History of County Seat


The original seat of justice was located about 1835, at a point five miles northeast of Gainesville, and was named Paris. Here a log courthouse was erected and one or two stores opened. Afterward the question of re-locating the county seat was agitated, and of the different points competing for it, the one where Gainesville is situated gained the location, hence the name Gainesville. To this place the seat of justice was moved about the year 1840. A log court-house and subsequently a log jail were erected. The former was soon abandoned and in its stead a three-story frame court house, about thirty feet square, was constructed. The first floor of this building was occupied with the county offices, the second with the court-room, and the third with a Masonic hall. The building, with a portion of the records, was burned in 1874. A store room was then rented for a court-house, and soon thereafter, in the same year, it was, with all the balance of the records, also burned. These buildings were supposed to have been set on fire by certain parties, that the records, noting their rather questionable conduct, might be destroyed. This led to the shooting and killing of Sheriff Wright, by a citizen whom the people justified by not prosecuting. Two other persons, supposed to be implicated in the crime of burning the buildings, were arrested and placed in jail, from which they escaped and were not afterward apprehended. One of them, it is said, confessed his guilt.

The next court-house was another store room, which, with all accumulated records, was burned in 1876, presumably by an incendiary resting under indictments for crime. A one-story frame court-house was then erected, and continued to be used until 1884, when the county seat was removed from Gainesville to its present site, at Paragould. In 1884 the one-story frame building now standing east of the court-house square was erected for a temporary court-house. In 1888 the present beautiful and well- proportioned two-story brick building, with the halls and offices on the first floor and the court-room on the second, was erected by Contractors Boone and McGinnis, at a cost of $14,700. The clock in the tower cost $700 more. In 1877 the same contractors built the present two-story jail, containing four iron cells or rooms, and the jailer's residence, at a cost of $7,000.