Monday, October 27, 2014

Somerville's Historic Courthouse

On a recent trip from Huntsville back home to Pelham, I stopped at the old courthouse building just off state highway 36 in Somerville. That town is as old as the state, having been incorporated in 1819. Somerville served as the seat of Morgan County government until 1891. Morgan County was created as Cotaco County in February 1818 during the brief Alabama Territory period. The county was renamed in June 1821. The name "Cotaco" survives today as another small community in Morgan County.

The first wooden courthouse in Somerville was built around 1825; twelve years later the current building was constructed. The structure is the oldest courthouse building in Alabama. By 1891 much of the county's population lived in the towns of Decatur and New Decatur, and a vote resulted in the government's move to Decatur. The two sides of the historic marker seen below give further details about the town.

More detailed histories of the courthouses of Morgan County can be found in Samuel A. Rumore, Jr.'s article "Building Alabama's Courthouse: Morgan County" in the January 1989 issue of the Alabama Lawyer. That piece is one of many columns Mr. Rumore wrote for the journal on Alabama's county courthouses. 

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