City Hall and Old Jail: Multi-Purpose Morgue and Meeting Room
At this location, meetings, trials and funerals were held, maybe all in the same day! While Gillette was still one dusty street ending at the railroad tracks, the jail was built about a block from the tracks, near Second Street and Gillette Avenue. In 1911 it was moved here, behind the old City Hall. The oldest part of this building - the jail cell behind the building - was built in 1898 but the majority of it was built in 1936. There used to be an empty lot next door which is where they kept a small fire cart which was the extent of our fire-fighting equipment.
The old City Hall used to be used as a community building for church services, dances and public meetings. It was also the morgue. When one of the dear departed was being kept there until burial, he or she would be moved to the old jail behind the building while a dance was held here. When the dance was over, the front room became a morgue or funeral parlor again!
Campbell County was formed in 1911 from parts of Crook and Weston counties. The first person to be arrested in the newly formed Campbell County was the Baptist minister, Rev. Harris. He was trying to clean up the town, to make it respectable and a good place to raise a family. There was a group of cowboys that liked the town just the way it was – a place for drinking, gambling and fighting. A place where a cowboy could ride his horse up and down Gillette Avenue shooting the doorknobs off buildings. The preacher started receiving threats so he felt he needed to protect himself. When a masked cowboy came to his door, the preacher met him at the door with a gun in his hand. The cowboy was so surprised, he fell down the stairs. The preacher was arrested for carrying a gun, which was illegal at the time. The case was dismissed before he spent any time in jail.
If you go around behind this building to see the jail, you'll see a dent in the main iron door. That's a bullet hole made by a jealous husband! There used to be a pool hall next to the City Hall. Buck Miller was cleaning out the pool hall one morning and saw the sheriff leading Charlie Williams to the jail cell. Miller thought Williams was the fellow fooling around with his wife so Miller took a shot at him. He didn't hurt Williams but he sure put a dent in the door!
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