Adair County's New Court House

Time Line

12 Apr 1865    Adair County Court House, built 1852-   55, destroyed by fire

6 Jul 1897      Citizens petition County Court for special bond election to build a Court House on the public square

3 Aug 1897     Voters pass $50,000 bond election with 75% in favor (four previous bonds issues had failed in Nov 1872, June 1892, Nov 1892 & Nov 1896)

6 Nov 1897      Plans & specifications by Kirsch & Co of Milwaukee accepted by County Court and $46,675 construction contract let to Anderson & Menke

2 May 1898     Corner stone laying – parades, special trains, elaborate ceremonies and large crowds

31 Mar 1899   County offices move in to newly completed building

News Articles on the Court House

The Corner Stone Laid
A History Day for Kirksville
Large Attendance and a Great Demonstration

 The elements were not the most favorable for Corner Stone Day in Kirksville.  The rain the night previous and the lowering clouds of that day, doubtless kept many away, but the cooled air and cloudy sky made it all the more pleasant for the thousands who attended. The city was elaborately decorated, with American and Cuban flags, bunting, mottoes, etc. People began coming in early in vehicles and on horseback.

The First train in, was from Milan bringing 256, the second from Quincy, bringing 261, 137 of which came from Brashear.  The third, from Glenwood Junct. bringing 200 and the fourth, a special from Moberly bringing upwards of 500. Besides many came in the day before and during the night, so that it seems safe to estimate the number present, including our own citizenship, at 15000.  It was a great big crowd sure enough, such as Kirksville can draw.

     The parade under chief marshal Butler, was the largest every seen in the city and was in the following order.  Kirksville cornet band, Masonic order, County officials, City officials, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, Lincoln Legion of Honor, G.A.R. Posts, Woodman order, American School of Osteopathy, Columbian School of Osteopathy, State Normal School, Adair county volunteers, Old Settlers – other citizens, Macon Brass band.
     The parade halted at the grand stand where the address of welcome was delivered by Mayor Dockery. After music by the band, the laying of the corner stone occurred with Masonic rites.  This beautiful service was performed by D.D.G.M. Andrew Fisher, Acting Grand Master, of La Belle; S.G.W., G.M. McGuire; J.G.W. Richard C. Norton; G. Tr. Thos. Baum, G. Sec. Richard M. Ringo, G.S.D. Nat M. Shelton, G.J.D. J. Marion Long, G. Ty___ Thos. J Craig, G.S.B. Jas. G. Bell, G. Pursuivant, J.T. Hannah, The oration was by C.H. Briggs S.G.W. Grand Lodge of Missouri. 
The shape and finish of the corner stone is the handiwork of Chas. H. Lee, this city.  On the south face it bears the inscription, “Laid by A. Fisher, D.D.G. A.F. and A.M., May 2, A.L. 1898.”

 The oration of Rev. Briggs was a gem in literature and was relayed with great satisfaction. 
     The toast, “Adair County, past, present and future was responded to by Hon. S.M. Pickler in his usually able manner.
     “The Adair County bar” was to have been spoken to by Judge Andrew Ellison but owing to his absence at court was omitted.
     “The State Normal School” owing to Pres. Dobson’s absence in St. Louis was responded to by that eloquent old educator, Prof. R.C. Norton.
     “The Public Schools” was ably handled by Superintendent Holloway.
     “Osteopathy” – The American School of, was responded to by Dr. Wm. Smith.
     “Osteopathy” – The Columbian School of, was responded to by Dr. U.M. Browder.
     “The Old Settlers” responded to by that pioneer, Rev. Wm. L. Fletcher.
     “The Churches and Sunday Schools” by Rev. G.W. Sharp concluded the program of exercises.

     The building when completed, will be by far the finest courthouse in Northeast Missouri. The foundation is of concrete and Quincy limestone laid in hydraulic cement and rises to an elevation of about three feet about the street level. The entire outer walls will be built of light blue (Ohio) sandstone. All the entrances are of massive stone arches, supported on handsome granite columns.  The building will be three stories and fireproof throughout.  The floors will be supported on steel structure, composed of concrete and steel arches.

     The interior finish will be quarter sawed red oak.  It will be lighted with electric lights, heated by steam and will have a complete system of sanitary sewerage from every floor.  The floors will be granolithic and tile.  It will have handsome copper cornice and a slate roof; also an elegant tower clock, with six foot dial. The interior will be of very handsome design, built entirely of stuco [sic]. The carving in the stone work is of very rich design. There will be six fire proof vaults, well lighted to accommodate all the county officers.  The courtroom will be large and commodious being 85×40 feet, including judges’ and attorney’s private offices.  The stairways will be metal throughout with handsome birth handrailings. The building will be 112 feet 10 inches by 85 feet and 139 feet high.

