Mills County Courthouse (Goldthwaite)
Architect: Henry T. Phelps
Year Built: 1913.
The Mills County Courthouse is located in the central Texas town of Goldthwaite. It is a three-story Classical Revival-style building made of brick with a cast stone basement. This courthouse replaced the first courthouse built in 1890 (burned in 1912). The grounds contain several monuments, including a large veteran’s memorial and a Confederate Veteran’s memorial commemorating the Mills County residents who gave their lives as Confederate Soldiers in the American Civil War. This monument has been robustly defended by local residents, including in 202 when a rumor of its removal circulated on social media.
Text from the Texas Historical Marker: Mills County was formed in 1887, and citizens built a county jail in Goldthwaite the following year. In 1889, Goldthwaite was chosen county seat, and Oscar Ruffini designed the first courthouse; it served at this site from 1890 through 1912, when it was destroyed by fire. The county hired noted San Antonio architect Henry T. Phelps to design this courthouse, completed in 1913 by the Gordon-Jones Construction Company. Phelps chose the Classical Revival style for the three-story structure with basement, using a rectangular form, a central, ornamental pediment and fluted, engaged columns. (2002)
Some great excerpts from the TSHA article about Mills County:
In earlier times the region was a hunting ground for Apaches and Comanches, who fought over it until the mid-nineteenth century.
A number of the early settlers were German immigrants who toiled, as one put it, in a “place that was a heaven for men and dogs-but hell for women and oxen.”
During the Civil War and for decades thereafter Whites caused settlers more trouble than Indians, as cattle rustlers, horse thieves, murderers, army deserters, and other rogues infested the area. Vigilante committees were formed to deal with criminals, but then these groups degenerated into warring mobs committing criminal acts themselves.
A reign of terror followed conflicts between vigilante groups, which broke out in Williams Ranch in 1869. Vigilantes drove out some bad characters, but killed other innocent men; lynchings and assassinations became commonplace. The turbulence lasted until 1897, when the Texas Rangers finally broke up a group of vigilantes who frequently gathered at Buzzard Roost.