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TURNING BACK TIME: County legacy laid within cornerstone

January 29, 2013

A photo of the Courthouse Square, in 1880, appears much different than the present scene. Main Street was once lined with horses and carriages. The historic photo, which hangs in the Superior Courtroom, was photographed near the intersection of Main and Van Buren Streets, facing west. In the background, the Clugston building still stands. Post & Mail photo / NIcole Ott

Editor’s note: The following is the final installment of a three-part series highlighting the Whitley County Courthouse.

COLUMBIA CITY — Standing as a pinnacle in Whitley County, the current Courthouse has existed for 123 years.

As part of the building’s foundation, a cornerstone, anchoring the northeast corner, was sealed Sept. 20, 1888, and inside a varied assortment of items were deposited to be uncovered at a future date.

Copies of invitations, posters, programs from the laying of the cornerstone were included.

Architect Brent S. Tolan, of Fort Wayne, contributed different instruments used for drawing the building.

The cornerstone also houses some items of a religious nature, such as a copy of the Holy Scriptures, an original copy of the constitution and minutes from the first Sunday school meeting held April 15, 1846, and printed registers of Grace Lutheran Church with the official directory and roll of membership.

One interesting item included in the cornerstone was a note written by C.B. Matton, a county auditor. The note is wrapped around a silver dollar from 1799 and reads:

“To the unborn: I enclose in this sheet of paper the American dollar dated the year of our Lord, 1799, which is decorated with 13 stars representing the 13 original states. It has passed through wars and rumors of wars, and has been used by many toothless children; may its future be free inundation and conflagrations, and may the Lord bless the finder.

“Yours truly, C.B. Matton, auditor Whitley County.”

Since it was sealed, the cornerstone has not been opened. The stone measures 2 feet and 9.5 inches square and 3 feet, 3 inches tall.

As the stone was placed into its final position, corn, wine and oil were poured over it as a mark of consecration. To close the ceremony, the crowd sang a coronation hymn.

With years turning into decades, the Courthouse has been the setting for all sorts of community events and occasions.

For a more in-depth look at this story, see the Jan. 29 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.

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