Missouri was first visited by the whites, under DeSoto in 1541, and under Marquette in 1673. Missouri was under the rule of France until 1762 when this part of the country was transferred to Spain. It was restored to France in 1800 and purchased by the United States in 1803, as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1812, a portion of Louisiana was set aside as the Territory of Missouri and in 1821, Missouri was admitted into the Union and State.
For $1,200 in cash and $1,500 in merchandise, the territory which now is Jasper County was purchased in 1808 from the Osage Indians. Later, claims and annual annuities were paid them. The Osage were moved from the territory to an area designated as the Osage Nation. A number of them returned to this area in 1837, but were driven back to their own territory. Thacker Vivion, a native of Kentucky, and his family were Jasper County's first permanent settlers in 1831.
Situated on the western border of Missouri about 50 miles north of Arkansas, bounded on the north by Barton County and on the east by Dade and Lawrence counties, Jasper County was created in 1836, by an act of the Missouri Legislature, and was named in honor of Sergeant William Jasper, a hero in the American Revolutionary War. The County Court first divided the area into three townships: North Fork, Center Creek and Marion. Later it was divided into 15 townships which remain in an unincorporated status to the present time.
A temporary seat of justice was established, Thursday, February 25, 1841 in the home of George Hornback, a log cabin, 12 x 16 feet, one and a half miles northwest of Carthage on Spring River. Samuel M. Coolley, Jeremiah Cravens and Samuel B. Bright were the first justices of the Jasper County Court. The first county road commissioners ordered a road built in 1841 "commencing at the township line South of John Pennington's and ending due South of William Babb's Mill". Each male white person was required to work on the public roads at least two days each year or pay 50 cents.
A permanent county seat was chosen in March 1842 and designated by the name of Carthage. The County Court, under Judge Spencer as presiding judge, lets bids for a courthouse building, the contract being awarded to Levi H. Jenkins, at a total cost of $398.50 (100.00 in cash to be paid on completion of the building and the balance on the sale of bonds. The building, a one story room with a large door in the south, was completed on June 29th, 1842, and was located on the north side of the present public square in Carthage. With the settling of the county, the court business grew until it was necessary to have larger quarters, and in the early 50's a new building was constructed.
During the Civil War Carthage with a population of 500 was destroyed. The city has been rebuilt since 1866. County records were moved to Neosho, Missouri and later to Fort Scott, Kansas for safe keeping until after the war.
The corner stone of the present Court House was laid in August 1894. The building was completed in 1895, at a cost of $100,000; $50,000 of which was paid by the city of Carthage and the balance by Jasper County. This magnificent structure remains in use today.