GovernmentDepartmentsResidentsEconomic DevelopmentHow Do I?
Click to Home
Go To Search
Find Us On
Read the History of Harrisonville
1 of 2Van Buren County
The City of Harrisonville had its beginnings as early as 1830 as settlers from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia moved west, drawn by the rich farmland and numerous streams and rivers. This portion of Western Missouri was known as Van Buren County (renamed Cass County in 1849).
Harrisonville's Court House
Town Establishment
In 1835, the Missouri General Assembly enacted a measure to appoint three state commissioners to establish a seat of justice within five miles of the center of this county and a year later 160 acres of land was selected for the site of the county seat. The town of Harrisonville was established in 1837 and was named in honor of Albert G. Harrison, one of the first two U.S. Congressional representatives elected from the state of Missouri.

Town Outline & Planning
The town began to take shape as the land was surveyed and platted into lots and blocks. Four streets were established to outline the town square: Wall and Pearl streets running east and west, and Lexington and Independence streets running north and south. Lots were sold on the square for $20 a piece for those facing the square and $10 for those that did not.

First Public Buildings & Commerce

The first house was built by Jason L. Dickey in that first year, and the city's first business was started by Henry F. Baker, who moved from New York to open a mercantile store in a log cabin on the southwest corner of the square. The town's first courthouse and first jail were built in 1838, and the town's first church, the New Hope Church, a Baptist mission, was built two miles southwest of town. A public school was established in 1839, demonstrating the importance of education to these early settlers, a tradition carried on to present time.

Official Incorporation of Harrisonville
Harrisonville finally became incorporated in 1851 after an unsuccessful attempt to do so in 1845. S.G. “Squire” Allen was appointed the first mayor of the town in 1857, and Col. H. W. Younger, father of the infamous Cole Younger, was elected mayor in 1859. The town's first newspaper, The Cass County Gazette, was established by Nathan Millington in 1854, and renamed the Western Democrat in 1856.

Town Expansion
The town continued to grow as churches, schools, and businesses sprouted up throughout the 1850s, so that, by the onset of the Civil War, the population of Harrisonville had grown to 675, making it the 37th largest town in the state.

The Civil War
The war took its toll on the land and population of Cass County, and on the little town of Harrisonville. Due to the southern roots of many of the local residents, Confederate troops were able to take up refuge in the region. William Quantrill, southern sympathizer and leader of Quantrill's Raiders, used Cass County as a base from which to launch his guerrilla raids.

Order No. 11
Border skirmishes along the Missouri / Kansas state line increased, until finally a bloody raid on Lawrence, Kansas, led to a crackdown by the U.S. Government in August, 1863. Order No. 11 was issued, requiring all persons in Cass County living beyond a one mile radius of Harrisonville or Pleasant Hill to vacate their premises within 15 days. All grain, hay, and food supplies from the area farms were confiscated by Union troops and many buildings were burned to the ground. Harrisonville became a Union stronghold and a garrison of soldiers remained stationed there to enforce the evacuation order.

Continue Reading...