A History of Rockingham Court House, North Carolina

The county justices apparently intended to erect a court house near Eagle Falls, but the proposed location was challenged because it was not close enough to the geographic center of the county. Consequently, the county surveyor was requested to ascertain a new commission and empowered it to locate the county seat "on land of Charles Mitchell on the east side of Big Rock House Creek..." Thus the beginnings for the Rockingham County town simply named Rockingham Court House; the County Seat from 1787 to 1799.

On August 28, 1787, Peter Perkins and Charles Gallaway conveyed to the county one acre for public use, and during the August of 1787 court session the county court authorized the new court to be occupied during the ensuing court session. The November term of the county court convened in the court house, which was then nearly complete, but it was not until May of 1788 when the builder, Richard Sharp, was paid and the public buildings formally received by the justices.

A detailed description of the first Rockingham County Court House was recorded in the minutes of the November 1792 session of the adjoining Guilford County Court. The Guilford justices were considering rework on their existing court house and apparently took a little trip up to Rockingham Court House to check it out. They reported that the Rockingham Court House was 36-1/2 feet long, just over 24 feet wide, and a little over 11 feet to the cornish. The porches were a little over nine feet long and six feet wide. The structure was weatherboarded with poplar "in an Ordinary manner." The interior was ceiled in pine ten inches wide and the floor was laid with six-inch pine. The benches were of pine, and the court's bench and bar were described as being "Elegantly Moulded and beaded.... the corner parts of the bench boxed & caped in a genteel manner." The building was underpinned with brick and covered with a chestnut shingle roof. It was heated with two fireplaces with one chimney.

The town of Rockingham Court House consisted only of a few public buildings, a few houses, a tavern and on November 11, 1794 it was granted a US Post Office. The Postal Department records are silent on who was the first Postmaster.

In 1796, an Act was passed authorizing the purchase of land from Robert Galloway & Company, where public buildings were situated, and the community of Wentworth was established. In 1797, an Act was passed suspending operations on the Wentworth court house. In 1798, commissioners were named to establish Wentworth on land given by Robert Galloway for that purpose. The first court was held at Wentworth in May of 1799, and it has been the County Seat for Rockingham County ever since.



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