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Morgan County
Organized January 5, 1833, from Cooper County and named for Daniel Morgan, a Revolutionary War general.

County Seat: Versailles

Address:

Morgan County
100 E. Newton St.
Versailles, MO 65084

Photograph

History
In 1906 John Salmon, a Morgan County citizen, recalled that the court purchased a log house off the square for the county's first courthouse in 1836. They moved the building to the center of the square, where it continued in use as a courthouse until 1843.

The second courthouse was a rectangular, two-story building built in 1844, also on the square. Two men from Jefferson City, William Burch and Colonel Young, made the brick.

On March 12, 1887, before construction began on the new courthouse that Morgan County citizens had voted to build, fire destroyed their modest brick courthouse of 1844. Fireplaces and pot-bellied stoves created fire hazards that constantly threatened 19th century buildings; arson frequently was suspected if the courthouse held damaging evidence to be used in a forthcoming trial. After the fire, Versailles businessmen quickly constructed buildings and rented space to the County Court at rates which some considered exorbitant.

In June 1887 voters defeated a proposition for a bond issue. Two area newspapers blamed a third newspaper for the defeat, claiming the Morgan County Leader had failed to educate the people. The following year the county held another election. In spite of a majority vote, the election results were challenged. Those disputing the results asked whether the two-thirds majority, which the law required, applied to the total number of voters or only those who voted on the courthouse issue. The challenge was finally resolved in February of 1889 when the judge ordered the County Court to issue bonds for the new courthouse.

The third and present courthouse was designed by William F. Schrage, an architect from Kansas City, in 1889. Henry H. Hohenschild, an architect practicing in Rolla, also visited Morgan County's court and presented plans for their consideration. But the court chose Schrage's plan, which called for four corner pavilions, a center tower and porches supported by brick columns.

This courthouse is similar to those built according to Schrage's design in Howard County, 1887, Laclede County, 1894, and Ripley County, 1898. Pettis County's more costly version, designed by J. G. Cairns and J. S. McKean in 1884, was built with light-colored stone, creating an entirely different effect. The cost of Morgan County's courthouse was about $20,000; Harmon Griffith, Sedalia, was the contractor.

A great portion of the tower has been removed, but the courthouse is still used and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Copyright 2002 University of Missouri. Published by University Extension, University of Missouri-Columbia.

Additional History
In December, 1836, the county purchased of Phillip Barger the house standing on the northeast corner of the public square as a courthouse.  At least part of this building is still standing, and is the rear of the Capt. Neilson's house.  In 1844 a modest brick court house was put up in the center of the public square.  This answered all public purposes comfortably, but unfortunately was burned in the general town fire of March 12th, 1887.
 A new court house, the present one was built in 1888 at a cost of about $20,000.  The bond issue for this building was $15,000 and the insurance on the old building, amounting to $4,000 was applied as well as some other funds.
 Morgan county has no jail except a temporary affair on the second floor of the court house.  This is only  used for holding prisoners in to their trial.  Our sentenced prisoners are kept in jails in other counties.
A jail was built in 1865 but its occupants during several years chipped and dug away at it till it was condemned and torn down.

Courthouse burned in 1887.

Records at Courthouse

Recorder of Deeds: Index to deeds, 1834-1890; Deed records, 1837-1888; Index to marriage records, 1833-1882; Marriage records, 1833-1928.

Clerk of the County Court: Record of births, 1841-1863; Permanent record of births, 1883-1886; Register of deaths, 1883-1886.

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Circuit court records, 1833-1897.

Clerk of the Probate Court: Probate records, 1834-1889; Record of heirs, 1873-1918; Will records, 1835-1919.
More Links
 Birth & Death Records Database

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Marriage Records

Missouri Birth & Death Records Database: Search & Record Availability