County Seat: Brownwood • County Population: 38,106 (2010 Census)
The Brown County Courthouse was completed in 1917 in a Classical Revival style. Technically speaking, this temple of justice was a remodeling or “repair” of the 1884 capitol; however, the structure was so thoroughly fixed that only the vault from the original courthouse survived.
In her history book, “The Texas Courthouse Revisited,” June Rayfield Welch describes how the inaugural county courthouse came to be:
When Brown County was organized in 1858, Chief Justice Welcome Chandler donated a courthouse site east of Pecan Bayou and a mile and a half from Brownwood’s present square. A log cabin with two windows was erected, which also served as a school. After water from the public well was found to be salty, Commissioner William Connell gave a new site two miles to the south. Volunteers tore down the courthouse and dragged the logs to the new location. Lex Johnston wrote that cases were tried in the courthouse, but juries deliberated in the woods. Indictments and other documents were kept in a flour sack. Once, while jurymen were camped on Pecan Bayou, Indians stole their horses. The “twelve good men and true” commenced a pursuit the next morning which required three days. Some jurors never returned to finish the trial.
In the meantime the Masonic Lodge in the county seat of Brownwood moved into the second story of the courthouse. Members used a ladder nailed to the side of the meeting to enter their conference room.
Title issues prompted the relocation of the courthouse to another donated site. A stone structure was then erected in 1877, but burned three years later when a defendant tried to destroy his indictment. The county attempted a repair job, but in 1884 the citizenry approved a new, $52,000 county capitol.
In 1915 this latest temple of justice suffered an infestation of mice, bats and roaches. Rural taxpayers protested yet another new courthouse, so the county initiated an extensive remodeling project resulting in the county courthouse still in use today.
Brown County, located near the geographic center of Texas, was named for Capt. Henry Stevenson Brown, a company commander in the battle of Velasco and a delegate to the Convention of 1832.
The county is home to legendary Underwood’s BBQ, Coach Gordon Wood, and more than 50 historical markers and eight museums, including the Brown County Museum of History and the Firearms Museum of Texas, which are housed in the 1902 jail house resembling a European castle.
The area is known as a sportsman’s paradise, thanks to Lake Brownwood and miles upon miles of rolling terrain filled with live oak and white-tailed deer.
E. Ray West III
Larry W. Traweek