Historical Facts of Missouri Counties

Missouri County records differ extensively from county to county in either quality not to mention quantity. Some happen to have been carefully conserved and some have been substantially misused and overlooked. Many Missouri records have simply disappeared. For genealogists doing research in Missouri there is no valuable substitute for an on-site research of county court house records.

Missouri is divided into 114 counties and one independent city. Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders. Missouri State Government is located in Jefferson City.

Missouri Counties

Each county has retained its own county records. Local records are constantly being compiled according to county by the Missouri Local Records Preservation Program. The state archives website holds a searchable database of those compiled records.

The recorder of deeds in each county is responsible for keeping the records pertaining to marriages. Official recording of those records was not required until 1881, but earlier records do exist. The clerk of the county court holds death and marriage records from before recording became mandatory in 1909.

The Missouri State Archives Birth and Death Records Database contains various pre-1909 records of stillbirths, births, and deaths.

The links in the table below link to county and city government offices and is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a Missouri county that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please contact us so we may edit our database.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Adair 1841 Macon County Kirksville
Andrew 1841 Part of the Platte Purchase Savannah
Atchison 1843 Holt County, part of the Platte Purchase Rock Port
Audrain 1831 Callaway, Monroe and Ralls counties Mexico
Barry 1835 Greene County Cassville (COC)
Barton 1855 Jasper County Lamar
Bates 1841 Van Buren (now Cass) County Butler (COC)
Benton 1835 Pettis and Greene counties Warsaw
Bollinger 1851 Cape Girardeau, Madison, Stoddard and Wayne counties Marble Hill
Boone 1821 Howard County Columbia
Buchanan 1838 Part of the Platte Purchase Saint Joseph
Butler 1849 Wayne County Poplar Bluff
Caldwell 1836 Ray County Kingston
Callaway 1821 Boone, Howard and Montgomery counties Fulton
Camden 1841 Benton, Morgan and Pulaski counties Camdenton
Cape Girardeau 1812 One of the five original counties Jackson
Carroll 1833 Ray County Carrollton (COC)
Carter 1859 Oregon, Reynolds, Ripley and Shannon counties Van Buren (COC)
Cass 1833 Jackson County Harrisonville
Cedar 1845 Dade and St. Clair counties Stockton (COC)
Chariton 1821 Howard County Keytesville
Christian 1859 Greene, Taney and Webster counties Ozark
Clark 1836 Lewis County Kahoka
Clay 1822 Ray County Liberty
Clinton 1833 Clay County Plattsburg
Cole 1820 Cooper County Jefferson City
Cooper 1818 Howard County Boonville
Crawford 1829 Gasconade County Steelville
Dade 1841 Barry and Polk counties Greenfield
Dallas 1841 Polk County Buffalo
Daviess 1836 Ray County Gallatin
DeKalb 1843 Clinton County Maysville
Dent 1851 Crawford and Shannon counties Salem
Douglas 1857 Ozark County Ava
Dunklin 1843 Stoddard County Kennett
Franklin 1818 St. Louis County Union
Gasconade 1821 Franklin County Hermann
Gentry 1841 Clinton County Albany
Greene 1833 Crawford and Wayne counties Springfield
Grundy 1839 Livingston County Trenton
Harrison 1843 Daviess County Bethany
Henry 1834 Lillard (now Lafayette) County Clinton
Hickory 1845 Benton and Polk counties Hermitage
Holt 1841 Part of the Platte Purchase Oregon
Howard 1816 St. Charles and St. Louis counties Fayette
Howell 1857 Oregon County West Plains
Iron 1857 Madison, Reynolds, St. Francois, Washington and Wayne counties Ironton
Jackson 1826 Lillard (now Lafayette) County Kansas City, Independence
Jasper 1841 Barry County Carthage
Jefferson 1818 St. Louis and Sainte Genevieve counties Hillsboro
Johnson 1834 Lillard (now Lafayette) County Warrensburg
Knox 1843 Scotland County Edina
Laclede 1849 Camden, Pulaski and Wright counties Lebanon
Lafayette 1821 Cooper County Lexington
Lawrence 1843 Barry and Dade counties Mount Vernon
Lewis 1833 Marion County Monticello
Lincoln 1818 St. Charles County Troy
Linn 1837 Chariton County Linneus
Livingston 1837 Carroll County Chillicothe
McDonald 1837 Chariton and Randolph counties Pineville
Macon 1818 Cape Girardeau and Sainte Genevieve counties Macon
Madison 1855 Osage and Pulaski counties Fredericktown
Maries 1826 Ralls County Vienna (COC)
Marion 1847 Newton County Palmyra
Mercer 1845 Grundy County Princeton
Miller 1837 Cole and Pulaski counties Tuscumbia
Mississippi 1842 Scott County Charleston
Moniteau 1845 Cole and Morgan counties California
Monroe 1831 Ralls County Paris
Montgomery 1818 St. Charles County Montgomery City
Morgan 1833 Cooper County Versailles
New Madrid 1812 One of the five original counties New Madrid
Newton 1838 Barry County Neosho
Nodaway 1843 Andrew County, the Platte Purchase Maryville
Oregon 1841 Ripley County Alton
Osage 1841 Gasconade County Linn
Ozark 1841 Taney County Gainesville
Pemiscot 1851 New Madrid County Caruthersville
Perry 1821 Sainte Geneviere County Perryville
Pettis 1833 Cooper and Saline counties Sedalia
Phelps 1857 Crawford County Rolla
Pike 1818 St. Charles County Bowling Green
Platte 1838 Part of the Platte Purchase Platte City
Polk 1835 Greene County Bolivar
Pulaski 1833 Crawford County Waynesville
Putnam 1843 Adair and Sullivan counties Unionville
Ralls 1821 Pike County New London
Randolph 1829 Chariton and Ralls counties Huntsville
Ray 1820 Howard County Richmond
Reynolds 1845 Shannon County Centerville
Ripley 1831 Wayne County Doniphan
St. Charles 1812 One of the five original counties Saint Charles
St. Clair 1841 Rives (now Henry) County Osceola
St. Francois 1821 Jefferson, Sainte Genevieve and Washington counties Farmington
St. Louis 1812 One of the five original counties Clayton
St. Louis City 1876 Created in 1876 when city residents voted to secede from St. Louis County St. Louis
St. Genevieve 1812 One of the five original counties Sainte Genevieve
Saline 1820 Cooper County Marshall
Schuyler 1843 Adair County Lancaster
Scotland 1841 Clark, Lewis, and Shelby counties Memphis (COC)
Scott 1822 New Madrid County Benton
Shannon 1837 Ripley County Eminence
Shelby 1835 Marion County Shelbyville
Stoddard 1835 New Madrid County Bloomfield
Stone 1851 Taney County Galena (COC)
Sullivan 1843 Linn County Milan
Taney 1837 Greene County Forsyth
Texas 1843 Shannon and Wright counties Houston
Vernon 1851 Bates County Nevada
Warren 1833 Montgomery County Warrenton
Washington 1813 Sainte Genevieve County Potosi (COC)
Wayne 1818 Cape Girardeau and Lawrence counties Greenville
Webster 1855 Greene County Marshfield
Worth 1861 Gentry County Grant City
Wright 1841 Pulaski County Hartville