                                              The Kirksville Democrat
                                                                     May 6, 1898

New Court House
The Corner Stone Laid Monday With Impressive Ceremonies

Monday the laying of the corner stone of Adair County’s new court house was celebrated. At an early hour people began to arrive from the country and excursion trains were loaded with people. The last train to arrive was from Moberly, Bucklin and Macon, and had on board 500 persons. By 10 o’clock the city was crowded but the different committees had done their work with such care that the great crowd was easily handled. All the towns on the Wabash from Moberly to Glenwood, and on the Port Arthur from LaBelle to Milan furnished large visiting delegations. It had been arranged with hotels, restaurants and eating halls to furnish dinner at 11 o’clock so all could be ready for the parade at 12.


Formed on High street at 12 o’clock under the direction of Col. H.A. Butler, chief marshal, in the following order:

Kirksville Cornet band, Knight Templars, Masonic Lodges, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Woodmen, Lincoln Legion of Honor, G.A.R., American school of Osteopathy, Columbian school of Osteopathy, Medicine and Surgery; State Normal school, Adair county volunteers.

The parade moved promptly at 12 o’clock west on McPherson to Franklin, south to Jefferson to Harrison, east to Franklin, south to grand stand on Washington.


Mayor Dockery delivered the address of welcome, and Rev. Briggs of Fayette, pronounced the invocation.
Andrew Fisher, of LaBelle, Grand Deputy, assisted by G.M. McGuire, Dr. Nortin and Rev. Briggs then laid the corner stone with Masonic rites. After music Rev. C.H. Briggs delivered the oration of the day.
The toast, “Adair County, Its Past, Its Present and Its Future,” was eloquently responded to by Hon. S.M. Pickler. We regret that we have space for only a couple of short extracts from his address.
In referring to patrotism [sic] in Adair county, he said:

“The county has been baptized in blood. An Indian fight had occured [sic] in 1829 northeast of Nineveh near Noah Motter’s farm between a band of 60 or 70 Indians led by Big Neck and a company of whites from Randolph county joined by five or six men from the Cabins. Three white men were killed and the same number of Indians and the whites retreated, some of them without firing a gun. An Indian fort was built in Polk township in 1932 consisting of a block house, surrounded by a palisade. It was located on what is know known as the Moses Furnish farm and named Fort Matison. Another fort was built on the site of the King Collet farm where the cabins were located in 1828.
The battle of Kirksville on August 6th, 1862, was a fierce one for the number engaged; about 150 were killed and 400 wounded. In the Centralia massacre over half a hundred Adair county men in one company, Capt. Smith’s, gave up their lives without a murmur. A thousand gray haired veterans of the late war now residents of the county are living witnesses of the patriotism of our people. And more recently Capt. J.R. Musick’s clarion voice has been repeatedly raised in behalf of war and Lieutenants Reiger and Carothers have told Adair county boys what a glorious thing it is to fight for liberty and Cuban independence. A full company of 100 men has been organized and their services tendered to the president. And as they bid adieu to friends and kindred and start on the journey to the sunny south, preparatory to invading the gem of the Antilles, we can hear in imagination their battle chant something like this:

Remember the Maine when the big guns rear,
And the cannons belch on a hostile shore.
Remember the dead in the sunken ship,
And pass the cry from lip to lip.
Forget the shriek of shot and shell,
Forget for an hour that war is hell;
For over yonder, beneath the bay
Two hundred sailors lie to-day.
It’s odds on our good war ships

Against the guns of Spain;
It’s two to one we win the forts,
In memory of the Maine.
And Sampson and his sailors
Will yet place high in pride,
Old Glory’s folds above the spot,
Where the Maine’s brave sailors died.
Com. Dewey and his gallant fleet,
Fought the shops and forts of Spain,
And he knocked them into smithereens
In memory of the Maine.
He gave them a grave in the salt, salt sea,
While the guns with their sullen roar,
Made a funeral dirge for Spain’s lost fleet,
And Dons five hundred or more.

Referring to the future of Adair county, he said: “No one could portray it. Could we draw aside the veil of the ‘is to be,’ and take a peep no doubt the view would be one of dazzling splendor and magnificence. Very likely the counties of Schuyler, Sullivan, Macon and Knox would all show annexation to Adair in order to give our people room in which to spread themselves. Brashear would be within the corporate limits of a Greater Kirksville, as also would be Millard, Sublette, Novinger, Camp Collett and the surrounding country. The pleasure yachts and beautiful gondolas repassing swan like on the placid waters of a reconstructed Chariton and a beautiful Salt River, would glide responsive to the gentle Zephyrs ladened with the perfume of rare exotics, fruits and flowers. The bountiful fields with their ripening harvests and the grassy picturesque landscape with its herds and flocks of fat, sleek kine will out rival the land of the Pharoahs in its palmiest days. But language fails, prophecy is at fault and speculation drifts on an unknown sea in attempting to depict our county’s future development.

