The Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont, Texas

By: Nagy K. Soliman, October 14, 2002, TX History, Lamar University.

The Jefferson County Court House was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The dedication marker at its historical entrance reflects a great deal of its history: "The first County building constructed at this site was a Jailhouse completed in 1838, 2 years after the origination of Jefferson County. Located on land acquired from Nancy Tevis, a pioneer settler of the area, it also housed County Offices and Courts. When the Commissioner's Court outgrew the facility, sessions were held in private homes.

1st Jailhouse

The first Courthouse here was completed in 1854. Built by John A. Beaumont, it was a two story square structure surrounded by a six-foot picket fence. Baptist and Methodist congregations conducted Sunday services in the building and during the Civil War it was leased to D. T. Inglehart, a Confederate surgeon, for use as a hospital.

A second Courthouse was constructed in 1893, twelve years after the incorporation of Beaumont. Designed by E. T. Heiner, it was a three story red brick building with white trim.

Courthouse Construction

Following the area oil boom of the 1920's it proved inadequate to meet the needs of the growing population and was replaced by the present brick Courthouse in 1931.

3rd Courthouse

Designed by Fred Stone and A. Babin, the fourteen-story building features art deco styling in the use of sculpted ornamentation and marble interior work." The restoration of the Jefferson County Courthouse along with the new Courthouse addition was completed in May 1984. The current Courthouse and annex accommodates sixteen Courts, the "Constitutional" Jefferson County Commissioner's Court, three County Courts at Law, ten State Courts, and two of the seven Jefferson County's Justice of Peace Courts. The County Court at Law # 1 is a Civil Court, and the County Courts at law # 2 & # 3 are Criminal Misdemeanor Courts. The State Courts are divided into two Family / Domestic Courts (the 279th District Court, and the 317th District Court), three Felony Courts (the 252nd District Court, the Criminal District Court, and the Drug Impact Court), four Civil Courts (the 58th District Court, the 60th District Court, the 136th District Court, and the 172nd District Court), and one State Appellate Court (the 9th District Court of Appeals).

The following pages are dedicated to the Courts' history

1. County Judges of the Jefferson County Commissioner's Court, established in 1837. Also known as ("Chief Justices" between 1837-1864), and known as ("Presiding Officers of Police Court" between 1870-1875).
2. Judges of the Jefferson County Court at Law # 1, established March 3, 1915.
3. Judges of the Jefferson County Court at Law # 2, established October 1, 1964.
4. Judges of the Jefferson County Court at Law # 3, established November 14, 1983.
5. Judges of the original Judicial District Court of Jefferson County, established in 1842.
6. Judges of the 58th Judicial District Court of Jefferson County, established September 2, 1901.
7. Judges of the 60th Judicial District Court of Jefferson County, established February 3, 1903.
8. Judges of the Criminal Judicial District Court of Jefferson County, established April 11, 1939.
9. Judges of the 136th Judicial District Court of Jefferson County, established in August, 1955.
10. Judges of the Domestic Relations Court of Jefferson County, established August 25, 1961. (Designated as the 317th Judicial District Court on September 7, 1977).
11. Judges of the 172nd Judicial District Court of Jefferson County,
established October 1, 1969.
12. Judges of the 252nd Judicial District Court of Jefferson County,
established in August, 1977.
13. Judges of the 279th Judicial District Court of Jefferson County,
established May 27, 1981.
14. Judges of the Drug Impact Court of Jefferson County,
established June 1, 1992.
15. Justices of the 9th District Court of Appeals, established June 19, 1915.


