Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Buncombe County Courthouse

The following recollections of incidents and members of the bar are taken from Dr. J. S. T. Baird's sparkling "Reminiscences" [about 1840] published in the Asheville Saturday Register in 1905.


"The court house was a brick building two stories high and about thirty- six by twenty-four feet in dimensions. The upper room was used for court purposes and was reached by a flight of stone steps about eight feet wide, and on the front outside of the building, commencing at the corners at the ground and rising gradually till they formed a wide landing in front of and on a level with the door of the court room. The judge's bench or pulpit, as some called it, was a sort of box open at the top and one side, with plank in front for the judge to lay his "specks" on. He entered it from the open space in the rear and sat on an old stool-bottom chair, which raised his head barely above the board.' There was room enough in this little box for such slim men as Judge J. L. Bailey, David Caldwell, David Settle and others of their build, but when such men as Judge Romulus M. Saunders came along he filled it plumb 'up.' Most of the lower story was without floors or door shutters and furnished comfortable quarters for Mr. James M. Smith's hogs and occasionally a few straggling cattle that could not find shelter elsewhere.

Western North Carolina: A History from 1730-1913, John Preston Arthur (1914) at 389.