Franklin County, Missouri Genealogy Trails

County and Township Organization
Source: Goodspeed's Franklin County History, 1888, Goodspeed Publishing Co
Transcribed by: Barb Z. © 2009

Organization of the County.—In 1812, when Missouri Territory was organized, it contained but five counties: St. Charles, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Cape Girardeau and New Madrid. In 1820, when Missouri was admitted into the Union as a State, the number had increased to fifteen. The new counties organized between 1812 and 1820 were Washington, in 1813; Howard, in 1816, and Jefferson, Franklin, Wayne, Lincoln, Madison, Mont­gomery, Pike and Cooper, in 1818. The original boundaries of Franklin County were as follows: "All that part of St. Louis County bounded as follows: Beginning on the Missouri River, at the second range line east of the fifth principal meridian; thence with said range line to the corner of Townships 42 and 43 in Range 2, and Townships 42 and 43, in Range 3, east of the fifth principal meridian; thence in a direct line to that point on the county line between the counties of St. Louis and Washington, where said county line running from the mouth of Mineral Fork changes its course to the southwest; thence west to the middle of the river Meramec; thence south 22° 30' west to the Osage River; thence down the Osage River to the Missouri, and thence with the Missouri to the place of beginning; provided, however, that if the said Washington County line, extended westward, shall not strike the Osage River, the said county line shall be the boundary of the proposed county, until the same strikes the Osage boundary line, and thence with said boundary line to the Osage Biver, and down the same to the place of beginning, as aforesaid, is hereby laid off as a separate and distinct county, by the name of Franklin County; and all that part or tract of country lying between the northwestern boundary of Washington County, as heretofore established, and the said county of Frank­lin, as herein established, shall hereafter be attached to and form a part of Washington County." This act was approved December 11, 1818.

David Edwards, Philip Boulware, Sr., William Laughlin, Daniel B. Moore and William Harrison were appointed commissioners, with full power and authority to fix upon the most suit­able place in the county whereon to erect a court-house and jail, and the act declared that the place upon which they or a majority of them should agree should be the permanent seat of justice of the county. The same act also provided that the first courts should be held at the house of Hartley Sappington, in St. Johns settlement, unless the commissioners should previously a'ppoint a different place, which, it will be observed, by reference to the history of the circuit court, they did not do. The same commis­sioners were also appointed commissioners of the court-house and jail, and were authorized to purchase or receive by donation a title to such parcel of land as they, or a majority of them, might deem most convenient as a site for the aforesaid public building, the parcel of land to contain not less than fifty acres, nor more than 200 acres. In case of vacancy in any of the offices of the above commissioners the circuit court was authorized to fill the vacancy by appointment, as will be observed was done by the circuit court in two or three instances. The offices of the commissioners all being filled, the commissioners proceeded to select the old town of Newport as the county seat. Newport is situated near the Missouri River, in St. Johns Township. Here the court-house and other public buildings were duly erected, and Newport remained the county seat until 1826, when it was removed to Union. The old court-house in Newport is still standing, and is in use as a private dwelling. At Union a log court-house was erected in 1828, which cost $844.79. It stood within the present court-yard, and was used until 1849, when a new brick court-house was erected.

Removal of County Seat.—January 22, 1825, an act was passed by the Legislature to remove the seat of justice of Frank­lin County, which was in part as follows:

Whereas, a majority of the citizens of Franklin County, having petitioned for the removal of the seat of justice to the center of the county, therefore

Be it enacted, etc. First. That John Brown, of St. Louis County, Benja­min Horine, of Washington County, and William T. Lammie, of Montgomery County, bo. anil they iire hereby, appointed commissioners with full power to point out and select the most eligible situation which can be procured, at the center of said county of Franklin, or within three miles thereof; and the place where they, or a majority of them, shall agree on shall be the permanent seat of justice for s:iid county of Franklin.
Sec. 3. Barnabas Stickland, Moses Whitmire and Bracket Burnes, or a ma­jority of them, are hereby appointed commissioners of the courthouse and jail, whose duty it shall be to purchase or receive as a donation the land, including the site selected by the first named commissioners, for the permanent seat of justice bf said county of Franklin, the said land, lot or parcel of ground, not to contain less than fifty nor more than one hundred and sixty acres, and it shall be their further duty to take to them and their successors in office, for and to the use of said county of Franklin, from the person or persons from whom they may purchase or receive a donation of land, a good and sufficient warranty deed or deeds in fee simple, which deed or deeds shall be made to them in trust for the said county of Franklin.

