1879 History of Menard & Mason Counties
Published by: O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers
186 Dearborn Street

Mason County

The County Seat Question
Page 585

It may be interesting to future readers of this authentic history, to know that Bath was once the capital of Mason County. She not only aspired to that dignity but attained it, and for a period of eight years was the seat of justice. As pertinent to the subject, we copy the following from the county map. Speaking of the location of the county seat, it says: "There was much dissatisfaction on the part of the inhabitants of Bath, who, justly or unjustly, thought that their town offered superior advantages as the seat of justice of Mason County. An agitation of the subject was kept up, and finally an act, approved January 19, 1843, was obtained from the Legislature, authorizing another election to be held on the second Monday of February of that year. Polls were opened at three places; at James Walker's, in Havana, at Lynchburg and at Bath, where votes were received for the towns of Bath and Havana for the county seat. Bath received a majority of votes and was declared the county seat. Its inhabitants soon had the satisfaction of seeing the archives of the county removed to their town. The June term of the Circuit Court for 1844 was held at Bath, the previous June term having been held at Havana. Entire satisfaction was not yet obtained. Havana still had aspirations which could only be satisfied by another removal of the seat of justice, and, in February, 1851, legislation was obtained by which another election was held on the second Monday of March, 1851, at which the question was again brought before the people. The clerks of election opened two columns, one 'For Havana,' and the other 'Against Removal.' The election resulted in again making Havana the county seat, which it has since continued to be." Thus Bath lost its hard-earned dignity, was shorn of its fleeting honors, and as a consequence, its "glory departed forever." This county seat question, however, is more particularly referred to in the county history.

As stated in the above extract, the first session of Circuit Court was held at Bath, in June, 1844, and, as no building had yet been erected, it was held at the house of Col. West. But a Court House was at once erected by the proprietors of the village. It was a commodious brick structure, two stories high, with offices on the first floor and the hall of justice above. The building was 36 x 40 feet, and cost about $3,000. It was built as cheaply as possible, the brick being manufactured near the spot, and the other material procured at the lowest figures. When the county seat was moved back to Havana, the building was sold to the village for school purposes, as elsewhere stated.

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