Hamilton County

Hamilton County

When the county was originally organized it was named Risley, after Colonel Risley who was killed in the Mexican War. It was later changed to Webster. Finally, Webster County was divided in half, and the eastern half was given the name of Hamilton in December 1856. It is named after Senate President William W. Hamilton who was influential in the passing of the bill.

The same Legislative Act that established Hamilton County also named Webster City as the county seat. At an April, 1858 election, it was proposed that the county use swamp land funds to construct the county’s first courthouse. The motion passed by a wide margin, and construction of the building began in the summer of 1858. But due to the lack of public support, funds, and county seat battles, the $50,000 building was never completed.
The first courthouse that was completed was in 1866. It was a temporary structure that cost $1,934 and was used until 1877. The second courthouse was originally to cost around $50,000, but was revised to $35,000. The winning bid of $30,000 and 1,360 acres of swamp land was submitted by John M. Rice of Chicago. The building was completed in June, 1877.
In 1974 the courthouse of 1877 was condemned. Construction of a $1.25 million building was begun later that same year and it was dedicated on December 4, 1976. It is a split-level brick building faced with Georgia black stone.
In March 2002 voters countywide passed a local option sales tax with the proceeds to pay for the construction of county jail. The jail will be attached on the north and east sides of the courthouse with construction to begin in early 2003.

Source: Kim Schaa, Hamilton County Auditor, 2002

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