This land was required to be laid off into lots and squares, and sold on a credit not exceeding six, twelve and eighteen months, except such as were reserved for the erection upon them of the necessary public buildings. The money received for the lots when sold was required by this act to be expended in the erection of public buildings, after paying for the land if that should be necessary, and the balance to be appropriated by the tribunal transacting county business to the building of bridges, and the improvement of roads and highways in the county of Franklin.

The several courts then being held in the town of Newport were to continue to be held there until the commissioners ap­pointed to superintend the courthouse and jail should notify the circuit and county courts of the county that a courthouse had been provided at the new seat of justice, from and after which time they should be held at the new seat of justice.

The commissioners to select the county seat were required by the thirteenth section of this act to meet at the house of Joseph Welch on or before the 10th of March, 1825,and perform the duties required of them by the act.

The ninth section of the act made the south boundary of Frank­lin County " a line running due west from where the present south boundary of said county of Franklin strikes the Meramec until the same strikes the boundary line between the counties of Gasconade and Franklin."

Survey of County
July 12, 1819, the surveyor of Franklin County made his report of the survey of the county line between Franklin and Washington Counties, ordered to be made on March 8, preceding. It was as follows:
Monday, April 5, 1319

In conformity with an order of the circuit court, March term, commenced to survey and mark a line dividing the counties of Franklin and Washington, beginning at the northwest corner of Washington County, at a Spanish oak standing on the bank of a small branch, and thence running due west three miles twelve chains and fifty links to a road leading from the rich woods to Hamilton's on the Meramec. In camp, Tuesday morning, the 6th, continued crossing, same course three miles four chains to Little Indian Creek, same course four miles, forty chains and fifty links to Big Indian Creek, crossing, same course one mile and live chains to a branch and encamped. Wednesday, 7, morning, proceeded from camp on the same course five miles four chains and twenty-five links to the middle of the Meramec; thence south 22° 30' west, up and in the Meramec, sixty-two chaius, same course, and leaving the river some small distance to the right, thirty-Dine chains five links to the river, four chains ninety links cross the river; encamped. Thursday morning, 8th, pro­ceeded from camp same course two miles fifty nine chains and fifty links to the river, six chains and ninety-three links wide, same course three miles fifty-five chains and fifty links to the river; encamped. Friday morning, 9th, proceeded with the same line across the river, five chains fifty-one links wide, same course one mile three chains. Boone's Lick road, at forty chains, the river running east and eight chains forty-three links wide, at three miles fifty-two chains and fifty links, Courtway's fork.

By striking off Gasconade County from Franklin, the area of Franklin was considerably reduced, and in 1845 the boundaries of the county were established, as follows : " Beginning at the northwest corner of St. Louis County, at a point in the middle of the main channel of the Missouri Eiver; thence south along the line between Ranges 2 and 3 east, to the line between Townships 42 and 43; thence in a direct line to the northwest corner of Washington County, a point sixteen chains north of the quarter section corner in the line between Sections 14 and 15, in Township 40 north, Range 2 east; thence west to the middle of Range 4 west; thence north to a point in the middle of the main channel of the Missouri River, and thence down said channel to the beginning." These are the boundaries of Franklin County at the present time.

