La Crosse County SO

(Click above for a picture of the County)



La Crosse County was created by an act of the legislature in 1851.  It included land that would later be divided into Clark, Jackson, Monroe and Trempealeau Counties.  The Village of La Crosse was designated the county seat.  With its population of nearly 700, it was the only big town in the area.


The original courthouse was a two story wood frame building, 26'x36'.  All government offices were on the first floor with the second flooring being used as the courtroom.  The courtroom also served as a kind of community center.


The first jail was a stone building next to the courthouse, measuring 15'x15'.  The ceiling was made of timbers spiked together.  The attic was filled with tons of broken stones.  The idea was that if someone tried to escape through the room the would be crushed by the stones.


La Crosse was a rowdy place at the time having a transient population of loggers and raftsmen who in turn attracted a large number of gamblers and ladies of the evening.


In February of 1857, $8,000 in bonds were sold to build a jail.  The 45'x67' building was constructed at 4th and Vine streets.  The jail proper was 39'x45' and had 16 cells in two tiers.  Each 6'x9' cell contained two hammocks.  There were 3 rooms for women prisoners and living quarters for the sheriff and his family.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

First Sheriff