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The Johnson County Historical Society is a 501c(3) non-profit organization which maintains the Mary Miller Smiser Heritage Library & Museum and the historic buildings on the Old Courthouse Square in Warrensburg, MO. Archives of original county records dating from 1834 are housed here. A premiere research facility specializing in family and local history is open Tuesday – Thursday – Saturday from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. or by appointment.

Museum tours are available 1-4, Tuesday – Thursday – Saturday, guided tours and group tours by appointment.

The Old Courthouse (1838-1871) still stands, carefully restored, in its original location on Main Street. The period courtroom and upstairs offices pay tribute to the brave pioneers who built it.  The Trial of Old Drum, where George Graham Vest’s Eulogy on the Dog was delivered, took place in this courthouse in 1870.  It is funded by membership dues, your donations and sales of publications.

Your donations are welcome and needed. We receive no outside agency funding and have no employees so your donation and or volunteering is extremely important and we thank you for your support.

Hours: Normally  1-4 PM, Tuesday, Friday & Saturday – note: these hours will be erratic for the next month  or so.  Please contact us a day or so in advance to ensure someone will be here.
To Contact us: email: curator@jocomohistory.org
Follow us on  https://www.facebook.com/jocomohistory – frequent new pictures & articles.
Postal address: 302 N. Main, Warrensburg, MO, 64093
Phone: 660-747-6480

See the Johnson County History Blog: https://1973whsreunion.blogspot.com

See a video about Warrensburg, Missouri

See a video about Old Drum – Eulogy to the Dog

NOTE:  If you would like to request JCHS research any information for you, for the quickest response please contact us by email or Facebook message – see the links above.

51 Responses to Our Home Page

  1. Nancy Mathis says:

    Will there be an Old Drum festival this year?

  2. Richard Alexander says:

    We own some property on 250th road in holden. I have been told there was an old homestead there once. Wyatt Hammond was the name I got. Ant records of that? Thanks Rick

  3. Gavin Fenwick says:

    I am interested in any information on the town of Fenwick, Missouri which was located in southwest Johnson County. Although there is little evidence of the town’s existence today, it was explained to me by local residents in nearby Cass County that it was a railroad town during the late 1800’s or turn of the century. I am aware that most of my ancestors settled near Appleton City, in St. Clair County Missouri following the Civil War. However, this settlement in Johnson County interests me if there is a family connection.

    Any information would be appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Gavin Fenwick
    Clinton, MO.

  4. Gina Carlyle says:

    Hello! I am looking good to do some research on Dunham Grant Priestley. He is my Great Great Grandfather and was born here in Johnson County! I am trying to find more information on him and his parents. I understand there is a Priestley cemetery here and hoping to have some leads on his parents. As I am pretty novice at genealogy, I am not sure what I am doing, but conveniently I live here in Warrensburg and can do some research! Any help you guys can lend me would be much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

    Gina Carlyle

    • curatorjchs says:

      Hi Gina,

      Yes, Priestly Cemetery is next to the Quick Cemetery south of Rose Hill near Blairstown. However, there are no records for Priestly, all we know is there are some graves there. The DAR checked it in 1948 and only found stones, no names though. I am unable to find anything here about Dunham Grant Priestly. Do you have any other names to share? Are you related to a Neill family?

      Mike Shaw

  5. Barbara Estes says:

    Need your help Johnson county historical society I have been on a long journey to find my family and mother her name was Laura Mae hall and great uncle was Raymond Lee hall his they were from your great city warrensburg he served in ww2 as ssgt .I Know they lived there and their mother was Edna Mae hall loved there also .Whom I thought for years was my mom was was not and Laura Mae was in at an impasse so any information would greatly be appreciated sncerly yours Barbara Estes

  6. Mary Jo Schneider (Grinstead) says:

    Yes, the business was a BBQ joint and it probably was the first black-owned business in Warrensburg.

  7. Rita says:

    I have a number of Missouri Sales Tax Tokens. Would you be interersted
    in some for your museum?

