On March 28, 1842, a wilderness area in Southwest Missouri known as Jasper County had only been a county in Missouri for 14 months.
Jasper County’s government first met 13 months before on Feb. 25, 1841, at the George Hornback residence in the community of Jasper.
According to the late Marvin VanGilder’s book Jasper County, the First Two Hundred Years, two early settlers, George Barker and Abel Landers had been given the task of studying the landscape and finding a site for a county seat.
VanGilder wrote the following on page 37 of this book, which was written in 1995 and is available at the Jasper County Courthouse:
“The Hornhack house served for nine months as the temporary courthouse and continued a bit more than a year as the meeting site of the circuit court. After nine months, however, for reasons not recorded, the county government was moved a few yards to another log building. The structure had been used by Jasper settler John Anderson as a dram shop.
“It was in the Anderson Building, on March 28, 1842, that Barker and Landers delivered their site selection report to the Jasper County Court. The commissioners told the court they had made a thorough study of all the land in the bounds of Jasper County as then constituted. The area which eventually became Barton County was mostly unpopulated wilderness, primarily undeveloped prairie but also including some densely wooded bottom land along the North Fork of the Spring River. That stream, which Barton Countians would call Muddy Creek, made a great fishhook-shaped incursion into the future Barton County after leaving Dade County while en route to its union with Spring River in northwest Jasper County. That land could not be considered suitable for farming or for general settlement. The southwest corner of Jasper County, including the villages of Blytheville and environs, was thought to be too physically rough and subject to flooding to be suitable for long-term human habitation.
“Of the land which remained, and which was adjudged suitable for human occupancy on a long-term basis, the most centrally and advantageously situated property was determined to be a grassy knoll, sloping upward from the Spring River about a mile to the east-southeast of Jasper Village. Under the early spring conditions, which prevailed as the report was made, the site was visible from the Anderson building.
“The county court judges studied the report with care and pronounced it acceptable. For their services, Landers was paid $20 and Barker received $15 upon approval of their report.”
VanGilder goes on to describe the naming of Carthage.
“No details of their reasoning have been recorded. It does, however, seem logical to assume that the name was selected in recognition of the similarity of the site and that upon which was situated the metropolitan center of the ancient North African city-state of Carthage. The judges were all well-educated for their time and could not have avoided study of the history and culture of ancient Carthage and its long-standing rivalry with the Roman Empire for world dominance.”