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Chariton County
Organized November 16, 1820 (effective January 1, 1821) from Howard County and named for the Chariton River. Several origins of the name of the Chariton River have been suggested. The most plausible suggestion connects the name of the river with Joseph Chorette, a French fur trader of St. Louis. Trudeau, in his Journal of 1795, mentions Chorette as accompanying him on his expedition up the Missouri River and as being drowned on July 10 of that year while swimming in the river. The family name has the variants Choret, Care and Carrette in old documents.

County Seat: Keytesville

Address: 

Chariton County
County Courthouse
P.O. Box 112
Keytesville, MO 65261

Photograph

History
First courts met in Old Chariton for about 10 years and built no courthouse. After the move of the county seat to Keytesville in 1833, the court built a brick, two-story, square courthouse with four rooms below and a courtroom above. The courthouse and other public buildings were constructed on land donated to the court by James Keyte.

A fire in the clerk's office, apart from the courthouse, destroyed all County Court records November 11, 1861, and fires set by Confederates on September 20, 1864, destroyed the courthouse.

By 1865 the Chariton County Court ordered the treasurer, Hale T. Chellis, to act as commissioner and examine courthouses at Macon, Columbia and Fayette, obtaining dimensions, costs, etc. before reporting back to the court. Apparently, the court favored the style of the recently built Macon courthouse.

The court called for bids on the plan marked "A" and awarded the contract on February 8, 1866, to Levi Aldrich. The court wanted the masonry, brickwork and carpentry done in a plain, durable style, leaving off all ornamental work. The firm of Mitchel (sic) and Wagner received the contract for interior work on October 23, 1867.

The shuttered, two-story, brick building had a cupola rising from the crossing of gabled roofs. Measurements were 110 by 62 feet, and the cost was $40,000. The brick courthouse, painted white in 1969, was destroyed by fire August 27, 1973, during a renovation project.

As County Court judges considered building a new courthouse in the fall of 1973, they visited several recently constructed courthouses in Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri. They were particularly impressed with a Seneca, Kansas, example and requested architect Carroll Hutchens to submit a similar design for consideration, which the court accepted in January 1974.

A protesting group in Keytesville, who considered a modern design unsuitable, offered an alternative. Committed to Hutchens, the court asked him to revise his proposal. Hutchens then presented several options for the exterior, but retained the basic plan. The court accepted one of Hutchens' revisions, and Irvinbilt Co. of Chillicothe, low bidder, began construction in the summer of 1974 on the $725,000 courthouse.

Formal ceremonies at the courthouse were held July 27, 1975, and the court occupied the completed building the following month. Principal sources of funding came from fire insurance compensation, revenue sharing and a grant from Missouri Law Enforcement Assistance Council.

Copyright 2002 University of Missouri. Published by University Extension, University of Missouri-Columbia.
Additional History
Courthouse burned on September 20, 1864, and again in 1973.

The courthouse and other public buildings were built in 1833 and '34. The Circuit Court Record A-i, in 1833, states, "February Term, 1833 - The County Court of the County of Chariton, having made report to the Circuit Court of said County, at the February Term of said Court, on the first day of said Term, that the commissioner of the new Seat of Justice of said County, had reported to the said County Court, that a Jail for said County, and other convenient and suitable buildings have been erected, and necessary for the use of said County at Keytesville the new county seat. It is therefore ordered by said Court that the Circuit Court of said County will hereafter be held at the new County Seat, and the Sheriff is ordered to make proclamation of this order changing the place of holding said Circuit Court."

This first courthouse is described as square-shaped brick, two stories high with four rooms below and the courtroom above.

Records at Courthouse

Recorder of Deeds: Index to deeds, 1827-1887; Deed records, 1826-1887; Warranty deeds, 1868-1884; Quitclaim deeds, 1866-1897; Sheriffs deeds, 1881-1903; Marriage records, 1821-1898.

Clerk of the County Court: Permanent record of births, 1883-1 886;Register of births and stillbirths, 1883-1887; Permanent record of deaths, 1883-1886; Register of deaths, 1883-1887.

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Circuit court records, 1820-1886.

Clerk of the Probate Court: Index to probate records, 1861-1896;Probate records, 1861-1896; Will records, 1861-1916.
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