A Rich History Since 1833
Warrensburg’s history dates back to 1833 when Martin Warren arrived from Kentucky and settled along the Osage Indian Trail. Warren, a blacksmith, found his cabin and blacksmith shop to be the local’s gathering spot. In 1836, Warren’s shop was named the county seat of the newly created County of Johnson. To recognize Warren, the township was named Warren’s Burg. Later in 1855, the township was incorporated as the City of Warrensburg. When the railroad arrived in 1864, a new commercial district five blocks southeast of the original town sprouted along the tracks.
While in Warrensburg, step back in time and visit the original town square, located at 302 N Main, where you’ll find the original 1838 Johnson County Courthouse, Mary Miller Smiser Heritage Library and Museum, Elm School-one-room school, and the Culp Building. This historical complex is maintained by the Johnson County Historical Society. Throughout the year, the JCHS complex hosts the four-legged friendly annual Old Drum Day Festival along with numerous live music events, theatrical productions and more.
"The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man has in this world is his dog..."
You’ll want to plan on a bit of time to visit the 1838 Courthouse, located at 302 North Main. It was the scene of the world-famous Old Drum trial, Burden vs. Hornsby. The bottom floor of the courthouse is setup as it would have been in 1870 during the trial of Burden’s beloved hunting dog, Old Drum, During your visit, you’ll learn the story of the trial, the neighbors, and the famous eulogy-A Tribute to the Dog by Senator George Graham Vest. Now, you see why Warrensburg’s the Home of Man’s Best Friend!
Warrensburg has always loved our Mules! In the 1800’s and 1900’s Warrensburg was considered the Missouri Mule Capital because of the Jones Brothers Horse and Mule Barn. Mules from the area won prizes at the Missouri State Fair and even at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. The barn is no longer operating, but you can visit the barn and take a selfie by the barn featuring the motto, Through these portals pass the finest Mules on Earth. The tough animal was chosen as Warrensburg Teachers College’s, a hundred plus years later the institution became known as the University of Central Missouri, mascot.
Blind Boone Park
Just right down the road from the JCHS historical complex on West Pine is Blind Boone Park. The park, originally a segregated park for the Black community, was restored by hundreds of community members who volunteered several thousand hours to honor the memory of J.W “Blind" Boone. Boone was a beloved member of our community who, blind and of multi-ethnic heritage, succeeded in working past many physical, cultural and economic limitations to become a famous concert pianist. The park includes a gazebo for public musical events, picnic areas, and a statue of Blind Boone.
Pertle Springs, owned and maintained by the University of Central of Missouri, was once a prosperous resort promoting it’s water as a cure-all. The resort featured cabins, auditorium and a three-story hotel overlooking the lakes. A group of 20,000 members informed the owner J.H. Christopher the resort was selected for its national convention, but transportation from the resort to the train station downtown needed to be addressed prior to their arrival.
Less than a year, the two-mile Warrensburg and Pertle Springs Railroad was opened. The line was a single-track streetcar route with a limited number of open passenger cars and a small steam engine known as a dummy, hence the railroad’s name-The Dummy. Jones Brothers Horse and Mule Barn utilized The Dummy for hauling the mules the Army bought for World War I.
And So Much More
This is just a glimpse of Warrensburg’s rich and vibrant history. Learn more about the history of our neighboring air force base, Whiteman Air Force Base and our historic downtown. Did we mention famous American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie lived just a few miles from Warrensburg. Can you guess what he rode to class while attending the Warrensburg Teacher’s College? A mule-nope. The train-nope. A horse! Carnegie is just one of many famous Warrensburg residents!