Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sturgeon Court of Common Pleas

From The Bench and Bar of Boone County Missouri by North Todd Gentry, Columbia, Missouri, 1916, pp. 65-66. Available in the Wilson-Wulff History and Genealogy Library at the Walters-Boone County Historical Museum.

Photo at right shows the Court of Common Pleas building in 2006.


On January 10, 1860, the Sturgeon court of common pleas was established, and it was made a part of the second judicial circuit (see Session Acts of Mo. 1859-1860, page 17). It was given jurisdiction in civil cases over parts of four counties, viz., Boone, Audrain, Howard and Randolph. A two-story brick building in the eastern part of Sturgeon serves as a court house and also a city hall. This court continued to be presided over by the judge of the Boone circuit court till 1909, when Boone and Callaway were formed into a new circuit; and the Sturgeon court of common pleas remained a part of the old circuit. The lawyers who have practiced in this court are mostly the lawyers from the northern part of Boone county, and lawyers from Mexico and Moberly. After M.M. Jesse quit the practice, Thos. S. Carter was the only attorney who had more than one case during a term of this court. So when Judge Hockaday told the marshal (who was a new official) to open court, he went to the window and called out, "Oh, yes; oh, yes; oh, yes; Tom Carter's court of common pleas is now in session!"


Judge Wm. A. Hall
Judge Geo. H. Burckhartt
Judge Jno. A. Hockaday
Judge Alex H. Waller


Wellington Gordon
Arthur Bruton
E.C. Anderson
Thos. S. Carter
N.T. Gentry


It is appropriate here to give a list of the clerks of this court, and their years of service:
1860-1864, Jackson T. Burnham
1864-1865, Samuel F. Cross
1865-1866, Benj. F. Croswhite
1866-1873, Marshall H. Harris
1873-1890, Thomas S. Carter
1890-1900, Jacob V. Kemper
1900-1902, Samuel N. Yeates
1902-1913, W.F. Keith
1913- W. Hunter Price


The Sturgeon Court of Common Pleas building, while still standing in Sturgeon, has remained mute and largely unknown for decades. That is about to change.

In early 2009, Boone County Circuit Clerk Christy Blakemore decided to take a second look at an antique file cabinet that had been in her office “forever” and that needed to be prepared as part of her office’s move during the courthouse expansion. When she opened the drawers, she found well-preserved handwritten and typed documents dating back to the Civil War era, the case files and other records from the old court.

The Missouri State Archives is working now with the Circuit Clerk’s office to preserve and microfilm these wonderful records and open their secrets up to the public. It is anticipated the work will take through most of 2010.

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