The territory of Maries County in 1812 was embraced in St. Louis County;
in 1818 it became a part of Franklin, and in 1820 was joined to Gasconade,
and continued so until 1833 when part of it was included in the county
of Pulaski. In 1839, when Osage County was erected, the lines were changed.
The organization of Maries County was by legislative act, approved March
2, 1855, and the county was formed out of portions of Osage and Pulaski
Counties. Its boundaries were again defined in 1859 and 1869, when small
tracts of land were exchanged with Phelps County. The creative act named
Peter B. McCord, of Osage County, Jesse A. Rayle, of Pulaski, and Burton
Cooper, of Gasconade Counties, commissioners to locate a permanent seat
of justice, and directed that they meet at the house of Thomas Anderson,
and that the county buildings be located within three miles of the center
of the county. Subsequent meetings were held in a two-story log house about
one mile and a half southwest of the site of Vienna. The first court house
was built in 1856, and occupied in October the same year. It was the most
elevated building in the town, standing on the ridge between the Gasconade
Rivers, and the roof divided the falling rain to flow into the Gasconade
on the east and to the Osage to the west. This court house, with nearly
all the records it contained, burned to the ground on the night of November
6, 1868. It was generally supposed the burning was the work of an incendiary.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the sympathy of the majority of the residents
of the county was with the Southern cause. After the occupation of Rolla,
in Phelps County, by the Federals, the county was thoroughly under Northern
Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, 1901, Conard, Vol.4, pp. 187, 188, 189.
The first store was run by a man named Clasby, at Pay Down (afterward
so named by Thomas Kinsey when it was made a post-office), when Peter Waldo
(also given as Walter) owned the mill there. Mr. Wherry was also proprietor
at one time. When Mr. Kinsey put in his carding machine later on it was
the first factory and the only one the county ever had. George Coppedge
sold goods next after Wherry; he was on Spanish Prairie, and afterward
became a partner of Kinsey, at Pay Down. On Spring Creek Thomas Grischam
(?) and also Jacob Love had stores. These were probably all previous to
the war. The first post-office was Kinderhook (named in honor of President
Van Buren's home), about 1837, near Lane's Ford; Lane’s Prairie, about
1839 and Pay Down and Spanish Prairie were among the next. The first and
only town before the war was Vienna. For years there were no mails at all.
The first mail route was run by a carrier--James Glasco--on a line between
Jefferson City and Caledonia.
State of Missouri, History of Maries Co., 1889, Goodspeed, p. 593.
How Named: Dr. V. G. Lathem, the presiding judge, it is said, had a young woman in his family named Vie Anna, who had died, and he wished the commissioners to give it that name in her honor. Commissioner McCord, however, thinking such a course unwise, outwitted the old doctor by naming it in honor of the Austrian capital, Vienna, a name so similar that the doctor's opposition might be quietly quashed. Here the county seat has remained with no serious effort to remove it, except one attempt, in 1870, to secure for Bloomington, on Lane’s Prairie, which was unsuccessful.
The destruction of all the county records in the burning of the court
house on November 6, 1868, makes the proceedings of the courts from the
third Monday in May, 1855, almost to the above date unobtainable in any
detail. The excellent memory of Judge Joseph Mosby, the first elected clerk,
has supplied the loss to this chapter (of the History of Maries Co.) in
State of Mo., Hist. of Maries Co., 1889, Goodspeed, pp. 595, 596.
Maries County took its name from the Marais River which at first was
Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names, Ramsay, p.9.
Maries County Table of Contents
Local History Home