Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
Newton County was originally contained in Crawford County, and afterward in Barry County. It was separated from the latter December 31, 1838, and made a county under its present name, given in honor of Sergeant Newton, the comrade of Sergeant Jasper of Fort Moultrie fame, in Revolutionary times. It than included the present counties of Jasper, McDonald and Barton, successively created from it. In 1846 a strip two miles wide was detached from Newton and attached to Jasper County; and in 1849, McDonald County was created from the southern portion of Newton County, reducing it to its present dimensions.
The organic act named John Williams, of Taney County; James Williams, of Barry County; and Chesley Cannifax, of Greene County, as commissioners to locate the seat of justice within five miles of the geographical center of the county, and made the temporary seat at the home of John Reed, one and one-half miles east of the present site at Neosho. The first county court session was held at the latter place, April 13, 1839, Hugh Shannon, John Reed and Jacob Testament sitting as judges under appointment by the Governor. (--Encyclopedia of the History of Mo., Conrad, Vol. 4, p. 576.)
In 1829, Lunsford Oliver, a native of Tennessee, came from Arkansas, and being the first white settler in what is now Newton County, lived alone, having no neighbors within 40 miles. He located near Shoal Creek, on Oliver's Prairie, which was named in honor of him, and here lived until his death in 1836. The next settlers were Campbell Pure, Blake Wilson, Levi Lee and Carman Ratcliff, all of whom came from Tennessee in 1831 soon after the arrival of the Cherokees, Creeks and other Indian Tribes, in the Indian Territory, (Oklahoma). They were soon followed by others, among whom John McCord, the founder of Neosho, and Judge A.M. Ritchie, the founder of Newtonia, were prominent. A gentleman by the singular name of Frosty Snow, ...was also one of the earliest arrivals...
At an early day, the county was known as "Six Bulls," a name given it by the hunters, from the fact that six water-courses maintained their volume and force through the years ...During the Civil War, Newton County, like the rest of southwestern Missouri was the scene of frequent skirmishes. It was alternately occupied and plundered by both parties, and finally reduced to an almost uninhabitable condition. Every village was burned, and nearly every "hoof and horn" driven from the county. Neosho, the county seat, was for a short time, in October 1861, the seat of Confederate State Government. General Schofield, with a Federal force, defeated General Cooper of the Confederates, at Newtonia, in November, 1862, and James G. Blunt, defeated General Sterling Price at the same place in October, 1864. (--Gazetteer of Missouri, Campbell, 1874, pp. 399-400.)