THE COURTHOUSE PAGE

Letter about the Courthouse - 1854
Compiled by Marilyn McCluen

From Kingston Gazetteer, 25 Nov 1854.


Mr. Editor,

When I left the mountains to take up my abode in your town, I had to promise at least twenty of my companions that I would write back letters to them, informing them of all the strange things that I saw, and all the sharp adventures I encountered. As I write a cramped hand and am just learning the business of clerking, I find great difficulty in writing so many letters, I must beg of you, Mr. Editor, to let me pring some letters in the Gazetteer and send your papers to them.

I arrived in Kingston on the day of Circuit Court. As I passed into town the first thing that struck me was the great number of fine houses. There are two very large houses standing close together, which I was informed were Court Houses. I at first supposed that one was the Court House for the Circuit and the other for the County Court, but on asking my employer, Mr. Grip, he informed that the fine one is to try the women in and the old ugly one is for the men. The female Court House is all covered over with silver or something looking very like it, and has a horn like a Spanish saddle sticking up from it. The old one has an old bed stead fastened on top of it, which Mr. Grip says was put up there several years ago to keep people from getting bit by sleeping in it. But my friend Bob says that Grip doesn't know anything about it, and that the town constable sleeps up there in that bed-stead every night in order to overlook the town and keep everything in order. And Bob says the constable sees many things going on below him in the night when the town gentry supposes him to be fast asleep, which would create great family jars and disturbances if the constable were to tell them. I intend to get the constable to deputize me some moonshiny night, and let me sleep up there, and then I will write to you the strange things I see going on in the dead hours of the night.

After looking at the Court House for some time I noticed a large crowd of men coming out of the male house, and I went along with them. A very nicely dressed and friendly gentleman spoke politely to me, and I walked all the way nearly with him to a large house, called a tavern, where a bell was ringing louder than our cow bell and sheep bell put together. I stuck close to him, seeing that he was friendly man, and we all stood talking together, two or three dozen of us, in the tavern when suddenly a little bell broke loose like a sheep bell with a wolfe after it, and a door flew open and we all broke in, and I never saw so many good things on a table before in my life. I got a seat close beside the friendly stranger, and we all fell to eating away. A large turkey was on the end of the table near me, and a man stood at the end of the table and cut off a piece of it. And then he spoke to the friendly stranger, and says, "Judge, will you have some turkey?" The friendly stranger said, "Thank you, Doctor;" and then I knew the friendly stranger was no less a person than the Judge himself, and I knew that the doctor, whoever he might be, was a good doctor from the kind of medicine he gave the Judge. I was disposed to take a dose myself; but the doctor did not ask any body but the Judge if he would take some turkey. I asked Mr. Grip the reason that nobody but the Judge got any turkey, and he told me the Judges have to be fed on turkeys, the lawyers on chickens, and other people of beef and bacon . . .

After dinner, Old Grip come to the tavern to hunt me, having misunderstood I was there; and in an hour I was selling tape and toggery behind the counter. I will give further items next week.

Yours till death, Green Spicewood.