REFLECTIONSMore on Morrow County’s justice system

By Evelyn Long - Contributing columnist

I don’t hear the words “Justice of the Peace” much anymore except in old movies but according to Morrow County history, for nearly a century in Morrow County, each township had its own justice of the peace, an elected position. Some of the townships, like Gilead and Cardington, were entitled to have more than one.

The justice of the peace sat on the lowest of the state courts, at the township level and presided over misdemeanor offenses and minor civil matters. The justice of the peace also issued arrest warrants adjudicated traffic offenses, held inquests and officiated at weddings.

One was not required to possess a law degree to perform the duties of a township justice of the peace. Many times it came down to whomever was interested in running for election to the position.

The heyday of the justice of the peace was back in the era of circuit courts, peace serving each of the 16 townships, Bennington, Canaan, Gilead, Peru and Washington Townships each had two. Some of them were attorneys, the county only had a dozen justices of the peace and two or three worked in Gilead Township.

It was 1932 when the first female justice of the peace served a local government subdivision. Mrs. Carrie Orsborn, 33 year old mother of two, was appointed as the county’s first female justice of the peace in Franklin Township. She performed the duties of her office from the living room of her home in Pulaskiville. She received her confirmation from Ohio Secretary of State Clarence Brown in July. From her home Mrs. Orsborn meted out justice, provided legal advice and maybe even married a couple or two.

It was November, 1956 that the county’s voters okayed the combining of the common pleas court and the probate court. As a result of this vote, the function of the justice of the peace was no longer required.

I thought this was interesting as the only time I see or hear about a justice of the peace is in the old Western movies!

Looking back: 1952: a 74 year old farmer, east of Cardington, was fleeced out of $750 in a confidence game perpetrated by a band of transients.

1972: On September 30, a total of 2,451 doses of the Sabin Oral Polio vaccine were distributed to local residents at the Cardington Schools. A total of 19,655 Morrow County residents of all ages participated in the mass inoculation that Sunday.. Since then, there was never a single known case of polio diagnosed in the county.

Mrs. Gold Jones moved from her home of 37 years on East Main Street to the Sarah Moore Retirement home in Delaware.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing columnist