Warrensburg was founded in 1835 by settlers John and Martin D. Warren, who gave the town their last name. A post office called Warrensburg has been in operation since 1837.The phrase “Man’s best friend” is based on a famous trial over the killing of Old Drum, a dog commemorated by a statue in front of the Warrensburg Courthouse.
The United States of America took possession of the land now referred to as Warrensburg as part of the amazing contractual agreement President Thomas Jefferson made with France called the Louisiana Purchase. Further treaties were made with the Osage Indians (around 1808) as very little trouble ever really existed between Indians and settlers in this area.
Just one generation after the Revolutionary War, Pleasant Rice would lead an 1818 hunting expedition into the area that would later be named Warrensburg. He would later live off the land and become the first permanent citizen of the county.
Like Pleasant Rice, the earliest visitors to the area would be game hunters seeking a certain type of skin or prize. Early hunted animals in this time period include: badgers, deer, foxes, mink, muskrats, panthers, partridges, prairie chickens, quail, raccoons, rodents, turkeys, weasels, and much, much more.
The Osage Trail ran from Osage to Post Oak and specifically followed a path from Lexington to Warrensburg which is now known as Highway 13. This trail led early pioneers from their boat landings in Minutemen country south to the fertile lands located in Warrensburg. Another unnamed route followed what is today called Highway 50 while at least three other major trails were present in the county.
Johnson County was initially formed in 1834 and named in honor of a famous politician. Though many people would initially suggest President Andrew Johnson, those people would be incorrect for Johnson would not become president until the Lincoln Assassination following the Civil War. Instead, the county was named after lesser known Richard Mentor Johnson, a senator from Kentucky.
On May 9, 1836, a handful of original founding fathers authorized the purchase of the land area that would eventually become called Warrensburg in honor of Martin Warren, the first man to settle in the area. Contrary to popular belief, Warren was not tremendously in favor of creating a township in this area but eventually decided to sell some of the farm land he owned.
On October 3, 1836, the township line of Warrensburg was drawn up from the north county line to the south county line. The original boundary lines were 12 miles wide on the south and 10.5 miles wide on the north. The boundary distance measured an incredible 26 miles distance which made the original area of Warrensburg more than 260 square miles. Over time, small pieces have been chopped away to create cities and towns decreasing total area to the current 64 square miles people live in today.