Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
The original St. Louis County was the District of St. Louis, of the French-Spanish regime, which, with the other four districts of Ste. Genevieve, New Madrid, Cape Girardeau and St. Charles which, in 1812, eight years after the cession of the Louisiana Territory to the United States, was transformed into counties. The St. Louis County of that day as defined by the Territorial Legislature of 1813, was bounded by the Mississippi River on the east, the Missouri River on the north, the Osage River on the west, and a line drawn from the Mississippi River where Crystal City is now located, to the Osage on the north. Afterward Franklin, Gasconade and Osage Counties were taken off, also the northern part of Jefferson and the eastern part of Maries, leaving St. Louis was taken off. In 1804, while the county was still known as a district, a court called the quarter sessions, was organized, with Charles Gratiot as presiding judge, and Auguste Choteau, Jacques Clamorgan, David Delaunay, and James Mackey as associates -- and the body, which performed the functions of a county court, was afterward converted into such a county as we have in Missouri at present. The first division of the county was into three municipal townships, St. Louis, St. Ferdinand and Bonhomme, but three afterward were added, Central, Carondelet, and Meramec -- and these continue to be the division, with the exception of St. Louis Township, which was absorbed by the city of St. Louis. The county is almost surrounded by rivers, being bounded on the north and west by the Missouri, on the east by the Mississippi, with the Meramec coursing along the southern and western borders ...
The most important event in the history of the county was the separation and detachment of the city from it. Such a measure had been talked about and as popular opinion seemed to favor it, the State Constitutional Convention embodied in the new Constitution a provision authorizing an election to be held in the county for a board of thirteen freeholders to arrange for the separation and adjust the relations between the city and the new county. The freeholders were chosen and prepared what was then called the "Scheme and Charter" it being a scheme of separation and for the organization of the new county -- and a new charter for the city. They were submitted to a popular vote on the 22d of August, 1876, and adopted -- the scheme by a majority of 1,253, and the charter by a majority of 1,222. The line of division as traced by the scheme gave the city an area of sixty-two square miles, including St. Louis Township and leaving to the new county the townships of St. Ferdinand, Central, Bonhomme, Meramec and Carondelet. The judges of the new county, appointed by the Governor were Henry L. Sutton, presiding justice, and Joseph Conway and James Edwards, associates, who held a meeting on the 22d of January, at the house of Judge Sutton and took the first steps in the organization of the new county by passing an order to surrender the county buildings and all other county property within the city limits to the city authorities, and appointing the presiding judge and the sheriff and the clerk of the county a committee to secure a temporary place of meeting until the county seat could be established.
F. J. Bowman was appointed special counsel in all matters pertaining to the organization, and it was decided that a new county should be prepared like the old one, with only the word "New" before the word "county." Mount Olive House, a spacious building containing thirty-seven rooms, on Olive Street Road, nine miles from the old courthouse in the city, was offered to the committee by the Proprietor, Samuel Ecker, and accepted and there the county court held its sessions. and the county officers had their rooms. A committee of three well-known citizens ... was appointed to select a site for the permanent county seat, and this committee met on the 7th day of May and selected a tract of land ... but it proved so unacceptable that they reconsidered their decision and made choice of a tract of 104 acres offered by Ralph Clayton and Mrs. Hanley -- 100 acres by the former and 4 acres by the latter -- situated on the Hanley Road eight and a half miles from the old courthouse ... The site was submitted to a vote of the people on the 4th of December, 1877, and adopted. On the 4th of March, 1878, the commissioners of the county seat were ordered by the county court to clear the block of ground chosen for the courthouse and jail of underbrush and trees, except as such as might be left for shade, and on the 18th of July, the separation between the county was formally and officially completed ... Then came the last act of the old court, which was this order:
"Ordered -- That the functions of this court having ceased, and its powers ended, in accordance with the provisions of Section 9, of the scheme, it is hereby adjourned sine die." (--Conard, 1901, Vol. V, 457, 458, 459.)
Fort Chartres was located a few miles above Ste. Genevieve, in the southwest corner of what is now Monroe County, Illinois ... (--History of Missouri, 1908, Houck, Vol. II, 4.)