Buchanan County, Missouri Genealogy

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Guide to Buchanan County Missouri genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

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Online Records

Buchanan County, Missouri
Map of the U.S. highlighting Missouri
Location of Missouri in the U.S.
Founded December 31, 1838
County Seat St. Joseph
Address Buchanan County Courthouse
5th and Jules
St. Joseph, MO 64501
Phone: 816.271.1412
Buchanan County Website

County Courthouse

Register of Deeds has marriage records;
Clerk Circuit Court has divorce records;
Probate Judge has probate records;
Magistrat Court has court records;
County Assessor has land records [1]

Buchanan County Courthouse in St. Joseph, Missouri

An order was made to erect the first courthouse for Buchanan County, Missouri on 04 January 1841. The building was to be completed by July 1841. The site of the first county seat was in the village of Sparta.[2]The contractor who built the simple courthouse was Guilford Moultray and the men, who made the initial plans for the building were George W. Nixon and William Fowler. This building was a temporary structure. On 09 November 1842 the County Court approved a second order for a more permanent structure. This order was for a court house to be built in Sparta which was near the center of Buchanan County, however, there was discension concerning this location. The residents who lived in the larger town of St. Joseph which was platted in 1843 were vying for the courthouse to be moved to this city. They presented a petition with the signatures of more than 3/5 of the tax-payers of the county requesting that the county seat be moved to St. Joseph and the new courthouse be built there instead of the more central village of Sparta. On 04 July 1843 a report drafted by three men, who were appointed as commissioners by the Justices of the County Court was filed with the State of Missouri stating that an election should be held on 05 August 1843 to decide the permanent location of the county seat. Residents of each township were to decide if the new courthouse should be built in what is now St. Joseph, but at that time was known as Blacksnake Hills.[3] It took the residents about three years to make the final decision to move the courthouse. The site of the new courthouse was donated by Joseph Robidoux.


Buchanan County was added to the state of Missouri with the Platte Purchase which was finalized in the year 1837. Prior to that it was part of the Indian lands and only a few white settlers and fur trappers occupied the region. One of the earliest was Joseph Robidoux, III who was a trader and fur trapper, who settled in the hills above the Missouri River at what is now known as St. Joseph, Missouri. He apparently, first arrived in the area about 1800 when he was 17 years old. He and his associates had ventured out into the frontier to try to establish a trading relationship with the local Native Americans (the Blacksnake, Missouri, Otoe, Joway, Iowa and other tribes).[4]

In these early years, Joe Robidoux did not establish a permanent residence in what later became St. Joseph. Instead, he traveled up and down the Missouri Valley from St. Louis, Missouri to Council Bluffs, Iowa bartering and trading with the Native Americans. In later years, Robidoux became an employer of the American Fur Company and established a permanent residence. The area was known as Blacksnake Hills.

By 1834 white settlers began to enter the area illegally and began squatting on land. Their main intent was to take acquire land. Since this area was not yet part of the United States they could not legally obtain title to their land and it was the duty of the U.S. military to see to it that they did not invade the area. One of the military leaders in charge of this agency was General Andrew Hughes, who did not like to enforce the policy of no squatters in the area.

Parent County

1838--Buchanan County was created 31 December 1838 from the Platte Purchase. When originally formed in 1838, the county was named Roberts County, after settler Hiram Roberts; it was renamed in 1839 for James Buchanan, then a U.S. Senator and later President of the United States. County seat: St. Joseph [5]

Boundary Changes

See an interactive map of Buchanan County border changes at N2Genealogy.

Record Loss



Populated Places

Neighboring Counties



The following link will take you to the MOGenWeb site containing information about Buchanan County cemeteries:http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mobuchan/Cemeteries.htm

Index and list of tombstones and cemetery records in the FHL;

FHL 928268 item 1

FHL 977.8155 V3

FHL 6049448

  • The following link will take you to Find A Grave. This is a list of 151 cemeteries in Buchanan County. Many have photos of the tombstones. Find A Grave


For tips on accessing Buchanan County, Missouri Genealogy census records online, see: Missouri Census.


Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Missouri denominations, view the Missouri Church Records wiki page.