Interactive Map of Missouri Counties Formation

(Missouri maps made with the use AniMap Plus 3.0 & with the Permission of the Goldbug Company)

Missouri Extinct Counties

Missouri has counties that no longer exist. They were set up by the state, provincial, or territorial governing administration. A lot of these counties were created and disbanded within the 19th century; county boundaries have evolved very little since Nineteen hundred in the vast most of states. These counties need to be considered when doing ancestry and genealogy research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was abolished or merged with another county.

  • Clark County, Missouri: Renamed Cleveland County in 1885
  • Decatur County, Missouri: Formed in 1841 as Ozark, renamed in 1843 to Decatur, renamed back to Ozark in 1845
  • Dodge County, Missouri: Formed in 1849. Abolished in 1853
  • Hempstead County, Missouri: Formed in 1818 from New Madrid County. Abolished in 1819; became part of the Arkansas Territory
  • Lillard County, Missouri: Formed in 1821 from Cooper County; Abolished in 1825; divided into Jackson and LaFayette Counties
  • Lawrence County, Missouri: Formed in 1815 from New Madrid County. Abolished in 1819; became part of the Arkansas Territory
  • Kinderhook County, Missouri: Formed in1841 from Benton, Pulaski and Morgan Counties, renamed in 1843 to Camden County
  • Niangua County, Missouri: Formed in1841 from Polk County, renamed in 1844 to Dallas County
  • Seneca County, Missouri: Formed in 1847 from Newton County; renamed to McDonald County in 1849
  • Van Buren County, Missouri: Formed as Van Buren, renamed to Cass County in 1849