  8. Hartmut Nagel says:

    Hello, I write you from Kottenheim (Germany), home village of the Pickel brothers who operated quarries in Warrensburg from 1870 on.
    Researching about emigrated members of the Pickel family I was unsuccessful to identify the former three (?) Pickel and Bruce quarries north of Warrensburg on maps or Google Earth.
    The publication „Historical and Architectural Study of Residential Structures in Warrensburg, MO. [1989]“ contains a sketch with eight numbered quarries in addition to several photographs, but does not mention the specific owners.
    Could you please help me in identifying the former Pickel and Bruce quarries, maybe by their numbers in the above mentioned publication.

    • curatorjchs says:

      I am confused! this query just appeared in our email, but I see it is dated May of 2015! We would have to research at the Recorder of Deeds office to determine who owned what.

  9. Steve B James says:

    Bill Belew please contact me by email about Bella Hughes research records. Thank You,

  10. Lois G. Patton says:

    Hello, i have a copy of a book entitled History of Johnson County by Ewing
    Cockrell which I have been heir to by ny Grandmother, Mrs. Lawrence Grinstead ‘s estate. Would the historical society
    Have any interest in this? I would be happy to forward the book to you if so. If not, could you tell me who may have

    All good wishes,
    Lois Grinstead Patton
    loispatton@aol.com, 5/16/18

    • curatorjchs says:

      Dear Lois,
      Thank you for contacting us.
      Yes, we would like to have that book. We do have other copies of the book, but would like to have this one simply because it belonged a prominent Johnson County family, the Grinsteads.
      Mike Shaw
      Johnson County Historical Society

  11. Alisa says:

    Hello! I currently live on Laurel St. and I was wondering if there is information on this street? If so I can come in and look myself I just want to confirm there is something to look at. Thank you!

    • curatorjchs says:

      Alisa, We don’t have information on specific streets. What you could look at is the record book that shows the original plat(map) of Colbern’s First Addition to the Town of Warrensburg, that includes Laurel Street. We’re not sure exactly when Laurel Street was constructed, but it was platted in May of 1858 by Wm. Colbern who owned the land.

  12. Laura Phillips Nygaard says:


    I am helping a friend with her genealogy. We are trying to prove that Mary Marr Gladden is the mother of Mary ‘Mollie’ Gladden Hurst Collins. Mary was born in 1849. Her father,Thomas Gladden and brother and her are listed with whom we assume is her mother Miram Marr, in the 1850 C. Then Mary marries Hugh Hurst in 1868. We have that. But her mother is no where to be found. We have her parents marriage record in Johnson Co in 1846. They have a son Alexander in 1847 then Mary in 1849. Trying to find out if Mary died,and or something to prove she is the mother.

    Thanks so much for your help.

    Laura Phillips Nygaard

    • curatorjchs says:

      We don’t have the actual record, but a card file reference to a marriage between Thomas Gladden and Mrs. Sarah G. Odell, Aug. 17, 1852. This is the only reference to Thomas Gladden we have other than the 1850 census. Unfortunately the census doesn’t give us information about the relationships between those shown on the census. Thomas Gladding may not have been related to Miriam Marr at all; he may have been a hired hand. It’s very likely that Mary Gladding’s mother had died by the time of the 1850 census. Does the 1840 census in Kentucky show a daughter that may have been Thomas’s first wife?

    • Abbot Stevenson says:

      I have reason to believe that Miriam Marr in the 1850 is Miriam Netherton who married John Marr(s)/Mairs in Kentucky in 1806. (See marriage record https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89SQ-C18C?i=793&cc=1804888 ). I am researching William (1805-1862) and Nancy Marrs (1812-1874) Straughn family of Lexington MO and believe Miriam is Nancy’s mother, making Nancy a sister to your Mary. I know this doesn’t directly answer your question but I think it is a strong probability that Miriam is an ancestor to your Mary. If I can be of further help please contact me through email at your convenience.
      Abbot Stevenson

