Establishment of Texas County, Missouri:  [From Goodspeed 1889]

The county was established under the act of February 14, 1845, within the following described boundaries: From the northeast corner of Section 5, Township 33 north, Range 6 west, due south to line dividing Township 27, 28; thence west with that line to the middle of Range 12 west; north by the middle line of that range to the line between Townships 33 and 34, and thence east to the northeast corner of Section 5, named above.

County Court Proceedings - The county judges commissioned by the governor February 20, 1845, were James R. Gardner, Henry F. Ormsby and David Lynch.  On April 21 William C. Skinner was commissioned clerk, and Asa Ellis, assessor, by the court; while on June 5 Cyrus H. Frost was commissioned sheriff by the governor, and on June 29 James R. Gardner was appointed circuit and county clerk.  The first election, held in August, 1846, resulted in the choice of David Lynch, David B. Commons and James M. Dougherty, county judges; Cyrus H. Frost, sheriff, and Willis G. Jones, assessor.  At the first meeting of the court, held at Ellsworth April 21, 1845, Joshua H. Burkhart was appointed surveyor; Asa Ellis, elisor, pending appointment of sheriff; J. R. Gardner, presiding justice; and in June, when the townships were established, John J. Williams was elisor; and on his petition Levica, infant child of Betsy Davis, was apprenticed to him to keep until she would be sixteen years old.  The petition of M. A. Staton and others, asking for the location of the county seat, was granted, when William Walton, of Gasconade; John H. Hight, of Wright and Moses Bean, of Pulaski, were appointed to locate the county town.  John J. Williams was appointed agent to receive $189.78, the county's share of road and canal fund, and $15 appropriated to pay for his time and expenses in going to Jefferson City.  Cornelius B. Lynch was appointed treasurer in June, and Cyrus H. Frost, collector in September.

The commissioners appointed to locate the seat of justice, vice those appointed by the governor, who failed to act, also failed to act.  The meeting of June 28, 1845, was held at David Lynch's house, and the failures being reported, the court appointed Jessee Robinett, of Wright; Richard Matthews, of Pulaski and Henry Woods, of Ozark, instead.  The first probate business, other than the care of the Davis child, was the settlement of John McLaughlin's estate.  The first petition for a dramshop license was signed by John J. Williams and Robert Torney, who asked leave to sell liquors at Ellsworth.  In December the William Williams and John Smith estates were settled.  James H. Davis was appointed road overseer, on the trail from Eminence to the crossing of the old White River road, in the Lick settlement, while John T. Fort was appointed commissioner to enter and survey the county seat and forty acres as selected by the commissioners.  The sum of $23.50 (or 50 cents per day) was allowed the first grand jury, and $10 to Sheriff Frost for attendance at the first circuit court, and $9 to David Lynch for the use of his house during the three days' session of court.  In January, 1846, John W. Newberry was appointed deputy clerk; Commissioner Fort was authorized to enter a second forty acre tract adjoining the county seat.  The estate of Joseph Riden was administered in February, and in March that of Henry Hawkins.  The first case of insanity was that of Margaret Scaggs, of whom James Stephens was appointed guardian, at $30 per annum.  The total tax levy for 1845-46 was reported to be $372.03, of which $279.89 was collected.  In June, 1846, William C. Curtis resigned the office of clerk, and James R. Gardner was appointed.  On the same day the name Houston was adopted for the county seat, and James R. Gardner appointed county seat commissioner.  In September Cornelius B. Lynch qualified as coroner.  James Hays' estate was administered at this time, and $4 was granted Circuit Attorney P. O. Minor for making deed of conveyance of the county seat from Commissioner Fort and wife to the county.

