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    Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

    TRINITY COUNTY COURTHOUSE
    County Seat - Groveton, Texas

    Trinity County has had 5 courthouses:
    1850, 1857 -
    Sumpter
    1874 - Pennington
    1884, and 1914 - Groveton
    See Historical Markers


    Groveton Area Hotels > Lufkin Hotels
    Groveton Texas  Trinity County Courthouse
    Trinity County Courthouse
    Texas Historic Landmark
    Photo courtesy Jim King, September 2008

    The Present Trinity County Courthouse
    - Groveton, Texas

    Date - 1914
    Architect - C. H. Page & Brother
    Style - Classical Revival
    Material - Brick
    Texas Historic Landmark

    Trinity County Courthouse
    "I noticed that you have the architect listed for our courthouse as L. S. Green. That is right and wrong. Our courthouse was built in two phases. The east wing (Records Building) was built in 1908, and was designed by L. S. Green. It was initially built as the county records building and is an exact replica of the Polk County Records Building, built in 1905, and designed by L. S. Green. In 1914, the Trinity County Commissioners hired C. H. Page and Brother to design a new courthouse that was to incorporate the existing records building into the new courthouse.

    The old courthouse, built in 1884, which you have pictured, was later demolished." - Susanne Waller, December 02, 2004

    Photographer's Note:
    "In January of 2008, Trinity County received a grant from the Texas Historical Commission for $5 million towards the restoration of their courthouse. After seeing the condition of the building during my initial visit in 2006, they will need every penny." - Terry Jeanson

    Historical Markers:
    Trinity County Courthouse Historical Marker
    Trinity County Seats Historical Marker

    TX - 1914 Trinity County Courthouse, Groveton
    The 1914 Trinity County Courthouse today
    Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2006
    Trinity County Courthouse, Groveton Texas old photo
    The 1914 Trinity County Courthouse as it appeared in 1917
    Photo courtesy THC
    Trinity County Courthouse , Groverton, Texas old photo
    The 1914 Trinity County Courthouse as it appeared in 1939
    Photo courtesy TxDoT
    TX - Trinity County Courthouse Historical Marker
    Trinity County Courthouse Historical Marker
    Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2006
    TX Trinity County Seats Historical Marker
    Trinity County Seats Historical Marker
    Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2006
    Groveton Texas Trinity County Courthouse
    Another view of the Trinity County Courthouse
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2003
    TX - 1914 Trinity County Courthouse, Groveton
    Courthouse entrance
    Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2006
    Trinity County Courthouse cornerstone
    The Courthouse Cornerstone
    Photo courtesy Trinity County Historical Commission.

    The Original Trinity County Records Building

    Groverton Texas  - Trinity County Records Building
    Built in 1908.
    Designed by L.S. Green.

    In 1914 C. H. Page designed the Trinity County Courthouse incorporating this original "Records Building."

    Photo courtesy Trinity County Historical Commission.
    TX 1908 Trinity County Records Building Cornerstone

    The cornerstone from the original 1908 records building on the inside of the courthouse.
    Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2006
    More Texas Cornerstones

    The 1884 Trinity County Courthouse
    Date - 1884
    Architect - Eugene T. Heiner
    Style - Second Empire
    Material - Brick
    1884 Trinity County Courthouse, Groveton, Texas
    Early Trintity County motorists lined up for a photo in Groveton.
    1884 Courthouse in background. The same vintage picture is hanging inside the current courthouse at the front entrance.

    Photo courtesy THC
    Two Courthouse Fires by Bob Bowman ("All Things Historical")

    Some of the most delectable historical desserts of East Texas are found in the yellowed documents of the thirty-plus county courthouses scattered across the pineywoods.

    One such morsel is the little-known story of two courthouse fires in Trinity County, one of the rowdiest of our early counties. From Anna Hester of Groveton comes a pair of old affidavits by J.P. Stevenson, a frontier lawyer, and J.B. Gipson, the son of a county surveyor. Both lived in the turbulent 1870s.

    Their affidavits were transcribed in 1909, apparently in an effort to clarify property deed records which may have been in dispute.

    Stevenson and Gipson recalled a November, 1, 1872, fire which destroyed most of the county records at the first county seat at Sumpter. The only surviving documents were some criminal records of a peace justice and the surveyor’s records of properties in the county.

    At the time, Gipson’s father, George, was the county surveyor and was holding the survey records at his home in Trinity, about twenty miles west of Sumpter.

    Stevenson had a good reason to remember the fire. As a lawyer in Trinity and Walker counties since l868, his life revolved around the courthouse and the records lost in the fire.

    Why and how the courthouse burned is not clear, but Sumpter was a hotbed of violence during the l860s and early l870s when federal reconstruction gripped the South in the aftermath of the Civil War. Out of this violent era came a Sumpter preacher’s son, John Wesley Hardin, who killed three Union soldiers near Sumpter in 1868, and went on to become Texas’ most notorious gunfighter.

    When the Sumpter courthouse burned, the county seat was located at Trinity in 1873. It remained there only until 1874 when it was relocated at Pennington, where, according to Stevenson, another courthouse was burned in 1876, again destroying some county records.

    The county’s land records and criminal documents, however, were saved. J.T. Evans, the clerk of the local district court, kept the criminal records in an iron safe, which survived the fire.

    Evans also carried the property deed records to his home the night of the fire after “a number of bad parties had been indicted” and he became “fearful they would undertake to destroy their indictments” by burning the courthouse.

    Gipson said his surveyor father saved the land surveys at Pennington by entrusting them to deputy W.M. Freeman who kept them “in a safe place not in the courthouse.”

    “By reason of this fact, they were again saved from fire at the burning of the courthouse at Pennington,” wrote J.B. Gipson in his affidavit.

    Although the Trinity County survey records were saved from two fires, the records of the district clerk were stolen on the night of March 5, 1880, and Gipson said other documents were later partially destroyed “by rough, bad handling by parties who had access to them.”

    Trinity County moved its courthouse from Pennington to Groveton in 1882, not only because it was a cental location, but Trinity County Lumber Company donated the site for a town square and materials for a new courthouse. It remains there today.

    All Things Historical
    September 5, 2005 Column

    Book Your Hotel Here & Save
    Lufkin Hotels
    Trinity County Towns and Ghost Towns
    County Seat - Groveton
  • Apple Springs
  • Friday
  • Iris
  • Nogalus Prairie
  • Pennington Third county seat
  • Sebastopol
  • Sumpter First county seat
  • Trinity Second county seat
  • See Groveton, Texas
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