Photo provided by the Wayne County Historical Society
Benjamin Haines

Courthouse war: Part two

Construction of the new Wayne County Courthouse began quickly. By the end of 1876, the foundation was complete and $30,000 had been spent. At this point, opposition to the new courthouse threatened the project. Concerns were raised about the need for bond issues, increased taxes and future costs, and rumor added fuel to the fire. Mathews’ “History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties” reports that, by the time of the November 1875 election, “opponents of the courthouse formed a majority in both parties.” A group of anti-courthouse citizens led by Dr. Rodney Harmes held an anti-courthouse convention in Pleasant Mount, and candidates known to oppose the new courthouse were elected. Other prominent opponents were Homer Greene and Phineas G. Goodrich. A newspaperman named Benjamin F. Haines from Hancock, NY, was recruited to start a newspaper to assist them in their fight against the courthouse. Haines became a pillar of the community, and his paper, The Wayne Independent, survives to this day—as does the courthouse.

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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