In September a new court-house was authorized, and in December the postmaster-general was petitioned to extend mail facilities to Houston.  The first petition for sale of school lands was presented in January, 1847, by Joseph and Wesley Riden, E. G. Halbert, Joel Sherrill, John McKnight, Elijah Pharis and J. B. Ragland, in re Section 16, Township 33, Range 9.  In March, 1847, the contract for a court house was sold to James G. Sweeny, and J. R. Gardner appointed superintendent of buildings.  This house was completed and accepted in December, 1847.  In June a poor person, Asa Newcomb, was buried by the county.  During the year ending June, 1847, there were ten merchants' licenses and four dram-shop licenses issued, realizing $81.94 for county and $158.19 for State purposes.  Spencer Mitchell was commissioner; E. G. Halbert and Joel Sherrill, inspectors, and Joseph Riden, clerk of School District No. 1, in September.  In September the order removing court meetings from David Lynch's house was made, and in December the first meeting at Houston was held, and commissioners appointed to locate roads in every direction.  In September, 1848, John W. Ormsby qualified as sheriff, and Collector Frost reported a total tax of $539.10, and an expenditure of $541.59.  In his license report he mentions E. Williams and H. Ware, merchants; Samuel Hughes, physician; C. H. Frost and P. O. Minor, lawyers; Hale, a pill peddler; and Graffenbury, a dealer, who paid only $2.  In December James M. Dougherty was presiding justice; David Lynch and Eli G. Halbert, associates.  Selman H. Burckhardt was appointed county surveyor in December, and in June, 1849, J. B. Slate, assessor, succeeded by G. W. Thornton.  In June, 1850, $2,000 was appropriated for the improvement of the Gasconade from the mouth of Big Piney down stream, and of Big Piney from Fourt's Mill down stream.  John Burnett and Asa Ellis were appointed directors for improving the Gasconade; R. W. Rodgers, H. F. Ormsby and R. Torney, for Big Piney.  This measure was rescinded in December, as the court decided to restore the courthouse (which was burned after the appropriation was made).  James Mooney presided at this time, with William Thornton and Wilburn Gilmore appointed vice Dougherty, moved to Arkansas.  At this time the clerk was ordered to publish the fact that a special meeting would be held at Richard Y. Smyley's house, at Houston, to sell the contract for building a brick court-house 45 x 35 feet.  Spencer Mitchell was then sheriff.  In March, 1851, R. W. Rodgers was appointed superintendent of building, and Isaac N. Hughes, treasurer.  On April 14 the building contact was sold to Allen Hamer for $550.  In December the court assembled in the new building, having moved the records, etc., from R. Y. Smyley's house where court was held from the time the old court-house was burned. In March, 1853, $350 was appropriated for building the clerk's office and repairing the jail.  The contract for building was bought by Vol. Sutton, who transferred the house to the county in January, 1855.  The tax levy for that year was $830.53.  In 1854 Wilburn Gilmore, David McKenny and John B. Wood were the judges; H. H. Jones, sheriff; and James R. Gardner, county clerk.  In January, 1855, James B. Campbell, with Messrs. McKenny and Wood, were the judges.  In December, 1855, the road districts were regularly numbered, and overseers appointed.  James R. Gardner, county clerk, died this month, and at a special election, held in February, 1856, C. H. Frost was chosen clerk; John B. Vance qualified as treasurer in March, and Joseph Riden had Judge Campbell's place.  At this time the first school plat was made, and the system now in force adopted.  The tax levy of the year was $1,018.65.  In March, 1857, Robert W. Rodgers and A. McF. Hudson were appointed to select the swamp lands of Texas, the consideration being a fourth of all lands, scrip or moneys which may be confirmed to the county.  A. Jadwin was sheriff at this time, and the road from Elk Creek to Montreal (near Mountain Grove) was opened.  In December, 1858, J. F. Fourt presided, with Lameck Thorpe, associate judge.  R. Y. Smyley was commissioner of schools; E. Y. Mitchell, attorney and superintendent of buildings.  The sum of $5,000 was appropriated for building a new court-house, and the Legislature was asked to empower the court to use the money of other funds for building purposes.  In March, 1859, the contract was sold to George W. Read for $4,650.  John House, commissioner of the town of Houston, resigned in March, 1859.  In 1859-60 B. S. Ferguson was clerk, succeeded by J. M. King, and in May, 1860, the court-house was completed, and the court ordered "that the youngsters of Houston have the privilege of resorting to the house for civil mirth; when it is not otherwise occupied."  In December, 1860, J. H. Davis was sheriff, Messrs. Fourt and Thorp still being judges, and H. King the associate judge-elect.  In March, 1861, plans for a new jail building were accepted.  Champ Smith was appointed superintendent, and in May he was authorized to expend $200 in fencing the public square.  From this period until the rebuilding of the court-house, in 1869-70 (contract sold to R. Y. Smyley February 10, 1869), the work of the county court was of the most commonplace character.  The authorization of a few roads, the settlement of a few estates, and orders relating to revenue and expenditure occupying the attention of the judges.

