Picture of courthouse from 1880's thru mid 1920's|
The area of Ringgold county is a little more than 540 square miles, divided at present into seventeen townships. The territory in Ringgold county was technically a part of Des Moines county from 1834 to 1836 under the territorial Governor of Wisconsin. Then the territory of Iowa was organized and for some years, this region remained undesignated, unsurveyed, and unsettled. In 1847 the boundaries of the county were established and the name of Ringgold given in honor of Major Samuel Ringgold, who was mortally wounded in the battle of Palo Alto, fought a little more than a year before in the Mexican War. For the next four years Ringgold was included in the temporary county of Taylor. Then it was attached to the newly organized county of Decatur. On April 18, 1855 the town of Mount Ayr was awarded the county seat.
Chas. HY. Schooler and wife were the first settlers in Ringgold County, settling near Ringgold City and for two years they were the only white family in the county. In 1846 Jas. M. Tethrow settled near Mr. Schooler, but for some reason, there appears to have been no farther immigration. These two families believed they were living in Missouri until the disputed territory on the southern boundary was surveyed and was awarded to Iowa in 1850.
The southern part of Ringgold county was involved in the famous dispute between Iowa and Missouri, which began in the autumn of 1839 and was not settled until 1850. This dispute arose in consequence of two surveys, having been made of the boundary line between the two states. The first survey began at the head of the rapids, in the Des Moines River, and the second began at the foot of the Des Moines rapids in the Mississippi River. The difference between the two initial points being about 9 miles. Missouri assumed the northern line as her boundary and Iowa the southern line as hers. A conflict of jurisdiction over a strip of country nearly nine miles in width the entire distance across the state, it being claimed by both states. After Iowa had drawn on the territorial treasurer for $1500 to defray the expenses of keeping a militia to protect the right of the people and the state, the governor of Iowa agreed with the governor of Missouri, for the commencement and speedy termination of a suit in the supreme court of the United States to determine the true location of the boundary line between the two states. The sum of $1,000 was appropriated to defray the expenses of this suit. The vexed question was settled in Iowa's favor in 1850, when the boundary was established by commissioners appointed by the supreme court of the United States, who had the line carefully surveyed. Posts were erected one mile apart, the entire distance between the two states. Every tenth post was to be an iron post 8 feet long, 4 inches square at one end, and 8 inches square at the other, to be set in the ground 3 1/2 feet. At the top end of the post, on one side is the word "Iowa" and on the opposite side, the word "Missouri" and on the other two sides, the word "boundary" cast into the post. The wooden posts between these iron posts have long since rotted out, but they served their purpose until the state line was established. These iron posts can be found in Riley and Clinton townships.
The first courthouse in Ringgold County was a 14 foot square log building built in 1856. (Some of our earliest record books date from 1855. Could they have been in that Building?
The first supplies purchased for the new government seat included 6 loads of wood at $.80 per load, 40 pounds of candles costing $11.40 and two boxes of envelopes at $3.50.
Disaster in the form of a cyclone wind struck the building and the logs and records blew in all directions. Some were never recovered.
In 1859 the county built a new, larger, better frame building. It was on the east side of the square approximately where Dr. Lawhead offices now stand. This building served Ringgold County for about 25 years.
Then in 1884 a large brick building was completed from bricks made and fired in this county. It stood in the center of the courthouse square.he cost of this courthouse was $42,000. It stood in a beautiful grove of trees and in a lawn of bluegrass. The building was 77.5x 98 feet. The roof was 50 feet from the ground and the tower 102 feet.
About four years later the old frame courthouse caught fire and was destroyed on Thanksgiving night.
The new courthouse lasted about forty years. Inferior brick and lack of drain tiles caused such large cracks that it was condemned as unsafe in 1921.