Keytesville, Chariton County, Missouri


In 1830 James Keyte, a pioneer Methodist preacher from England, purchased the land upon which the town of Keytesville was located, of Caleb Woods, and in 1832 he donated fifty acres to the county, upon which the court house and other public buildings were erected in 1833 and 1834. The county seat was moved from Chariton in 1833 and the first term of circuit court was held July 16, 1833. The first house was erected by the Rev. James Keyte in 1831 near the present residence of Hugo Bartz and about the same time he built a small storeroom near his house and put his sister, Miss Sarah Keyte, in charge of the store and post office. He also built a water mill near the site of the present old mill on the Mussel Fork.

The first hotel was conducted by Isaac W. Redding and was a double log house, built in 1832.

Among the pioneer merchants, tradesmen and professional men were Thomas Givens and Hackley Brothers, Peter Lassin, a Dane, blacksmith, Squire McDonald, tailor.

The first physician was Dr. David Pettigrew, who died in 1847.

The first lawyer was William H. Davis, brother of Judge John M. Davis and H. H. Davis. His bright career was cut short at the age of thirty-four years. But in that brief space of time he proved himself to be a gifted lawyer of rare eloquence and wonderfully magnetic influence.

Wetmore, in his Gazetteer, published in 1837, says: ''There are in Keytesville a good court house, four stores with a general assortment of merchandise in each, and three taverns, and various mechanic 's shops that are requisite in a farming country. West of the town, across the Mussel Fork, is a good bridge, a sawmill and gristmill, with two pairs of stones which is run the whole year.''

Among the early settlers of Keytesville was Pugh W. Price, who came from Prince Edward County, Virginia, and settled for a time in Randolph County. In the fall of 1831 he settled on a farm one mile south of Keytesville. He was the father of General Sterling Price, Doctor Edwin Pricee, Major Pugh Price, John R. Price, Mrs. Pamelia Royal, mother of Col. William Royal of the United States army. John R. Price built a hotel in Keytesville and in 1835 sold it to his brother. Sterling Price, who conducted the hotel and embarked in the mercantile business with his brother-in-law, Walter G. Childs.

Chariton County has had but two courthouses, as no courthouse was built at Chariton, where the courts were held for eleven years. The first courthouse was erected in 1832-33. It was a two-story brick house, square in form, with one large room, the court room, below and the jury room and other offices above. This building was burned by the Confederate guerrillas during the Civil war and much valuable information concerning the early history of the county was destroyed. The records of deeds from 1821 to 1826, deeds of trust from January, 1859 to 1861, and the marriage record from 1852 to 1861 were all destroyed. In 1881 the offices of circuit and county clerks were located in a building in the south-west corner of the courthouse yard and on the night of November 11, 1881, the offices were discovered to be on fire. It has never been ascertained by whom or for what purpose the building was set on fire. J. C. Crawley and Senator A. Mackay broke open the doors to the building and threw out the books. A new court house, costing nearly $75,000, was built in 1866 on the site of the old building. It is a two-story brick building and is 110 by 62 feet, with a circuit court room and jury rooms above and the county court room and county offices below.

The first jail, erected in 1872, at a cost of $11,000, was torn down and a new building erected in 1906 and 1907, just west of the courthouse, at a cost of $11,000. The sheriff's headquarters are in the same building.

The poorhouse is located on a farm about two and one-half miles northwest of Dalton and four miles west of Keytesville. It is estimated that the building and farm cost about $8,000.

Among the Physicians who practiced in Keytesville were Dr. David Pettigrew, Dr. John Grinstead, Dr. George M. Dewey, Dr. M. J. Rucker, Dr. Felix Clermond, Dr. H. T. Garnett, Dr. Luther Perkins, Dr. John Aldridge, Dr. C. T. Holland, Dr. James A. Egan, Dr. B. Hughes and Dr. T. J. Dewey.

Keytesville has one of the largest high school buildings in the county, built in 1887 at a cost of $24,000. There are nine rooms and nine teachers, with the principal, and an average attendance of 353 pupils. It is a first-class graded high school, fully accredited by all colleges and by the University of Missouri. Under the supervision of the teachers, athletics are encouraged, but are not carried to excess so as to interfere with the other school work.

Two newspapers are published in Keytesville, the Chariton Courier, owned and edited by Earl B. Kellogg, and the Keytesville Signal, owned by the Rev. Franc Mitchell and at present edited by A. M. Child.

There have been only two banks in Keytesville, the Bank of Keytesville, established in 1871, with William E. Hill owner and cashier, and the Farmers Bank of Chariton County, which commenced business in 1880, with L. M. Applegate, president. Judge J. B. Hyde, vice-president, and John C. Miller, cashier. The present officers of the Farmers Bank are: A. S. Taylor, president; James C. Wallace, vice-president; H. C. Miller, cashier; A. F. Taylor, assistant cashier.

Among the Prominent Attorneys of Keytesville have been: William H. Davis, John C. Crawley, C. B. Crawley, A. Mackay, Jr., Capt. J. C. Wallace, Judge W. W. Rucker (now member of congress), O. F. Smith, John D. Taylor (now member of legislature), J. A. Collett', and Roy W. Rucker, county attorney.

Post Offices

In 1837 there were only three post offices in Chariton County, Chariton, G. Compton, postmaster; Keytesville, Sterling Price, postmaster; Brunswick, James Keyte, postmaster. In 1912 there are twenty post offices and twenty-eight rural mail routes. 


© 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