Cathedral, St. Joseph

  • 1856-1876 - Cathedral, St. Joseph, Baptism Index 1856-1876. Batch C511741 at FamilySearch - free.[6]
  • 1846-1876 - Cathedral, St. Joseph, Marriage Index 1846-1876. Batch M511621 at FamilySearch - free.[6]

Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph

  • 1860-1876 - Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, Baptism Index 1860-1876. Batch C511731 at FamilySearch - free.[6]
  • 1860-1885 - Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, Marriage Index 1860-1885. Batch M511731 at FamilySearch - free.[6]

St. Joseph's, Easton

  • 1868-1876 - St. Joseph's, Easton, Baptism Index 1868-1876. Batch C511571 at FamilySearch - free.[6]
  • 1868-1885 - St. Joseph's, Easton, Marriage Index 1868-1885. Batch M511571 at FamilySearch - free.[6]

St. Patrick's, St. Joseph

  • 1869-1876 - St. Patrick's, St. Joseph, Baptism Index 1869-1876. Batch C511751 at FamilySearch - free.[6]
  • 1869-1885 - St. Patrick's, St. Joseph, Marriage Index 1869-1885. Batch M511751 at FamilySearch - free.[6]
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

LDS Ward and Branch Records

  • St. Joseph

Kesler Settlement, German Congregation

  • 1847-1876 - Kesler Settlement, German Congregation, Baptism Index 1847-1876. Batch C511921 at FamilySearch - free.[6]

St. Joseph's Lutheran Church

  • Records of St. Joseph's Lutheran Church in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at Archives.com ($).[7]


  • The following link will take you to Naturalization Records for Buchanan County. They are for the years 1816-1955.Naturalization Records They are from the Missouri State Archives.


Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See Missouri Land and Property for information about records of land transfers from the government to private ownership. After that transfer, transactions were usually recorded and are currently housed at the county courthouse.

Deed records are available from 1839 to the present.  They are archived at the Recorder of Deeds Office in the Courthouse.

Local Histories

Local histories are available for Buchanan County, Missouri Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the Wiki page section Missouri Local Histories.

A Portrait and biographical record of Buchanan and Clinton counties, Missouri containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens... (1893) is available online free from Google Books. The first part of the book contains biographies of the U.S. presidents. The second part, starting on p.111, contains biographies Buchanan and Clinton county residents.



Early migration routes to and from Buchanan County, Missouri Genealogy for European and African American settlers included:



Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Buchanan County, Missouri Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:


Probate records include wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. For further information, see United States Probate Records.

In Missouri, probate records have usually been recorded by the clerks of the probate courts, but in some counties the common pleas or circuit courts handled this function. They are frequently indexed.


Taxes were levied on free white males over 21 and slaves aged 21 to 60. These persons are referred to as "polls." Tax listings, or digests, of a county generally list the taxable landowners and other polls and the amount of tax. The records for each county are divided by militia district. For more information see the wiki page Missouri Taxation.

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths. For additional guidance on researching and using vital records, see United States Vital Records or How to order Missouri Vital Records.

St. Louis and Kansas City recorded births and deaths starting as early as 1850 for deaths and 1870 for births.  The Missouri Department of Health began keeping birth and death records in 1909. County records vary by year and the county. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Missouri Vital Records State Department of Health, the County Clerk's office or order electronically online.

  • 1839-1874 - Buchanan County Marriage Books A thru C Index 1839-1874. Batch M514671 at FamilySearch - free.[6]
  • 1874-1883 - Buchanan County Marriage Books D and E Index 1874-1883. Batch M514672 at FamilySearch - free.[6]
  • 1883-1885 - Buchanan County Marriage Books F and G Index 1883-1885. Batch M514673 at FamilySearch - free.[6]
  • Marriage records can be found also in the State Records.

Census Records

Societies and Libraries

Family History Centers

  • Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.

Web Sites

  • USGenWeb project. May have maps, name indexes, history or other information for this county. Select the state, then the county.
  • Family History Library Catalog


  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Buchanan County, Missouri. Page 398 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. History of Buchanan County, Missouri Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns,etc., (St. Joseph, Missouri: St. Joseph Steam Printing Compnay, 1881).
  3. History of Buchanan County, Missouri Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns,etc., (St. Joseph, Missouri: St. Joseph Steam Printing Compnay, 1881).
  4. Robert J. Willoughby, Robidoux's Town (St. Joseph, Missouri: Platte Purchase Publishers, 2006).
  5. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/images/5/5a/Igimissouria.pdf.
  7. "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: An Inventory of Selected Congregational Records of the American Lutheran Church in Minnesota at the Minnesota Historical Society," Collection Finding Aids, Minnesota Historical Society, http://www.mnhs.org/library/findaids/01009.xml, accessed 10 June 2013.
  8. Jim Tompkins, "The Oregon Trail 1841-1848 Map I" in Oregon Trail Landmarks at http://www.oregonpioneers.com/OTMap1.jpg (accessed 18 July 2011).
  9. "Oregon California Trails Association" at http://octatrails.micromaps.com/ (accessed 18 July 2011).
  10. "The Pioneer Story: The Mormon Pioneer Trail" in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at http://lds.org/gospellibrary/pioneer/pioneerstory.htm (accessed 18 July 2011).