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History: The County and Town Begin

By Michael C. Watson
From April, 2009

The first Sheriff of Adair County was Benjamin Bowmar, born 1775, died 1858. He was appointed to the office of Sheriff by Governor James Garrard upon the creation of the county.

The first Clerk of the Court of Adair County was William Caldwell, who was appointed by the Governor upon creation of the county. At that time, under the second Constitution of Kentucky, the clerk was to serve for both the County Court and the Court of Quarter Sessions.



The first permanent clerk's office was on lot number five of the original plan for the town of Columbia. This was located on the town side of the lot on which the public library now stands and was constructed about 1811. The office was located in the front room of Clerk Caldwell's home.

The first county court for Adair County was held on Monday, May 24, 1802 at the home of James Walker, Sr. His dwelling house was located somewhere on what is today Lindsey Wilson Hill.

The first Justices of the Peace appointed for Adair County were: Nathan Montgomery, James Gilmer, Robert Todd, Daniel Trabue, Martin Warren, John Stapp, William Burbridge and Robert Thomas. These men produced commissions at the first session of the Adair Court.

The first men admitted to practice as attorneys before the newly seated Adair County Court were Samuel Brents and John Emerson.

The first coroner of the county was Nicholas Naylor, who produced his commission at the first court. His securities were James Gilmer, Nathan Montgomery and Robert Todd.

The first surveyors of the new county recognized by the court were William McNeely and Sion Bradley. McNeely would be appointed county surveyor the following month, a position he would hold for decades.

The first constable appointed was Philip Winfrey.

The first mention of a permanent seat of government for the now county of Adair was on the second day of the court, Tuesday, May 25, 1802. "Two of the justices of the Court of Quarter Sessions moved this Court for the priviledge of a voat in fixing or appointing the Seat of Justice for this County in conjunction with this Court. (William Bryan the other Justice of said Court of Quarter Sessions not applying, he being of a different openion of that of his Brethern.) The Court appeared to be equally divided." This must have been a heated debate as it was the only order of business on that day.

The first deputy clerk of the courts in Adair was Thomas Gilmer, appointed on Monday, June 28, 1802.

The first Attorney for the Commonwealth for this new county was Allen M. Wakefield, who was appointed on June 28, 1802, the same date his was admitted to practice as an attorney before the court.

The first individual to be summoned by the Adair Court was Isaac Millican who was summoned on June 28, 1802 to show cause if any why he should not be fined $10 and triple taxed for refusing to enter his property with the county for purpose of taxation.

The first election officials appointed in the county were Daniel Trabue and Robert Thomas as judges and Samuel Crawley as clerk.

The first constable's districts were laid out by the Court in June 1802. There were six districts, based upon the militia districts of the county that already existed.

The first six militia districts of the county were those of: Captain Martin Warren, Captain George Damron, Captain Woolford, Captain Young, Captains Robert Haskins and David Doak, and Captains Lampton and White.

The first authorization by the Adair Court for the performance of rites of matrimony, as was the law at that time, was granted to Henry Winfrey on August 23, 1802.

The first deputy sheriff of Adair County was James Vaughan, admitted in August 1802.

The first two court cases heard by the Adair Court that are of record were Commonwealth vs. Huggard and Commonwealth vs. Millican, both cases dismissed on August 23, 1802.

The dimensions for the first jail in Adair County were brought before the court in August 1802. The jail was to be twelve feet square on the inside; two stories in height; floors to be one foot thick square timbers; the first story to be seven feet in height; the upper story to be eight feet in height; the walls were to be two feet thick in timbers one foot square; one trap door; two windows above and one below at one foot square each and well ironed; a shingle roof and all further regulations were referred to Andrew Ewing, Hugh Beard and James Walker.

The first mention of the pillory and stocks in Adair County's history was made before the court on August 24, 1802 when their construction on the Public Square was to be let to the lowest bidder.

The first license for the keeping of a tavern in Adair County was granted in 1802 to William Worley to keep said tavern at his house in Columbia.

The first official mention of Columbia as a town was on October 26, 1802. On that date commissioners Daniel Trabue, Creed Haskins and William Caldwell made bond and the court authorized the fifty acres laid off by survey to be "commonly called Columbia" and be hereby established a town to be laid off in lots and streets and "called and known by the name of Columbia."


This story was posted on 2020-03-28 04:35:41
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