From "The Flo News" written by Norma Moore
Published in the Buffalo Express, Nov 21, 2006
I want to continue with the recognition of our historical Leon County seat and our courthouse heritage since 1850. Centerville was laid out by the Texas Legislature in 1850 as the central location for Leon county. They provided an immediate frame two story building courthouse. This was the Centerville seat of Justice located on the township square with the city limits.
This brought acclaimed respectable growth and success. The courthouse being the center of the township has remained t this day the main attraction for Centerville.
The framed courthouse was in place until 1857 when a bond passed to build a two story brick Courthouse, this was the facility until it burned in 1885. Yet with the determination of the citizens a bond was passed within days for another brick courthouse to be built. It seemed as if there was more excitement and joy for the people toward this new courthouse. A more attractive designed building that would be more suitable for county operations.
The Courthouse was constructed with a strong resemblance of southern tradition like those seen in Virginia and the Carolina's, it had a Victorian style. The Courthouse was built by a mixture of people, Irish, German, English and Scots. these immigrants made Leon county their new frontier. This beautiful Courthouse was completed in 1887 at a cost of $28,000. Bricks made by hand were used throughout the building many being salvaged from the first brick courthouse.
The discovery of two large safes left standing with important items secured the entire new structure. The Courthouse was designed and built around and over these refurbished safes. The beautiful constructed Courthouse stood two stories high with a wide staircase leading to the second floor where the courtroom was located. Ten fireplaces with mantels heated the large rooms. boards were used to cover the plain plastered ceilings and the chief adornment of elite iron railing edged the roof of the veranda at the entrance.
1887 was a bright promising year for Centerville citizens and Leon County having gone through hardships in years passed trying to get the Courthouse built. With money being scarce and so many people trying to make a o of it in Centerville after leaving their original homeland for a new start in Leon county. Through prayer, strong willed determination and hard work they achieved their goal of a Leon County Courthouse that has been the center of attraction.
Since 1887 a Historical Heritage has been recognized by the government, local people and traveling visitors. The courthouse has several purposes such as county business, entertainment, public community affairs. The 4th of July celebrations take place around the courthouse as does weddings, parties, and the Black-eyed Pea annual celebration which has connected the world with Leon County.
1836-1846 Leon county was known as The Old Robertson Colony which was a seat of Government. It was a sparsely settled region on the east side of the Trinity River and on the south by the San Antonio Road. During the Runaway Scrape the pioneers fled along this corridor.
By 1844 a more stable government was taking shape and more immigrants were pushing westward claiming Texas land. Settling around the Robertson county was a vast population of white immigrants from many different places and backgrounds most of them moral souls believing in the almighty, seeking a better life.
Leon county in 1846 was when the Texas legislature began to cut up the large counties into smaller more manageable ones. The law required at least 100 votes to separate from the parent county.
William McKay Ball and a large amount of other citizens helped establish Leon county on March 17, 1846. This lawful act was approved by Austin. The first county seat was held in Leona until 1850 then Centerville was declared the county seat. A township was started of basic farming and ranching town. The town experienced a speedy change from a small town to a reconstructed, prosperous city. With a vast population in such a short time the number of citizens had climbed to four hundred. The character and the strength of the town shifted into an acclaimed recognized township of a professional county operation.
The courthouse being the center of the town with business sections and family dwellings made up the famed square. Centerville had a steady success and wealth until the civil war when Leon County was thrown into a desperate situation. Centerville stood the test and recovered.
When the railroad bypassed Centerville this was a set back for the township, yet they held on and have remained the center of Leon county. the genealogical historical society will save the majestic Leon county heritage. They have won grants to restore our beautiful Victorian courthouse. This restoration is very precious to us. The president of the genealogical society, Richard L. King, stated "The Victorian courthouse is more than just brick and mortar, it is rich with history of Leon county people that wanted it and it will stand again as a majestic monument that shaped Leon County"
Today the historical Courthouse stands much as it did in 1887, except for the fireplaces that are closed and the shutters are gone. The Venetian blinds hang in disarray in their stead the wear and tear is visible around the entire building. Basically it has kept its beauty and harmonizing quality with its State Historical medal.
Its architecture background still holds a captive charm and beauty thanks to Richard L. King and all of the Leon county Genealogical and Heritage Societies. The 1887 Courthouse will soon be restored to its original majestic grandeur state. There is such joy and excitement that our courthouse will again be a fully functioning County courthouse. This taking place will be ushering in a new generation of people and events. One new attraction being added will be an elevator. We are so proud that established courthouse built of our past is to still be the heart of Centerville. The Courthouse is a special landmark that represents our past, present and our future. The Centerville Courthouse is an everlasting treasure.