Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
It was originally a part of Cole County, which began its career with the State and so continued until its organization.
On February 6, 1837, there was approved by the governor "an act to organize the county of Miller and define the southern boundary of Cole."
The county was to be called Miller, in honor of John Miller, ex-governor of the State ... The boundaries were then set out, but are too lengthy to be given here. David Fullbright, of Pulaski County, Zaccheus German, of Morgan, and John Hensley, of Cole County, were appointed commissioners to select a permanent seat of justice for the county of Miller ... (--State of Mo., Hist. of Miller Co., 1889, p. 537.)
The legislature directed that until a permanent seat of justice be selected, the court meet at the house of John Miller, the name "John" being an error, William Miller being intended. The first session of the court was held May 1, 1837, in a log house located near the mouth of Saline Creek, and occupied by William Miller, The second term of the court was held at the store of J. P. and J. B. Harrison, located on land which now constitutes the present site of Tuscumbia. (--Encyclopedia of the Hist. of Mo., Vol. 4, pp. 384, 385.)
At an early day nothing but mortar and pestle could be had for beating corn, followed by the horse-mills and "Lazy Toms," but there was no water mill before 1834, when William Brockman erected the first on Saline Creek and William Williams built another soon after on the same creek. J. D. Taylor and also Mr. Dooley had horse-mills about 1844. John Humes built the first steam mill (1853) near Pleasant Mount ... The earliest voting in the county, of which information can be gained, was as late as 1837 at Pleasant Mount, when the county was organized. Elections previous to that seem to have been at polling places outside of the county, as at William Poer's, at the mouth of Big Graviois about 1832. (--Hist. of Miller Co., Goodspeed, 1889, pp. 536, 537.)
The first white man to make his home in the county, according to the most reliable authorities was Seneca R. Y. Day, who settled near the mouth of Tavern Creek in 1815. In 1819, A. J. Lindley located also on Tavern Creek ...
Miller County territory was included in Cole County when the latter was organized in 1820, and remained so until February 6, 1837, when the legislative act creating Miller County out of the southern part of Cole County was approved. Its boundaries were again defined in 1839, the line between Camden and Miller Counties changed in 1845, territory from Morgan County annexed in 1860, and again minor changes were made in 1868. (--Encyclopedia of the Hist. of Mo., 1901, Conrad, Vol. 4, pp. 384, 385.)
The first store in Miller County was no doubt in Spring Garden, and was owned by Lansdown & Dixon in the early half of the 1830's. Robert Simpson and Thomas Dean sold goods there later. Andrew Burris' store at Pleasant Mount was not much later, and about 1836 J. P. Harrison and brother (J. B.) had a store at the right of the ferry landing at Tuscumbia.
It was near 1838 that W. Pulliam had a store about the site of Iberia. These of course became the nucleus of these towns. There was no recognized town before the county seat in 1837-38, which was the first post-office. Rocky Mount and Pleasant Mount were made post-offices about the same time, and Iberia was the first on the south ... (--Hist. of Miller Co., p. 536.)
The following townships were formed on May 2, 1837: Saline, elections to be held at the home of Andrew Burris. Osage, elections to be held at John T. Davis'; Richwood, elections to be held at Z. Price's; Equality, elections to be held at Tuscumbia.
Late in 1837, Equality was divided and Reed Township created, but it was soon abolished. In 1838 Glaze Township was created, and during the same year Saline was divided and Jim Henry Township was formed. Franklin Township was organized in 1860, with David Wadley's as the polling place. The township was changed slightly in 1872. (--Ibid: pp. 540, 541.)
The topography of Miller County underwent a drastic change in the 1930's, due to the construction of Bagnell Dam, which created the Lake of the Ozarks. For details of this work, the reader is invited to read the account in the pages at the end of this directory.
In 1931, by an act of the State Legislature, the lake which was created by the construction of Bagnell Dam, was named Lake Benton, for Senator Thomas Hart Benton, but the forgetful public persists in calling it The Lake of the Ozarks. (--Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names, 1952, Robert L. Ramsay, pp. 64, 66, 140.)
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