COOPER COUNTY CITY HALL & ELECTIONS
COOPER COUNTY CITY HALL
There was a huge jump in County population between 1850 and 1890. Cooper County was growing quickly due to the Steamboats and the Railroads, until the start of the Civil War in 1861.
Although Boonville was first settled in February 1810, it wasn’t incorporated by the State of Missouri until February 10, 1839. Unfortunately, records of the city’s business from 1839-1857 have been lost to history and no one even knows where City Hall was located during those early years.
Thespian Hall was built in the mid-1850s and City Hall moved into the second floor. City Hall remained there until sometime in the 1870s at which time it moved to the old fire station at 413 East Spring. It remained there until 1913.
In 1913, the third and current Cooper County Court House was built across the street from the Frederick Hotel. For the next 55 years, City Hall called the first floor of that building home. It was their longest stay at any one location.
In the late 1960s, Boonville was blessed with a new Post Office building and the old one, after being acquired by the City of Boonville, became the new City Hall. It was the first time City Hall was in its own building. City business was conducted and council meetings were held here until the spring/summer of 2012.
Kemper Bank sat on the southwest corner of Main and Spring. When that building became available, City Hall had a new home. After renovations, City Hall moved into its new space in mid-2012. But other changes were made and the City Council no longer met at City Hall. For the next five months, July through November 2012, the City Council met at the current fire station at the corner of Main and Bingham.
On December 3, 2012, the Boonville City Council met for the first time in their very own quarters in the newly renovated old-City Hall/Post Office building. The occasion was celebrated by the presenting of Colors by Boy Scouts Troop 67.
Will City Hall and the Council Chambers ever move again? Only the future can answer that but, at the moment, there are no plans to do so.
Source: Historically Yours by Elizabeth Davis
CITY ELECTIONS 100 YEARS AGO
Cooper County municipal elections took place earlier this month (April 2018) with a voter turn-out of 7.2 per cent. For Boonville, voters had five positions to fill—Mayor and four City Councilmen/women. There would have been seven positions to fill had not the Board of Education voted earlier in the year to accept the two candidates running for the two open seats on the School Board.
There was much talk around town about how bad it was that all these candidates were running unopposed. While this might not have been the best situation, it was hardly something new.
Looking back a hundred years, things haven’t changed all that much.
In 1918, Boonville’s municipal election took place on April 2. Voters turned out to fill eleven offices in the community: Mayor, Marshal, Collector, City Attorney, Treasurer, Police Judge, Assessor, and Councilmen for Wards One through Four.
Please note there was no “slash women” in the listing for councilmen in 1918. Remember, at that time, women had not yet been granted suffrage and running for office was just as unheard of.
The major change between 2018 and 1918 was the offices to be filled. The offices of Marshal, Collector, City Attorney, Treasurer, Police Judge, and Assessor no longer exist. Their duties have either been transferred to other positions in the city or the county or are no longer elected positions.
However, what all 11 offices in 1918 had in common with the five offices in 2018 was that all the candidates ran unopposed. It seems that even 100 years ago, people weren’t always willing to step-up to the plate and serve.
The only other item of interest between the two elections was when the City Council met to approve the election results. In 2018, the City Council waited seven days. In 1918, the City Council met the same day as the election. The official City Council minutes show a meeting on April 2, 1918, where the city council met to count the votes as certified in the poll books. It appears that only when all candidates ran unopposed did this same day of counting votes take place.
Source: Elizabeth Davis, Historically Yours
MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL SALARIES 100 YEARS AGO
The business of Boonville is conducted by the Mayor and Members of the City Council. The mayor sets the agenda and conducts the meeting but has no vote unless there’s a tie. The number of councilmen varies from time to time depending on the number of wards. In 1894, there were six wards. There were four in 1918. Both times each ward had two representatives serving two-year terms. Half the council was elected or re-elected each year.
While these positions of authority are not full-time jobs, they do carry a great deal of responsibility. It is only right and fitting that these servants of the people be paid. But how much and how often should that amount be raised?
Recently, the question of a raise was brought before the Council. It was noted that there hadn’t been a raise in over ten years. But what about a hundred years ago? How much did the Mayor and Members of the Council get paid and how long did they go between raises?
To better understand the past, one needs to know that the old City Council meeting minutes were handwritten in large books. New books weren’t started at the beginning of each year, they started a new book when the old one was filled. One book went from July 1894 to May 1911. The next one was dated June 1911 to January 1923.
According to the Ordinances Appropriating Money in July 1894, Members of the Council received $12.50 a quarter, or $50 a year. The mayor received $37.50 a quarter, or $150 a year. Twenty-nine years later, in January 1923, Members of the Council were still getting $12.50 a quarter.
The mayor was doing a little better. His pay went to $25 a month beginning April 1896. Twenty-four years later, the mayor’s pay doubled to $50 a month beginning June 1920.
Source: Elizabeth Davis, Historically Yours