 x 20, and two jury rooms each 10 x 10. The Lucas living room is the size of the court room and two adjacent rooms could very well have been made from the jury rooms. Mr. Lucas states that when he purchased the house, several old-timers, including such people as Joe Campfield, told him that the residence was originally the first court house. Mr. Kilmer states that before the upstairs was built the ceilings of the rooms were very high.

This gives us some very interesting information which is greatly appreciated.

Warsaw Times-Union Sat. Sat. July 26, 1952