Clark County, Missouri History

Clark County, Missouri is in the extreme northeastern part of the state, bounded on the north by the state of Iowa; northeast by the Des Moines River, which divides it from Iowa; east by the Mississippi River, which separates it from the State of Illinois; south by Lewis County, and west by Knox and Scotland Counties; area, 325,238 acres. The surface of the county is about two-thirds prairie. Along the larger streams and back from the river bottoms, the land is broken and hilly. About 11,000 acres of rich bottom land lies between the Des Moines and Fox Rivers, and this land is protected from overflow by an expensive system of levees. Another rich tract of bottom land is south of the Fox River. The county is drained by the Des Moines, Little Fox, Sinking Creek, Wyaconda, Little Wyaconda, Honey and many smaller streams which flow directly or indirectly into the Mississippi River.

According to the most authentic record obtainable, the first settlement in the territory now Clark County was made in September, 1829, when Sackett and Jacob Weaver, who came from Kentucky, settled upon land on the Des Moines River, near the present site of St. Francisville. A year later William Clark built a log cabin near the present site of the town of Athens. The county was organized December 16, 1836 and named for William Clark, leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and later Governor of Missouri Territory.

The members of the first county court were John Taylor, Thaddeus William and R. A. McKee, with Willis Curd, clerk, and W. S. (Sandy) Gregory, sheriff. The first county court met at the house of John Hill, in Des Moines Township, April 10, 1837. The commissioners appointed to locate a permanent seat of justice were Stephen Cleaver of Rails; O. Dickerson, of Shelby, and Michael T. Noyes, of Pike County. They selected a tract of land four miles east of the site of Kahoka, and in 1837 a town was laid out, which was named Waterloo. This place remained the county seat until February, 1850, when the county court changed the judicial seat to Alexandria, where courts were held until August 9, 1855, when it was ordered that the Circuit Court of Clark County be notified that the county seat had been changed back to Waterloo. Waterloo remained the county seat until 1872, when the courthouse was completed at Kahoka, and in it the county court first met, January 15th of that year.

In 2010, the original Clark County Courthouse built in 1872 was demolished. The Clark County Courthouse that stands today was finished in 2012.