  13. Barbara Estes says:

    Hello My name is Ms Estes for years i have tried to find information on my family history. My mother Artie mae ralph was a resident there for a while and attended school there. Her mother was hazel ralph she died at the age of 21yrs. Her grandmother raised her Ida Belle Ralph. Ive been to your beautful city to ask questions and have been greeted with very odd stares as if they know things but say nothing. I do know she was related to caleb ralph and henry grant .If you have any history of this family at all it would be greatly appreciated
    Oh my mom died at 29 with 5 children.Her reatives never came forward at all .Our dad raised us .He wasnt much help at all .My sister’s and brothers would appreciate any info you would have.Any fees associated for this please let me know sincerely yours Ms Estes .My emal is Blessme44200048@Yahoo .Com

    • curatorjchs says:

      Warrensburg’s Star-Journal carried this obituary on Tuesday, August 20, 1935, p. 1
      Hazel Ralph, 21, negro, daughter of Belle Ralph, died about 8 o’clock Monday morning at the home, 410 North main St. She had been ill for about three weeks. The funeral will be held at Shiloh Baptist church Tuesday afternoon with burial in Sunset Hill.

      I will see what else we may have here about your mother and grandmother.

      • Barbara Estes says:

        Thankyou so much. I will look forward to hearing from you if you find anything else again thankyou ms estes

      • Barbara Estes says:

        Also do you know did they have an obit also in paper

  14. Steve B James says:

    Does anyone know about the reunions held in Warrensburg years ago for families of Barksdale and Nancy Cockrell West who lived in the area back in 1870:’s? Also looking for genealogy records researched by Bella M Hughes. She apparently was a member of your society at one time. Also iS THere A History Of Honey Creek Baptist church Anywhere?
    Thank You, Steve B James.

    • Jodi McWilliams says:

      There was a Honey Creek Baptist Church in Columbus in the mid-1850s. I will see if anything is mentioned in my family records. I was fortunate to have a lot of information recorded by my families.

      Also, I’m actually looking for my West family in Johnson/Lafayette. I have information but can’t definitively tie them to anyone yet. Would you be willing to help me out if you have West information or could you give me the names of anyone who can help? I’ve been looking for documentation for years. Thank you!
      Jodi Houx McWilliams

      • curatorjchs says:

        Yes, we can help. What are you looking for?

      • Steve B James says:

        Jim James, a relative married Jenetta West in Johnson county in 1858. I found her in 1850 census in Jefferson twp, page 124. She was daughter of William and Anna West. William born in Virginia and Anna born in Kentucky. Book k page 306-07 of private records in 1867 has record of the estate of William West. May be other information in court records. The father of Jim JAMES was my great great grandfather who lived for awhile in LaFayette county and owned land near Odessa before selling and moving to s southeast Kansas near Arcadia. His mother was Polly West and they lived in Bedford county, Virginia. Polly may be related to William West. I am interested in all i can learn about Honey Creek church. Another daughter of George W James was Mary who married in 1858 in Johnson county to John J Claunch, son of John G Claunc h who lived near Columbus. One thing I find puzzling is that I cannot find JohnJ Claunc h with wife and family anywhere in Johnson or surrounding counties in 1870. I found them in 1860. He died in 1877 and widow Mary was in Kansas by 1880. It is like he must have given a fake name in 1870. I found his parents and family, but not him. I have searched for years to find him in 1870. Any information you can find it have about that church would be greatly appreciated.

    • Bill Ballew says:

      10 or 15 years ago they had reunions at Billie adams farm, the farm was Nancy cockrell West’s farm. I have Bella Hughes research papers.
      Bill Ballew

  15. Studio Sj says:

    I see a you tube channel for a Rose Marie Kinder. I descend from the Kinders of Johnson County. I’ve even pulled the Kinder file from the museum to look for any clues. Is there contact info for this Rose Marie? I’d love to reach out to her. Thank You
    Susan Walden Thurston
    (Member of historical society)

  16. Mike Smith says:

    Anyone have any information about Shiloh Cemetary? It’s about 15 minutes outside of warrensburg. There’s an abandoned church too which was called Shiloh Presbyterian Church. Would just like a little information about it.

