History Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri
From: History of Cass County, Missouri
By: Allen Glenn
Publisher: Historical Publishing Co.
Topeka Cleveland 1917


In 1835, pursuant to act of the Missouri General Assembly, David Waldo of Lafayette County, and Samuel Rink and William Brown, both of Jackson County, located Harrisonville. These commissioners were directed to locate the "seat of justice" near the center of the county (then Van Buren). In the performance of this duty they proceeded to the land which James Lackey had preempted, located in section 4, township 44 of range 31, being parts of lots 4, 5 and 6 of the northeast quarter and parts of lots 4, 5 and 6 of the northwest quarter, all in section 4, township 44 of range 31, Cass County, Missouri, and there located the future metropolis and seat of justice of Cass County, Missouri. The land was donated by act of Congress for county seat purposes.

Fleming Harris was appointed by the county court of then Van Buren (now Cass) County, by order dated April 8, 1837, as town commissioner for the town of Harrisonville, Van Buren County, Missouri. The patent for this original plat was issued by the general government to Fleming Harris, commissioner, bearing date July 1, 1845, recorded in the office of the recorder of deeds for Cass County, Missouri, in book 145 at page 572.

The town was named after Albert G. Harrison, member elect of the House of Representatives of the United States. He was one of the first two members elected in 1836 from Missouri.

The town was surveyed and platted into lots and blocks in 1837 by Martin Rice, county surveyor. The original plat of the town had but four streets, two running north and south on each side of the square (now Lexington and Independence streets), and two running east and west on each side of the square (now Wall and Pearl streets). Each of these streets were forty feet wide. The blocks (with few exceptions) were separated by fifteen foot alleys. On the 12th day of June 1837, appears this order: "On motion of the county court it is ordered that the town commissioner of the town of Harrisonville shall go on this day selling lots as follows: sell all the front lots facing on the public square at $20 each ; if not sold at that price to be retained by the county, all other lots to be sold for $10 each or reserved by the county." The commissioner was further directed to commence selling lots at the northeast corner of the square.

The first settlers on and near the site of the town were James Lackey, John Blythe, Humphrey Hunt and Dr. Joseph Hudspeth. There may have been others whose names are not preserved to us.

Henry F. Baker was the pioneer merchant of the town, coming from the State of New York in 1837. His business house was built of logs at the present site of William T. Price's jewelry store. Here he kept a stock of general merchanidse, everything used in the country, from trace chains to wearing apparel. The next merchants here were Wilson and Brooks, who located on the rear part of the lot where "The A-C Mercantile" store is now located. Soon following these came the Hansbrough brothers from Kentucky, Enoch, Milton and Dr. Gilford Hansbrough, and Joseph January, Price and Keller from Virginia, all merchants. Dr. Lynch Brooks from Kentucky was the first physician. The Wilsons, Joseph Davis, John Yancey, James Black, William Cook, Laswell and John Cummins were some of the other early business men of the town.

A few of today recall the brick court house removed for the present building. This old structure was let by contract in 1844 to Henry F. Baker. This structure when torn down showed brick on which deer track were imprinted. The story went that while Baker was forming and drying the brick for the building, droves of wild deer tramped over the yard and brick.

John Cummins built the first brick dwelling in 1846 on the site where M. C. Robbins now lives. The next brick dwelling was built in the fifties by Abe Cassell, and is now standing across the street north from the present Cumberland Presbyterian church and known as the Dr. Thomas Beattie home place.

The first church erected was a frame building by the Baptists, on the present site of their church. It was the old New Hope congregation first organized three miles southwest of Harrisonville, removing to town in 1844. This was removed in 1854, and replaced by the oblong brick building on the same lot, which in turn in 1883 gave place to the present brick building, which has undergone some remodeling.

The first fraternal order was the Masonic lodge, the Old Prairie Lodge No. 90, which ceased its activity at the opening of the war.

The first county court met at the residence of James W. McClellan, about three miles southeast of the present town of Peculiar, on September 14, 1835. Present, James W. McClellan and William Savage, gentlemen justices of said court. William Lyon was appointed clerk, Grand River township was organized, other business transacted, and court adjourned to meet the second Monday in December next

Judge John F. Ryland held the first term of the Circuit Court at the James W. McClellan home on the seventh day of December, 1835. At this meeting among other business transacted, Russel Hicks and Richard E. Rees were admitted to practice law.

The county court met, it is not known where, whether at the residence of James Blakley or James W. McClellan, and made an order for the first court house to be built. This was April 8, 1837. The plan and specifications for the building were quite elaborate, but you could not tell from the order in what State or county it was to be built. Some tradition is that this building never was put up. The writer is of opinion this was the old log court house which early timers have said stood where C. Kelley's dwelling and the Deacon warehouse now stands. February 14, 1843, an order was made for a court house, and Charles Sims was appointed superintendent. This was the brick structure built in 1844 in the middle of the public square. This was the building which was torn down for the present court house. In 1860 an order was made for a new court house, but as the war came on the order was never carried into effect.

It would not be out of order here to recall the uses the early frontier court houses were put to. They were adapted to a variety of purposes and were of great usefulness. School was taught in the building, and here the gospel was preached and justice dispensed. Ministers of every sect and denomination eagerly expounded the simple truths of a sublime and beautiful religion. On the Sabbath sermons of the pioneer, with the earnest songs, called many erring wanderers to repentance. On Monday the building changed character of service; men went thither seeking not the mercies of God, but justice as administered by man. Then not used for court, children were sent to the old time teacher there. New things largely have done away even with the present day inhabitant, with that regard and awe in which the old court houses were held.

In 1838 the first jail was erected on the Patrick lot north across the street from the present new Christian church; when and how this disappeared we are unable to learn. The second jail was erected north across the street from R. S. Woolridge's present residence, and east and on the same lot as A. S. Deacon's three story brick building property, on lot 12, block 4 of the original town of Harrisonville. The third jail building is the present, and which has undergone remodeling since its first erection or completion in 1871.

Passing over time of more than four score years, Harrisonville has witnessed but one bank failure, the First National, which closed its doors in July, 1893. This was not on account of its own mismanagement, but resulted from the failure of its correspondent in Kansas City. This bank was soon reorganized and continued business. At times, dark has been the shadows overhanging our time in social and business ways.

The sterling integrity and able business qualifications of the leading men have developed the town with credit. Harrisonville has never enjoyed any "mushroom boom," but has always been safe and dependable. Harrisonville of today presents a great field for both laborer and investor. A little city of the fourth class, located forty miles south of Kansas City, the mighty city of the center of the Union, with resources of brawn and bullion unlimited, we are but a suburb and share in all the city's prosperity. Our wideawake and progressive men have come to the front by sheer force of merit and energy. Around us stretch out these beautiful prairies, graceful hills and valleys, all ready to deposit their prodigious products into our little city. It is surrounded by an agricultural district such as is no where else to be found. The corn, the fruits, the grasses, the wheat, what is it that nature hasn't given us! We invite all peoples to a clean well governed town. Good streets and granitoid sidewalks all over the city, electric light, telephone and water work system. Transportation here is unrivaled, with four main lines of railroad, diverging in all directions. There are three well capitaled and well managed banks. Three newspapers creditable to any county, factories, mills, foundries, and every conceivable business are found here. All are well and honestly managed. It is a delightful and pleasant place to make a home. For business, for home comforts, for investments, the city stands without an equal. The center of a great county, the home of a God loving and God serving people, her churches and schools speak loudly of the culture and character of her people.

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