Johnson County was organized Dec. 13, 1834, out of Lafayette County. While many think the county was named after President Andrew Johnson, they would be wrong. Johnson didn’t become president until after the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865.
The county was named after a prominent politician from Kentucky, Richard M. Johnson, who was both a U.S. Senator and member of the House of Representatives. He was a candidate for Vice President and was elected in 1836 as Martin Van Buren’s running mate.
Warrensburg was platted in 1835 and named after John and Martin D. Warren who were the first to locate in the area.
The first site for the county seat had not been acceptable to everyone because, for many, it was all the way on the other side of the county. The new site had been Warrensburg because it was the nearest spot to the center of the county. But, as is often the case, even that did not meet with everyone’s approval.
In 1872, there was an attempt by Elhanan Roop and George Washington to move the county seat to the nearby town of Centerview. Between a Holden newspaper pushing for the move and a petition signed by almost everyone in the county outside Warrensburg, it almost worked.
George Washington, Elhanan Roop, and others filed their petition Aug. 14, 1872, according to court records, praying the court to submit to the voters at the next general election Nov. 5, the proposition "for the removal of the seat of justice of the county of Johnson from the town of Warrensburg to the town of Centerview."
The request was taken under advisement until 1 p.m. However, before the appointed hour, for some unknown reason, "Washington, on behalf of the petitioners, withdrew the petition."
Today, Johnson County’s Court House remains in Warrensburg where a large statue of a dog, Old Drum, sits on its front lawn. But that is a story for a future column.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News since April 2008, She has covered the War Between the States, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she syndicated her column statewide in September 2018 and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.email@example.com.