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Carlinville Public Library

Original Courthouses

First (1830) and Second (1840) Macoupin County Courthouses


Photo 1:  An artist drawing of the first Macoupin County Courthouse (1830-1840) drawn from the description in Macoupin County Courthouse records.
Photo 2:   The only photo of the second Macoupin County Courthouse (1840-1870).

Macoupin County was created in 1829 and named for the “Macoupina” plant which Indians in the area gave to the wild artichoke which grew abundantly along the water courses.
The first Macoupin County Courthouse was a two-story structure of hewn logs built in 1830 in the center of the Town Square.  The building measured 18’x24’ and cost $128.66 of which $23 was used for the furniture.  The county government outgrew this building within a few short years and it was sold, moved to East Main Street and converted into a residence. 
In 1840, the second County Courthouse opened its doors, again in the center of the Town Square.    It was a two-story brick building complete with a belfry, the bell was rung when court was in session.  The cost for the 50 foot square building was $15,000 and it was used until 1870 when the third and final courthouse was built.  Both Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas practiced law in the second courthouse but never against one another.
Among Lincoln’s most notable cases in this courthouse was Clark & Morrison v.  Page et al, which stands out for two reasons.  One is the basis of the case, a promissory note for over $1.1 million, among the largest of Lincoln’s career.  The second is Lincoln’s answer, which stretches 43 pages and is believed to be the longest existing document in Lincoln’s handwriting.  Copies of the Lincoln document are displayed on the 1st floor of the current Macoupin County Courthouse.
Within 25 years, the County outgrew this courthouse and an office or two, along with some of the records, were moved to buildings around the square.  On completion of the third and present courthouse, the old building was sold at public auction by authorities to pay on the mounting county debt.

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