Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
Benton County is an inland-border county. Inland, in that it is three counties east of Kansas and three south of the Missouri River; border, in that it lies at the point where prairie lands adjoin the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Osage River divides it in twain. North of the river lies land in prairie stretches or long sloping hills; south of the river in precipitous bluffs, timber covered hills and mountain flatwoods. (--The State of Missouri, in 1904, Walter Williams, p. 330.)
In the creation and division of new counties in Missouri the territory now embraced in the limits of Benton County have been repeatedly divided and changed from one county to another. Back so far as 1816 all of what is now Benton County north of the Osage River was in Howard County, while that south of the river was in Washingon County, then in Crawford and then in Greene County. In 1833, when Pettis County was formed, it took all north of the Osage River.
The act creating Benton County bears date January 3, 1835. Its original boundary lines took in twenty-four square miles of what is now Pettis County, and was the northwest corner of the said county of Benton. It also included nearly one-half of (now) Hickory County--that is, all of Hickory County north of the north line of Township 36. February 17, 1835, the Legislature added to Benton County all of what is now in Camden County lying south of the Osage River and west of the Big Niangua. This constituted Niangua Township. It is now part of Camden County, and was taken off Benton County January 29, 1841. In 1845 Hickory County was formed, taking from Benton County all of its territory south of the north line of Township 36, and the same year the twenty-four miles square (sic) of the northwest part of the county was given to Pettis County. These constituted the changes in boundary line which have remained undisturbed. (--State of Missouri, History of Benton County, 1889, Goodspeed, pp. 473, 474.)
By the act organizing Benton County, several men were appointed commissioners to locate the county seat of the new county. They were required to meet at the house of Judge William White, on Little Tebo River, on the first Monday in April, 1835. They failed to fill their appointment and in January, 1837, three other commissioners were appointed to select a county seat. They were directed to meet at Markham Fristoe's, and to locate the county seat as near the center of the county and the Osage River as best could be found.
Fristoe was already a town of existence. It was on the northeast quarter of thte southeast quarter of Sec. 8, Twp. 40 N, R 22 W. About one mile north of Warsaw, on the Sedalia Road, a rival of Fristoe or Old Town was New Town, Log Town, Bristoe or Osage as it was respectively called...Each of these were small trading places, and possessed of great ambition to be made the county seat. Markham Fristoe championed Fristoe and Lewis Bledsoe, New Town. The commissioners rejected their claims and selected the place where Warsaw now stands...When Fristoe and Bledsoe found they had lost the location, they proceeded to get up petitions to locate the town halfway between the two rivals...The county clerk opposed the change, and induced enough signers to withdraw from the petition to kill the movement. The case went into the courts, but was defeated. Then William L. Vaughn, who had a store about a mile east of the chosen site made a vigorous effort to move it to his place. He called his chosen prospective town Argus, but his movement also failed. (--State of Missouri, History of Benton County, 1889, Goodspeed.)
Benton County was settled mainly by emigrants from Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Among the earliest were Bledsoe, Kinkerd and others in 1834. Bledsoe's Ferry, on the Osage, was in the early days a noted crossing on the road from Palmyra through Boonville to Fort Smith and the Cherokee Nation.
The county was organized January 3rd, 1835, the courts being held in a dwelling near Bledsoe's Ferry. Stephen Houser and others settled Osage and a post-office was established there in 1836. The name was changed to Warsaw and the county seat located there in 1838. (--Campbell's Gazetteer of Missouri, 1874, p. 59.)
Townships Created as of 1899
At the first meeting of the county court the county was divided into four townships as follows:
Cole Township, named in honor of Capt. Stephen Cole, one of the early prominent settlers in this part of Missouri--Cooper County. Originally it comprised, in addition to its present territory, Union and the east side of Fristoe Townships. The first elections were held at the house of John N. Howard.
Williams Township's boundaries have remained as originally formed. It was named in honor of Ezekiel Williams, one of the earliest prominent settlers. The first elections were held in his house...
Lindsay Township was named for Judge John W. Lindsay, of the county court, and comprised all that part of the county north of the Osage and Grand Rivers and west of Cole and Williams Townships. The first elections were held at the house of John Isbell, which stood near the spring on the south part of the John Failer farm...In the course of time elections were held at the store of Rings & Jopling, and then at the house of Markham Fristoe, one mile north of Warsaw.
Montgomery Towship was named for Judge Joseph C. Montgomery, who was one of the county court when the county was formed. The part of the township now in Benton County is Tom and Alexander Townships, and a part of the west side of Fristoe Township. The other part is in Hickory County, extending beyond Quincy. The first elections were at the house of George Alexander, until Alexander Township was cut off, then at Judge Montgomery's, Lusk's, and Cruce's...In the formation of new counties and rearranging new townships Montgomery Township disappeared from the map of Benton County.
Niangua Township was formed in 1835, and ceased to be a part of Benton County in 1841. Its settlement and history are a part of Camden County.
Fristoe Township is the youngest of the townships now (1899) in the county, and was named after one of the most prominent settlers--Markham Fristoe...The first election when it was a part of Pettis County was at William Kelly's. This election was remembered distinctly by the pioneers because of the general free fight that took place at the polling. (--History of Benton County, pp. 474, 475, 476.)
At the mouth of Hogle Creek, John F. Hogle and Narcicce Pensineau established a trading-post...Hogle became Indian agent for the government. They came seeking the barter and trade with the Indians and fixed their trading-post, where was the largest Indian Village in what is now Benton County. See Bishop's Store.
In the latter part of 1831 Lewis Bledsoe settled on the Osage River about half a mile above Warsaw on the old military road from Palmyra to Springfield and established a ferry...In a short time a man named Yeager opened a store at Bledsoe's Ferry.
On Lake Creek...the Boeschens opened a store...There was on the old road running north and south James Godwin who opened a store. (--History of Benton County, p. 464.)
Black Sulphur Springs
White Sulphur Springs