By Judy Deeter
The decision to construct the present-day courthouse in
came at the end of a nearly
century-long battle between Troy and Troy over which city should be the
county seat for Piqua . The long-running feud between the cities is sometimes referred to as the
“Courthouse War.” From the beginning of
the county in 1807, officials and residents of Miami County thought their town should be and
eventually would be the county seat. It
is believed Piqua was chosen because it is located in nearly the
geographical center of Troy . Today’s courthouse was built on a piece of land then known as Miami County Swailes Square. In the early years of the building it was sometimes known as the Swailes Square Courthouse.
There was a great celebration when the building’s cornerstone was laid on the northeast corner of the building on
July 16, 1885. The day the cornerstone was placed has been described as one filled with
the music of brass bands, military marches, displays of bunting and
fireworks. Newspaper reports of the day
said the event was one of the most memorable in county history. Trains carrying program attendees pulled in
to Troy from throughout Southwest Ohio. Other people traveled to Troy by horse and buggy. The Grand Army of the Republic post from
Addison, Ohio (in Champaign County) brought a large flag, which was suspended
across Main Street. (The Grand Army of
the Republic was a Civil War veterans’ organization.) The Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad
brought a delegation from Tippecanoe City (Tipp City) including the town fire
department in uniform. Other town
delegations were on hand from Dayton, Miamisburg, and Hamilton, Ohio. According to an article in the Troy Daily
News (July 24, 1947), “The procession formed at and was one of the finest that ever
marched in western .” Ohio
The cornerstone was placed with in a Masonic ceremony. Joseph Bains, who then served as the grand treasurer of Ohio Masonry, put a copper box in the mortice of the cornerstone. The box was filled with a variety of items including records of local organizations (with names of members), area newspapers, a blank copy of a Miami County Courthouse bond, and the printed program for the cornerstone laying. A poem titled “To The New Courthouse” by Casstown poet and writer Thomas C. Harbaugh was also included. During the 1996-1998 renovation of the courthouse, items in the cornerstone were microfilmed. The microfilm is available for public viewing at the Troy-Miami County Public Library Local History Library at
100 W. Main Street in .
The July 1947 Troy Daily News article
says: “Grand Master J.M. Goodspeed
leveled, plumbed and squared the cornerstone and sprinkled it with wheat, wine
and oil after the ancient Masonic custom.” Troy
The speaker for ceremony was Captain Elihu Stephen Williams, who was known for his oratory skills. Williams led an interesting life. He was born in New Carlisle in
on Clark County January
24, 1835. He attended in Yellow Springs for two years
then studied law in Antioch College .
In 1861—just as the Civil War was breaking out—he was admitted to the
bar. In October that year, he enlisted
as a Private in the 71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He became a First Lieutenant in 1862 and a
Captain in 1863. He served at a military
post at Carthage, Smith Co., Dayton .
When the war ended, he stayed in Tennessee and served as Attorney General of
the Sixth Judicial District of Tennessee from April 1865 until 1867. From 1867 to 1869 he served as a member of
the Tennessee House of Representatives.
He relocated to Tennessee in 1875, and a few years later, was elected to serve
in the United States House of Representatives.
He served as a Troy Congressman from US March
until March 3, 1891.
He later worked as the editor of the local Buckeye
newspaper. He died in on Troy December
1, 1903. Words remembered from his ceremony speech
published in the 1947 article are: “Then
let this court house be built upon the foundation, the corner stone of which we
this day plant. Let it rise in its
architectural beauty as a sign and symbol that the protecting arm of the law is
around every home, and that justice like the sunshine and the rain of heaven
falls alike upon the rich and poor, without regard to race and color. ‘No man
is too high for its reach and no man too low for its grasp.’ A shield of
protection for the innocent, and a swift, strong arm of punishment for the
The architect for the courthouse was Joseph Warren Yost. Miami County Commissioners had chosen Yost as architect in 1885. He had previously designed the Guernsey County Courthouse (1881) and the
jail and Sheriff’s office
(1882). He had studied the
architectural style of Henry Hobson Richardson, whose style was known as
Richardson Romanesque, a style characterized by heavy masonry walls, rough
stone surfaces, deeply recessed entryways, towers, turrets, and gabled
rooflines. The Miami County Courthouse
is known for most of those things as well as several interior features such as
a beautiful carved staircase, patterned flooring, and walls with relief pieces
depicting local history. A Troy Daily
News article written by Jim DeWeese about 1967 and reprinted in the Miami
County Courthouse Curriculum describes the lovely third floor: “Eight busts are molded into corners…Paul
Braunschweiger, who has been employed more than 40 years at the courthouse, has
his opinions about this. Braunschweiger believes the busts represent King Ferdinand
and Queen Isabella, the first Indians in the county, slaves, Princess
Pocahontas, and John Rolfe. Adjacent to
the busts are inlaid plaster of paris plaques representing agriculture,
horticulture, astronomy and the arts.”
The building is filled with symbolic representations. The gray marble flooring on the second and
third floors originally cost $3,655.00.
The general contractor for the project was T.B. Townsend. Construction workers were paid 40 cents and
hour for their labor. Noble County
It should be mentioned that some local 1880s newspapers condemned the construction of the courthouse. Editors wrote about cracks in building’s walls. They said that it would “fall down within a decade” and be a financial disaster.
Electricity is thought to have been put in the courthouse in 1903. There are records of plans submitted for electrification by the Hobart Electric Manufacturing Company from that year.
Seven female allegorical statues stand at five roofline locations. They are on both the dome of the courthouse and on each side of the building. The statue at the top of the dome is Lady Justice. She is sometimes referred to as Justica, the Goddess of Justice. Other statues represent agriculture, education, industry and transportation. W.H. Mullens of
created the statues. Salem, Ohio
There is a special story about the transportation statue on the east side. She holds a model train locomotive in her hand. In 1947, a severe windstorm loosened the locomotive from the statue. It was found and repaired by courthouse custodian and maintenance man Homer Collins. When Collins tried to return the locomotive to the statue, he found that county commissioners were not interested in having it reattached. So he kept it. After Collins’ death, his daughter Nancy Collins Mikels donated the locomotive to The Troy Historical Society. In 1995, it was restored to the statue’s hand where it is today—nearly a half century after it fell off the statue.
The courthouse has undergone two restorations project: 1972-1982 and 1996-1998.
A few lines from Thomas Harbaugh’s poem “To The New Courthouse” ring as true today as they did in the late 19th century:
“The farmer, when he homeward comes
From Fields with furrows many,
Will shout to see thy gilded dome:
‘Heighho! but she’s a daisy!’
‘Tis sweet to think that by and by,
When we have done life’s duties,
Our childrens’ great-grandchildren’s eyes,
Will gaze upon thy beauties.”
The Troy Historical Society has an exhibit about the courthouse at the Troy Miami County Public Libriary Local History Library at
100 W. Main Street and a public program in May at the . Troy-Hayner Cultural Center
For historical information about the courthouse, contact The Troy Historical Society at (937) 339-5900, send an email email@example.com, or visit the Local History Library.