Formation of Townships.—July 12, 1819, the report of the commissioners dividing the county into townships was received. It was as follows:

We, the said commissioners of the county of Franklin, David Edwards, William Laughlin and Thomas Buckner, met on the Oth day of March, 1819, and proceeded to business, and agreed to lay the county off in townships, as follows: To begin at the northeast corner of said county on the Missouri River, and run­ning up said river till it intersects the range line between 1 and 2 west; thence with the range line south until it intersects the township line between Town­ships 41 and 42; thence east with said line until it intersects the old Indian trace leading from the " Shawney " village on the " Burbus " River to the Gasconade; thence east with said trace leading to St. Louis uutil it intersects the county line, not far below Henry Reed's; thence with the county line to the beginning; which shall form one township, to be called and known by the name of St. Johns Township.
All the rest of Franklin County lying south of the aforesaid township, and south likewise of the "Burbus" River, above Range 1 west, and up the said river to the main source, thence due west to the dividing ridge between the Gas­conade and Burbus Rivers, thence with the said ridge south until it intersects the Washington County line, shall form another township to be called and known by the name of Meramec Township.
And all that part of the county of Franklin lying west of the Township of St. Johns, and north of the Township of Meramec, and as far west as the range line between Ranges 4 and 5, to form another township to be called and known by the name of "Beff " Township.
And all that part of Franklin County lying west of the aforesaid townships shall form another township to be called and known by the name of Gasconade Township.

Thomas Smith was appointed constable of Boeuf Township, Philip Boulware, of Gasconade Township; William A. Hardin, of Meramec Township, and Lewis W. Mansker, of St. Johns Township, each constable  giving bond in the sum of $1,000.

On March 15, 1820, all the southern part of Gasconade Town­ship lying south of the Potosi road was struck off from Gasconade Township, as previously created, and erected into a separate township and named South Gasconade Township, the remaining portion, north of the Potosi road, to be known as North Gascon­ade Township.

April 23, 1821, it was ordered by the county court, that all that part of Meramec Township lying east of the middle of Range 1, east of the fifth principal meridian, should be formed into a distinct township, to be called and known by the name of Calvey Township.

On the same day the court ordered that " all that part of St. Johns Township beginning within one mile below the fifth principal meridian on the Missouri River and running south par­allel with said line to Meramec Township, all east of said line to form a separate and distinct township to be known and called Boles' Township."

Township Organization
-After numerous changes in the municipal townships of the county, which it would be tedious to trace with precision, the question of township organization came up in 1872. May 25 a petition was presented to the county court looking toward township organization, but, as there was no evidence before the court that a majority of the signers were legal voters, no action was taken. But on August 10 following, on the petition of 100 legal voters in the county, an election was ordered to be held on this question November 5. November 14, 1872, Green B. Wade and William P. Springgate, judges of the court, counted the votes cast November 5, on this question, and found that the whole number of legal votes cast was 3,482, and that of these votes 1,607 were in favor of township organization and 924 against it, and, as it appeared that a majority of the legal vote’s did not vote for township organization, the court found that township organization was not adopted. August 4, 1847, a petition was presented to the county court signed by Jesse Shelton, W. A. Magann, Isaac A. Gray, S. H. Heff, W. H. Thurmond, and others, to the number of over 100, praying that the question of township organization be submitted to a vote of the people, in accordance with an act approved March 24, 1873, at the next gen­eral election in November, 1874. The petition was granted, and at the election there were 1,776 votes cast in favor of township organization to 1,573 against it. Thus, at length, township organization won, and on the first Tuesday in April, 1875, elec­tions for township officers were held at the following places in each township, respectively: Boles Township, Gray's Summit; St. Johns Township, Cleves' mill; Washington Township, Wash­ington ; Calvey Township, Catawissa; Prairie Township, Prairie school-house; Central Township, St. Clair; Meramec Township, Stanton; Boone Township, Japan; Lyon Township, Port Hudson post-office; Boeuf Township, Blish's mill; New Haven Township, New Haven; Union Township, Union. Officers were elected in each township, who served one year, by the end of which time the experiment of township organization became unsatisfactory and was abandoned. The municipal townships of the county remain as named above.


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