Missouri Counties with Burned Courthouses

The damage to Missouri courthouses tremendously has a bearing on family historians in each and every way. Not only are these historic buildings ripped from each of our lifetimes, so are the archives they kept: marriage, wills, probate, land records, as well as others. Once destroyed they’re lost permanently. Although they have been put on mircofilm, computers and film burn as well. The most tragic aspect of this is the reason why virtually all of our courthouses are destroyed from arsonist. However, not all the records were damaged or lost. A number of Missouri counties have experienced a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

  • Barry County Courthouse Courthouse burned in 1861, some records destroyed
  • Bates County Courthouse Courthouse burned in 1861, some records destroyed
  • Bollinger County Courthouse – The courthouse burned in 1866 and 1884
  • Barton County Courthouse – Courthouse burned in November 1862
  • Camden County Courthouse – Courthouse burned 1902. Some deeds were re-recorded in 1902.
  • Caldwell County Courthouse – Fire consumed most county records when suspected arsonists set the courthouse ablaze April 19, 1860. On November 28, 1896, fire once again consumed the Caldwell County courthouse.
  • Cape Girardeau County Courthouse – Courthouse was destroyed by fire July 18, 1870
  • Crawford County Courthouse – Courthouse burned February 15, 1873, and again on January 5, 1884.
  • Chariton County Courthouse – 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. The brick courthouse, painted white in 1969, was destroyed by fire August 27, 1973, during a renovation project.
  • Christian County Courthouse – Arsonists destroyed the building and all court records on August 20, 1865.
  • Dade County Courthouse – The courthouse was destroyed in the Civil War, October 6, 1863. Some records were destroyed
  • Dallas County Courthouse – Confederate troops burned the building October 18, 1863. Fire also destroyed two subsequent emergency quarters during 1864 and 1867, consuming most county records.
  • Dent County Courthouse – Courthouse burned in 1864 The next courthouse, built in 1864, also fell victim to fire in May 1866. The fire destroyed county records.
  • DeKalb County Courthouse – The Courthouse was destroyed by fire on Christmas night in 1878. Some early records were destroyed.
  • Douglas County Courthouse – Vandals burned the Militia Springs courthouse, destroying many records in July 1872. On April 26, 1886 the store building used for courthouse purposes was destroyed by fire, and again all records were destroyed.
  • Dunklin County Courthouse – Fire destroyed this courthouse during the Civil War. Courthouse burned again in April 1872; this was the fire that destroyed all records.
  • Gentry County Courthouse – The Courthouse was destroyed by windstorm on July 13, 1883. Some Early records lost.
  • Greene County Courthouse – A fire that destroyed the Courthouse on October 28, 1861
  • Harrison County Courthouse – Fire destroyed the Courthouse January 7, 1874.
  • Hickory County Courthouse – Fire destroyed the courthouse in 1852. A storm damaged part of the roof and upper story in April 1879; fire destroyed the building January 8, 1881. The 2 courthouse fires destroyed many records.
  • Holt County Courthouse – Courthouse Fire in February 1965. Records saved.
  • Howard County Courthouse – Fire destroyed the courthouse December 1, 1886. No recorde were lost.
  • Howell County Courthouse – In the fall of 1863, guerrillas burned West Plains and the Courthouse. Most records were destroyed. The county reorganized in 1866.
  • Jasper County Courthouse – Courthouse was destroyed by fire in October 1863. County records were saved by moving themto Neosho, Missouri
  • Knox County Courthouse – fire destroyed the courthouse on Christmas Eve 1885. No records were destroyed
  • Laclede County Courthouse – was destroyed by fire of unkown causes in 1920. County recorder and County treasurer were able to get to their office and take out all their records. Some records were kept in a vault which collapsed and Circuit Clerk A.H. Gray lost all the records in his possession. Sheriff Lambeth also had some records in this vault G.C. Jones superintendent of schools, lost everything in his office. Article
  • McDonald County Courthouse – In 1856 a log courthouse, reportedly built in Rutledge, was demolished by Rioters. Bushwackers burned the courthouse in 1863, destroying most records; Deeds before 1863 recreated.
  • Mercer County Courthouse – Fire destroyed the Courthouse March 24, 1898. Some Records were destroyed.
  • Morgan County Courthouse – Courthouse burned in the general town fire of March 12th, 1887.
