||306 S. Cherry Street Keytesville, MO 65261
The first white men to set foot on the soil of Chariton County were French fur traders who had a trading post near the mouth of the Chariton River. It is not known when they came, but it is certain they were here prior to 1804 because of mention made by Louis and Clark in the report of their expedition.
In 1818 this territory still belonged to Howard County. A land sale was called (in) Old Franklin and then the first Chariton land was sold. This directed much attention to this territory and a tide of immigration started this way...
Chariton County was organized Nov. 16, 1820. The action was the work of the same legislature that organized Boone and Ray Counties, and that met at St. Charles.
Of a portion of Howard County the new county of Chariton was formed. The boundaries were very different indeed to those of the present (1923) time since on the north Chariton County extended to the Iowa line and embraced the territory now comprised in Linn, Sullivan, Putnam and a portion of Adair and Schuyler Counties. With the organization of Linn County in 1837, it took its present boundaries which are as follows: (The boundaries are given on page 211 of Hist. of Chariton Co., 1923, Gehrig.)
Chariton County was named for the first settlement in its boundaries, Chariton, located in the very southern part of the county, and the town is said to have been named for John Chariton, leader of a French fur trading expedition, which once had its headquarters on the site which was near the mouth of the river bearing the same name. Hence, town, river and county trace their name back to the same source.
The first county seat of the new county was this town of Chariton laid out in the spring of 1817, and at that time the most western settlement on the Missouri River. Because of its location, it gave great promise of future commercial importance.
Because of health conditions this town had to be abandoned, and in 1833, Keytesville was chosen as the county seat. It was in that year and the following that the first court house and other buildings were erected. During the Civil War this court house was burnt. In 1866, a new court house was built.
When the court house was burned in 1864, many of the records were destroyed. During 1818 and 1830 there was considerable immigration into the county. Then soldier land grants and "New Madrid claims" worked to retard settlement. Congress granted each soldier of 1812, 160 acres of land and the same to widows and orphans of those who had died or been killed in service. Many of these claims passed into the hands of speculators, non-residents, who hoped that improvements in the new county would enhance their claims.
Information obtained from the website of www.thelibrary.org