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Cooper County
Cooper County
Organized December 17, 1818 (effective February 1, 1819) from Howard County and named for Sarshel (Benjamin) Cooper, pioneer settler.

County Seat: Boonville


Cooper County
200 N. Main St., Room 26
Boonville, MO 65233 


At the March term of Circuit Court in 1819 the circuit judge appointed three commissioners to locate and superintend the building of a courthouse and jail for Cooper County. Eight persons promised to donate 50 acres if the county seat were located in Boonville. At the September term in 1820 the commissioners reported they reserved places for the courthouse and jail on the 50 acres, and the remainder of the property would be surveyed into lots, streets and alleys. Lots sold at public auction September 2, 1820, brought $16,245.25.

On March 21, 1821, the commissioners let to the lowest bidder, William C. Porter (or Potter) and Willis Kempshall, for $9,699, the building of a brick courthouse about 40 feet square, with stone foundation and two stories, one room below, two jury rooms above. Some alterations were made in the plan before the building was completed in 1823.

In 1831 a brick floor replaced the wooden one on the first floor, and additional work was done on the second-story gallery floor. At the July term of court in 1838 the courthouse was ordered to be sold at public auction. When the building was razed, some of the brick was reportedly used in the next courthouse.

The $9,000 cost would have been a great sum in 1821. The county used the courthouse for only 15 years before replacing it, certainly not a typical lifespan for such a costly building.

In May 1838 the County Court ordered a portion of the public square to be laid off into lots and sold to raise funds in order to build a larger courthouse. The site for the courthouse was retained but reduced in size; it overlooked the river and provided an excellent view from the cupola. Specific instructions for dividing the public square were recorded in the County Court Record.

A model and plan of the courthouse were filed with the county clerk. The court appropriated $10,800. Subsequent appropriations for the courthouse brought the total to approximately $30,000, again a very high figure for the time. The court ordered the second story to remain unfinished until a later date, and requested that the ornamental work remain simple.

The County Court received the building at the August term in 1840. Jacob Wyan and Charles W. Johnson were commissioners. Seltcer and McCullough were the contractors. 

This building served Cooper County until 1911, when commissioners who reported on the building declared it unfit. It was sold to W. J. Cochran, contractor for the 1912 courthouse, for $300 and demolished in March of 1912.

Petitions to the court asking for a $100,000 bond issue to finance a new courthouse resulted in an election in June 1911. The town of Boonville made a contribution of $15,000 toward construction. Plans of R. G. Kirsch for a three-story, 80-by-100-foot building were accepted, and the contract was given to W. J. Cochran of Boonville for about $95,000.

Cornerstone ceremonies were conducted July 9, 1912, and the building was received by the court September 15, 1913. The main facade of the building faces Fifth Street, which became the principal artery through town.

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

Additional History
James Bruffee, Benjamin F. Hickox and Robert Wallace were appointed commissioners to superintend building of a courthouse.

Cooper County’s first courthouse was not completed until two years after this session, held at Bartlett’s boarding house. 

THE FIRST COURTHOUSE was a two-story brick on the site of the present or third courthouse.  The second was built in 1840, just east of the location of the first.  Like the original it was of brick, but larger, yet small compared to the present stone edifice.

Records at Courthouse

Recorder of Deeds: Index to deeds, 1820-1895; Deed records, 1819-1906; Index to marriage records, 1819-1973; Marriage records, 1819-1918; Negro/colored marriage records, 1865-1866.

Court of Common Pleas: Index to common pleas, 1856-1859; Record of common pleas, 1856-1859; Chancery records, 1836-1854.

Clerk of the County Court: Register of births and stillbirths, 1883-1894; Permanent record of births, 1883-1889; Permanent record of deaths, 1883-1889.

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Index to circuit court records, 1821-1894; Circuit court records, 1821-1888.

Clerk of the Probate Court: Index to probate records, 1849-1900; Probate records, 1847-1887; Index to probate minutes, (no dates); Probate minutes, 1860-1903; Administrator’s/executor’s letters, bonds and records, 1819-1891; Inventories, appraisements and sale bills, 1847-1887; Settlement records, 1880-1886; Will records, 1818-1918.

More Links
 Birth & Death Records Database

Search for Cooper County on Archives' Online Catalog

Roll by Roll Listing of Microfilm

Local Records Inventory Database

Missouri Birth & Death Records Database: Search & Record Availability

Cooper County Physicians Licensed 1888 to 1894

Marriages 1850 to 1865

Marriages 1850 to 1865

1835 Tax Rolls, Taxpayers A-C

1835 Tax Rolls, Taxpayers D-H  

1835 Tax Rolls, Taxpayers I-M  

1835 Tax Rolls, Taxpayers N-R  

1835 Tax Rolls, Taxpayers S-U