Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
In the year 1815 the Territorial Legislature passed an act dividing the county of New Madrid, and establishing the county of Lawrence with the following boundary lines:
"Beginning at the mouth of Little Red River, on the line dividing said county from the county of Arkansas; thence with said line to the River St. Francois; thence up the River St. Francois to the division line between the counties of Cape Girardeau and New Madrid; thence with said last mentioned line to the western boundary of the Osage Purchase; thence with the last mentioned line to the northern boundary line of the county of Arkansas; thence with the last mentioned line to the place of beginning, is hereby laid off and erected into a separate and distinct county to be known by the name of Lawrence County."
Louis De Mun, William Robinson, William Hix, Sr., Morris Morre, Solomon Hewitt, Andrew Criswell and Isaac Kelly were appointed to locate the seat of justice. In December, 1818, an act was passed for erecting the southwest part of the county of Cape Girardeau and the eastern part of the county of Lawrence into a separate and distinct county of which the boundaries were as follows:
"Beginning at the southwest corner of the county of Madison, running southwardly on the ridge which divides the waters of Crooked Creek and Castor until it strikes the edge of the "Big Swamp," between Jenkins Creek and Castor; thence west to the river Castor, thence down the main channel of the said river Castor until it strikes the New Madrid County line, thence south so far that a due west line will leave the plantation of Edward M. Mathews on the north; thence west to the Osage boundary line; thence north with said line so far that a due east line will intersect with the beginning."
The new county was named Wayne, and owing to its great size it was often spoken of as the "State of Wayne." (--History of Southeast Missouri, 1883, Goodspeed, p. 336.)
The commissioners appointed to fix upon a site for the public buildings were Overton Bettis, James Logan, Solomon Bollinger, William Street and Ezekiel Ruebottom, and until the seat of justice was located the courts were ordered to be held at the house of Ransom Bettis. In 1854 the records of the county were entirely destroyed by fire, and nothing could be learned concerning the organization of the county. (--Ibid: pp. 336, 337.)
The first settlements in Wayne County were made in 1802, when Joseph Parish, Thomas Ring and David, Charles and Robert A. Logan came from Kentucky. Parish was a Virginian and the father-in-law of one or more of the Logans. He located near where the village of Patterson now is (1883) ...
In 1806, Elijah, Ransom and Overton Bettis, brothers, and their brothers-in-law Ezekiel Ruebottom, Elijah Mathews, and ? Alston came from North Carolina ... Overton Bettis settled near the site of Wellsdale. (Evidently a small settlement sprang up) as "the settlement was far from any trading-point and did not grow very rapidly." Up to 1818 the territory now known as Wayne County formed St. Francois Township of Cape Girardeau County, and in 1809 it was reported to the county court that no roads had yet been laid off within it. (Possibly 1819 is meant). (--History of Southeast Missouri, 1883, Goodspeed, p. 283.)