From 1870 to the present time the court has been carried on in a business-like way, although some years ago the judges tolerated official dealings which were very freely denounced by the people.

The court-house was burned February 12, 1881, the fire being discovered by John D. Young, the collector. The present building was erected that year, and opened in 1882.  In July, 1888, the court-house was injured by lightning. 

Poor Farm - Up to the close of 1868 poor persons were given into the charge of citizens who entered into contract to care for them.  On December 16, 1867, a contract for building a poor house was sold to Richard Y. Smyley for $547.  The house was to be built on the James Roberds farm, three and one-half miles east of Houston.  This building was opened May 10, 1868, by James Smith (who could not then write his name), superintendent.  In March, 1869, Thomas J. Smith leased the house and grounds for three years, or until March 1, 1872, the consideration being to feed, clothe and treat in a humane manner the poor persons then in the house, or who might enter during his term.  He also agreed to clear and fence twenty-five acres in addition to the lands then cleared the county giving him two cows and two sows, all the produce of the farm and increase of stock thereon, together with furniture, implements, stock and provisions on the farm.  A Jadwin was poor commissioner.  The lands on the southwest quarter of Section 14, Township 36, Range 9, were sold to John D. Young and V. M. Hines May 1, 1884 for $815.50.

Financial - In the following table the financial condition of the county for the past two decades is shown, and the personnel of the county court given:


Assessment  Total Levy Total  Taxes County Indebtedness   County Court
1870 $  906,820 $1.10 $14,519 12 -------   Thorp, Halbert, Bridges
1871  1,125,565 1.40 22,511 30 $ 8,427 53   Halbert, Bridges, Mitchell
1872 1,352,180 1.20 20,958 78 8,410 31   Bridges, Mitchell, Jadwin
1873 1,118,100 0.80 6,901 18 -------   Bridges, Mitchell, Trail
1874 1,053,265 0.90 17,432 82 5,384 08   Bridges, Mitchell, Trail
1875 1,361,880 1.10 21,109 15 -------   Mitchell, Trail, Kirkman
1876 1,361,833 0.80 15,341 90 -------   Trail, Kirkman, Sherrill
1877 1,177,587 0.80 14,131 47 -------   Trail, Kirkman, Sherrill
1878 1,186,193 0.80 14,329 64 -------   Trail, Kirkman, Sherrill
1879 1,001,111 0.70 11,140 89 2,954 66   Wheeler, Hagenbush, Thornton
1880 955,950 0.70 7,410 61 1,225 67   Wheeler, Hagenbush, Thornton
1881 1,069,078 0.70 11,958 69 370 55   Wheeler, Hagenbush, Thornton
1882 1,125,292 0.70 12,900 30 3,106 36   Wheeler, Hagenbush, Thornton
1883 1,090,195 0.50 12,872 24 8,278 00   Paulding, Miller, Thornton
1884 1,291,371 0.50 14,712 20  7,776 62   Paulding, Miller, Thornton
1885 1,372,680 0.50 12,941 21 8,324 60   Paulding, Gobble, Kirkman
1886 1,515,811 0.50 9,093 17 11,597 84   Paulding, Gobble, Kirkman
1887 1,737,129 0.50 9,600 59 7,884 56   Mitchell, Thornton, Meador
1888 1,615,510 0.50 9,664 34 12,370 52   Mitchell, Thornton, Meador
1889 1,680,050 0.50 +10,000 00 ++13,000 00 Mitchell, P.Mason, J.N.Angel

+ (about this amount) ++ (The expenses of the county in 1889 over receipts)

The total assessment in 1866 was $605,845; in 1867, $631,200; in 1868, $752,348 and in 1869, $787,050.

© 01-26-01
Debbie Linton and Penny Harrell

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2007-2008 Rhonda Darnell