Harrison County, MO
SOME HARRISON COUNTY "FIRSTS"SOURCE: HISTORY OF NORTHWEST
EDITED BY: WALTER WILLIAMS
ASSISTED BY: ADVISORY AND
The first house erected in the county seat was
built by William R. Allen in the fall of 1845. It was a hewed-log
house sixteen feet square, built on the block northeast of the public
John and Clem Oatman were the first merchants in the
The first preachers in the county were A.B. Hardin,
Baptist, and John S. Allen, of the Christian Church
regular attorney was William G. Lewis, who came to the county in
1874. He was the chief promoter of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church of Bethany and one of the ruling elders. He died February 18,
The first hotel in the county was kept by Robert Bullington on
the north side of the public square in Bethany. It was a one-story
hewed log house.
The first dramshop kept in the county was by
Dennis Clacy, who, in 1845, obtained license from the County Court to keep
a "grocery" at Harris' Mill for six months, paying $10 state tax and $10
Joseph Hunt had the first blacksmith shop in the county
on Big Creek about the year 1840. He did horseshoeing and mended
plows, wagons and implements for many years.
John S. Allen built
the first brick business house in Bethany. He engaged in business in
1848 and in 1851 erected a frame building and subsequently put up the
The first postoffice in the county was established at
Bethany in 1845. For several years it went by the name of Bethpage
and David Buck was the first postmaster.
submitted by: Melody
SOURCE: HISTORY OF NORTHWEST MISSOURI
EDITED BY: WALTER
ASSISTED BY: ADVISORY AND CONTRIBUTING
The first presidential contest in which the citizens of
Harrison County participated was the election of 1848. The vote of
the county was as follows: Zachary Taylor (whig), 63; Lewis Cass
(democrat), 144. In 1864 the vote of the county was as
follows; Lincoln 992 McClellan, 208.
Harrison County has always
been a republican county. At the election of 1912 two democratic
county officers were elected. The vote for President was: Taft,
2081; Wilson, 1,985; Roosevelt, 965.
by: Melody Beery
HARRISON COUNTY COURTHOUSE BURNS IN 1874
A partial transcription from The Harrison County
Bicentennial History photograph of the newspaper article about the old
Courthouse burning in 1874
EXTRA OF 1874 DESCRIBES BURNING OF COURTHOUSE; EDITION FOUND AMONG OLD
NOTE: In papers which were those of Mrs. William Lewis, who
died here in 1919 was a copy of an extra edition of the Bethany Republican
of Jan. 8, 1874, which told of fire the night bfore that destroyed the
Harrison County Courthouse. This was the Courthouse which preceded
the one torn down when the present one was built.
The extra has
been found by Mrs. Edith (Ellis) Swigart, granddaughter of Mrs.
The extra edition was a single sheet a little more than 10
inches long, 6 3/4 inches wide, in three colums. It is of historical
value, and possibly has not been preserved elsewhere. Mrs. Swigart
has had some copies made, and will submit one of them to the Missouri
Thomas Neal was publisher and editor of the
Bethany Republican at that time. The Union officer of the Civil war
established the newspaper in 1873. Presumably he wrote the
The headlines were in six decks. They
"The Bethany Mo., Court House
"The Tax Books Destroyed."
"The Land and Probate Records
"Also a Part of those of the County Court and
"The Work of an Incendiary"
The News article
The Bethany court house is in ruins, and with it
perish many happy associations, many sorrowful memories. For nearly
twenty years it has stood in stately pride in the center of the public
square, to fall at last at the hand of an incendiary.
Discovery of the
About 11 o'clock last night, January 7th, the alarm of "Fire!" was
heard along the streets, followed by a ringing of bells and general
panic. The night was bright with moonlight, the ground partly
covered with snow, and a moderate breeze was blowing from the south.
The fire was discovered by the Bryant boys, Scott and Luther, wo came out
of a room on the northeast corner of the square. The observed
a brilliant light in the
north side of the courth house. As the light increased they gave the
alarm and rushed down to the courth house, where they found the floor and
papers under a desk in Mr. Baker's office, all on fire, and the desk
burning, and also saw that the
Window of the
was raised about two feet. Other citizens from
every part of the town, soon appeared, but as few comparatively brought
buckets of water, and water being scarce in town at this time, the fire
soon gained such headway that little could be done to save the
building. The desk being of considerable height and having a
pigeon-hole case standing on top of it full of papers, the fire reached
the ceiling easily, which was soon in flames. The square and streets
were by this time thronged with a multitude of men, women and children,
who stood shivering in the bleak night wind, powerless to render much aid
in saving the court house, but organized into an amateur fire companies to
protect the row of buildings on the north side of the square. Water
and snow were thrown on the roof and sides of the buildings, and the
shower of sparks eagerly watched. When the roof of the court house
caught fire, the heat was so great on the walk in front of the Ohio House,
and the falling cinders so thick, that many fled in terror.
soon seen by the most thoughtful that the court house could not be saved,
and the cry was given:
"Save the Land Records!"
A rush was made for
Mr. Skinner's office, the door was broken down, and in a few minutes the
land books and court books and papers were taken to a safe distance.
Next the Probate Court and county clerk's office were emptied of their
What was Saved and What Lost.
of the Probate records were saved, and most of the county records,
probably all except some papers in the large desk on the west side of the
County Clerks office. Some of the latter were destroyed including
the settlements with township clerks and the estimates for school
expenses. The school fund notes were saved. The tax books, all
of the road recipts that that had been received on taxes and other papers
connected with the Collector's office, were destroyed.
and Rmer succeeded in saving all the valuable books, papers, abstracts
&c., in their land agency office.
There was litte doubt that
the fire was the
Work of an Incendiary,
The fire started near the desk of the Collector. When
the parties first on the ground, appeared, there was no fire about the
stove. As we have said, the window of the office was found
raised. A bunch of shavings, partly burned, was found in the
hall of the Court house, in front of the Sheriff's office door.
after the alarm was given by the Bryant boys, John Devers, of the
REPUBLICAN office, rushed out to the southwest corner of the square to see
the locality of the fire. He went as far as the brick occupied by
McGeorge & Dunn, thinking the trouble was in the west part of the
town. Then he saw the light at the Courth house and at once turned
for that place.
note: this is all that is visable enough to transcribe, but felt it
important enough to include what I could]
source: Harrison County Bicentennial
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