O Adair, proud, bright Adair
With a future so bright and so fair!
We hail thee, most favored land!
Thy rapid growth, they progress grand!
With schools and churches strong,
With right supplanting wrong,
With enterprise for man’s best good,
And pure exalted womanhood.
Within they confess noble deeds
From noble hearts—the good succeeds,
And on and up the race we run,
And virtue wins with good works done.
Now Kirksville grows to larger state,
It’s people swift to emulate
The greatest good, wherever found,
Rejoices with the country round.
It hails Salt River, Wilson, Clay,
With words of warmest cheer to-day.
Nineveh and Morrow, north and west,
Liberty, Walnut, Benton, with the rest,
Greets Pettis, Oklahoma, Polk
And blessings on them all invoke.
Thus all, together, hand in hand,
Town and country let us stand
And forward march to greater fame
And make Adair’s the proudest name
That’s written in this imperial state,
Missouri, matchless, peerless, great!

The toast, “The State Normal School” was ably responded to by Dr. Norton, as was also the toast, “The Public Schools,” by Prof. Holloway.
The toast “Osteopathy” American school, was responded to by Dr. Smith; Columbian school, was responded to by Dr. U.M. Browder.
“The Old Settlers of Adair County” called out many amusing reminiscences. This toast was responded to by Rev. W.L. Fletcher, one of the pioneer settlers of Adair.
“Churches and Sunday Schools” by Rev. G.W. Sharp closed the exercises.
The crowd was large and well behaved. The procession the finest every seen in Kirksville, and the entertainment of visiting delegations was all that could have been desired. Everything considered it was a great day for our prosperous, progressive city.

The Kirksville Weekly Graphic
May 6, 1898

The Commercial Club Entertains its Guests in Honor of the New Court House

   One of the most interesting events of the winter occurred at the Central Hotel on Friday night last.  It was the third annual banquet of the Commercial Club of this city and was given in honor of the County Court, and to celebrate the opening of the new Court House.  Promptly at eight o’clock the guests began to arrive and soon filled the parlors and halls of the hotel with a brilliant company.  After a half hour of social conversation, President Dobson, the Master of Ceremonies, called the company to order and announced the first number on the program, a valse caprice, which was beautifully rendered by Miss Pauline Dobson, a recall was responded to by the fair musician with a brilliant little selection.  Mr. C.H. Payson then sang in his delightful manner “Gipsy John” adapting it to the occasion, the C.C.K.  He was called back but simply bowed this thanks.  Miss Alta Baird then sang a touching love song and in response to a recall sang a beautiful selection, then the company marched to the spacious dining room and gathered around the beautifully decorated tables.  There were roses and carnations for every guest, and the cheerful clatter of knives and forks, the brilliant conversation and the delightful strains of Scott’s Orchestra filled the room with melody.
    After an hour devoted to the discussion of “Mine host” McCoy’s elegant and well served “Menu” the President rapped for order and in a few well chosen remarks announced as the first toast, “Our new Court House and Home Expansion” since 1896. Mr. A.N. Seaber responded in a fitting manner showing briefly the advancement materially, morally, and intellectually.

“The Adair County Court” by Mr. J.C. Storm was a thoughtful review of the work of the court and its achievements. Judge Hickman responded for the court in a well chosen little speech of acknowledgement filled with touching words of appreciation. Our Lady guests were fittingly eulogized by Major R.G. Rombauer, and Miss Minnie Brashear gave a delightfully witty description from a sub-legal point of view of “Courting in Adair County.” “The Relation of Education to Civic Prosperity,” by Prof. Brother was a thoughtful, earnest plea for educational expansion, and was well handled. The last toast was by Judge Ellison, who chose “Commerce” as his theme. The Judge declared that he desired to avoid any reference to any political ideas and that Commerce was the very foundation of the greatness of all the great nations of past history. He spoke of the ancient commerce, of that of the Carthegenians, Romans and in modern times of that of the great peoples especially the Anglo Saxons. Then he spoke of the great opportunities now afforded to America. The islands we have lately acquired, declared the Judge “are ours.” The great commerce of the future is in the Pacific and it must be made the Mediterranean Sea of America. “If,” he said impressively, “our nation should secure the great commerce with China and the east to which we are entitled, no man need be idle in the country in the next hundred years.”
It was then after midnight and the guests after a motion, made by Judge Ellison, of thanks to Mr. McCoy for his delightful entertainment had been unanimously adopted, departed to their homes.

The Kirksville Journal
March 16, 1899

The Current Court House

The Adair County Court House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978

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