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Oregon County
Oregon County
Organized February 14, 1845, from Ripley County and named for the Territory of Oregon.

County Seat: Alton

Address:

Oregon County
County Courthouse
P.O. Box 324
Alton, MO 65606

Photograph

History
In 1847 the Oregon county Court ordered a 20-foot-square, hewn-log courthouse of two stories to be built in Thomasville, the first county seat of Oregon County. John R. Woodside served as superintendent. The two-story building, erected on the square, cost about $140. Specifications recorded in the county record are reprinted in Lewis A. W. Simpson's book, Oregon County's Three Flags, and a drawing illustrates the description.

When the county seat was moved to Alton, the court ordered the old courthouse to be sold in February 1860. It brought $105

The court appropriated a total of $4550 for a courthouse to be built in Alton on the square. G. W. Reed (or Read) contracted the building and when it was completed in August 1861 he received $75 to cove additional finishing.

In October 1863 this courthouse was burned in a Civil War incident. At the conclusion of the war the court occupied temporary quarters in Alton. After considering building a new courthouse, the court decided to rebuild on the old foundation instead. In November 1870 the court ordered W. Hupers to draft a plan to suit the old foundation, so the designs were probably similar.

The Court appropriated $8000 for the rebuilding in February 1871 and appointed Samuel W. Greer, a commissioner, to draw the plan and superintend the building. The court accepted Greer's plan and ordered him to advertise for bids. The commissioners gave the contract to J. F. Kidwell for $5,795 in June 1871.

Construction apparently was underway in October 1871 after the foundation had been cleaned out. Since Fig. 1 is an undated photograph, it may be the 1861 or the 1871 rebuilding. If it is the 1861 courthouse, the 1871 rebuilding may have used the segmental arches.

In March 1903 a grand jury recommended improvements, which a local paper noted were badly needed. In July 1903 the court asked for contractors for bids on improvements, which included a 22-foot addition, new roof and three fireproof vaults. W. E. Wadsworth submitted the lowest bid and filed a bond. By April 1904 the work, which cost about $5,100, was nearly completed. The old building raise 13 inches and both old and new enclosed with a mansard roof, which created a third story.

The building of 1861, rebuilt in 1871 and enlarged with 22-foot extension in 1903-04, was razed in October 1939 as preparations for the present courthouse began.

Because government funds were available in the 1930s, Oregon County took steps to build a new courthouse by authorizing bonds amounting to $25,000 in January 1939. A Work Projects Administration grant for almost $75,000 brought the total to $100,000.

The court secured plans from Earl Hawkins, a Springfield architect, for a three-story building with offices on the first floor and on the sides of the second. The courtroom occupied the center of the second and third stories. On the sides of the third story were the jail and a local lodge.

Oregon County citizens preferred using local stone, but Ironton red granite was finally chosen since it cost less than quarrying native Oregon County stone. The court received the building from the W. P. A. in February 1942

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

Additional History
Courthouse burned during the Civil War.
Records at Courthouse

Recorder of Deeds: Index to deeds, 1845-1898; Deed records, 1845-1915; Patent records, 1887-1909; Marriage records, 1845-1861 and 1877-1924.

Clerk of the County Court: Permanent record of births, 1883-1887; Register of births and stillbirths, 1883-1890; Register of deaths, 1883-1889.

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Index to circuit court records, 1845-?; Circuit court records, 1845-1859 and 1872-1889; Naturalization records, 1889-1904.

Clerk of the Probate Court: Index to probate records, (no dates); Probate records, 1857-1890; Administratorís/executorís letters, bonds and records, 1854-1892; Inventories, appraisements and sale bills, 1883-1935; Settlement records, 1873-1892; Will records, 1854-1938.

More Links
Birth & Death Records Database

Search for Oregon County on Archives' Online Catalog

Roll by Roll Listing of Microfilm

Missouri Birth & Death Records Database: Search & Record Availability