Warsaw Aerial view, photo courtesy
the County Seat of Benton County, is a small town of some 2,100
permanent residents, which, just about doubles during the lake season
as fishermen, campers, and lake enthusiasts move down to their
seasonal homes or just come for the area opportunities. Warsaw
is located between two of
largest lakes -- Truman Reservoir and Lake of the Ozarks.
Americans to steamboats, to
skirmishes, Warsaw has endured throughout the years to become a
quickly growing community that exudes small town charm and provides
numerous recreation opportunities for locals and visitors alike.
white explorers came to the area in 1719, a number of
tribes called the region home, including the
Sac and Fox. By far; however, the land was occupied by
from which, the river would later take its name. With its plentiful
supply of rivers and springs, the area abounded with game, providing
superb hunting grounds for the
In its bluffs and hills, the
Indians found abundant amounts of flint
rock in order to make arrows, knives and other weapons.
Early French hunters, trappers, and traders soon began to trade with
along the Osage River, which by the early 1800s, increased
significantly as white settlers saw increased opportunities on the
area that would become the town of Warsaw was first settled around
1820, primarily by
and Tennessee farmers of English, Irish and German descents. Early on,
the settlement became a crossroads of travel and freighting. The first
ferry was established on the Osage River in 1831 by Lewis Bledsoe,
located where the site of
Ferry Park, near Truman Dam, is located today. Bledsoe's Osage Ferry
served the Boonville-Springfield Road, parts of which were also called
the Old Military Road or Wire Road, east of town. Another ferry was
later established by Mark Fristoe to the west. Soon, numerous freight wagons,
stagecoaches, and wagon trains began to pass through the area.
One of the
earliest residents of Benton County was Stephen A. Howser from
He and his wife,
Sarah (Sally) Wyatt Howser,
settled in the area that would soon become Warsaw around 1831. Later, they
would deed part of their land on the Osage River for the new township.
Alas, they would also be the parents of a boy who would later make his
name known in
darker annals of history as a murderer and a thief.
was first created on January 3, 1835, from parts of Pettis and Greene counties and named
for Thomas Hart Benton, United States Senator.
The county "offices”
were initially held in a home near Bledsoe’s Ferry, which was doing a
brisk business. In 1836, the Gazetteer of Missouri described the
new "town,” which was then referred to as "Osage” or "New Town” in
promising terms, including plans for a great hotel, mills, warehouses, and
merchants, as well as predicting a population of several thousand over the
next five years.
Town lots for Warsaw were first sold in
February, 1838, and the town slowly began to grow. The first Benton County
Courts met in various homes in the area but a new site was soon chosen at
the corner of Washington and Van Buren Streets (where the county jail now
stands.) Money was raised for a new "temporary” courthouse building
through lot sales and a 20’x 30’ log building was constructed. Two years
later, construction on a permanent two-story courthouse began. The new
structure cost $4,500 and county officials began to occupy the new
building in 1842. The following year, the City of Warsaw was officially