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History of the Courthouse

​     By 1846, Mount Pulaski's population was growing quickly, and the town was advancing commercially too.  A movement was organized and a bill was introduced and passed February 23, 1847 for the county seat to be moved from Postville (then called Camden) to Mount Pulaski.  An election was held in April, where the majority was in favor of the move. The removal of the county seat, however, was contingent upon the Mount Pulaski residents to construct a Courthouse.  Funds were raised, and residents donated their services and materials to erect the building.  Once it was completed, the circuit court met there in the spring of 1848.  This Courthouse was one of fourteen stops on the Eighth Judicial Circuit.  It is now only one of two remaining courthouses left from the old circuit on their original site. 

     Court was held twice a year, in April and September.  Abraham Lincoln came and argued cases at the Courthouse and it is said he attended court at least eight times here.  Lincoln had two well known trials, the "Horological Cradle Case" and the "Cast Iron Tombstone Case".  It remains a mystery of how many other cases were won or lost by Lincoln due to an unfortunate fire that destroyed the court records in 1857.    

     In 1855, the county seat moved to the new city of Lincoln and the Courthouse was given to the Mount Pulaski school district.  There was an addition of a bell tower to the building and the Courthouse served as a school from 1857 to 1878.  After a new school was built, the Courthouse was turned over to the city officials and was used as a post office until 1936.


    The Courthouse was sold to the State of Illinois for $1.00.  The State fully restored the Courthouse and filled it with the appropriate 1850s era furniture and publicly opened it in 1939.  In 1992, the State wanted to shut the Courthouse down, however the mayor of Mount Pulaski and other residents had another plan.  They appealed to the State to keep it open offering volunteers as staff.  The State agreed!   

     Today the Courthouse is still staffed by volunteers.  There are twelve volunteers who donate their time which equals forty-eight hours a month.   There is one paid site manager who puts in at least forty hours.  Travelers from all over the world have made their way to the Courthouse.  The furthest visitors to date are from Poland, Germany and the United Kingdom. 

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