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 Ray County
Organized November 16, 1820, (effective January 1, 1821) from Howard County and named for John Ray, member of the first State Constitutional Convention.

County Seat: Richmond

Address:

Ray County
P.O. Box 167
Richmond, MO 64085

Photograph

 

History
Following six years of controversy, commissioners chose the site of Richmond in 1827 as the permanent location for the county seat of Ray county. It was a primitive site at the time and required more development before it could adequately function. Until that time, Bluffton, the first and temporary location, continued to serve as the county seat.

Money from the sale of lots funded the first courthouse in Richmond, which was completed in 1829. The hewn log structure was chinked with mulberry blocks, and the interior finished with oak. The fireplace at one of the gable ends was constructed of stone, but reportedly had a delicate wooden chimney.

The second courthouse, a temple-type design with Doric order, was copied after the one in nearby Lafayette County. The county commissioners appointed George W. Dunn as superintendent in July 1856. They instructed him to work out the plan and submit a cost estimate, making such suitable variations as the commissioners might suggest.

The court appropriated $25,000 for construction and asked that the work be completed by January 1, 1858. The court paid George A. Kice $40 for drafting plans and specifications, which originally called for a shingle roof and copper-covered dome. Specifications were changed in October 1857, calling for the roof and dome to be covered with tin instead.

A severe storm tore off the roof and weakened the cupola on June 1, 1878. Early in 1914 the United Mine Workers bought the courthouse and moved it to the corner of Franklin and College streets as construction began on the present courthouse. The 1856-58 courthouse was razed in the 1960s.

In the 20th century Ray County needed a new courthouse, better suited for a progressive, growing community. Voters authorized bonds totaling $100,000 in December 1913. The court traveled to several counties to inspect recently built courthouses. They narrowed the selection of potential architects to five before selecting R. Warren Roberts, whom they had visited in Chillicothe when they inspected Livingston County's courthouse.

L. W. Dumas was the successful bidder for contracting the Bedford-stone building at about $98,000. Cornerstone ceremonies took place September 24, 1914, and the building, which is still the Ray County courthouse, was dedicated Nov. 20, 1915. Specifications for the three-story, 75-by-100-foot building may be found in the County Court Record (Book W, pp. 602, 631).

James Oliver Hogg, an eminent Kansas City architect, had submitted a handsome design with a low dome and Doric portico. An extraordinary feature was the accompanying landscape plan with the columns from the previous courthouse integrated into a graceful pattern of walks leading from the four corners of the courthouse block.

Additional History
Records at Courthouse

Recorder of Deeds: Index to deeds, 1820-1886; Deed records, 1821-1908; Quitclaim deeds, 1882-1891; Mortgage deeds, 1858-1892; Deeds of trust, 1874-1879; Marriage records, 1820-1920.

Court of Common Pleas: Index to common pleas, 1867-1874; Common plea records, 1867-1 870.

Clerk of the County Court: Register of births and stillbirths, 1883-1890; Permanent record of births, 1883-1889; Permanent record of deaths, 1883-1889.

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Index to circuit court records, 1821-1888; Circuit court records, 1821-1882.

Clerk of the Probate Court: Index to probate records, 1823-1922; Probate records, 1838-1886; Administratorís/executorís letters, bonds and records, 1821-1905; Inventories, appraisements and sale bills, 1853-1886; Will records, 1821-1915.

More Links
Birth & Death Records Database

Search for Ray County on Archives' Online Catalog

Roll by Roll Listing of Microfilm

Assessor's List for 1821

Missouri Birth & Death Records Database: Search & Record Availability