-Old Alton Site-

The First County Courthouse of Denton County?

A special "Thank You" to Mr. Bill Marquis of Old Stony for donating his time and equipment which made recovery of the these timbers possible.  Bill is an avid historian and preservationist.

   In May of 1999, the Archaeology Committee was given permission to collect several timbers from a local barn scheduled for destruction.  It is said that the timbers were removed from the first courthouse constructed in Denton County in 1850 at the present site of Old Alton. When the county seat was moved a fourth time in 1856 to what is now the City of Denton the local citizens salvaged the timbers for their own use before the remains of the courthouse were ceremoniously burned.

The old barn roof was lifted with a jack and a lumber support set in place before this timber was recovered.

Work room in the Courthouse On the Square Museum where samples were taken from each timber.  Each sample was marked with the number of the timber and packed for shipping.


    Samples were cut from each of nine timbers and sent to a prominent university for dendrochronological analyses.  If the trees from which the timbers were cut are found suitable for testing we will know the species, age of the tree when it was cut, and the exact year it was cut.  The dates can then be used to substantiate or dismiss the theory that they were part of the original courthouse. 

Old Alton Site, page 2


The Altons: The Second and Third

County Seats


Denton County, Texas

The first county seat was created by the First Legislature of the State of Texas on April 11, 1846, and it was named Pinckneyville. The location of Pinckneyville was considered unacceptable by the citizens of the county. On February 4, 1848, the location was moved more to the southeast of the center of the county and a new name, Alton, was designated for the second county seat. This site has been referred to as New Alton causing some confusion for contemporary researchers, because on November 26, 1850, the location of the county seat was moved again to the south-southwest and also designated as Alton. It is this last site that is referred to today as Old Alton, yet it is the second town site with the name Alton and not the oldest designated site of the two Altons. The following is given for clarification:

County Seats of Denton County, Texas

First: Pinckneyville, April 11, 1846

Second: Alton, or First Alton, February 4, 1848

Third: Old Alton, November 26, 1850

Fourth: Denton, November, the first Tuesday, 1856

In Committee research documents we will refer to the first site of Alton as First Alton and the second site of Alton as Old Alton. This is the opposite of what the names should be, but these are the names used by citizens today.