Nodaway County, Missouri First Courthouse
by Martha Cooper

Situated in downtown Maryville, the present building was not the first Courthouse built for Nodaway County.  In fact, this is the third building to house the Nodaway County Courts and Offices.  No, the first two were not destroyed by fires or anything else.  The county just outgrew them.  The present  building, built in 1882, encompasses the entire block between East Third and East Fourth Streets, and North Main and North Market Streets.  Due to the growth of the county and the need for more storage and additional courtroom space, the Probate Court and Division II Court were moved across the street East of the Courthouse building into the old Armstrong Restaurant building.

(The information contained herein about the history of the Nodaway County Courthouses is used by permission of the Office of the County Clerk.  This information can be found in a booklet put together by the County Clerk for student distribution on County Government Day.  The information about the Nodaway County Courthouses was written by local author and historian, Martha Cooper.)


By 1844, the population had increased to the extent that an organized county was needed.  The organization passed the Missouri legislature and was approved by Governor Edwards, February 14, 1845.  Nodaway County began self-government.

The county needed a courthouse for a seat of justice, but until that was accomplished the judges and court officres met at the home of I. N. Prather in White Cloud Township, April 7, 1845, for first official action.  In the July term of the county court, the proper location for the seat of justice was deemed to be Maryville, named for Mrs. Mary Graham, wife of Amos Graham then the county clerk.  Mary was the first white woman to have lived within the boundaries of the site which would become Maryville.  In 1846, the few voters (white male) in Nodaway County selected Thomas A. Brown as their first representative to the legislature in Jefferson City.

One of the early actions of the court was to approve a liquor license for James Vaughan who established the village's first saloon; he also kept a store in the building.  The court officers continued to meet in homes until a courthouse was built.  It took a long time, considering it was a log cabin.  In January 1846, the men ordered that $250 be spent for a courthouse with dimensions of 32 feet long and 20 feet wide, to be made of good logs and durable timber.  Windows were to have 12 lighs of glass and the whole thing was to be chinked with mortar.  Benjamin Sims was low bidder and the court called for the building to be completed by September 1, 1846.  It was not, but was finally finished in October 1847, resting on the site of current Appliance and TV Mart at North Main and West Second.  In 1850, an effort was made to move the courthouse site eight miles South of Maryville to the farm of I. N. Prather, but the idea was rejected.

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