Until November 16, 1820, the territory now embraced by Grundy County formed a part of Howard County. After this date, it became a part of Ray County until January 2, 1833, when it was attached to the newly organized Carroll County. When the metes and bounds of Livingston County were set forth and Gov. Dunklin approved the creation of that county on January 6, 1837, the last paragraph contained the following provision:
"All that territory lying north of said county of Livingston shall be attached to said county for all civil and military purposes until otherwise provided by law."
As it can be seen, this not only included the present limits of Grundy, but Mercer County, too. At the first meeting of the county court of Livingston, the judges, who were with William Martin, Joseph Cox and Reuben McCroskie, made the following order (April 7, 1837):
"By order of court all the territory north of Livingston County is to be divided into two townships. All east of the East fork to be known by the name of Muddy Creek Township, all west of the West fork to be known as Sugar Creek Township."
The county of Grundy was named after the Hon. Felix Grundy, attorney-general of the United States under President Jackson...Grundy died almost exactly a year before the county honored his name.
The bill organizing the county was brought before the Legislature early in January, but it was not approved until January 29, 1841...
For almost one hundred years, the first records of the county court were misplaced. Birdsall and Dean's History says, "The most important record of the county, that of the county courts, the author is compelled to state, in Grundy, was lost or destroyed, up to August, 1846." Part of these records have been found recently (as of 1939) including the record of the first meeting of the county court for organization, which we quote as valuable original material.
As previously mentioned, Grundy County first consisted of Sugar Creek and Muddy Creek Townships under the jurisdiction of the Livingston County Court, and while under that jurisdiction seven townships were established in 1839-40. They were Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Morgan, Marion and Lafayette...
Later, by June 19, 1841, four more townships were organized. They were Monticello, Clark, Scott and Trenton.
This being the case, there were eleven townships from 1842-45, when in the last mentioned year, Mercer County was organized and the number of townships in Grundy County reduced to the old number of seven -- but not the same seven. The townships now stood: Washington, Franklin, Liberty, Marion, Trenton, Jefferson and Madison, the five townships of Monticello, Clark, Morgan, Lafayette and Scott disappearing completely and Liberty appearing. (The several boundaries are given on pp. 29 and 30 of History of Grundy County.)
County Seat Fight
...There was never a doubt among the citizens of Bluff Grove (Trenton) and surrounding territory that the commissioners would select Lomax's Store as the permanent seat of justice. It was not only the most popular area in the county, but it was nearer the center of the county than any other settlement. Located on the banks of Grand River, several mills had sprung up and all roads led, to or from, the budding metropolis.
But there was a little political matter to be reckoned with concerning the Bain settlement, about three miles southeast of the present site of Tindall. A certain George Tetherow, one of the first settlers in the community presented a petition to the county court for a road. This road ran from Chillicothe through the present township of Trenton to the south line of Section 35, Township 61, Range 24.
The spot where the road ended was where the commissioners decided to place the future seat of justice for the county. This report was accompanied by deeds and papers and was submitted August 5, 1841.
But the citizens of Bluff Grove decided to fight the report, and submitted a petition containing 260 names to support their claim. Eventually, they were successful and the petition of George Tetherow was stricken from the docket.
Actions of the Circuit Court
The first court met on April 18, 1841. As the county was too young to have many civil and criminal cases, the first cases involved betting and card playing on Sunday.
The Jury being sworn in returned seventeen indictments, fourteen on card playing, two on betting, and one on perjury...
Most of the men were fined five dollars on each charge...The indicted ones lay in waiting for the next term of court and managed to get themselves selected for Grand Jury duty, and with one grand sweep, would send out indictments for the former jury. Many of the county officials, physicians, lawyers and merchants fell victims to these charges, paid their fines, and sat back to wait their chance to catch a member of the jury indulging in a game of chance in the back room of Lomax's store. (--History of Grundy County, 1839-1939, William Ray Denslow, pp. 25, 26, 31, 33, 34.)