Off’s influence seen in Tipton to this day
In the summer of 1894, as Tipton County Commissioners Jacob G. Off, John R. Harlow and Granville H. Hobbs were overseeing completion of their new courthouse building, they were told by the State Board of Health that the county jail had been condemned. So on June 13, 1894, they voted to put into motion plans for a new building.
Commissioner Off, who was a friend of Indianapolis architect Adolph Scherrer, whom Off had engaged to design the courthouse, once again called upon Scherrer to design a new jail and sheriff’s quarters. Scherrer’s plan for a cherry red brick building with Berea stone trim was accepted, and the building was erected on the southeast corner of Madison and South West streets in downtown Tipton by Pierce and Morgan, which also built the courthouse. The new jail cost $30,600.
Off had first been elected a Tipton County commissioner in 1878, becoming a candidate at the insistence of the people who valued his wisdom, sound judgment and advice. One of his first main projects was to put into place an efficient road grid for the county. Eventually more than 200 miles of modern-for-the-time gravel roads came about through his efforts.
But when he proposed a main roadway that would run from Tipton to the Howard County line (along the west side of Off’s farm, which would have made him one of the largest taxpayers on it), Off ran into opposition.
Remonstrators declared sufficient gravel could not be obtained for such a project. Then there was the problem of an obstacle called the Crane Pond; it was believed this area couldn’t be crossed successfully.
And the taxes — there’s always the taxes to be considered. It was no different then than it is now. New taxes for this bold new road would bankrupt everybody! Petitions were circulated, and public meetings were held in Tipton and at many of the small schools along the roads. Sharpsville residents in particular were opposed to the new road because its route would not bring it through their town.