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Courthouses built on city-owned land?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of the Courier.

 

When the municipality was deciding where to build its new city hall shortly after the turn of the century some 70 years ago, some members of the city council injected this question into the proceedings.

Otto A. Jeremias, a member of council and a well known Findlay citizen who had a big role in the community’s 1912 centennial celebration, asked council to look into the legal right of the county to have the courthouse on its Main Street site.

Mr. Jeremias contended that the county occupied the courthouse site without first having obtained the city’s consent via a deed or signed agreement. He said he thought the land had been donated to the city when the original plat was laid out by Joseph Vance and Elnathan Cory, who had bought the ground originally from the federal government in 1820. The county built a courthouse on the site in the 1840s and then constructed the present county building there in the late 1880s.

Council adopted a resolution requesting City Solicitor Reed Metzler to look into the matter of the county’s legal right to have built the courthouse on the site. He later reported that there was no actual deed, but the fact that the county had occupied the site so long brought the state statute of limitations into play and the city would now have no right to interfere.

Councilman Jeremias then facetiously suggested that the county, recognizing that it had seized city-owned land for courthouse purposes, should vacate the property and turn it over to the city for a city hall and then build a new courthouse. Then, seriously, he added that he thought the county should furnish the city with funds for the purchase of a site for the new city hall, under the circumstances.

All this was going on while the municipality was debating upon where to locate the new city building, which the voters had approved at an election in November 1900 by a five to one vote. The general opinion at the time was that there should be a new site and not the one occupied by the then existing city building at the south end of Broadway.

The courthouse matter became “moot” when council at last decided to keep the new city building where the old one on Broadway had been.

Councilman Jeremias had support in his contentions from another member of council, James W. McCormick. Council at that time had 15 members.

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Mayor Calvin R. Thatcher has received another communication with regard to Findlay’s name. It came from Dr. John W.A. Findlay, a native of Scotland who is in the United States on a temporary research assignment at Charlottesville, Va.

“Since I myself am a ‘Findlay’ by name, I have been prompted to write to ask you for any information you might have concerning the origin of your city’s name,” Dr. Findlay wrote the mayor.

Mayor Thatcher turned the letter over to the author of this column to answer. We wrote him about Col. James Findlay, the army officer whose troops built Fort Findlay in the war of 1812, and whose name the city bears.

Dr. Findlay, in his letter, said “the name ‘Findlay’ is quite localized in Scotland.” He went on to say “a large proportion of the fisher-folk there are named ‘Findlay.'” He wondered if the city of Findlay’s name had significance that tied in with Scotland in some way.

Mayor Thatcher received a letter from a woman in England back in 1968, making inquiry about the city’s name, since it was her name, too. She said in her communication that the name has Scotch origin and named the exact clan to which the Findlays belonged. The mayor also turned her letter over to us for an answer in 1968. We sent Dr. Findlay a copy of our letter to her and also a copy of our column in the Republican Courier in which we quoted her letter and our answer to her.

Dr. Findlay, who holds a doctor of philosophy degree, also inquired about Findlay College. We told him of the institution and also sent him some pertinent facts generally about our city.

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