St. Clair County
Circuit Court Records
St. Clair County newspaper
By B.F. Lawler
Many names, places and occurrences have already been mentioned in these papers
but it may be of some value to review the circuit or district courts in the
early days in St. Clair County.
1841 – The first recorded court session in the county was in March 1841, in the
home of William Gash, Esq., now owned by Joe Smith twelve miles south of
Osceola. There was a second term in August, the judge being Foster P. Wright;
Charles P. Bullock, clerk; and John Smarr sheriff. In November the court was in
session in Osceola, which became the county seat.
Many of the names appearing in the records were those of Administrators of
estates or partition suits, or litigants in common law. In this court William
Denson, Abraham Stow, Richard Keeny, James N. Delozier, Tandy H. Trice, Pleasant
M. Cox (doctor Cox), Richard Crutchfield, Philip and Henry Crow, John G. Hammon,
Roderick McCullock, and Henry Earl had business.
1842 – James Boles, William McClanahan, Samuel W. Harris (major Harris), W.F.
Carter, Phocian McCrary, and John Tevis are in court. Major Harris owned the
great farm now owned by Mr. John Adamson, and Mr. McClanahan owned the next one
North of Mr. Adamson.
1843 – In this year Joseph Waldo, Daniel Grant, L.R. Ashworth, and David
Huffman. Ashworth was a fine preacher and lived close to Huffman’s Ferry on
Osage River. Huffman’s Ferry was known far and near in the early settlements of
William Armanton, John Perry, John Bedell, Randolph High, Calvin Copenhaver,
John F. Weidemeyer, Thomas Dray, Joseph Cox (Colonel Joe Cox), and Joseph Brown
are mentioned in court proceedings.
1844 – Avery B. Howard, Albon D. Abstor, Robert N. Burch, Eliza Huffman, John L.
Traborn, William H. Clark, Robert Marable, Hugh Galbreath, William Moon, Earnest
Lamy, Abner Tyne and Josiah Culbertson.
In that year Osage River was full of water and steamboats were busy. I stood a
little south of the old mill place and watched men unloading the boats and I was
told they were paid 10 cents an hour for that heavy work, colored men managed
each to carry a sack of salt weighing two hundred pounds. Many men then worked
on the farm for less than fifty cents a day.
1845 – Alexander Moore, (space) Corbin, John F. Thompson, and George Price were
in court. John Thompson was postmaster on Hogles Creek later, but I do not know
that he is the same man.
1846 – Robert Anderson, Theodrick Snuffer, Robert Sprowell, Abraham Ditty and
Richard Bowman are added.
1847 – Zachary Lilly is now Sheriff, William J. Mayo was Editor of the Osceola
Whig, but spelled Oseola without the c, which was common at that time. John
Beale, Warrick Gatewood, Mrs. Stracy whose husband was agent so long at Vista
was Jennie Beale.
1848 – William Kean, Andrew Fudge, Ebenezer Gash, Alfred Gash, Mr. Gatewood, and
Elizabeth Sams, Eleanor Cain and William Duckworth had business in court. After
the death of the husband of Mrs. Sams, she often visited my parents as she was
very lonesome. She rode a great horse called Melzar: he was a chestnut sorrel,
with white, flowing mane and tail. I had many an enjoyable ride on his noble
1849 – William Brown, Andrew Brown, Martha Philip, Mark Allinson, Franklin
Barger, Peter Shumaker and Marcus L. Largent appear in court. At that time De
Witt C. Ballew was district Judge.
William Martin, Mathew Arbuckle, William Owsley, James Rily, James F. Christy,
William Loony and James Breckenridge were in court. George Preston was sheriff
that year; he was Father to Mrs. Mary Barnes, so well and favorable known in
Osceola and St. Clair county. Andrew Baker, John T. Hammon, John T. McClain,
Christopher Corbin and Louis Fournier are added to the long line of court
people. Also Daniel B. Kidd, Taltor T. Barnes, William Dean, Caleb Rollin, Edwin
B. Calhoun, Luther B. Challis and William D. Muir.
Many people will recognize these names as being their own people and we are glad
to help them preserve recollections of them and we ask the indulgence of
strangers. In these nine years we find but one murder case and one libel suit,
and I think the fifties will show even better. I do not remember a single man
sent to the penitentiary before the war, though there may have been one or more.
William Ousley mentioned here was from Johnson county and was in court
concerning the estate of Burdett Sams whose widow he had married. This review of
court proceedings distributes the names of people in all the county better than
any paper so far, and yet, many names are very familiar to me partly through
what father and oldest brother had to say at supper table when they got home
from the City; and partly because many were neighbors to us. Many of them
deserve special mention. There was academic school in Osceola in the fifties,
and a grammar school a few miles North of the river conducted by a teacher whose
name was Speed, but I am not familiar with the facts concerning either school.
This is a great age for storing up historic matters.