Photo provided by the Wayne County Historical Society

Courthouse war: Part one

To the dismay of the citizens of Bethany, the original county seat, Honesdale became the county seat of Wayne County in 1841. By 1843, a new courthouse had been built in the borough. However, within 30 years, judges and grand juries had declared the courthouse too small, badly ventilated and altogether unsatisfactory. In the 1867 session, the grand jury pointed out the inadequacy of the building and recommended that the commissioners consider levying taxes to begin funding a new structure. In each of the ensuing years, grand jurors added their voices to the complaints about the old courthouse. In February 1876, President Judge C. P. Waller and Associate Judges Otis Avery and Henry Wilson unanimously recommended a new building, and in the same year, Commissioners Francis A. Oppelt, George Foote and Thomas Brown adopted a resolution to start construction. This was the beginning of the “courthouse war,” probably the most intense and bitter period of political strife that Wayne County has ever experienced.

From the collection of the Wayne County Historical Society, 810 Main St., Honesdale. The museum, research library and museum shop are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a. m. to 4 p.m.


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