County Judges of the Jefferson County Commissioner's Court

Honorable Chichester Chaplin (Chief Justice) 1837
Honorable Henry Millard (Chief Justice) 1838-1840
Honorable D. J. Otho Millard (Chief Justice) 1841-1842
Honorable Thomas H. Lewis (Chief Justice) 1843-1846
Honorable Isaiah Junker (Chief Justice) 1846-1848
Honorable William Lewis (Chief Justice) 1849-1850
Honorable D. E. Lawhorn (Chief Justice) 1850-1854
Honorable Isaiah Junker (Chief Justice) 1854-1855
Honorable Worthy Patridge (Chief Justice) 1856-1857
Honorable Isaiah Junker (Chief Justice) 1857-1860
Honorable Andrew J. Ward (Chief Justice) 1860-1862
Honorable G. W. Brewer (Chief Justice) 1862-1864
Honorable John J. Herring (County Judge) 1864-1869
Honorable John H. Archer (County Judge) 1869
Hon. N.B. Bendy (Presiding Officer of Police Court) 1870-1873
Hon. J. J. Herring (Presiding Officer of Police Court) 1874
Hon. Cave Johnson (Presiding Officer of Police Court) 1875
Honorable W. A. Cushman (County Judge) 1876
Honorable C. C. Caswell [pro-term] 1876-March 19, 1877
Honorable John Cate Milliken March 20, 1877-1880
Honorable W. D. Ivey 1881-1884
Honorable John F. Pipkin [Died in Office] 1884-1890
Honorable James H. Rachford [pro-term] Nov, 1890
Honorable Jef Chaison 1890-1892
Honorable Ed. P. Gray 1892-June 13, 1898
Honorable S. Landrum [pro-term] June 14, 1898
Honorable George Cave O'Brien 1898-May 13, 1900
Honorable S. Landrum [pro-term] May 14, 1900
Honorable George Cave O'Brien [resigned] 1900-February 10, 1902
Honorable H. F. Best [pro-term] February 11, 1902-February 13, 1902
Honorable D. P. Wheat February 14, 1902-1906
Honorable James A. Harrison 1906-1908
Honorable Robert W. Wilson 1908-1916
Honorable W. M. Carroll 1916-1920
Honorable J. B. Peek 1920-1922
Honorable James A. Harrison [special judge] October 1921
Honorable Ras Landry [pro-term] October 1922
Honorable B. B. Johnson November 7, 1922- November 7, 1938
Honorable Charles A. Howell November 8, 1938-November 2, 1942
Honorable W. W. Pat Kent November 3, 1942-November 1, 1948
Honorable James A. Kirkland November 1, 1948-November 5, 1962
Honorable Chester C. Young [resigned] November 6, 1962-Jun 30, 1974
Honorable Leonard J. Giblin, Jr. July 1, 1974-August 30, 1977
Honorable R. P. LeBlanc, Jr. August 31, 1977-January 11, 1996
Honorable Robert Stroder [pro-term] January 12, 1996-November 11, 1996
Honorable Carl Griffith November 12, 1996-Present


Judges of the Jefferson County Court at Law # 1 established March 3, 1915.

Honorable D. P. Wheat March 3, 1915-Mar 2, 1924
Honorable C. N. Ellis March 3 1924-December 31, 1930
Honorable W. S. Nichols January 1, 1931-December 31, 1934
Honorable C. N. Ellis January 1, 1935-December 31, 1942
Honorable M. Hebert Oldham January 1, 1943-December 31, 1946
Honorable L. B. Hightower, III January 1, 1947-December 31, 1956
Honorable George Buford January 1, 1957-September 30, 1984
Honorable Alfred S. Gerson October 1, 1984-Present


Judges of the Jefferson County Court at Law # 2 established October 1, 1964.

Honorable Thomas A. Thomas October 1, 1964-September 30, 1969
Honorable James M. Farris October 1, 1969-December 31, 1977
Honorable Jimmy Sparks [pro-term] January 1, 1978-January 13, 1979
Honorable Tom Maness January 14, 1979-December 31, 1986
Honorable Harold C. Plessala January 1, 1987-December 31, 2002
Honorable G.R. "Lupe" Flores, January 1, 2003-Present


Judges of the Jefferson County Court at Law # 3 established November 14, 1983.

Honorable Donald Floyd November 14, 1983-December 14, 1989
Honorable John Paul Davis December 22, 1989-Present


Judges of the original Judicial District Court of Jefferson County established as a "Circuit Court" in 1842.

Honorable Shelby Cozine 1842-1844
Honorable Patrick C. Jacks 1844-1845
Honorable M. P. Marton 1845
Honorable R. L. Wheeler 1845-1846
Honorable John B. Jones 1846-1847
Honorable C. W. Buckley 1847-1854
Honorable O. M. Roberts [special judge] 1847
Honorable Joseph C. Megginson [special judge] 1851
Honorable Peter W. Gray 1854-1855
Honorable J. M. Maxcey 1855-1861
Honorable Charles L. Cleveland 1861-1866
Honorable Samuel A. Wilson 1866-1868
Honorable H. C. Pedigo 1868-1869
Honorable Seymour White 1869-1871
Honorable William Chambers 1871-1874
Honorable H. C. Pedigo 1874-1878
Honorable William Chambers [by special elections] 1878
Honorable H. C. Pedigo 1878-1880
Honorable W. H. Ford 1880-1889
Honorable J. M. Maxcey [special judge] 1889-1890
Honorable W. H. Ford 1890-1893
Honorable H. W. Grew [special judge] 1894
Honorable Stephen P. West 1893-1901


Judges of 58th Judicial District Court of Jefferson County established September 2, 1901.

