Comments from the canyons: Courthouse work spurs history discussion

As so frequently happens when a group of local people get together, the major topics of conversation are about the past. Obviously many of us remain interested in our history and enjoy remembering some of it whenever we have an opportunity.

For some reason, we began talking about the courthouse and started recalling the original locations of various county offices. We agreed that the county clerk and treasurer were the only offices in their original places although some changes have occurred. Several of the younger people in the group didn't know we once had a county school superintendent, or that the office was in what is now the assessor's office.

I seemed to be the only one who remembered that a room on the second floor was used as a sleeping room for jurors when trials were lengthy and the jurors were kept overnight. Of course, that room became unnecessary when women were allowed to serve on the jury.

I'll let the real historians check on the year in which we could be selected for jury duty, but I remember only a time or two during which that sleeping room was used. In the later years, the juries were housed at the Randal Hotel.

At least, the courtroom hasn't been moved yet, but it has certainly been changed in appearance. The third and fourth floors have no resemblance to the original plan. In fact, I am totally lost as I climb the stairs. That is a strange feeling for one who lived in the sheriff's residence for almost twelve years. During those years, we knew just about every inch of that building and roamed those halls at almost any time of the day or night.

The assembly room in the basement was a good meeting place for all sorts of organizations. It was the room in which our Tucumcari Historical Research Institute held its first meeting. We met there for some time before we changed our schedule to holding an annual meeting for the entire group. The board met at various locations before the Tucumcari Historical Museum opened.

Our courthouse has much history in and around it. A few of us still refer to it as the "new" courthouse because we remember when the old one was the only one in town.

We can hope that some of the history has been preserved in various records. Probably the most reliable source would be the minutes of the commissioners' meetings. At least, they should include the dates of changes to the building and should contain descriptions of those changes.

At the moment, we can see work in progress on the outside balconies and on the roof. Let's just enjoy viewing the building and remembering a few bits of her history.

Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.

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