Old Courthouse - Warrensburg, Missouri
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 38° 45.950 W 093° 45.008
15S E 434830 N 4291058
Quick Description: Commonly called the Old Johnson County Courthouse, this former courthouse is located in the old town square which is west of the current business district in Warrensburg, Missouri.
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 5/25/2007 7:39:06 PM
Waymark Code: WM1KAC
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Hikenutty
Views: 99

Long Description:

The following is an excerpt from Missouri: A Guide to the 'Show Me' State, 1941 in the Tour 4 section:

Probably the oldest building in Warrensburg is the Old Courthouse, Main St. south of W. Gay St., a square, two-story brick structure, built 1838-1842.  The exterior has been been painted yellow, and the interior remodeled, but the general lines of the building remain unaltered.  A bronze plaque at the entrance states that here, on September 23, 1870, George Graham Vest delivered his so called "Eulogy to the Dog."  The speech, a classic of American oratory, came as the climax of one of the most interesting trials in Missouri history.

The case began in 1869.  Charles Burden, a hunter, had a black and tan hound named Old Drum, which was so well trained to trail man or beast that Burden felt "money could not buy him."  "He never lies," Burden would say.  "I can always tell the kind of game he is casing by his bark."  Leonidas Hornsby, brother-in-law and neighbor, having had several sheep killed, notified his neighbors that he would kill the next dog caught on his property.  On the night of October 28, Old Drum was shot and killed on the Hornsby farm.  Burden filed suite for $100 damage.  After two trials he was awarded judgment for $25, whereupon Hornsby appealed the case and the decision was reversed.  Burden, however, secured another trial, and employed attorneys Wells H. Blodgett, George G. Vest, and John F. Philips; Hornsby engaged Frances M. Cockrell and Thomas T. Crittenden.

Vest delivered the closing argument to the jury.  Making no reference to the testimony, he quoted the Biblical story of Lazarus, recited a poem by Byron, and reviewed historical instances of fidelity of dogs to man.  He next argued that a man's friend, son, daughter, reputation, money--all he holds dear--can, and often will, forsake him, but that his dog is faithful throughout life.  Even in death, he ended, it is a man's dog that lingers beside the grave, "watch, faithful, and true."  Burden won the case.

In later years the lawyers engaged by Burden and Hornsby achieved considerable success.  Crittenden became governor of Missouri and Blodgett president of the Wabash Railroad.  Vest served 24 years in the United States Senate, and Philips, who had been made a brigadier general during the Civil War, became a member of Congress and later United States District Judge for western Missouri.  Cockrell, who had been promoted through the ranks to brigadier general in the Confederate Army, was elected in 1875 to the United States Senate, where he served continuously for 30 year.


The building has been restored to the 1870 appearance and is part of the Johnson County Historical Society museum complex and is available for tours.  The plaque commemorating Senator Vest remains at the entrance to the courthouse.   For more information on the Old Drum trial see the Old Drum waymark.

Book: Missouri

Page Number(s) of Excerpt: 401-402

Year Originally Published: 1941

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