Honorable J. D. Martin September 02, 1901-December 16, 1902
Honorable W. H. Pope December 17, 1902-January 23, 1912
Honorable E. A. McDowell January 24, 1912-February 6, 1913
Honorable T. N. Hill [special judge] February 7, 1913-March 12, 1913
Honorable W. H. Davidson March 13, 1913-December 31, 1922
Honorable George Cave O'Brien January 1, 1923-December 31, 1938
Honorable W. S. Nichols January 1, 1939-December 31, 1958
Honorable Melvin Combs January 1, 1959-March 31, 1961
Honorable Jack Brookshire April 1, 1961-December 31, 1982
Honorable Ronald Walker January 1, 1983-August 31, 1989
Honorable J. Michael Bradford September 1, 1989-Jun 23, 1994
Honorable James W. Mehaffy Jun 24, 1994 - Present


Judges of 60th Judicial District Court of Jefferson County established February 3, 1903.

Honorable A. T. Watts February 3, 1903-December 31, 1924
Honorable L. B. Hightower, Jr. January 1, 1905-December 31, 1911
Honorable J. M. Conley January 1, 1912-Jun 18, 1915
Honorable E. A. McDowell [died in office] Jun 19, 1915- April 1924
Honorable J. D. Campbell [died in office] May 15, 1924-April 1935
Honorable R. L. Murray May 2, 1935-December 31, 1940
Honorable W. Tom Kenna January 1, 1941- April 13, 1952
Honorable Harold R. Clayton April 14, 1952-December 31, 1952
Honorable Melvin Combs January 1, 1953-December 31, 1956
Honorable Gordon D. Gary January 1, 1957-February 2, 1970
Honorable Jep S. Fuller February 3, 1970-November 19, 1970
Honorable Melvin Combs [died in office] November 20, 1970-May 23, 1980
Honorable Robert Wortham [pro-term] June 3, 1980-December 31, 1980
Honorable Gary Sanderson January 1, 1981-Present


Judges of the Criminal Judicial District Court of Jefferson County established April 11, 1939.

(Note: The "C" cases were transferred from this court to the Domestic relations Court in 1961.)

Honorable Robert A. Shivers [died in office] 1939-1945
Honorable Quentin Keith October, 1945-July, 1946
Honorable Owen M. Lord [retired] July, 1946-December 31, 1962
Honorable George D. Taylor January 1, 1963-December 31, 1974
Honorable Larry J. Gist January 1, 1975-December 31, 1994
Honorable Charles Carver January 1, 1995-Present


Judges of 136th Judicial District Court of Jefferson County established August, 1955.

Honorable Harold R. Clayton August, 1955-August 31, 1977
Honorable Jack R. King September 1, 1977-Jun 30, 1995
Honorable Milton Gunn Shuffield July 1, 1995-Present


Judges of the Domestic Relations Court of Jefferson County established August 25, 1961.

Designated as the 317th Judicial District Court on September 7, 1977).

Honorable Ethridge R. Wright September 1, 1961-December 31, 1977
Honorable Everitt Lord [pro-term for appr. 3 months] During Judge Wright's sick leave
Honorable James M. Farris January 1, 1978-December 31, 1996
Honorable Jimmy (Skip) D. Hulett, Jr. [pro-term] January 1, 1997-December 31, 1998
Honorable Lawrence E. Thorne, III January 1, 1999-Present


Judges of 172nd Judicial District Court of Jefferson County established October 1, 1969.

Honorable Thomas A. Thomas October 1, 1969- October 31, 1989
Honorable Donald Floyd December 15, 1989-Present


Judges of 252nd Judicial District Court of Jefferson County established August, 1977.

Honorable Leonard J. Giblin, Jr. September 1, 1977-December 31, 2002
Honorable Layne Walker January 1, 2003-Present


Judges of 279th Judicial District Court of Jefferson County established May 27, 1981.

