Gray County’s First Courthouse

On July 19, 1902, the commissioners of newly organized Gray County approved the contract and bond with Henry E. Weckesser of Miami for building the first courthouse. All lumber and materials were to be furnished by Weckesser and were to be first class in quality and in character.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

The building was to be 46 feet long and 40 feet in width with walls 16 feet high. The ground plan of S.B. Owens, commissioner of precinct 3, was to be followed. The floor joists of 2x1O,inch lumber were to be set two feet apart. The box sills were to be of 2×10 inch lumber also. The foundation posts of bois d’ arc timber were to be set six feet apart and the timber to be two-thirds of posts four feet long and one- third three feet long. The posts were to be placed as near three feet in the ground as the leveling of the building would permit around the house as well as three rows through the center of the house of like character.

The foundation timber. was to be not less than eight inches in diameter. The studding was to be of 2×6 inch lumber and to be set two feet apart and the plates of same size doubled. The rafters and ceiling joists were to be of 2×6 inch lumber and set two feet apart. Inside studding of 2×4 inch lumber. was to be inserted two feet apart. The roof was to have two trusses over the courtroom to carry the deck house which was to be boxed with 1×12 inch boxing all around the outside at an angle of forty five degrees. The roof was to be sheeted solidly with 1×6 inch lumber.

The house outside was to have building paper, number thirty red rosin sized, all around under siding as well as under and next to roof between sheeting and shingles all the way around. The building was to be sided with 1×6 inch drop siding, arid all siding to be cut in between all windows, doors, corner boards and casings. The house was to be floored all over with 1×4 inch and 7/8 inch flooring and to be ceiled throughout with 1×4 Inch and 5/8 inch ceiling. There were to be 22 windows each two feet and four inches high — by left six inches high. All, window frames were to be 1 1/4 inches by six inches and to have blinds, stops, sub sills and pockets `in all frames, the latter to’ be made for screens which were to be furnished with sufficient weights and rollers.

There was to be one set of double doors 5×7 feet and two outside and four inside doors two feet eight inches wide by six feet eight inches high. The doors were to be filled with mortise locks and steel butts.

All shingles were to be six inches wide, made of cypress and laid four inches to the weather. There were to be two nails in each and every shingle. The house was to have a porch and a roof deck. It was to have two coats of paint made of pure lead and linseed oil. There were to be five brick flues. There were to be five rooms: (3,) 33×25 feet, (2) 13×21 1/2 feet, (3) 15×18 feet, (4) 15×16 feet and (5) 15 feet square. Weckesser was to receive $2,208.50 in three installments: one-third when frame and material were on the ground; one-third when the building was covered by a roof and one-third when the building was received by the commissioners of Gray County.

The building was to be completed in 90 days unless prevented by bad weather or serious illness. The courthouse was constructed on what is now Block 10 of the original town of Lefors. The town site, donated by Perry Lefors, is located on the southeast part of the Travis Leach Survey. At the time the courthouse was constructed, Lefors had only one other building, a one-room schoolhouse which had been built in 1896. Henry Thut, Sr. and his wife Anna lived at the distance of a mile from the courthouse. On October 18, 1902, the courthouse was ready to be received by the com- missioners, and a great crowd gathered for dedication ceremonies and a barbecue.

This event occurred on a lovely fall day when the leaves on the cottonwood ~ trees were beginning to turn yellow, gold and bronze. The families of Wiley P. and Eli Vincent had just arrived from Vernon and were planning to camp near the creek on the Henry B. Lovett ranch. As Katie Vincent, wife of Wiley P., was descending from the wagon to join the celebration, her dress caught on the wagon and tore. Although she longed to be one of the dancers, she was too embarrassed to leave the wagon. There was a fence around the yard of the courthouse with stiles instead of gates at the openings.

In later years, children who accompanied their parents to the courthouse liked to watch people ascending the steps to the top of the fence and descend on the other side. One of the displays at the White Deer Land Museum is composed of replicas of the first courthouse arid the first jail at Lefors. These replicas were do- nated by the Lefors Art And Civic Club in 1971. Ola Gregory Corey, now 96 years old, is the only living person who worked at the courthouse when it was at Lefors.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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