History of Cole County

Welcome to Cole County, the home of our State Capital here in Jefferson City, Missouri. Cole County is in the central part of the state, bounded north by the Missouri River, which separates it from Boone and Callaway counties, east by Osage River, south by Miller, west by Miller and Moniteau counties, and contains 234,466 acres.

As early as 1816, a few families from Kentucky and Tennessee located within the present limits of Cole County. It was organized November 16, 1820, when it was named for the intrepid pioneer, Capt. Stephan Cole. The county seat was located at Marion in 1822, and removed to Jefferson City in 1828. The seat of government of the state was removed from St. Louis to St. Charles in 1821, then to Jefferson City in 1826. The 1st Capitol Building was completed on October 1, 1826, and the Legislature convened in the building on the third Monday in November. At the time of admission of Missouri into the Union, Congress granted four sections of land for the location of the seat of government.

The Constitution fixed the location of the capital upon the Missouri River, within 40 miles of the mouth of the Osage River and was located on the site of the present Governor's Mansion. It served as the Executive, Legislative and Judicial headquarters of the state, and provided living quarters for the Governor on the second floor. At the first session of the Legislature, commissioners were appointed who, after a tedious examination, selected the present site of Jefferson City, Daniel M. Boone, son of the famous pioneer and Major Elias Bancroft laid off into lots under the superintendence of the commissioners in 1822. Boone was paid the sum of $4 for 120 days of work. The first sale of lots took place in May 1823, under the supervision of Major. Josiah Ramsey, Jr., Capt. J. C. Gordon and Adam Hop, Esq., trustees on the part of the state. The average price paid was $32.75. The streets were planned on a scale which, if followed in later years, would have gone far to alleviate any traffic problems. They were described as "not more than 120 feet wide or less than 80 feet."

 The 2nd State Capitol was commenced in 1838, and occupied by the Legislature of 1840-41, and cost about $350,000. The stone for the building was taken from the bluffs nearby, along the line of the Pacific Railroad, in front of the city, The limestone for the pillars was from Callaway County. Mr. S. Hills, the architect, here planned one of the best buildings in the west, whether as regards its substantial character, architectural beauty or interior arrangement of the legislative halls and the several State offices. The general surface of the country is high and undulating and covered with a heavy growth of oak, hickory, elm, walnut, ash, sugar maple, buckeye, cottonwood, etc. The bottom lands are rich in soil and heavily timbered; they are also almost entirely free from riparian loss or acquisition. The upland soil is light and warm, with yellow and red clay for a basis, and peculiarly adapted to the production of small grain and fruits of superior quality. The lowlands in the valleys and the margins of the streams will sustain a rank growth of nearly everything native to the temperate zone.

The first courthouse was built for a cost of $24,000. That building was torn down and in 1896 the Courthouse was dedicated, costing $60,000. The Courthouse caught fire gutting the building. In 1918 the Courthouse was rebuilt at a cost of $48,000.