Honorable Michael D. Matheny May 27, 1981-August 31, 1982
Honorable Robert P. Walker September 1, 1982-December 31, 1998
Honorable Tom Mulvaney January 1, 1999-Present


Judges of Drug Impact Court of Jefferson County established June 1, 1992.

Various visiting Judges June 1, 1992-December 31, 1994
Honorable Larry J. Gist [permanent visiting Judge] January 1, 1995-Present


Justices of the of the 9th District Court of Appeals established June 19, 1915.

Chief Justices

Honorable J. M. Conley June 19, 1915-January 1, 1917
Honorable L. B. Hightower, Jr. January 1, 1917-June 25, 1932
Honorable Daniel Walker June 30, 1932-March 4, 1944
Honorable Thos. B. Coe March 9, 1944-May 12, 1953
Honorable R. L. Murray May 15, 1953-November 3, 1958
Honorable John R. Anderson December 1, 1958-May 15, 1961
Honorable L. B. Hightower, III June 17, 1961-April 5, 1968
Honorable James F. Parker November 20, 1968-May 14, 1971
Honorable Martin Dies, Jr. September 1, 1971-August 31, 1989
Honorable Ronald L. Walker September 1, 1989-December 31, 2002
Honorable Steve McKeithen January 1, 2003-Present

Associate Justices

Honorable A. G. Brooke June 19, 1915-January 1, 1921
Honorable W. B. O'Quinn January 1, 1921-January1, 1945
Honorable Charles B. Walker January 1, 1945-December 31, 1956
Honorable L. B. Hightower, III January 1, 1957-June 17, 1961
Honorable Homer E. Stephenson July 1, 1961-August 31, 1977
Honorable Harold R. Clayton September 1, 1977-September 30, 1983
Honorable James D. McNicholas October 19, 1983-November 27, 1984
Honorable Don Burgess November 28, 1984-Present

Associate Justices

Honorable V. E. Middlebrook June 19, 1915-January 1, 1917
Honorable A. E. Davis January 1, 1917-April 19, 1917
Honorable S. M. King June 2, 1917-November 30, 1918
Honorable R. A. Greer December 1, 1918-December 31, 1918
Honorable Daniel Walker January 1, 1919-June 30, 1932
Honorable Isaac W. Lawhon June 30, 1932-December 31, 1932
Honorable J. M. Combs January 1, 1933-October 1, 1943
Honorable Thos. B. Coe October 1, 1943-March 9, 1944
Honorable R. L. Murray March 27, 1944-May 15, 1953
Honorable John R. Anderson June 1, 1953-December 1, 1958
Honorable W. T. McNeill December 1, 1958-February 7, 1964
Honorable James F. Parker May 16, 1964-November 20, 1968
Honorable Quentin Keith January 7, 1969-December 31, 1982
Honorable Jack Brookshire January 1, 1983-December 31, 1994
Honorable Earl B. Stover [died in office] January 1, 1995-December
Honorable David B. Gaultney January 1, 2001-Present


Sources / References

1. Honorable James M. Farris, Retired Judge 317th District Court.

2. Honorable Alfred S. Gerson, Judge County Court at Law # 1.

3. Honorable Tom Mulvaney, Judge 279th District Court.

4. Honorable Larry Thorne, Judge 317th District Court.

5. Honorable Harold C. Plessala, Judge County Court at Law # 2.

6. Ms. Margaret Weitzel, Clerk/Coordinator, County Court At Law # 1.

7. Mrs. Sandy Walker, County Clerk.

8. Ms. Debbie Usoff, Chief-Deputy, County Clerk's Office

9. Clerk's Office, 9th District Court of Appeals.

10. Ms. Janie Weathers, Deputy Clerk, District Clerk's Office.

11. Ms. Susan C. Arceneaux, Coordinator, Jefferson County Historical Commission.

12. Mr. John Johnson, Assistant County Judge.

13. Lieutenant J. Dotson, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

14. Deputy J. D. Bivins, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

15. Deputy D. Matt, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

16. Ms. Theresa Goodness, Office Administrator, County Clerk's Office.

17. Mr. Jose A. Pastrana, County Engineer.

18. Mr. Patrick Swan, County Auditor.

19. Ms. Ann Taylor, Supervisor, Scanning Department, District Clerk's Office.

20. Ms. Mary Kay, Secretary, Provost & Umphrey Law Firm LLP.


History of Jefferson County

Historical Commission

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