  • Mississippi County Courthouse- Courthouse reportedly burned in 1891, Record loss unknown. The Courthouse burned, Monday, Feb. 10, 1997. Extensive damage done to records. Record loss is unknown at this time.
  • Maries County Courthouse – A fire, believed to have been set intentionally, destroyed the courthouse and most records November 6, 1868
  • Montgomery County Courthouse – Damaged by fire in the Civil War, the Courtgouse was later razed; The Courthouse burned April 12, 1901, destroying many county records. Copies of early original deds are in Jones Abstract Company in Montgomery City
  • Newton County Courthouse – Courthouse burned in 1862, destroying many county records.
  • Oregon County Courthouse – In October 1863 this courthouse was burned in a Civil War incident, destroying many county records.
  • Osage County Courthouse – A fire on November 14, 1880, damaged the courthouse. Fire destroyed the courthouse October 30, 1922.
  • Ozark County Courthouse – Courthouse destroyed by fire in 1858 or 1859, all early records were destroyed. 2nd Courthouse destroyed by fire sometime before February 1864., some records were lost. 3rd Courthouse destroyed by fire November 28, 1934.
  • Pemiscot County Courthouse – Courthouse burned December 2, 1882, most records were destroyed; Deed index from 1833 survived
  • Pulaski County Courthouse – Courthouse Fire destroyed most Pulaski County Court records June 13, 1903.
  • Randolph County Courthouse – Courthouse burned on August 12, 1882, the fire began in the second story between the two towers, consumed the courthouse.; Some records were destroyed. Deed index from 1829 survived
  • Reynolds County Courthouse – The courthouse has burned twice. The first time was in December, 1863, when the confederate army burned it. A new courthouse was built in the fall of 1867 on the same foundation as the prior one. This courthouse was burned in late November, 1871. Both times all records were destroyed. Temporary quarters again burned May 27, 1872, while a new “fireproof” courthouse was being built.
  • Ripley County Courthouse – The courthouse burned during the Civil War and again January 1, 1898, some records were destroyed.
  • Saline County Courthouse – In August 1864 the courthouse burned as a result of Civil War activity.
  • Stoddard County Courthouse – During Price’s raid in September 1864, the courthouse was burned by some stragglers, but fortunately the records had been removed.
  • Shannon County Courthouse – Courthouse was burned by Federal soldiers in 1863 destroying this early courthouse along with all county records;, Fire destroyed the Courthouse December 31, 1871; An arsonist set fire to the courthouse and both clerks’ offices in March of 1895. The courthouse was not seriously damaged, although all county records were destroyed; On May 23, 1938, fire destroyed the courthouse,
  • St. Clair County Courthouse – The Courthouse apparently was burned in September 1861 by Gen. James Lane. One account claims that Lane’s raid only partially destroyed the courthouse; by some accounts it was rebuilt and used until November 1864, when it was again burned in Civil War activity. Probate Court records were destroyed.
  • Sullivan County Courthouse – Fire destroyed the Courthouse June 26, 1908.
  • Taney County Courthouse – The courthouse was burned in 1863 by Union troops trying to keep the fortress out of the hands of Confederates. Fire destroyed the courthouse and most records December 19, 1885
  • Texas County Courthouse – Courthouse was destroyed during the Civil War. February 12, 1881, fire damaged the courthouse. On December 14, 1930, fire destroyed the Courthouse.
  • Vernon County Courthouse – Both the courthouse and clerk’s office were destroyed when the town was burned in 1863, County Court records are missing from 1861-65.
  • Washington County Courthouse – In 1906 the Courthouse burned, but before the building was completely destroyed the officials were able to carry the records out safely.
  • Wayne County Courthouse – Courthouse burned in 1853 or 1854, destroying all records. The records in the courthouse were stolen in 1866. Courthouse damaged by fire December 14, 1892, some records destroyed. Few official county records prior to 1893 survive.
  • Webster County Courthouse – Courthouse courthouse was accidentally burned by Federal Troops in 1863; The second story was damaged by a tornado on April 18, 1880. Minor record loss.
  • Worth County Courthouse – Fire destroyed this Courthouse in February 1866. No records loss
  • Wright County Courthouse – In 1849 courthouse was burned and partially destroyed in 1862. The courthouse burned, reportedly January 11, 1863. A tornado damaged the building in 1888 .County Court records for Wright County were destroyed in an 1896 fire. Courthouse burned in 1864 and 1897.