Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Bit of Kirksville Missouri History

We visited the Adair County Historical Society Museum in Kirksville

Origin of name

According to tradition, Jesse Kirk, Kirksville's first postmaster shared a dinner of  turkey and whiskey with surveyors working in the area on the condition that they would name the town after him. Not only the first postmaster, Kirk was also the first to own a hotel and a tavern in Kirksville.


Kirksville was laid out in 1841 on a 40-acre site, and was first incorporated in 1857.  By 1850 there were 2,342 people in Adair county. In 1860 there were 658 in Kirksville. In 1855, Adair County built a new courthouse on the present square. 
      In July 1867, the Adair County Immigrant Aid Society described Kirksville establishments. Then Kirksville had one bank, nine dry goods stores, four drug stores, and three grocery stores. Two tin and hardware stores, and two meat markets existed. Professionals included six physicians, fourteen lawyers, four preachers, two churches with four congregations, one seminary one town hall, and three real estate agencies.  Kirksville's other businesses were one brewery, three boot and shoe shops, three saddle and harness shops, one marble yard, three millinery and dress shops as well as one steam plow factory, one jewelry and watch-making store, two livery stables, four hotels, a number of private boarding houses, two insurance offices, one barbershop, one picture gallery, two paint shops, five plasterers, fifteeen carpenters, four blacksmith shops, five brick and stone masons, two cabinet and furniture stores, two merchant tailors, one gunsmith, one dentist, two Odd Fellows lodge, one Good Templar Lodge, one Legion of Honor and one newspaper.

Kirksville today is home to two colleges: Truman State University and A.T. Still University
Population: 17,577 (2013)

*For more information visit: 

211 South Elson Street, Kirksville, Missouri 63501-3466.
1-660-665-6502 -

The ACHS museum hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 1 - 4 p.m.

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