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November 1, 2012

The Murder of Marsh Foster...Was this the start of the Civil War? Warrensburg, Missouri

The Courthouse was the site of a murder of the newly elected county clerk, Marsh Foster, by the former clerk's son William McCown on February 18, 1861. This was just before the official start of the war, but was based on the political sympathies of the two men. The men of Johnson County quickly formed troops both Union and Confederate. Local lore says that the two armies, the beginning of Cockrell's Brigade (Confederate) and Emory Foster's (Union) took turns drilling on the same parade ground. By the end of the war the town square had become a Union army camp. A hotel serving as a hospital and other buildings constructed for stables and barracks.

Old Courthouse Warrensburg, Missouri Planned 1837 Complete 1841
Marsh Foster Murder
In 1837, the settlement was platted; it centered on a Public Square that was to hold the courthouse, an essential institution for the governance of the county. Attendant businesses, such as lawyers’ offices and a hotel, were quickly established around the perimeter. The design and construction of a permanent courthouse was of immediate concern, and it was finished in 1841. Interestingly, one of the three commissioners to choose the site for the building was Daniel Morgan Boone, son of legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone. The two-story brick structure has a square floor plan and was built on a foundation of local brown sandstone. Rather simple in outward appearance, the highlight of 3 of the 4 facades is an arched entryway with 8-over-4 paneled double doors capped by a delicate fanlight. It remains one of the few early Federal-style courthouses still standing in the state.The "Old" Johnson County, Missouri Courthouse was completed in 1842 and functioned as the County seat until 1871.

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