Cities, Towns, and Villages
County Seat: Wayne
Courthouse Address and Hours:
510 Pearl St
Wayne NE 68787
Chairperson: Terry Sievers
Senator: Joni Albrecht
Board Meetings: 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month
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An interesting part of Wayne County's history centers around the events which led up to the construction of its present courthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Wayne County was organized by proclamation of Gov. David Butler in the fall of 1870, and named after Revolutionary War Gen. Anthony Wayne. At that time the settlement of LaPorte was selected as the county seat. LaPorte built a brick courthouse and anticipated it would become a prosperous settlement, especially since a railroad grade was laid between it and Emerson. But the railroad never materialized and neither did LaPorte.
In 1881 a movement was initiated to relocate the county seat to Wayne. One of the stipulations was that the Wayne Town Hall Association would be required to provide rent-free for five years a building that was suitable to house county offices, courts and records. The association readily obliged and constructed a $4,000 brick veneer building.
Then came "An Eventful Day," as the Logan Valley Herald referred to July 4, 1884. That was the day a large celebration was held to honor the veterans of the Civil War. Around midnight the celebration came to an abrupt end when a fire alarm brought celebrants to the building that served as the county's courthouse. Apparently two men who had over-indulged in the celebration had been taken to the jail earlier in the evening. It was believed that somehow the two started a fire which destroyed the county's offices and records. Honoring its original obligation, the Wayne Town Hall Association quickly replaced the destroyed building with a frame courthouse on the same site.
Two years before the fire, Wayne County had received a donation of land within the townsite of Wayne. The stipulation attached to this donation was that a courthouse must be built on the site and be used for at least 20 years. In 1899 a red brick Norman Chateau style building was completed at a cost of $32,000. Ninety-five years later the courthouse still serves as the home of Wayne County government.