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Webster County
Organized March 3, 1855, from Greene County and named for Daniel Webster.

County Seat: Marshfield

Courthouse Address:

Webster County
P.O. Box 529
Marshfield, MO 65706-0529

Photograph

History
Webster County, organized in 1855, contained areas previously located in Greene and Wright Counties. Sixty acres of land were donated for the county seat. The land was divided into building lots by July 1856 and became Marshfield.

In November 1856 the court appropriated $1,000 and authorized construction of a courthouse on the east side of the square. James M. Allen was appointed superintendent.

The rectangular building measured 20 by 40 feet with the narrow side facing the square. Its two stories were framed with oak and built on a rock foundation. The walls were painted white, windows shuttered, and an outdoor staircase ascended the building's south side. John C. Andrews, contractor, completed the courthouse during August 1857. It was destroyed by fire in 1863 in a Civil War incident.

In 1860 the County Court envisioned a grand courthouse in the center of the square and appropriated $28,000, but the war interrupted the plan. Activity resumed in march 1868 when the court appropriated $18,000 and gave a contract to Dr. E. Hovey for $17,531.40. Hovey completed the building in January 1870. The large, two-story, brick courthouse had a hip roof and round arched windows, with a string course marking division of the two stories.

The second story was damaged by a tornado on April 18, 1880. R. P. Goodall and Frank A. Bradshaw from Laclede received the contract for repair work June 8, 1880, and added a cupola above the entry.

In the 20th century numerous complaints were made about the deplorable condition of the building. But it was not until an engineering firm from Springfield made an alarming report on the building's condition in February 1930 that the county vacated the offices of the clerk and County Court and closed the courtroom. Others apparently continued using this building until 1939 when it was razed as construction began on the present courthouse. Brick from the old building was used in constructing interior walls of the present courthouse.

Preliminaries were begun in 1935 for a new courthouse. E. R. Sanford, architect from Springfield, drew plans, but problems arose, and the project was canceled. In 1938 a bond issue carried, and the court accepted the plans of another Springfield architect, Earl Hawkins, in October 1938 (see Figure 3). Work Projects Administration approval of the plans came in June 1939. Carthage stone was selected for the building material. Total costs of Webster County's present courthouse amounted to about $150,000; final work was completed late in 1941.

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

Additional History

The current courthouse building is the third since the organization of Webster County. Built in 1939, the Carthage Stone building has just undergone extensive exterior and interior renovation, including the addition of an elevator for easier handicapped access to the upper levels. The original courthouse was a two-story log building completed August 7, 1857. In November 1860, the county court ordered a new courthouse to be relocated to the center of the public square. Due to the onset of the Civil War, however, that order was never carried out. The log courthouse was accidentally burned by Federal Troops in 1863, and a replacement building was not completed until January 19, 1870. The second building was located on the current courthouse site. The building was damaged by the tornado of 1880 that destroyed the second floor. Repairs were made and the building continued to serve the county until it was razed and replaced with the current structure in 1939. The Webster County Courthouse is the third since the county was formed. The structure was constructed in 1939 of Carthage marble. County offices actually started moving out of the second structure after the building was condemned by an engineering firm in 1930.

The present day Webster County Courthouse is a four-level structure, which houses county offices, a museum of Webster County History and the Webster County Sheriff's Department and Jail.

The courthouse grounds feature veterans war memorial, honoring those soldiers killed in battle, and a scale model of the Hubble Space Telescope, invented by Marshfield native Edwin Hubble.

Records at Courthouse

Courthouse burned in 1863; destroyed by cyclone in 1881.

Recorder of Deeds: Index to deeds, 1854-1887; Deed records, 1855-1925; Marriage license records, 1855-1921; Marriage license register, 1883-1918.

Clerk of the County Court: Permanent record of births, 1883-1884; Register of births and stillbirths, 1883-1893; Permanent record of deaths, 1883-1884; Record of state board of health, 1883-1905.

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Circuit court records, 1855-1898.

Clerk of the Probate Court: Probate records, 1856-1886; Probate minutes, 1879-1882; Administratorís/executorís letters, bonds and records, 1871-1898; Inventories, appraisements and sale bills, 1871-1889; Settle≠ment records, 1871 -1890; Guardianís/curatorís records, 1871-1898; Will records, 1870-1924.

More Links
County Records-Roll by Roll List ~ PDF file

Search for Webster County Records at the Missouri Archives

Local Records Inventory Database

Birth & Death Records Database

Missouri Birth & Death Records Database: Search & Record Availability