Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
The territory now comprising Barry was once a part of Crawford County and next Greene County.
It was between ninety and one hundred miles long, north and south, and sixty and seventy wide, east and west. It was the southwest county in the State, bounded on the south by the State of Arkansas, on the west by the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), on the east by Taney County. Now bounded north by Lawrence County, east by Stone County, south by the State of Arkansas and west by McDonald and Newton Counties.
The act approved December 31, 1839, named the boundaries as follows:
Beginning at range line dividing Range 24 and Range 25, at the middle of the eastern line of Township 28; thence west to corner Sections 13, 14, 23 and 24, Township 28, Range 29; thence south to the Arkansas line; thence east along State line to line between Range 24 and 25, and north with such line to the beginning. On January 24, 1849, the Legislature decreed that the western line commence at the northwest corner of Section 36, Township 26, Range 29, and thence south to the State line. In December, Davis Ferguson surveyed and marked the western line.
In September, 1855, Richard M. Jones was paid $168 for the field notes of all the public surveys. In July, 1876, the county surveyor of Barry County located the true western line of Barry two and one-half miles east of the line accepted for thirty-seven years prior to that date. The line then established begins at the northwest corner of Section 36, Township 26, Range 29, south with the subdivisional lines to the southern line of Missouri, thence east on the State line to the line between Range 24 and 25, and north with that line to the northeast corner of Section 36, Township 26, Range 35, and west with subdivisional line to the beginning...
Crawford County, which embraced all southwest Missouri, was joined by Greene County in 1833, and by Barry in 1835. The latter comprised all the territory known as Newton, Jasper, Barry, McDonald, Dade and part of Cedar County. The county seat question was at once presented to the pioneers of Barry. One party wanted it at Sarcoxie, then called Centreville, the other at Prewett's Creek, since called Clear Creek. The Prewett Creek people succeeded after a long strife, and the town of Mount Pleasant was established almost two miles west of what is Pierce City.
In the first pages of this section the location of the county seat at Mount Pleasant is noted. Owing to the establishment of Newton County in 1839, a change was desired. The commissioners appointed to locate the seat of justice for Barry County, under the act of February 1, 1839, were Joseph Porter and Charley Cannefax, of Greene and John Williams of Taney County. They were ordered to meet at George M. Gibson's house on Spring River, August 1, 1839, and locate the seat of justice within six miles of the county center. Meantime courts were to be held at Mount Pleasant, which was then in the Seventh Judicial Court...
On March 5, 1844, the county court appointed five commissioners to locate the seat of justice...The commissioners located the county seat at the house of John O. Burton, who gave 80 acres to the county. On August 1, 1844, a vote on the question of moving the county seat was taken, and favored removal, but a remonstrance was presented on August 7, and a petition by John O. Burton and 161 others in November, all of which so troubled the judges that they declared the election on the question of no value.
On December 6, 1844, a second election on the question of removing the county seat was held. A majority was given in favor of removal to the Burton tract, selected by the commissioners, but the county court would not decide in favor of it as the permanent seat of justice, but agreed to an appeal to the courts...
In June, 1845, the judges decided that the permanent seat of justice was at William Kerr's house, and ordered the commissioners to survey and plat a town there under teh name of Cassville, prior to July 5, 1845...
In December, 1845, the court ordered that all who had purchased lots in the town of McDonald, in 1841, from the county, would be credited with the equivalent of their respective purchases of lots in the new town of Cassville.
In November, 1872, a petition was circulated by A. Woolsey and others, of Barry, Newton, Lawrence and Jasper Counties, asking that the county of Decatur be established out of said county.* (--History of Barry County, pp. 559, 560, 596, 600, 601.)
*Decatur County, 1843-1845: Name adopted for two years by Ozark County. Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names, Ramsay, p. 6.
Following the creation of Newton County in 1839, a new county seat was made necessary, and in 1840 the courts were moved to McDonald, about ten miles northwest of the present Cassville. Samuel M. Pharis was postmaster then and the only resident. In 1845, the county court made the seat of justice at the home of William Kerr, and ordered a town to be platted under the name of Cassville, in honor of Lewis Cass, then Secretary of the Navy. John O. Barton, as commissioner, built a log court house, where was held the first county court by Judges Isaac Peevey, Alexander McGlothin, and John Charles...The first circuit judge to preside was Foster P. Wright, who was succeeded by C. S. Yancy. In 1854, a two-story courthouse building was erected at a cost of $5,500. This was used as a fort in Civil War times, and suffered such damage that the government appropriated $1,882.60 for repairs...In 1872, many of the records were destroyed by an incendiary fire in the office of the circuit clerk. (--Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, Conard, 1901, Vol. 1, p. 165.) See also Campbell's Gazetteer of Missouri, 1874, p. 51.
Springfield-Greene County Library