Henry County, Missouri: Sunday Sign

Posted on November 13, 2011


This Henry County, Missouri historical marker is this week’s Sunday Sign:


Henry County, Missouri is in west central Missouri. I spent a couple of hours in Clinton, the county seat, in August 2010, where I enjoyed a nice sandwich and cake at The Ben Franklin Coffee House on the town square.

Benjamin Franklin would be proud to know that the Henry County Public Library has an excellent public library, according to several sources, including this one maintained by the Henry County Courthouse.

As the sign indicates, Henry County was originally named for Virginia statesman William C. Rives. After Rives changed his political affiliation from Democrat to Whig, the county was renamed for Patrick Henry (in 1841). I was curious about Rives and the political flip-flop, so I did a bit of research.

According to this biography on a Tulane University web page, Rives had initially supported then-President Andrew Jackson’s “attack on the national bank and his nullification policy.”  Rives began to align with the Whigs in response to the Democrat Party’s move to a hard-money currency. The official Congressional Biography gives more detail on Rives government service. Rives served in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and as the U.S. minister to France (under several presidents), among other positions.

Interestingly enough (but perhaps not surprising, given his blueblood family pedigree), Rives was expelled from the College of William and Mary for “an affair of honor.”

A few more tidbits about Henry County, Missouri:

  • Henry County lies in area ceded to the United States by the Osage Indians under the 1808 Osage Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Fort Clark.
  • The town square in Clinton is the largest town square in Missouri.
  • The county was settled by pioneers from Tennessee & Kentucky in the 1830s and Germans in the 1850s.

The Henry County Historical Society appears to be an excellent resource for more information on the community.

The Sunday Sign is a regular feature of The Ben Franklin Follies.


Posted in: History, Travel