Morgan County, Missouri was organized January 5, 1833, and was named for Daniel Morgan, a Revolutionary War general. The County consists of 594 square miles and has an approximate population of 20,000.
In 1836, Morgan County's first courthouse in the frontier town of Versailles, Missouri was a log building that was purchased and reconstructed on the square. It remained there in service until 1843, when it was removed in favor of a more permanent building. The county's second courthouse, built in 1844, was a rectangular, two-story, brick building. After more than forty years of continuous use, the voters agreed to build a third courthouse, but in 1887, while the new building was under construction, the old building was destroyed by fire.
It took a judge's ruling in 1889 to clear the way for construction to proceed on the county's present courthouse in Versailles. A court case developed when the courthouse bond issue election created a major question about the interpretation of a state statute. One group of citizens argued that the two-thirds majority, which the law required, applied to the total number of eligible voters in the county. Another group of voters claimed that a two-thirds majority of those who actually voted in the election was sufficient. The judge sided with those who thought that two-thirds of actual voters settle the issue.
After the legal challenge was resolved, the county could issue the bonds that had been passed by the voters, and construction of the present courthouse went forward. The still hard-at-work courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Morgan County Quick Facts:
- County Seat: Versailles, Missouri
- Population: 20,716
- Organized: January 5, 1833