Welcome to
Barton County

County History

Barton County.—A county in the southwestern part of the State 120 miles south of Kansas City. It is bounded on the north by Vernon County, on the east by Cedar and Dade Counties, on the south by Jasper County, and on the west by the State of Kansas. It has an area of 612 square miles, four-fifths of which is elevated prairie, sufficiently undulating for drainage, and not too broken for convenient cultivation. The soil is a dark sandy loam, rich and productive, producing the cereals, grasses and fruits bountifully. The prairie is dotted with groves of the native woods, hickory, oak, lind, walnut, locust and sycamore. Extending through the county, east and west, a few miles north of Lamar, is the Ozark Divide, which sends the water courses on the one side toward the Missouri River, and those on the other side toward White River. In the northeast is Horse Creek; in the north, Little Drywood, with the forks of Big Drywood in the northwest.

Coon Creek follows the east half of the southern boundary of the county. Muddy Creek, a feeder of Spring River, enters the southeast corner, and in its meanderings through the south half of the county, traverses a distance of thirty-five miles to find its leaving point in the southwest. West Fork and Pettis Creek are in the central south. The bottom lands bordering these streams contain a great depth of rich alluvial soil which is wonderfully productive. The climate is salubrious, peculiarly adapted to stock-raising and young cattle and hogs have run at large in the valleys throughout the winter. Coal underlies the greater part of the county, and large mines are profitably worked at various places. Limestone and sandstone, of superior quality is quarried in places; the latter is found in various shades of color, and has been used in the new Barton County courthouse, the Gulf Railway buildings in Springfield, in churches in Joplin, and in other important edifices.

The principal towns are:
Lamar, the county seat;
Golden City,
Minden Mines,
and Liberal.

Railways traversing the county are the Missouri Pacific, the Kansas City, Port Scott & Memphis, and the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf.

In 1898 the principal surplus products were:
wheat, 12,292 bushels;
corn, 10,576 bushels;
oats, 30,954 bushels ;
flax, 64,856 bushels ;
hay, 34,317,400 pounds;
flour, 205,456 pounds;
ship stuff, 252,000 pounds;
grass seed, 435,940 pounds;
poultry 329,943 pounds;
eggs, 35,640 dozen;
small fruits, 13,686 crates;
cattle 9,196 head;
hogs, 23,900 head;
horses and mules, 1,341 head;
sheep, 1,.740 head;
hides, 47,899 pounds;
lumber and logs, 74,200 feet;
coal, 13,022 tons.

Barton County was created December 12, 1855, and was named in honor of David Barton, one of the first two United States Senators from Missouri. Its territory was taken from Jasper County, and this was accomplished mainly through the effort of George E. Ward. The temporary seat of justice was at his house on the site of the present city of Lamar, which was chosen as the permanent seat the same year. Allen Petty was county seat commissioner and building commissioner; Mr. Fisher was associated with him in the former capacity.

In 1858 a temporary frame courthouse was erected, and in 1860 it was replaced with a brick building which was burned during the war. In 1868, a frame courthouse was built on the west side of the square, at a cost of over $5,000. In 1889 was completed as spacious and handsome edifice, of pressed brick -and Barton County stone, costing $32,500, standing in the center of the public square.

Wrongdoers were sent into neighboring counties, mostly to Vernon, for confinement, until 1871, when a brick jail was erected at a cost of $7,600.

The appointed county judges, at the organization of the, county, were:
William H. Brown,
James Guest and J. G. Hutton.
Joseph H. Brown was sheriff,
Branch T. Morgan was County and Circuit Clerk,
and George E. Ward was treasurer.

In 1866 William H. Grier, Elijah Buffington and John Main were elected county judges:
Emery Q. Condiet, county clerk;
W. A. Norris. sheriff;
C. R. Logan, treasurer;
William B. Smedley,
probate judge;
and L. M. Timmonds, circuit clerk.

The first session of the circuit court was held at the house of George E. Ward, Judge John R. Chenault presiding. There were no courts after 1861 until 1866, when Judge John C. Price presided with Branch T. Morgan as clerk, the session being held in open air, all public building having been destroyed by Quantrell's Band. The public records had been thrown into a well by a citizen; they were afterward recovered, but were so damaged that transcription was necessary.

The only legal execution was that of Amos Avery, for the murder of James A. Miles, in 1892; both were strangers passing through the county. Little is known of the history of
the pioneers.

The name remains of one Gil Roup, who pursued the Indians in the neighborhood with relentless and deadly hatred. He left the country with his family to go to California, and the entire party were slain by the race which he had persecuted.

The earliest residents of the county known, are those already named in connection with its organization.

George E. Ward built a corn and saw mill, and sold goods in a log house, on the site of Lamar, in 1852.

The early postoffices were:
Lamar, J. C. Parry, postmaster;
Drywood, Morris C. Baker, postmaster;
and Coon Creek, Robert Stanley, postmaster.

A weekly mail was brought on horseback from Independence, by way of Papinsville. William Seals taught the first school, in 1854, two miles south of Lamar.

Little attention was paid to education, and the few schools existing were closed during the war. The first school afterward was at Lamar, in 1866, taught by Reeson Bovard. Between 1866 and 1869, schools were established aft five other points in the county. About 1866, W. H. Avery became county commissioner of schools. In 1898 there were in the county 102 schools, 147 teachers, and 5,988 pupils; the permanent school fund was $77,708.10.

The first religious services were held in the old courthouse at Lamar, when a sermon was read by a layman, there being no minister in the place. The First Baptist Church of Lamar erected a house of worship in 1870, the first edifice for religious purposes. All the leading denominations are now represented by prosperous societies at various points.

The town of Liberal was incorporated in 1881, by a colony of Spiritualists, who maintain a school, Sunday school, normal school and business institute, occupying buildings erected at a cost of nearly $6,000.

The first paper was the "Universe," published at Lamar, by Grier & Farmer; the year of its institution is uncertain, but it was prior to the war.

The county was sparsely populated during the war, and occupies small place in the history of that time.

In 1861, Major Randall recruited a company which entered the Confederate service under General Rains. Captain I. N. DeLong organized a company of Union Home Guards, which served but a short time, its members soon entering permanent regiments. Many raids were made through the county, and there was much pillaging and destruction of property, and occasional murders.

The real development of the county dates from the establishment of its mining interests, which followed the completion of the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf Railway, in 1880. The Missouri Pacific Railway was completed the following year. In 1871 the Barton County Agricultural and Mechanical Society was incorporated and through its annual exhibitions has accomplished much for improvement in agricultural concerns. All material interests are in healthful condition, and the county ranks high in all that makes a prosperous and orderly community. In 1900 the population was 18,253.
[Source: Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri: Edited by Howard Louis Conard; Publ. 1901; PgTranscribed by Andrea Stawski Pack]

Barton County is a county located in the U. S. State of Missouri. Its county seat is Lamar. Lamar was the birthplace of President Harry S. Truman. The county was organized in 1855 and named after David Barton, a U. S. senator from Missouri.

Golden City

Lamar Heights

Unincorporated towns

Barton City
Golden City
South West


Return to

Barton County


Genealogy Trails

Copyright © Genealogy Trails
All data on this website is Copyright by Genealogy Trails with full rights reserved for original submitters.