By 1850, the town’s population was 241.
In 1854, Benjamin F. and Agnes Houx, Mary Depp, and Daniel Rentch each filed plats for new additions to the original town plat. Subsequent additions began when N. B. Holden platted two additions which encompassed the property between North and South Streets and between Holden and Warren Streets. By virtue of its size, the Missouri Legislature incorporated Warrensburg as a town on November 23, 1855, ordering the first municipal election to be held the following spring. From its founding, Warrensburg evolved into a central service and trade center sustained by a broad economic base. One of the earliest sources of revenue was the business generated by wagon trains that passed through the community and camped at several locations. One campground was on West Pine Street west of Warren’s smithy and one was near John Evans’ store. Initially, the area’s economy was based on self-sustaining farms that traded their produce and purchased goods and services at a local level. However, the marketing and shipping of the agricultural produce of the region outside the area soon became a dominant part of the economy, with agricultural processing and shipping forming a second tier of services. By mid-century, the town boasted a flour mill, a carding machine, a foundry, and a woolen mill. Several hotels clustered around the square and stretching north on Main Street did a thriving business, as did numerous saloons. General merchandise stores, harness makers, and meat markets provided goods and services while lawyers and land assayers provided services typical of county seats. The town’s first newspaper editor posted the handwritten Gem in store windows. In 1857, the Western Missourian joined the Gem in providing local, state and national news to the village. Joining the streetscape of the county seat were churches and modest one story houses. In 1858, a branch of the Bank of St. Louis opened.