Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Douglas County Seat

Last time I said that changes in county seats were not unusual in the Ozarks during the formative years of the counties. Sometimes the changes happened for very practical reasons such as agreeing upon a more centrally located town as the county seat, and the changes took place with little dispute. Sometimes, however, intense rivalries developed between towns and resulted in "county seat wars."
Perhaps no county in the Ozarks (none that I can think of at least) had a harder time deciding on a permanent and final county seat than Douglas County, Missouri. When Douglas County was formed in 1857 from Ozark County, Red Bud in the eastern part of the county was named the county seat. The name of the settlement was changed to Vera Cruz two years later. During the Civil War, the county records were briefly moved to Rome in the southwest part of the county because of continual skirmishing around Vera Cruz. It was quickly decided, however, that Rome was no safer than Vera Cruz, and the seat was moved back to the latter place.
In 1869, three eastern townships of Douglas County were annexed to Howell County so that Vera Cruz was now less centrally located than it previously had been. An election resulted in the county seat being moved to Arno in the western part of the county. However, Arno was just as far west of the middle of the county as Vera Cruz was east of it, and dispute arose between the two sections of the county.
In 1871, a centrally located site was selected as a sort of compromise, and the town of Ava was laid out as the county seat. Some reports suggest that Militia Springs, a military training camp during the Civil War that continued as a government post office after the war and was located about a mile and a half north of the new town site, also served briefly as the county seat while Ava was being laid out and built. So, in all, the Douglas County seat has been located in at least four and perhaps five different places and has gone by at least five and maybe six different names.      

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