The Cowley County Courthouse

History of Cowley County Courthouses

A bitter rivalry between Cresswell (now Arkansas City) and Winfield in establishing a county seat. A bill in the state legistlature that would have made Cresswell the temporary seat was successfully halted in 1870 by E. C. Manning and other leaders.

Governor S. J. Crawford was then persuaded to confer the title of county seat upon Winfield. The first county commission meeting was held in the log claim house of A. W. Andrews, northwest of the town.

Citizens of the county approved the Winfield selection on May 2, 1870 in a special election with a vote of 108-55. A group from Creswell, not satisfied with the results, begn a movement to have the seat moved to Tisdale (which they claimed was closer to the geographical center of the county).

A second special election was held in August, with Winfield still beating out the competition with a vote of 721-523. With the dispute settled, a courthouse could be built. The site chosen was the same block as the second courthouse, as well as the current one.

The first courthouse (above), was complete in 1873 on the south side of the block facing tenth street. One-story wings were added to the east and west sides in 1880-1881, with second floors being added in later years.

As more and more activities and records were needed for the courthouse over the years, the current building was simply too small to accomodate. The much larger second courthouse was completed in 1909 (left, top) and worked well for over 50 years (left, bottom) before the need for additional room forced the creation of a new courthouse.

The current courthouse was completed in 1963 and houses the day to day operations of county government. In 2009, rennovations to the Sheriff’s Office and jail were completed.

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