The first county seat was located at Paoli. A courthouse and schoolhouse were completed in 1866. When winter came that year, officials realized that there was no heating in the building and stoves had to be used.
The county seat changed to Emmetsburg in 1875. A brick courthouse was built there in 1880. This building serves as the courthouse today. It has distinguished Victorian characteristics. In 1960 and 1969, the building was remodeled and the cupola was removed. The courthouse looks much different today than it did in the early part of the century.