Buchanan County, Missouri Genealogy

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Template:Missouri-stub United States  > Missouri > Buchanan County

County Courthouse

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.[1]
  1. History of Buchanan County, Missouri Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns,etc., (St. Joseph, Missouri: St. Joseph Steam Printing Compnay, 1881).
 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.[1]
  1. History of Buchanan County, Missouri Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns,etc., (St. Joseph, Missouri: St. Joseph Steam Printing Compnay, 1881).
  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).[1]
  1. Robert J. Willoughby, Robidoux's Town (St. Joseph, Missouri: Platte Purchase Publishers, 2006).

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. County seat: St. Joseph [1]

Boundary Changes

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


LDS Ward and Branch Records

  • St. Joseph



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

Local Histories






Vital Records



Societies and Libraries 

St Joseph Missouri 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. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).