Courts and Bar of Knox County

The County Courts

Courts composed of three judges were held from 1845 to 1870. At that time county organization was effected in July, 1872, and from that time until the following May the county affairs were conducted by a board of supervisors composed of one member from each township.

In May, 1873, the county was divided into four districts and the court consisted of a judge at large and a judge from each district. This method obtained until 1878, when a judge at large and one from the eastern and one from the western district made up the court. This system has continued until the present day.

The county court is now composed of Judge Reuben Rhoads, judge at large; Judge Frank Luckett, judge of the eastern district, and Judge John F. Botts, judge of the western district. Ralph Hazelwood is clerk of the court and gives courteous and able service. The business of the county is conducted in an economical and impartial manner. Beside the above named the present officers are;

Emmett Bradshaw, circuit clerk
D. A. Rouner, probate judge
David Delaney, county collector
C. M. Smith, prosecuting attorney
Chas. Shumate, sheriff
J. W. Ennis, public administrator
Wm. Cook, assessor
C. F. Jarvies, coroner

 The Probate Court

A probate court was established in this county in 1849. William Everman was the first probate judge. He had served but two years when the law was abolished. Probate business was transacted in other courts until 1873, when William Clancy was elected probate judge. He served until 1878.

E. D. Brown served from 1878 to 1884.

C. R. Fowler was appointed upon the resignation of E. D. Brown in 1884 and continued in the office until the year 1907.

F. A. Wilson was elected. He resigned and M. G. Biggerstaff was appointed to serve the unexpired term.

At the ensuing election he was defeated by D. A. Rouner, who now fills the office.

The Circuit Court

Circuit court convened in Knox County for the first time at Edina, on October 1, 1845. Sheriff John H. Fresh opened court with Addison Reese on the bench. Jesse John was clerk.

Grand Jury

John Fulton, foreman
Benjamin T. Hatfield
William N. Shotten
Mason Palmer
John C. Allred
Samuel Shannon
E. A. Bryant
H. B. Musgrove
William Kibbee
Melker Baker
Thomas Fox
Willis Anderson
John H. Taylor
Benjamin G. Riney
Armstead Hamilton

On the second day of October, the grand jury returned three indictments; one against William H. Holmes for stealing the Negroes whom he held under mortgage (the case was never tried). The other two indictments were against William M. King for selling liquor without license and for selling goods without merchants' license; the first was dismissed, the other returned, and the following October tried and found "not guilty."

Of more importance to present day Knox County people was the ordering of the Seal of Knox Circuit Court, which words were to be engraved between two circles, the outer circle to be one-sixteenth of an inch in width, the inner circle to be one-eighth of an inch inside the first circle; a pair of palm branches to be within the inner circle, all to be engraved so as to present the words and devices on the right side of the paper on which the impression desired is to be made.

Circuit Judges at Edina

Addison Reese
John Anderson
E. V. Wilson
Ben E. Turner
Ed R. McKee
Chas. D. Stewart

Bar Association, not active

L. F. Cottey
O. D, Jones
C. R. Fowler
D. A. Rouner
Geo. R. Balthrope
James C. Dorian
John W. Ennis
W. C. Hollister
F. H. McCullough
F. E. Robinson
R. J. Raleigh
P. K. Gibbons
Claude M. Smith

A number of Knox County's sons have entered the legal profession and have distinguished themselves in other fields. Among these are:

Charles Wilson of Sedalia
John Brown of Chicago
Orville Barnett of Sedalia
E. O. Beal of Kirksville
F. A. Wilson of Quincy
John G. Brown of Helena, Montana 


© Missouri American History and Genealogy Project
Created August 16, 2017 by Judy White

Source: History of Northeast Missouri, edited by Walter Williams, Volume I, Lewis Publishing Company, 1913