A Brief History of the Midland County Courthouse and Jail
In 1881, when the Texas Pacific Railroad set a box car off here
and called it Midway, there we no established ranges, no wells, no windmills, no
fences and no laws. The early settlers made their own laws based on honesty and
fairness. By special act of the Texas Legislature, Midland County was carved
out of Tom Green County on February 28, 1885. On June 15, 1885, the first
election was held and on August 10, 1885, the first commissioners court meeting
The court was opened according to law by Sheriff Theodore Ray
and it was ordered that a building owned by F.M. Wardlaw be rented for
courthouse purposes. Court Judge E.B. Lancaster then presented a bond of the
Midland Town Company whereby the company agreed to donate $3,000.00 to build a
jail, provided the county seat was located on Section 35, Block 9, Township 1
South. It appeared to the court that the county seat was so located and the
company's proposal was accepted.
On August 12, the commissioners asked for bids for building an
adobe courthouse and jail. By September, only one bid had been received. It
was rejected and the court agreed on a wooden structure. A contract was awarded
to Hunter & Weller on their bid of $2,934.65 for a wooden building. Judge
Lancaster was instructed to have a foundation laid for two steel-clad cells and
the court contracted with Pauly Jail and Manufacturing Company to erect the
cells a at cost of $3,000.00. On November 10, 1885, the court awarded a
contract for $425.00 to Stout & Marlin to erect a brick building enclosing
the two jail cells. These served until 1905.
In 1905, citizens approved a $30,000.00 bond issue for a new
courthouse by a vote of 110 to 15. The contract for the new structure was let
to William Martin of Comanche on his bid of $26,000.00. The 3-story courthouse
and jail served until 1929.
The present courthouse was built in 1930. It also housed the
jail on the fourth floor and was build for $319,000.00. It was remodeled and
enlarged in the early 1970's and the jail was moved to the 5th floor. The total
cost of this renovation was $2,000,000.
On May 11, 1985, a bond issue referendum was held and voters
approved renovation of the first floor jail in order to comply with requirements
of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. This renovation was completed in
1989. It was obvious that the capacity of that jail was inadequate to meet
community needs, although it will continue to be used for women and pre-trial
detainees in conjunction with the facility being dedicated today.
Contributed by Nancy R. McKinley,
County Historical Society