It was formed from parts of Ripley, Shannon, and Wayne Counties on March 10, 1859. It was named for the first settler, Zimri A. Carter (see Carter Creek). Adam Lane, of Ripley, John Buford, of Reynolds, and D. C. Reed, of Shannon Counties, who were appointed to locate the seat of justice, met at the home of James Brown, (who was a pioneer settler of Oregon County, and for whom Brown Hollow in Oregon Co., was named) on the first Monday in April 1859, and selected Van Buren, the old county seat of Ripley County for the seat of justice.
The old log courthouse erected in 1833 was used until 1867, when a frame building was erected, which very recently has been replaced by a good modern structure. Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, Conard, 1901, Vol. 1, pp. 508, 509.
The county was attached to the County of Ripley, for the purpose of representation in the General Assembly. The first member sent to the General Assembly from the county was William Lawson in 1864, and he served until 1870 when he was succeeded by F. M. Coleman...The county is divided into five townships, named respectively, Carter, Jackson, Johnson, Kelly and Pike. Place Names.