The History of Halifax Courthouse

by Faye Royster Tuck, May 6, 2005

The General Assembly passed an act in October 1776 for "altering the place of holding courts in the County of Halifax".

Whereas it is represented to this General Assembly that the present situation of the Courthouse in the County of Halifax is inconvenient to the inhabitants thereof, and ought to be removed to some other place, as near the centre as may be, and it appearing that there is a convenient situation for such a Courthouse, with the other necessary buildings, on the land of John Boram and he is desirous that the said publick buildings should be erected thereon. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the commonwealth of Virginia, that the Justices of the said County of Halifax shall provide for building, as soon as may be, a courthouse, prison, pillory and stocks, at some convenient place on the land of John Boram, lying on the south side of Banister River.

Caleb Townes was placed under a bond by the Justices of Halifax County, Virginia, 1 April 1777 for building of a courthouse for Halifax County. This bond was signed by Townes, Nat Terry, Fleming Bates Jr. and Stephen Bates. The contract for building the courthouse at Halifax town stated that it would be 20 feet by 40 feet with a 14 foot pitch, to be completed in a workman like manner by the first day of June 1777.

In Plea Book 9, Page 210, May court 1777, it is ordered that the sheriff of Halifax County do pay unto Caleb Townes in the sum of 40 pounds out of the money in his hands towards erecting the new courthouse.

On August 1777, Plea Book 9, Page 238, Capt. Humphrey Hendricks was "surveyor of the road from Evans Creek to the new courthouse at Borams". Plea Book 9, page 264, November Court 1777. It is ordered that John Boram, Moses Terry and John Epps do view and mark of the best and most convenient way for a road from the new courthouse to George Watkins Mill.

David Powell received a patent for this land, 400 acres on Little Polecat Creek (Toots Creek at Halifax). In Deed Book 7, Page 57, 18 Feb. 1768, David Powell sold 400 acres on Polecat Creek, land joined Gents and crossed Polecat. Powell sold this 400 acres to John Clever of Gloucester County. In Deed Book 7, Page 497, John Clever sold the same 400 acres on 19 April, 1770, to John Boram. Land joined Gents comer, Walls, and Echols.

On Thursday, 17 Oct. 1774, the following article appeared in the Williamsburg Gazette under the heading of Halifax County, Virginia. The building of an elegant wooden Courthouse for Halifax County will be let to the lowest bidder at the place where the Courthouse now stands (Crystal Hill) on the 31 day of November The terms of building and plans will be shown that day by Robert Wooding, Walter Coles, George Boyd and John Coleman.

The inhabitants at Crystal Hill where the Courthouse was located wanted the Courthouse to stay at Crystal Hill. George Watkins lived at Crystal Hill near Winns Creek. His property joined Matthew Sims Courthouse tract. George Watkins had the timber on his place to build the new Courthouse and probably wanted to build the new Courthouse on his property. There was a lot of conflict and politics going on in Halifax County at this time and finally the General Assembly got involved with the situation in 1776 and they told Halifax County what had to be done.

The new courthouse was built on John Boram's land in Halifax which was a growing village at this time called Halifax Town.

On June 1785 John and Catherine Boram sold their 400-acre plantation to Captain Edmund King, both sides of Little Polecat Creek. Capt. King had a tavern at the Courthouse.

Jan. Court 1792 a deed was made between Isaac Coles, John Coleman, Elizah Hunt, Michael Roberts and James Dejarnette of Halifax County. Edmund and Elizabeth King conveyed two acres of land whereon the public county building (Courthouse) was located. The land joined Nathaniel Manning's corner and the Courthouse stood on this two acres.

In 1792 Halifax Courthouse was being enlarged. I think the Courthouse was built in such a hurry in April 1777 while the Revolutionary War was going on that it needed to be made larger because Halifax County was a growing concern at that time.

On October 1792 a lot at Halifax Courthouse was sold by Edmund King to Nathaniel Manning. King's spring was located on this lot. The lot was 45.5 yards north of the Courthouse. Nathaniel Manning was the grandson of George and Susannah Watkins. This acre was sold to Samuel Edmondson situated 45.5 yards north of the Courthouse.

Deed Book 17, Page 399, 23 Jan. 1798, Capt. Edmund and Elizabeth King sold to Samuel Edmondson Sr. of Prince Edward Co., on both side of Little Polecat Creek whereon the said Edmund King lives whereon the Courthouse of Halifax County stands being the residue of the tract of land which was patent to David Powell being 300 acres. The land joined Gent's line, Walls, crossing Polecat Creek. Except a small lot sold to Nathaniel Manning 45-1/2 yards north of Courthouse.

Samuel Edmondson sold to James Bruce in 1817, 0.5 acre, Courthouse tract on which Samuel and Caroline Edmondson lived adjacent to the public ground on which the Courthouse stood.

James Bruce's estate in 1837 sold 0.5 acre at the Courthouse to James S. Easley. Samuel Edmondson had a tavern and storehouse at the Courthouse. There is a chancery suit on the Edmondsons 1836-051 and it went like this. Samuel Edmondson, the younger, died many years ago intestate leaving two infant children, Letitia and Samuel Edmondson, and a small estate consisting of a tract of land of about 82-1/2 acres situate and being near Halifax Courthouse and some slaves, which with their increase since the death of the said Samuel Edmondson, the younger, are now 7 or 8 in number. That by the last will and testament of Samuel Edmondson Sr. who died some years after the said Samuel Edmondson, the younger, the said Letitia and Samuel Edmondson (grandchildren) became entitled to a certain other real estate about 195-1/4 acres of land it being 1/2 of the Courthouse tract including the tavern house. The tavern house was rented by John S. Lewellen. Samuel Edmondson Sr. married Caroline Robertson. Samuel Edmondson Jr. married Mary - 2nd husband, Nathaniel H. Poindexter, 11 Oct. 1831.

In 1836 Letitia Edmondson said that they were afraid the land which was located at the Courthouse would not be valuable land because they were thinking of dividing the county of Halifax at this time. They also said if the stables were moved next to the Lewellen's Garden, the lots would be more valuable.

The maps of Halifax Courthouse were found in the loose papers at the Courthouse.

Map of Halifax 1836

Tavern - John S. Lewelien was running the tavern and his gardens were next to him. The tavern was opposite the Courthouse.

Stables for horses above James S. Easley lot and storehouse.

The Edmondsons wanted to move the stables at this time next to John S. Lewelien's garden lot. This they thought would make the lots more valuable when sold.

No. I & 2 lots - Courthouse was on.

James S. Easley's lot - 0.5 acre, James Bruce's lot and it was sold to James S. Easley. This lot was 45.5 yards north of the Courthouse.

Capt. Edmund King had sold 1 acre to Nathaniel Manning, 1792 Kings Spring Street, at the top of page says: Street leading by the academy. (Douglas Powell's ancestor was the instructor at the academy.) The road to the left says: Street leading by Toots (Adam) to race tract. Adam Toot had a tanning yard not far from the Courthouse and big home was also near.

1837 - This was one year before Josiah Dabbs and McDearman & Co. built the brick courthouse which stands today.