A crowd that easily could have filled the old log cabin 25 times over gathered on Friday afternoon at the Wiggins Family Museum on Highway 136 in Memphis to commemorate the dedication of the restored structure which once had served as Scotland County’s first courthouse.
“Today, as we dedicate this historic courthouse, we can also express our appreciation of each other and renew our dedication to our Constitution and our Country,” said Senior United States District Judge E. Richard Webber.
The former Scotland County resident did the honors, offering the official dedication of the building, which was constructed sometime after 1821 when Missouri officially became a state and sometime before January 29, 1841 when the General Assembly of Missouri formed Scotland County.
“This building was constructed sometime during this period, presumably because a center for the administration of justice was deemed a necessity by consent of the governed citizens of an area of northeast Missouri at least the size of the combined area of what is now Scotland and Knox Counties,” Webber told the crowd.
The building had been relocated from its original construction site near Sandhill, to a rural Scotland County farm, where it was recently identified, setting off a process of acquiring the historic landmark, transporting it to its new location and a complete restoration.
Webber recognized a number of local residents who played keys roles in the process. The initial tear down and relocation work was done in large part by Eric Probst, Jeff McBee, Beau Triplett, Ronnie Brown, Larry (Doc) Wiggins, and Carl Trueblood.
Once transported to Memphis. the group identified the need for a different storage facility, as a taller ceiling was required to house the completed courthouse. Thus a new metal building was constructed to house the landmark.
“Just as those who were bound together to create this symbol of sovereignty so many years ago, a progressive few joined together in a sense of sharing resources and collecting resources, in a spirit of cooperation, went to a former site of this old courthouse; relying on their collective talents, removed the old barn which was collapsing around the structure, dissembled the building, loaded the respective parts and transported the remnants to this location,” said Webber.
During the festivities, Dr. Wiggins dedicated the storage building to his late brother, former State Representative Gary Wiggins, who had served Chariton, Linn, Macon and Sullivan counties for four terms before passing away in 2001.
The new Gary Wiggins Memorial Building now houses a log structure built more than 175 years ago.
“As we recognize the rule of law protects our freedom, now, as it did more than 175 years ago, let this historic courthouse be a constant reminder, to the governed and more importantly to those who govern, the law works best while all work together respectfully, expecting some compromise, with expectations the public trust will always be served,” said Webber. “Those who visit here, because of a few who willed this monument would be protected and preserved, will reflect on where we were as a society, where we are in our current state, and where we expect to be in the future. Let us be inspired by the pioneering spirit of those who labored to create this old courthouse; that we will use our God given talents to assure all generations of Americans be endowed by certain inalienable rights; among those life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
During the service the efforts of the courthouse restoration crew were recognized. Eric Probst, Jason Ketchum, Arlo Trueblood, Chad Trueblood, Justin Winn, Tyler Henstorf, Rod Sears, Randy Woods, Wayne Winn, David Mohr, Jeremy Hamlin, Beau Triplett, Carl Trueblood, Kyleigh Trueblood, Leon Trueblood and Kenny Dieterich were all recognized for the efforts in restoring the historic landmark.
“Working under a strained time frame, these individuals, with great care and humble respect, assembled the parts of the building, made structural reinforcements and installed a new roof,” Webber told the crowd.
The crowd joined with Webber to officially dedicate the landmark, reciting the following :
“We re-dedicate this Old Courthouse – in memory of all it served – and to all future generations – may it always – be a reminder – of the rights and responsibilities – stated in our Declaration of Independence – and our United States Constitution – So Help Us God!”