Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
Dunlin County was organized by an act of the Legislature of 1845 from portions of Stoddard County, south of the parallel of 36 degrees 30'. To this territory in 1853, was added a strip nine miles wide on the north. The county occupies a portion of the state which apparently belongs to the State of Arkansas. In 1804 Congress divided Louisiana into two territories by a line running with the thirty-third parallel of north latitude. In 1812 the Territory of Missouri was organized from a portion of Upper Lousiana, and in 1819 Arkansas Territory was established. When, at this time, it was proposed to organize the State of Missouri, and the parallel of 36 degrees 30' was chosen as its southern boundary, there were many hardy pioneers on the Mississippi below that line, whose interests were linked with the settlements of the north, by ties both commercial and social, and they felt by reason of their position, so far in advance of other portions of Arkansas Territory, they were entitled to all the privileges immunities of this portion of the state, among whom was Col. John H. Walker and Godfrey Lesieur, by exerting their influence succeeded in having the line from the Mississippi to the St. Francis lowered to the parallel of 36 degrees.
As the records of Dunklin County were entirely destroyed by fire in 1872, but little could be ascertained concerning the transactions of the courts prior to that date. The first county court is said to have been composed of Moses Farrar, Edward Spencer and Alexander Campbell...The first court house was a log building erected in the public square of Chilliticoux in 1847. It was destroyed during or just after the Civil War, and in 1870 the erection of a large frame building was begun. It was completed in 1872, and had been occupied but a short time when it was burned to the ground. (--History of Southeast Missouri, 1888, Goodspeed, pp. 367, 368.)
Dunklin County was named for David Dunklin, who was elected Governor of Missouri in 1832. (--Our Storehouse of Missouri, Place Names, 1952, Robert L. Ramsay, p. 63.)
Just who were the first settlers, and when they located in the section now Dunklin County, is somewhat obscure. The first person to locate upon lands and making improvements, is said to have been Howard Moore, a native of Virginia, who had for some time lived in Tennessee, and in 1829 settled about four miles south of where the town of Malden is now located, where he built a house and cultivated land. In 1831 Moses Norman, of Alabama, located at West Prairie...Pleasant Cockrum and James Baker settled near what is now Cockrum Post-Office (1888), in the extreme southwestern part of the county...Long after white men became residents of the county, bands of Delaware Indians made their homes there. One of the latest bands toleave were the Indians of Chief Chilliticoux, and the town of Kennett was first named after him.
The townships of Dunklin County are as follows: Buffalo, Cotton Hill, Clay, Freedom, Holcomb, Island, Independence, Salem, Union. (--Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, 1901, Conrad, Vol. 2, pp. 338, 339.)