Morgan County was organized by act of the Legislature in 1833. An act of the Legislature of 1868 transferred to Miller County a strip the length of two townships from the southern east side of the county; and in 1881, by another law, the line running diagonally northwest from the northeast corner of Township 42, Range 16, to the southeast corner of Section 12, Township 44, Range 18, was changed to strike the northeast of said Section 12. With these changes the boundary lines are as follows:
Beginning st the northeast of Section 12, Township 45, Range 18; thence west on subdivisional lines to the northwest corner of Section 7, Township 45, Range 19; thence south by range line between 19 and 20 to the point where it strikes the Osage River; thence down the middle of said river to where it intersects the southeast of Section 30, Township 40, Range 18; thence by subdivisional lines to the Osage River; thence down the middle of said river to the southeast of Section 12, Township 40, Range 16; thence by subdivisional lines to the township line between 41 and 42; thence east to the range line between 15 and 16; thence north to the northeast corner of Township 42, Range 16; thence northwest in a straight line to the northeast of Section 12, Township 44, Range 18; thence north by range line between Ranges 17 and 18 to the place of beginning.
The county was divided into six townships by the county court in 1833. Since the original formation there has been no change in them except the change of the name of "Willow Creek" to Mill Creek Township.
Richland forms the northwest corner of the county. Flat and Richland Creeks join and form the Lamine Creek. Flat Creek is crooked through fourteen sections, from where it enters the township at Section 18 to its mouth. This creek bounds the timber on the south of "little Morgan" Prairie; Haw Creek gives it abundant water and drainage on the south part. It is divided into two voting precincts, contains eight school houses, and Bethlehem Church. Florence Village is on Section 11. The township has a population of 2,000.
Haw Creek Township
Haw Creek lies in the central estern part of the county. A high rolling prairie extends from the east ot the west side through its center; to the north and south of this are excellent timber and mineral lands. It ontains four congressional townships, in each of which is a voting precinct. Jones chapel Church and school-house are near the north township line. Three Lurtheran Churches and Freedom Church, and Stover Postoffice, a Baptist Church and Union Church, and nine school-houses are also in the township, which has a population of 2,400.
Buffaflo Township is in the southwest corner of the county. It is all timber-land, and is finely watered and drained, the Osage River forming a part of its boundary; the river and creek bottoms are deep alluvial loam that makes them the best agricultural lands. The township is divided into three voting precincts, Brandy Hill, Boyler's and River View. Proctor Post-office is also here, and five school-houses. Population 1,400.
Osage Township forms the boundary of the southeast corner of the county. It is also partly bounded by the Osage River. Some very rich farm and pasture lands are found in the several bottoms of the Osage River and the Gravois, Indian and Mill Creeks. All these streams water and drain this township. The land is heavily timbered, and underneath most of it is the yet richer deposits of coal,iron, lead and zinc. The township contains two post-offices -- Cape Galena and Gladstone; Hame's Mill, saw and grist; three churches, Catholic, Methodist and Union, and three school-houses. It has three voting precincts. Population, 1,550.
Moreau Township is north of Osage Township, and forums part of the east and northeast county line. In lead and coal it is probably the richest part of the county, and especially in its coal fields, some of which have been operated for years, and others are being opened. It is also rich as an agricultural district, the larger part of the prairie in the county being within its borders; this is rich and rolling, andis drained by Moreau Creek on the northwest, and on the north and east by Smith and Curris Forks of Moreau Creek, and on the south by Gravois and Indian Creeks. It is divided into three voting precincts. Versailles, Barnett and Excelsior are in this township. Near the center is Big Rock Church, Masonic Hall and school-house, on Section 9; Hopewell Church on Section 29, Wesley Church on Section 25, Rock Spring Church on Section 4, Mount Zion Church on Section 9, and St. Martin's Post-office on Section 4. Population, 4,350.
Mill Creek Township
Mill Creek Township forms the north and part of the east boundary lines of the county. It is mostly timber-land, and is watered by Big and Little Richland Creeks. The southwest portion is prairie; the whole is fine farming land. The railroad from Tipton to Versailles runs through the east and southeastern part of it. The township is divided into two precincts. The main line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad passes through the northwest corner on Sections 10, 11, 14 and 15; on this line is the village of Syracuse. The township has two churches and five schools. Akinsville is on Section 19. Among the early settlers were Elijah Shanklin, John Jamison, John Carpenter, James Bridges and Jonathan Huff. There is a saw-mill three miles southeast of Syracuse, and ten miles south is a flour-mill. The population is 2,250.
The temporary county seat of Morgan was fixed at Josiah Walton's, southeast of where Versailles now is. It remained at this place nearly two years. The county court appointed Street Thruston commissioner to locate a permanent county seat. He selected the present site of Versailles, on Section 6, Township 42, Range 17. The land was donated by Wyans & Galbraith, and the court sold the lots at public vendue.
In December, 1836, the county purchased of Philip Barger the house standing on the northeast corner of the public square as a court-house. At least a part of this building is still standing, and is the rear of Capt. Nielson's house.
In 1844, a modest brick court-house was put up in the center of the public square. This answered all public purposes comfortably, but unfortunately was burned in the general town fire of March 12, 1887.
At this time the county has neither jail nor court-house. Courts are held in Wassung's hall, and clerk's offices, etc., are in the Lumpee Block and Spurlock's building.
At the November election, 1886, a vote on the proposition to appropriate $15,000 to build a new court-house was submitted. By a misunderstanding of the voters it was a question as to whether the proposition had legally carried or not. The question was brought before Judge Edwards at the February term, 1889, of the circuit court, and he sustained the validity of the vote. The county court, therefore, will at once proceed to build. The county has $4,000 insurance on the old court-house, and this will swell the building fund to $19,000. This expenditure will give all the needed court room for years to come.
A substantial log jail was put up in 1842. It was of the pioneer sort of jail, but all say for it that it was good for the intended purposes, not ornate, but strong, having double walls, with loose upright logs between the walls that made it difficult to cut a way out. It was destroyed by fire in 1862.
A brick jail was erected in 1865 on the city's lot, a little southeast of the public square. Its occupants in a few years had dug and chipped away at it until, in the language of one of the town wags who had been put in it, it was not safe to sleep in, as a "feller is likely to fall out anywhere." It was condemned and torn town in 1877. The county does not seem to greatly suffer on account of there being no jail.
In February, 1877, the county purchased the farm of G. J. Harvey, for consideration of $1,500. It is situated three miles east of Versailles. The county at once added to the original building and put up other needed improvements. Prior to this it had rented Mr. Harvey's farm and used it for a poor farm.
History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller, Maries and Osage Counties, Missouri, Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.