HISTORY OF WRIGHT COUNTY

Wright County is bordered by Laclede County on the north, Texas County on the east, Douglas County on the south, and Webster County on the west. It is in the portion of the state considered "southwest Missouri." Formed from part of Pulaski County on January 29, 1841, Wright County was named in honor of Silas Wright, a prominent New York democrat. The county seat of Hartville was probably named after Hartsville, TN, where many early settlers originally came from. Wright County lost part of its land in 1845 to Texas County, in 1849 to Laclede, and in 1855 a big chunk to Webster.

 It appears there were no Indian settlements early in the area, although the wandering Delawares, Shawnees, and Piankashaws did come through. Early white settlers were in the county in 1836 and were probably hunters. Earliest known settlers (by 1840) were Samuel Thompson, Robert Moore, John W. Burns, Jeff and Robert Montgomery, Benjamin Stephens, James Young, William Franklin, Isham Pool, and the Tuckers, according to Goodspeed.

The county has been devastated several times by storms. The tornado that swept through southwest Missouri that devastated Webster County on April 18, 1880, also killed Polly and Sallie Scott and Mack, according to Goodspeed, in Wright County. A flood April 22 - 23, 1885 drowned James Woods and his son Yat. Another tornado May 8, 1888 did considerable damage, as did a hailstorm near the same time that reportedly left hail 3 - 4 inches deep and in drifts 5 - 8 feet high, after falling for two hours. Goodspeed gives great accounts of these storms, as well as others.

A good-sized portion of the county is located in the Mark Twain National Forest. The Gasconade River and it's tributaries flow through the county, as well allowing for great recreational opportunities. For a Missouri Conservation list of places in Wright County, click here.


Settlements of Wright County

The townships are, beginning at the southwest corner moving east: Pleasant Valley, Clark, Mountain Grove; above the southwest corner moving east: Gasconade, Hart, Wood; again moving above beginning southwest and moving east: Boone, Brush Creek, and VanBuren. Northern most edge moving southwest to east: Union, Elk Creek, Montgomery.

The county seat of Hartvillewas probably named after the town of Hartsville, Tennessee where many of the Wright County residents came from originally. Although early histories indicate it was named after Mr. Hart who "donated the site", no land records show this transaction, nor does he have a first name, nor were there any Harts in the area until about 1860. The first deed entry in the town of Hartville was made December 27, 1847. Hartville today has about 524 residents. Its zip code is 65667. Hartville saw considerable suffering during the Civil War. For an interesting account of the Battle of Hartville, click here.

 Mountain Grove was first named Hickory Springs as the early settlement was near a spring in a hickory grove. The early post office was established in Hickory Springs in 1851 and then a seminary called Mountain Grove Seminary was erected in 1857. A store was opened that year by Mr. Green and John Roper, and finally the village of Mountain Grove was organized on February 11, 1882. Today Mountain Grove has about 3377 residents. Its zip code is 65711.

 The town of Mansfield was named for Francis M. Mansfield, who along with George and Julia Nettleton surveyed and acknkowledge the plat of Mansfield on November 10, 1884. He was an attorney for the Gulf Railroad. I.I. Hart and M.D.Gorman opened the first store about 1882, and the postoffice was originally established in 1881. There are approximately 1056 residents of this town which is the adult home of Laura Ingalls Wilder . Neat Wilder links can be viewed here and here.

 Norwood was settled as early as 1853-1857 and the plat was acknowledged September 20. It was named by Walter S. Thompson who named it after Norwood a novel by Henry Ward Beecher. Today it has a population of about 294. Its zip code is 65717.

 Grovespring, also seen sometimes as Grove Spring or Grove Springs, has a population of about 92. It's zip code is 65662. It came in existance about 1885. Early settlers included the Smith, Weaver, Mahony, Hudson, Shields, Davis, and Moorehouse families.

 Macomb early was called Coin and was founded in the early 1880's. Its zip code is 65702.

 Cedar Gap is a gap in the Ozarks Ridge that is surrounded by hills full of cedars. It was acknowledged August 19, 1882.

Graff was named for Courtney Graff and is still on the map. Its zip code is 65660.

Manes began about 1880 with George Myers store and was named after Seth Manes, a Missionary Baptist preacher from Richland in 1891.

Smittle, St. George, Owens, Odin, Dawson (at one time called Plunk after John H. Plunk who was there in 1895), Rayborn, Green Mountain, Loring, Boyer, and Jerk Tail are now/still on the map.

 Several places aren't on the new maps. They include Astoria (originally named for John Jacob Astor who was president of the American Fur Company in St. Louis where many early traders traded), Mint, Cravens, Jericho, Aurora/Mingsville/Omega, Sunnyside or Crisptown, Umpire, Hawley, Antrim, Cave Spring, Embree, Talmadge (this post office was named by the government), High Point (sets on a high hill), and Fincher.



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Updated August 2008.