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Return to Randolph County
Pocahontas Star Herald
Thursday, July 22, 1982
Could be oldest building in Randolph County.
County's first court held near Attica.
Pictured: Grace Riggs, widow of former Randolph County
judge Mack Riggs, was born in Pocahontas July 6, 1902,
daughter of George W. and Florence Lemmons Million. She died Aug
12, 1991 and is burried at the Sutton Cemetery.
After the organization of Randolph County from
Lawrence, "the Morther of Counties," the first court of
Randolph County was convened on April 4, 1836, in the home of
James G. Russell, eight miles north of Pocahontas on what is now
Highway 251, just north of Attica. The site, once known as the
old Foster farm, is now owned by Mrs. Grace Riggs, Widow of
former Randolph County judge Mack Riggs.
No authentic proof is available but it is thought that the
original Russell home where the first court convened is still a
part of the present Riggs home.
Mrs. Riggs says of her home, "There were two rooms made of
logs when we moved here 41 years ago. Other occupants had built
on but when we remodeled my husband cut through very, very thick
logs to enlarge windows and doorways."
Mrs. Virgin Allison Thomas of Attica, who once lived in the house
as a teenager, remembers it as, "two old log rooms before my
dad added a bedroom."
Mrs. Thomas added, "My mother's doctor suggested that we try
a higher climate for her crippling arthritis. That same week my
dad moved us from Lawrence County and that old log house was all
he could find!"
Now nicely restored, the old story-and-ahalf home has four
fireplaces--two upstairs and two downstairs.
Mrs. Riggs recalled an interesting story, "There were two
bedrooms upstairs, but there were separate stairways. The
original owners had both sons and daughters. Hired hands slept in
the boys' bedroom from time to time. They say that is the reason
for the extra stairway leading from the master bedroom to the
second upstairs room where the daughters slept."
Mrs. Riggs remembers that when she and her family first moved to
the Attica farm they cared for the Russell Cemetery near their
house. Though it had no tombstones, the Riggs' family had been
told of the location. "But when they built Highway 251, the
road foremen told us that the road crew had discovered what they
thought to be a graveyard. So, all along we were mistaken as to
where the cemetery was located," she said.
A lifelong resident of the Attica area, Hinkle Simington says
that he is almost certain that the original part of the Riggs
house was standing in 1836 at the time the first court convened.
Mr. Simington explained, "My grandfather, Colonel Thomas S.
Simington (CSA), married Emily Russell. "Uncle Tom Foster
Marred Martha Russell. Emily, my grandmother, and Martha were
sisters and they lived in the Russell house that we're talking
Mrs. Riggs told me that the Military Road ran by the spring
behind her house. Mr. Simington concurred. He remembers his own
father, Luke Simington, telling him of the cattle drives that he
witnessed at the Russell home.
Hinkle reminisced, "My dad said that when the longhorns were
driven through here from Texas to St. Louis, you could hear the
horns popping together a long time before they came in sight.
Then, you could see longhorn cattle for a half mile or
According to Lawrence Dalton's hostory of the county, Peyton R.
Pitman was judge of tthat first Randolph County court in April,
1836. his associate justices were William Rice, the first Warm
Spings resident, Joseph Spikes, Benjamin Jones, and James Cooper.
The first business transacted was the appointment of Jesse Spikes
a constable for Columbia Township, Jacob W. Shaver as constable
for Current River Township, James Houston as Demun Constable, and
George Glasscock as constable for Roanoke.
Other business was approving the bond of William Black as sheriff
and James G. Russell was allowed ten dollars for advertising the
1835 election. Also numerous citizens were appointed to mark out
roads or were appointed as overseers for the various roads
already marked out.
by Susan C. Seawal