By Joyce W. Sanders
On the night of the 28th day of July, 1858, a cry of FIRE was heard; the citizens of Kosciusko were aroused at 3 a.m. to be told that the courthouse was on fire. All the avenues and chances to records upstairs were cut off.
It was the work of a man, who had a motive; the motive was the destruction of the records of the county and, to prevent the possibility of failure, the steps leading upstairs to the records and the hall between the offices had been well saturated with oil and turpentine. So nothing could be done to stay the fire on its mad destructive march with the use of water. A part of the record book of deeds was saved, and every other record book was burned.
The Board of Police, now called the Board of Supervisors, purchased
two-story frame building west of
the Methodist Episcopal Church in Kosciusko for a courthouse. It was used until near the close of July, 1860. About 2 a.m. the citizens of Kosciusko were again aroused by the cry of FIRE. The records were but few and all were saved.
It is said by those present (Mr. Watkins, the editor being out of state at that time) that James A. Groves then living one mile north of Kosciusko and who was purely an Oldtime Wesleyan Methodist, came on the ground. Seeing the house where he worshipped smoking with an occasional blaze on the wall from an oily plank, he gathered a bucket of water and ran up to B. A. Clark (who is a zealous Methodist and who was upon a ladder on the church, and handed him the bucket of water. Clark, in his excitement on taking the water, instead of using it to quench the fire turned and threw the water upon Groves.
There seemed to be little, if any
|motive in the burning of this frame building. It had only been used as a courthouse for a few terms of the Circuit Court. The alarm was given after 12 o'clock at night, when all good and law abiding citizens ought to be at home and resting in sleep. Yet the surroundings of that burning indicate that it was probably carelessness or an accident.
In the year 1860 the Board of Police contracted with a Mr. Davidson for building a two-story brick courthouse which cost the county $20,000. It was finished in 1861 and the first term of Circuit Court was held that spring.
An old ledger of the minutes of the Board of Police, now stored in the downstairs vault of Attala's modern chancery court building, shows that John C. Chipey was hired to supervise the brickwork on this new courthouse. He was paid $157 for the job.