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Settlers immigrated slowly into the Boonslick area from 1810 to 1815. The War of 1812 had ended when peace was established with England, and a treaty of peace was finally made with the Indians in 1815. Soon afterward, a steady and increasing stream of people immigrated into the area. These was a steady flow of people for many years afterwards.

Some families came in the spring of 1815. But in the winter, spring, summer, and autumn of 1816, they came like an avalanche. Many families came from Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. A few came from the middle states and the northeast. Many came from Kentucky. Public land in the area was surveyed for the first time. In 1816, Howard County was organized, and covered a large portion of the area. There was no official Cooper County at this time; it was included in the area of early Howard County.

The first Circuit Court of Howard County, which was the first Court held in this section of the state, was held at the house of Joseph Jolly in Hannah Cole’s Fort, located in what is now east Boonville. The Court opened on July 8th, 1816.


Proceedings of the first term of court:

James Munroe was appointed coroner of Howard County. Commissioners were appointed to locate the permanent county seat, which was located at Hannah Cole’s fort. A Grand Jury was appointed. The first license to operate and run a ferry was issued to Hannah Cole. Harper C. Davis was licensed to conduct a tavern at Kincaid’s Fort. The first road was laid out by the authority of the Court.


The First Election

At the first election held in the county, the electors voted at Head’s Fort, McLean’s Fort, Cooper’s Fort, and Cole’s Fort. The first civil action taken by the newly elected court members was Davis Todd versus Joseph Boggs. A taxation rate for the County was approved for the year 1816. Five marriage certificates were recorded that same year.


Cole Versus Barton

Major Stephen Cole was fined one dollar by Judge Barton, for contempt, for misconduct in the presence of the court. Cole objected to paying the fine, but he thought he would be able to get even some time and at last he paid it. His time for settling the score came sooner than he expected. That same afternoon, Cole, who was a Justice of the Peace, organized his court on a log in front of the fort. As Judge Barton was returning from dinner, he stopped in front of Cole and leaned against a tree, watching the proceedings of the justice and smoking his pipe. Cole looked up, and assuming a stern look, said, “Judge Barton, I fine you one dollar for contempt of my court, for smoking in its presence.” Judge Barton smilingly paid his fine, and went to open his own court. He admitted that he had been beaten at his own game.

Cooper County is Formed

Two years after Howard County was organized, there was so much immigration into the southern part of the county that there was a great demand for the division of Howard County and for the formation of another county south of the Missouri River. Because of this demand, the territorial Legislature, on December 17, 1818, formed the new county of Cooper, which included all of Howard County south of the Missouri River. This territory included what now forms 11 counties and parts of five others. Cooper County was gradually decreased in size by the formation of new counties. By 1845, the boundaries of Cooper County were as they are today.

Missouri Flood of 1826

Up until 1826, Franklin was the most important business center of the Boonslick area. In 1826 its population was almost 3,000, making it the second largest town in the state, next to St. Louis. In the spring of 1826, the Missouri River overflowed its banks, and flooded Franklin. Some of the residents moved to New Franklin, which was on higher ground, while others relocated to Fayette, and many to Boonville.


The first election held in Cooper County after its organization was on the second day of August, 1819. It was held to elect a delegate to Congress from the Territory of Missouri. John Scott received 127 votes, and Samuel Hammond 21 votes.

The next election held in the county was to select delegates to the state convention. This election was called by the Governor, to frame a constitution for the state of Missouri, and was held on the first, second, and third days of May, 1820. The total number of votes of Cooper County was 819.

The third election was held on the 28th day of August, 1820, to elect a member to Congress and to elect county officers. The number of people who voted in Cooper County was 972.

The records of the court show that during the year 1819, there were four peddlers and six merchants within the limits of Cooper County, and that the total amount of revenue received as county taxes for 1819 was $488.34. All of the early court sessions were held at William Bartlett’s boarding house, called the Tavern of Boonville. This was a crude log cabin but answered well the purpose of those early days.

The first County Court held in Cooper County was on January 8th, 1821. Its first session was held at the house of Robert P. Clark, on High Street, in Boonville. The County Court continued to perform the duties of both county and probate courts until 1827 when the Probate Court was separated from the County Court. A two-story brick courthouse was built in Boonville on land given to the county by Asa Morgan and Charles Lucas, St. Louis lawyers who made the plans for Boonville. It was completed in 1823. In 1840, the first courthouse was torn down and a second one was built in the same location. Some of the bricks were re-used in the building of the second courthouse. The present courthouse, in the same location as the first two, is the third and largest one built by the county.


At the election on the first Monday in August, 1826, John Scott and Edward Bates were candidates for Congress. Scott had a majority of 124 in the county. This was the first election in which party lines were drawn. Before that, men had voted for the man whom they considered best qualified, not because he belonged to any political party.

At the election in November, 1828, the county voted for Andrew Jackson as United States President over John Adams, by a majority of about 230 votes. In 1832 Jackson was re-elected, and received a large majority in Cooper County.

The county gave a small majority to Martin Van Buren for President in 1836. The county remained Democratic until 1840, when the Whigs made a clean sweep. The Whigs were quite active in their campaigning. The Democrats, however, made little or no display. They condemned the Whigs and said they were noisy, boisterous and unseemly. The county remained Whig as long as the Whig party remained in existence. The last candidate on the Whig ticket was General Scott.

The campaign of 1844 was lively with much activity on the part of the Whigs. Henry Clay of Kentucky was the nominee of the Whig party, and James K. Polk of Tennessee was nominated by the Democratic party.

Howard and Cooper Counties had much influence in politics. Seven governors of Missouri were at one time or another, residents of Cooper or Howard Counties. These governors were: John Miller, governor from 1825 to 1832; Lilburn W. Boggs, 1837-1841; Thomas Reynolds, 1841-1844; Sterling Price, 1853-1857; Claiborne F. Jackson, 1861; Hamilton R. Gamble, 1861-1864; and Lon V. Stephens, 1897-1901.



Discover Cooper county by Looking Back by Ann Betteridge of Cooper County, Missouri.

Cooper County Courthouse images.jpg
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