The Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce create opportunities that drive commerce and promote business.
Warrensburg’s exciting future remains anchored to its colorful frontier past. The town’s history dates back to 1833 when Martin Warren arrived from Kentucky and settled along the Osage Indian Trail. In 1834, the county of Johnson was designated, and the town of Columbus was the center of county government until 1836. In 1838, a group of early Missouri leaders, including Daniel Morgan Boone, chose the site for the county courthouse in the growing village that was to become Warrensburg. The county court commissioned the building of the courthouse in that same year, taking four years to complete. Incorporation as a city came in 1855, and the railroad arrived in 1864. A thriving commercial district sprouted along the tracks, five blocks southeast of the original town (town square), and nearby sandstone quarries helped
Important historical sites maintained by the Johnson County Historical Society on old Main Street include the 1838 Old Courthouse, Mary Miller Smiser Heritage Library and Museum, the Johnson County Courthouse, and the restored 1890s. Preserving our past has become a focus for our community and the Johnson County Historical Society.
One of the parks in the city’s historic area has been restored and is now known as Blind Boone Park. The completed restoration includes a gazebo, picnic areas, and a statue of Blind Boone. J.W. “Blind” 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.
Another citizen’s group has formed to preserve Howard School, one of the oldest and the most historically significant black schools in Missouri. These two exciting projects enhance the work already accomplished by the Johnson County Historical Society.
Old Drum, our beloved hunting dog mascot, is one of the most celebrated figures from Warrensburg’s past. When U.S. senator-to-be George Graham Vest delivered his eulogy to the dog in 1870 in a Johnson County courtroom, he had no idea his words would make him famous. His words, coining the phrase “Man’s best friend is his dog,” quickly won him fame across Missouri and beyond.
Vest made the speech while arguing in court on behalf of Charles Burden, whose favorite dog was shot by the ward of Leonidas Hornsby. Burden sued and the case eventually wound up in the Missouri Supreme Court where the plaintiff was awarded $50.
The trial advanced Vest’s political career, and in 1958 his Tribute to a Dog was cast in bronze beneath the statue of Old Drum on the courthouse lawn. Vest’s eulogy has won world fame and has been cited as one of the greatest speeches given during the 19th-century. The story of Old Drum is known and loved the world over.
A Tribute to The Dog by George Graham Vest