Why “V” Instead of “U” is Used on County Courthouses

While Jon McConal was writing columns for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he was asked why the letter V instead of the letter U is sometimes inscribed on county courthouses. Not knowing the answer, McConal asked his readers for information.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

John Rollins of Southlake wrote: We can thank the ancient Romans for the fact that we have covnty covrthouses’ instead of `county houses’ The alphabet that most of the world uses today was developed by the ancient Romans, except that it did not contain J, U or W as separate letters. “This situation changed in medieval times, when the consonant value of I became its own letter. 3 and V was divided into U, V and W. Hence, ILIVS means Julius, and as you have guessed COVNTY is how the Romans would have spelled county. “This is yet another one of the endless examples of Roman influences on Western language, architecture, law and culture.

And to think that some people called Latin a dead language.” This explanation came from Ken Bickley of Mineral Wells: “According to my ancient Britanica, the two letters were interchangeable in Latin, and the letter U didn’t actually come into wide-spread use in English until the 18th century. Old Latin used V for capitals and U for lower case. Thus all Roman buildings were inscribed with V in place of U. Texas courthouses designed in the neoclassical style used the V. I suppose it’s sort of an affectation, but it suits the building.”

Pampa has another building on which the name was inscribed with V instead of U. Constructed about the same time as GRAY COVNTY COVRT HOVSE, the ROSE BVILDING at 2Q~. North Cuyler was for many years the location of J. C. Penney, and there were offices on the second floor. The original inscription of the name of the building on Cuyler has been covered, but it is still visible over the entrance on Kingsmill. Jon McConal It’s covrt house with a V Wally, and here’s why Hey, Wally, I’ve found out 1. 1 why the letter V is being inscribed on county courthouses Instead of the letter U. Wally (Wally Nita of Haltom City) raised that question recently.

He said he has traveled many miles photographing 140 of. Texas’ 254 county courthouses. “I got the idea when I was in the ~seventh grade,” he said. “I thought how neat it would be to Visit all of the counties in the State. At the time we were study- ing them, I think only two people had done that.” That sent him on his trek around Texas to county Court- houses. And in his travels, he made a discovery. “On a bunch of courthouses, the inscription of county is covn- ty, `he said. “Do you know why this is?” Well, I didn’t.

But a bunch of readers did. John Rollins of Southlake wrote: “We can thank the ancient Romans for the fact that we have `covnty covrthous- es’ instead of `county courthous- es.’ The alphabet that most of the world uses today was developed by the ancient Romans, except that it did not contain J, U or W as separate letters. “This situation changed in medieval times, when the consonant value of I became its own letter J and V was divided into U, V and W. .Hence, ILIVS means Julius, and as you have guessed, COVNTY is how the Romans would have spelled county. “This is yet another one of the endless examples of Roman influence on Western language, architecture, law and culture. And to think that some people called Latin a dead language.”

Then came this explanation from Ken Bickley of Mineral Wells: “According to my ancient Brit- tanica, the two letters were inter- changeable in Latin, and the letter (More on McCONAL on Page 4)

McConal From Page 1B

U didn’t actually come into wide- spread use in English until the 18th century. Old Latin used V for capitals and U for lower case. Thus all Roman buildings were inscribed with V in place of U. Texas courthouses designed in the neoclassical style used the V. 1 suppose it’s sort of an affectation, but it suits the building.” A simple answer came from Laura C. Yates, also of Mineral Wells. “Back in what my granddaugh- ters call `The Dark Ages,’ I was told it was easier to carve the `V’ instead of `U.’ Why I don’t know.

My friend Ralph E. Bell of Strawn, whose intelligence awes me, also offered an explana- tion, as well as a word about a woman who recently trashed me for giving a specific location of someone who has kept all of the cars her late husband once owned. She said I had issued an invitation to car thieves. Bell wrote; “To that woman … I say, `Get a life.’ “There are unfortunate souls in this world bereft of any sort of sentiment or feelings for others. whom if given their `druthers’ would have everything neatly pigeonholed and colorless.

“Variety/diversity is the keynote of the universe our heav- enly Father created. “If not, why, then, did he not create one generic genus instead of such a mind-bobbling variety of stars, galaxies, planets, minerals, elements, protozoa plants, animals and indeed, our species I could not have said it better. Jon McConal’s Texas appears Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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.

Closed Accordian Default Hidden

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.