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In the article before alluded to Judge Sexton says of this election :- “The proprietors of Hamilton took an undue advantage of her sister towns, by distributing deeds (quit-claims) to a great many merchants and miners in the more populous precincts, of choice town lots, while to the more influential of the merchants, corner lots were deeded for business houses, etc., all of which were accompanied by glowing descriptions of the future prosperity and wealth of the place. We do not accuse the honest miners of the time of being so sordid as to let this influence their votes, but Hamilton did receive a large majority over any other place. At that time the town had two taverns, one store, and one blacksmith shop. Soon after, another tavern was erected, also a new store, under the influence of which the old one gave up business. The clerk's office was fixed in the bed-room of Tom Gray's hotel, until a shake shanty could be built. Most of the other officers held their offices in their bed-rooms of the hotel where they were boarding."
On the fourth of October, the court of sessions held its first term there, in an old shake house belonging to Mother Nichols, a widow, who lived in one corner of it.
The necessity for a proper place in which to hold courts, and another to furnish lodgings for the refractory members of society, soon arose, and on the eighteenth of October this order issued from the court of sessions : “And now, on this day, it is ordered by the court that a tax of one-quarter per cent. be levied upon all the taxable property of Butte county, for the erection of a court-house and jail for said county.” Some days previous, R. C. Baker had submitted to the court a design for a jail, which he guaranteed would be sufficiently commodious and strong for the criminal population. In reference to it
appeared the following, on the nineteenth inst.: “And now it is ordered by the court that a jail be erected for the use of said county, upon the plans submitted by R. C. Baker, and the court appoints R. C. Baker to receive proposals for the erection of such building, and submit the same to the judges of this county ; to contract for the erection of such building when suitable proposals have been received and approved by the judges of the court; and to superintend the erection of such building."
But R. Bird & Co. had a plan which was deemed by the court to be more feasible than the others, and the commissioner of the county was ordered, on the twenty-third, to adopt the plan submitted by them, providing the said Bird & Co. should become the contractors also. This was modified sufficiently to allow others to make proposals if they so desired. The contract was finally awarded to R. Bird & Co. in these words :
“ Commissioner Reuel C. Baker is ordered to receive proposal for erection of county jail submitted by R. Bird & Co., and to draw warrants on county treasurer for one-half value of labor actually performed as the work progresses—warrants to be paid from funds collected upon assessment levied by the court for that purpose."
For some reason Bird & Co. soon repented of their bargain and asked to be released from their contract. The court let them off on their paying the expenses of contracting, and also the expenses of re-contracting for the jail. Commissioner Baker was allowed to make whatever minor alterations in the contract his judgment might dictate. The contract for the jail was then let to E. K. Dodge for $8,500, and erected under the superintendence of Mr. Baker. Alterations in the contract made an extra expense of $700, raising the whole cost of the structure to $9,200. It was completed on the seventeenth of June, 1852, having been a long time in building. Considering the short period of its utility, the cost was hardly compensated for. It was a first-class jail, however, for that time. The walls were of great solidity and thickness, and so protected with sheet-iron that a prisoner once incarcerated within one of its two gloomy cells left hope of escape behind until liberated by due process of law.
The other necessary concomitant of a county-seat was of course a court-house. As a preliminary measure, block 108, town of Hamilton, as set forth in the plat, was dedicated to county purposes. On the tenth of December, 1850, commissioner Baker was instructed to purchase the house of Campbell & Tate, in Fredonia, four miles below Hamilton, on the opposite side of Feather river, for a sum not exceeding $1,800, to be paid in county warrants, and to prepare such building for a temporary courthouse. A previous contract for a small court-house (probably as costly as the jail), was at the same time withdrawn. It is a curious fact that the material from which this building sprang was a year or two before shipped from Australia. The building thus negotiated for cost on the ground eighteen hundred dollars. Messrs. Crum & Poile took the contract of removing the building to the county-seat, and erecting it, for $3,000. The desks, tables, benches, etc., were made by the same parties for one hundred and thirty dollars, making the total cost of the court-house $4,930, and the total cost of the court-house and jail $14,130. For this sum warrants were issued on the jail-fund, and a specific appropriation was made by the court of sessions for its payment. Upon the tax levied for this fund in 1851, there were collected $576.57 towards redeeming the debt thus contracted. During the year 1852 $1,388.06 were applied to liquidating the court-house and jail debt, leaving a balance, in December of that year, of $12,103.15. In August, 1853, another special tax of one-fourth of one per cent. was levied for courthouse and jail purposes.
At this time the town of Hamilton began to wane. Bidwell overshadowed her greatly, and its prosperity as a mining town inspired hopes in its residents of obtaining the county-seat. The required amount of work was done in the legislature, and that body declared, by the Act of March 19, 1853, that after the tenth of the following August the county-seat should be located at Bidwell's bar, but that the