Hello, from the Comanche County Museum! Today I am talking about the “Red Brick” Courthouse which was the second courthouse (1875-1890) located on today’s courthouse square:

“A contract was let for a new courthouse on April 14, 1874. At a called term of the court, August 10, 1874, M.V. Fleming was appointed county agent to supervise and control the construction, but it was 1875 before the building was completed. Standing on what was to become courthouse square in Comanche the $12,000 courthouse was not hewn stone as first planned, but of locally made red brick with cut stone trim. It was the largest building in Comanche County. Forty by sixty feet in size, it consisted of two stories topped by a dome, with the main entrance facing east. The Right Reverend Alexander C. Garrett, Missionary Bishop of North Texas, wrote in his record that Comanche had “a fine brick courthouse, some brick and stone stores, about 400-550 people…” when he visited the town in September 1875.

As Comanche grew, problems arose. One was wandering livestock within the town limits. After much discussion, in 1880 J.W. Greene was appointed agent to erect a fence around the two hundred foot square to keep animals off the courtyard. In 1881 the court evidently recognized the need for a public facility and ordered that a “neat and commodious” privy be erected on the courthouse yard, the key to be kept in the clerk’s office.

Three years later, in a move toward progress the court ordered that the facility be removed from the courtyard. However, it was provided that the city give written authority to place the privy on a certain lot owned by the town to “have and hold for that purpose as long as the court may deem it expedient”.

Red Brick courthouse served the county until 1890. Photographs and a more detailed description of the third [county] courthouse may be found in the Ruth Cartwright Huff Memorial Collection at the Comanche Public Library.”

I am typing this verbatim from “Comanche County Courthouses” booklet so I do not know if the library still has this collection. If you would like a copy of this booklet, they are available at the Museum for a $5 donation or we could send you one by adding postage and handling.

Recently the Museum received portraits of WILLIAM MARTIN (1844-1915) and SUE SHORTRIDGE MARTIN (1861-1903) from LUCY MARTIN OKRAGLEY of Houston. She is the great granddaughter of William and Sue. WILLIAM MARTIN is the man responsible for building the Red Brick Courthouse.

The Comanche Museum also has the original banister from the “Little Red Brick” Courthouse that was donated to the Museum years ago by RICHARD and NANCY ARMSTRONG. The Red Brick Courthouse is where JOHN WESLEY HARDIN was tried for murdering Brown County Deputy Sheriff CHARLIE WEBB and JOHN WESLEY HARDIN himself probably used this staircase during his trial because the District Courtroom is always upstairs.

Next week I will continue talking about the Victorian Courthouse that was used for almost 50 years!

Remember, the Museum is open Wed.-thru Saturday 10 a.m. to 4p.m. and we hope you will be able to visit us in the next year. Missy Cox Jones

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