It was in the fall of 1830 that the first settler trod the soil of Henry County. Hunters and trappers had plied their vocations through this, Osage and Grand River County as early as 1826, but no log cabin was built until the year mentioned.
When this part of Missouri was organized into a county it was, the greater part a dense wilderness and in Henry and St. Clair Counties, no white man, except an occasional hunter and trapper had ever trod its soil. Henry County, when placed under municipal government, was a part of Lillard County, whose boundary lines were, on the north the Missouri River, on the east range line between Ranges 24 & 23, south to the Osage River, its southern line the Osage River, from the above range line on the east to the Kansas State Line, following the middle of the channel of the Missouri River where the state line crosses the river. Thus Lillard County included the present counties of Lafayette, Johnson, Henry, half of St. Clair, about four-fifths of Bates and all of Cass and Jackson.
It was organized as Lillard County November 16, 1820, and its first county court was held at Mt. Vernon, on the Missouri River, about ten miles below Lexington on the 8th day of December, 1820. The county judges were James Lillard, Sr., John Whitsitt and John Stapp. They received their commissions from governor Alex. McNair, the first governor of Missouri. The first clerk and he was fifteen or sixteen years in office was Young Ewing. This was the first organization of Henry County. . .In 1823 the county seat of Lillard was removed from Mt. Vernon to Lexington and that town was platted the same year. (--History Of St. Clair County, Goodspeed, pp.83, 84.)
The official history of Henry County may be said to date from the organization act of the legislature, December 1, 1834, yet in reality its actual date should commence on May 14, 1835, for it was on that day that the official recognition of its existence was made...(According to the Office of Secretary of State of Missouri, Henry County was organized December 13, 1834.)
County Of Rives
An act to organize the counties of Johnson and Rives, and to fix the southern boundary of Lafayette County,of this act sections 7, 8, and 9 refer to the organization of Rives County as follows:
All that portion of territory included in the following limits is hereby erected into a separate and distinct county, to be called the County of Rives, in honor of Hon. William C. Rives, of Virginia, to-wit:
Beginnig at the southwest corner of Section 30, Township 44, Rage 28, thence south along the line of Van Buren and Bates Counties to the northwest corner of St. Clair County; thence east along the northern line of St. Clair County, to the range line between ranges 23 and 24; thence north to the southeast corner of Johnson County; thence west to the place of beginning...
Approved December 13, 1834.
At the same session of the general assembly, the boundary lines of St. Clair County were defined but as the county was not then populous enough to warrant its organization as a distinct municipality, it was attached by special act of the legislature to the County of Rives, for military and civil purposes, until such time as it might of itself become an independent county. The act which made it a part of Rives County was passed February 11, 1835.
Rives County Boundary Approved March 20, 1835.
Beginning at the southwest corner of Section 30, Township 44, Range 28; thence south to the line between the Townships 39 and 40; thence east to the line between rages 23 and 24; thence north to the southeast corner of Johnson County; thence west to the beginning. (--History Of Henry & St. Clair Counties, pp.131-132.)
In 1840, the Hon. John C. Rives of Virginia became a Whig in politics, and as Rives County was a strongly Democratic one, and was named after the distinguished Virginian. . . on learning that he had been false to his faith...the people decided to change the name from Rives to Henry in honor of Patrick Henry. In the legislature of 1840, the people secured the passage of the following:
An Act To Change The Name Of Rives County.
Be in enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri as follows:
"Section 1. All that portion of county bounded as follows,to-wit:
Beginning at the southwest corner of Section 30, Township 44, of Range 28; thence south to the line between Townships 39 and 40; thence east to the line between Ranges 23 and 24;
thence north to the southeast corner of Johnson County; thence west to the beginning, shall compose the County of Henry."
The act further provided that all laws, acts, contracts, etc., in the name of Rives shall be as valid and binding in that county, as if made or done in Henry County. The act was approved February 15, 1841.
Since Hon. William C. Rives had changed his political affiliation from Democratic to Whigs, likewise the deliberate treachery of Martin Van Buren to General Lewis Cass and the Democratic party, caused the adjoining county of Van Buren to be changed to Cass. (--History Of Henry County, p.146.)
One cannot exactly say "Meadow County", for it only existed like some railroad projects, on paper. . .An attempt was made at the session of the general assembly, in the winter of 1870-71, that the county was to be carved out of Pettis, Johnson, Henry and Benton and make Windsor the county seat. Warrensburg, Sedalia, Warsaw and Clinton were to be stuck up in one corner of their respective counties. . .However, when the news reached Clinton, on February 21, 1871, a mass meeting was called and a delegation was sent to Jefferson City to voice its disapproval. (--History Of Henry County, pp.257-258.)
The first session of the county court was held May 4, 1835, at the house of Henry Avery.
The second session of the county court, as also the first session of the circuit court, was held at the house of William Goff, nearly six miles from Mr. Henry Avery's...The county geat at Goffs was located on fractional Section 1, in Township 42, of Range 25. (--History Of Henry County, pp.133-135.)
When Tebo Township was made by the county court of Lafayette County in 1832 it entirely disposed of Davis Township, organized in 1830, so far as related to Johnson, Henry and St. Clair Counties...At the same session of the Lafayette County Court a new Township called Springfield Township was organized...according to a boundary which was established, all east of the range line between ranges 27 and 28 was Springfield Township, and west was Tebo Township. . .It was at the August term of the Lafayette County Court, 1834, that William B. Price was appointed constable. . .This was the last act of the Lafayette County Court in reference to Henry County. The following winter, on December 13, 1834, this territory, now Henry County, was declared an independent municipal division of the state, under the name of Rives County. (--History Of Henry County, pp.93-94.)
The name of Lillard County was changed to Lafayette County in 1825, in honor of Gen. Lafayette, who made a visit to this country in 1825, and who paid a visit to St. Louis, April 29. (--Encyclopedia Of The History Of Missouri, 1901, Vol.3, Conard, pp. 573, 576.)
Springfield-Greene County Library