The San Jacinto County Courthouse
Transcribed from the March
29, 1984 issue of the San Jacinto News Times by Patricia Hummell
Editor's Note: When
a town moves from one location to another, it is usually a gradual process.
But in the case of Coldspring, the move was a deliberate endeavor in which
existing buildings were literally moved to a new place. It occurred
for the most part within a year's time during and following the rebuilding
of the courthouse after the original structure burned in 1915. This
is the story of that move as seen through the pages of Old San Jacinto
It just seemed like a good time to start over.
The members of the San Jacinto County Commissioners Court didn't know what
to do or say. County Judge William McMurrey had gathered the group
in his store at Cold Springs. (It was officially Coldspring but nobody
called it that.)
Judge McMurrey and commissioners John Hayman, J.W. Modisett, W.R. Everitt
and J.M Harrell had little to say at first, somewhat overcome with the
fact that their courthouse and several buildings in town were now ashes.
It was April 12, 1915 and the court was meeting for the first time since
the disastrous fire two weeks earlier. After a few moments of this
initial shock, the members of the court got down to their routine business
and the un-routine business of deciding what to do.
They weren't quite ready to talk about building a new courthouse, but already
the town was crawling with contractors from all over the state to enter
It was an uncertain world at that time, and Cold Springs was a backwoods
community that could use a progressive push. As it turned out, the
fire was to be an impetus for a new progressive movement the commissioners
never dreamed of.
Although a good part of the town had been destroyed, people went on with
their activities pretty much as before. During that week there had
been a big weekend fish fry on the San Jacinto River, the telephone company
was dickering to rent a side room of the local restaurant for a central
office, San Jacinto Mercantile had just finished a new gallery and one
Frank Hogue had just returned from a fishing trip only to get into a baseball
game and catch a fast pitch in the face.
The residents of San Jacinto probably found it ironic that the route for
the Alaska Highway had been selected while they were still bogged down
in rutted mud roads. Readers of the local paper were following a
serial entitled "The Exploits of Elaine."
And when the roads allowed it, they might have gone to Cleveland's Anderson
Brothers that week to buy a 50 lb. can of lard on special and look over
the new wagons and cultivators and Studebaker. A few people in Cold
Springs had automobiles, but it was still a novelty. They could cap
off their trip by attending the picture show there.
As everywhere, residents worried that the U.S. would become involved in
the growing European War and a Mexican named Panco Villa was making noise
even closer to home. The people of Cold Springs of 1915 were concerned
with the rising cost of living, loose morals, the need for prohibition,
the cotton market, good roads and church and school activities.
Apparently, residents of Cold Springs had not been very happy with their
location. They began talking up the idea of erecting a new courthouse
"out of this gully and sand bed" with the hope that businesses and homes
would follow. By the following month, the idea was well entrenched.
The grand jury, whose function was to inspect the county facilities and
businesses, suggested the county erect as soon as possible "a suitable
court house" in the town of Cold Springs, but of a different location form
the one recently burned.
They suggested the county find a level site on higher ground not too far
from the jail.
Within a few days, the commissioners got to work on it. At the expense
of several contractors, they took a tour of the state to look at buildings
recently completed. The local editor of the San Jacinto Times, Kirk
Glover, editorialized that their forthcoming decision on the location would
be 'the most critical hour for the turning point of both our town and the