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Saint Louis County
Saint Louis County
Organized October 1, 1812, as one of the five original counties; named for St. Louis (King Louis IX of France), patron saint of King Louis XV.

County Seat: Clayton

Named after: St. Louis Original County

Address: 7900 Carondelet

             Clayton, MO 63105


After the separation of the city of St. Louis from the county, the seat of justice moved about eight miles west where first courts met in temporary quarters. County commissioners accepted a site of 104 acres donated by Ralph Clayton and M. F. Hanley in the wooded, undeveloped area that became Clayton. Even when the cornerstone ceremony took place May 9, 1878, the St. Louis Globe Democrat reported the courthouse was represented only by an unsightly hole in the center of a forest.

A resolution in January 1878 provided funds from the sale of county land for building the courthouse. Plans for the courthouse, which county architect F. A. Renick prepared, were contracted by the firm Rude and Luke (see Figure 5). The courthouse measured about 110 by 205 feet and contained 17 rooms and two courtrooms. Costs came to approximately $38,000. County officials occupied their new quarters during December 1878, only seven months after the cornerstone was laid. The court authorized a 110-by-69-foot addition April 19, 1912, which extended on the south and cost $75,000.

Between 1925 and 1945 St. Louis County voters defeated six courthouse elections, the last in May 1945 for a $4,250,000 complex; given the alternative for a $2,000,000 courthouse in December of the same year, voters gave their approval. Preston Bradshaw, a St. Louis architect, prepared a plan for a four-story, red brick building with white stone trim. A judge asked for a design complementing that of the recently completed city hall and post office. Construction was contracted by H. D. Deal and Co. for $1,155,415. The building was completed in December 1949, five months ahead of schedule.

March 28, 1950, St. Louis voters approved a charter permitting home rule for St. Louis County, replacing the three-member County Court with a seven-member council and a county supervisor as the county's chief administrative office.

By the 1960s county government had become so vast a single building concept was replaced by a county government complex designed by the St. Louis firm, Murphy, Downey, Wofford and Richman. Voters approved a bond issue in 1967. Construction began in November 1968 and was completed in late 1971. The cost was $18,602,266.

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

Additional History
When the City of St. Louis, anxious to separate itself from its countrified cousins, split from St. Louis County in 1876, the county courts "long-housed within city limits" were left without a home. After much consideration, county officials chose a site donated by two native Virginian farmers, Ralph Clayton and Martin Hanley.

Ralph Clayton, born in Virginia in 1788, came west in the 1830's, and eventually settled in the southeastern part of the modern city that bears his name. When the infant St. Louis County needed a new site for its seat, Clayton convinced county officials that his land "a half day's ride from the city" was a superior location than the more remote villages of Kirkwood and Mount Olive also under consideration. Clayton agreed to give the land to county, requiring only that the area surrounding the new courthouse bear his name.

Martin Hanley, another native Virginian, arrived in Missouri in 1834. After establishing himself as a blacksmith and merchant, Hanley built a two-story farmhouse that still stands on the north side of town. To augment Clayton's proposal, Hanley gave a small plot east of Clayton's land. Today, the 104 acres donated by Clayton and Hanley are covered by the city's central business district "despite the widow Hanley's attempts to reclaim her husband's gift several years after his death."

On December 4, 1877, county residents voted to adopt Clayton's and Hanley's land as the new county seat; a few months later 3,000 people gathered to see the cornerstone for the new courthouse laid. The building was completed at a cost of about $25,000.

Courtesy: City of Clayton

Local Records at the Courthouse
Recorder of Deeds: Index to deeds, 1804-1900; Deed records, 1804-1832; CoIletís index to French and Spanish archives, 1766-1854; French and Spanish archives, 1803-1848; Colletís Index, 1804-1854; Index to marriage records, 1806-1865; Marriage records, 1808-1882.

Records of marriages and divorces.

Marriage records are at the Recorder of Deeds Office. 

Divorce records are in the Circuit Clerk's Office

Additionally, Saint Louis County Office of Vital Statistics has records of births and deaths since 1883 for events which occurred inside Saint Louis County, Missouri. We are now offering computerized certificates of births and deaths occurring anywhere in the State of Missouri. The computerized certificates are accessed beginning in 1920 for births and 1980 for deaths.

A certified copy of a birth or death record may be obtained by sending a written request to:

Saint Louis Co. Vital Records

111 So. Meramec Ave, 1st Floor

Clayton, MO 63105

Further Links
County Records-Roll by Roll List  ~ PDF file

Search for St. Louis County Records at the Missouri Archives

Local Records Inventory Database

St. Louis Marriages 1754-1835

Missouri Birth & Death Records Database: Search & Record Availability