A Directory of Towns, Villages, and Hamlets
Past and Present
of McDonald County, Missouri

Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser



McDonald County was created by the act of March 3, 1849, and was named for Sergeant McDonald, a South Carolina soldier of the Revolutionary War. Its territory was detached from Newton County, formerly a part of Barry County. An error of survey was rectified  in 1876 by the establishment of a new eastern boundary line, the effect being to annex a two and one-half mile strip previously included in Barry County. The organic act of 1849 named Oliver M. Hickox, Joseph Pearson, and James Mayfield, all of Newton County as commissioners to select a permanent seat of justice and made the house of J. C. McKay the temporary seat. This site was known as Maryville, which afterwards was named Pineville.

Notwithstanding the legislative mandate for permanent establishment by the commissioners named, a three days election was held to determine a location, and was declared carried in favor of Rutledge, five miles southeast of Pineville. At this election Murphy Brown, John Oliver and Abraham W. Testerman were chosen as first county judges, with Burton McGhee, clerk; A. A. Hensley, sheriff; and Tillotson Pearson, treasurer. Court sat at Rutledge, where a small log courthouse was erected. Brown, one of the judges, would not approve the election proceedings and did not appear. Another body sat as a court at McKay's house in Pineville; it comprised J. K. Mosier, William Duval, Sr., and James Cooper, Judges; John B. King, clerk; A. D. Flynn, sheriff. Great disorder attended these anomalous conditions. In 1850, in a quarrel incident thereto, at Rutledge, Coplin Goss was killed by Simon Cockerekl, and Daniel Finch by Hamp Waters; the latter named died some days later from the stabs inflicted by the man whom he had killed. Cockerel, the sole survivor, absconded. In 1856, a disorderly party, headed by Absalom A. Hensley, overturned the courthouse building at Rutledge, and this, with other excesses, led to the removal of the county court from that place, where it had been held since 1849.

By act of the General Assembly, February 14, 1857, J. L. McElhany, of Greene County, Samuel Hale, of Lawence County, and Anderson Brown of Newton County were made commissioners to locate a county seat at the geographical center of the county. November 5th, a supplementary act ousted these commissioners and appointed in their stead, Lyman Beeman, of Newton County; Moses Skelton, of Lawrence County; and William McClure, of Barry County, and in January 1858, this board relocated the county seat at Pineville.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE HISTORY OF MISSOURI, Conrad, pp 255-256. See, also, STATE OF MISSOURI, HISTORY OF MCDONALD COUNTY, Goodspeed Bros., publishers, 1888, p 724.



McDonald County was organized under the act of March 3, 1849. The boundaries then established were from the new boundary line of Barry, at a point west of the southwest corner of Section 1, Township 23 N, Range 29 West, thence west with subdivision lines to the line between Ranges 32 and 33, thence west with such line to the western boundary of Missouri, and south with boundary to soutwest boundary of State, and thence east on Arkansas line to the Southwest corner of Barry County to the place of beginning.

The new county was attached to Newton only in the matter of electing a representative. On March 8, 1849, the act to repeal "An act to organize the County of DonaIdson, approved January 15, 1847", was repealed.

McDonald County, formed under the act of March 3, 1849, was settled as early as 1827 by Valentine (Felty) Miller, his wife, Katy Workman, and his son, Levi. The Matthews family came next, and in the 1840s, a large number of pioneer came in. Though the county is in one of the most favored regions on the continent, enterprise lay dormant and little was accomplished toward the development of its magnificent natural resources. Mineral Springs, such as those at lndian Springs, are found throughout the county, and the crystal Cowskin River flows through it.
A REMINISCENT HISTORY OF THE OZARK REGION, Goodspeed Bros., Pub., 1894, p 25.

McDonald County is in the southwestern corner of the state, and is bounded on the north by Newton County, east by Barry, south by the state of Arkansas, and west by Indian Territory, (now Oklahoma). We may mention the fact that the southern boundary line of McDonald County is the famous  Mason and Dixon's line of 36° 30'--the "Missouri Compromise line of 1820.
GAZETEER OF MISSOURI, Campbell, 1874, p 329.

McDonald County, before 1849, was known as "Snake County".


An old and popular nickname for McDonald County; cf. the article on the local dialect by Mr. J. L. B. Taylor of Pineville, entitled "Snake County Talk." (Dialect Notes. 1923, v, 197-225). The origin is obvious. (Several caves are referred to as snake caves.)
PLACE NAMES IN THE SOUTHWEST BORDER COUNTIES OF MISSOURI, Margaret Ellen Bell. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts inthe Graduate School of the University of Mo., 1933. M.A. THESIS, M. E. BELL.

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