    • curatorjchs says:

      I have recently taken over here as curator and am trying to catch up with unanswered queries. I apologize for the delay.
      In 1949 members of the Warrensburg Chapter of the DAR recorded the information on the readable grave markers. At that time the cemetery was owned by the church, Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian, with Mr. Silas Shannon, Chilhowee, Mo., as the Trustee. There are about 300 evident burials in this cemetery.

      • Patricia Shahen says:

        I just found your July 14th answer about Shiloh Cemetery, and I am very excited! Would it be possible to send me a copy of the title pages and the pages with the Thompson tombstone inscriptions that you mentioned from the 1949 information recorded by the Warrensburg Chapter of the DAR?
        I am researching the Robert Thompson and Elizabeth (Berry) Thompson family for my grand daughter’s DAR Membership Application. Robert and Elizabeth came from Blount County, TN and settled in Post Oak, Johnson County about 1834. They are both buried in Shiloh Cemetery.The photos on FindAGrave show their partially broken tombstones which only have their names and no dates or age of death. The Ancestry.com records show that Robert died 2 Feb 1867, and Elizabeth died 8 Sep 1861. I’ve been wondering where those dates came from. I’m hoping that their stones were not broken, and that their death dates were on their tombstones when the Warrensburg DAR Chapter recorded the info in 1949.
        This would be an incredible discovery for me!
        Thank you,
        Patricia Shahen

  17. Karen Bates says:

    I have a picture of a large group of men I believe to have been taken in Johnson co. A date on it is Nov 1917. Is there any way,if I sent a copy, that some one there might be able to recognize the building and why the men were gathered there? Most of them seem to be wearing some kind of ribbon. They are all dressed in suits.

  18. Margie Elliott Woodall says:

    Years ago there was a museum of the Warren family. Does it still exist and where? If not, where would I find the genealogy information? I am related about 5 generations back. Thanks for your help.

    • curatorjchs says:

      I have recently become the curator at JCHS and am finding some apparently unanswered queries here. I apologize for the delay.
      The original Johnson County Historical Society Museum was in a small house just north of the Old Courthouse. This museum was called the Warrensburg Heritage Museum. In 1982 a new museum was built with the seed money coming from the Smiser family, so it is called the Mary Miller Smiser Heritage Library. We have a lengthy Warren family file in our collection.

  19. Marti Winkler says:

    Lisa, My name is Marti Winkler. I sent you some info to add to the Bowman file a few yrs ago. I now have another request, but do not have your phn # to contact you. Please let me know how to contact you so I can explain what I am looking for. Thanks. Marti

  20. curatorjchs says:

    Thanks Loretta. Our team will see to your request : )

  21. Loretta says:

    The family I am researching lived in Warrensburg, Mo in the mid 1800s. I will be visiting the area during the week of Aug. 3. What collections does the Historical Society hold that might provide information concerning this family that is not available on genealogy websites? Thanks very much for any assistance!

    • curatorjchs says:

      Hello Loretta, I am sorry that I was out of town last week and didn’t get to visit with you.I hope that Betty and Herb were able to find all you were seeking.
      Let me know if there were other items on the lower level that might have helped you in your search.

      • Loretta says:

        Hi Lisa! Just returned last night and going through my emails. Per our phone conversation when I was at the airport, I have sent an email regarding my research needs and photocopy requests. Please feel free to email or call me with any questions. I am so grateful for your assistance and that of your staff!

  22. Penny Matthews says:

    Does anyone remember an man named Mr. Ewing who ran a small store on the railroad in the very early 1960’s

    • curatorjchs says:

      Penny, do you remember what kind of store it was? Was it on Washington Street? Lisa Irle, curator

    • Mike Shaw says:

      Yes, Verlon Ewing was well known in Warrensburg. He worked as a sign painter, painted Warrensburg School on the new school buses and would paint children’s initials on their new bicycles, etc. He owned a small bbq joint the he inherited from his father who claimed it was the first black-owned business in Warrensburg.

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