After the Civil War, Sedalia began to grow from a scattering of “box houses” and frame store buildings to a more established community with many of the accouterments of civilization. Much of what is known about Sedalia can be gleaned from the Sedalia newspapers, especially the Sedalia Advertiser, established in 1864 and renamed the Sedalia Times in 1865 when it was taken over by P.G. Safford and James Magann.
According to the 1882 History of Pettis County, historian Francis Sampson collected copies of the Times. The 1882 History then used his collection when describing Sedalia in the years after the war.
Much of the news about Sedalia n the June 1865 editions of the Times discusses the Circuit Court system. Missouri had been under martial law during the war, which meant that members of the court such as judges and clerks were appointed by the Federal officer in charge of the military base in Sedalia. Little work was done by the court during the war.
After the war, several new attorneys — Col. John Philips, Foster P. Wright, George Heard, Manetho Hilton, Orestes Crandall, and C.P. Townsley — opened law offices in Sedalia. The Circuit Court met in June under the leadership of Judge Tutt, with John Ryland as the prosecuting attorney. Hilton, Philips and Crandall of Sedalia represented defendants, as did several attorneys from California, Missouri, Boonville and St. Louis.
The dissolution of martial law caused some confusion in the matter of the Circuit Clerk. The existing clerks had been replaced by order of the Federal officer in charge of the post, but the replacement clerk did not appear at the court, so court adjourned and a new clerk was appointed by the court. The court was seeking a permanent meeting place, and advertisements for bids for the building of a courthouse appeared in the Times.
The Times also discussed matters brought before the City Council. Two bills were paid, both showing that Sedalia was becoming more aware of human needs. One of the bills for $122 was for the removal of manure on Osage Avenue. The other bill, $122.81, paid for rent and supplies needed at the “small pox pest house,” a quarantine facility used during an outbreak of the disease in 1864.
The City Council considered a petition asking for Lamine Avenue to be opened. They also ordered bids for various civic improvements, including grading of West Main Street and installation of culvert.
While city and county officials were beginning to resume normal activity after the war, many individuals apparently had been lax. The 1882 History notes the list of those owing delinquent taxes filled four columns of fine print. Eighty unclaimed letters were left unclaimed at the Post Office in one week.
A number of new businesses opened. William and Theodore Holberecht of California, Missouri, built a flour mill later known as the Capital Mills. A.J. and I.W. Johnson opened a carpentry shop, as did Hart and Bob Barnhart. The Parker House and the Eagle Hotel opened. Henry Suess kept a saddlery shop. Several people opened grocery and dry goods stores, including J.T. Brown, A. Moses, Hughes and Ellis, Vickers and Landes, and Christina Landmann, who specialized in “fancy groceries, wines, beer and cigars. Charles Kebrman and Gabriel Vogler, who owned a furniture store, received new stock.
Sedalia was slowly beginning to pick up the pieces of a new town wracked by five years of war and military occupation. Next week’s column continues the story of Sedalia’s growth.