History of Owensville

Francis C W & Elizabeth (Branson) Owen

HISTORY OF OWENSVILLE

By 1840, the territory now known as Gasconade County had been settled. At the intersection of a trail that ran from St. Louis to Springfield and an ox cart path that ran from St. James to Hermann, a small community began to take shape.

At the crossroads of the trail and the ox cart path stood a general store, a blacksmith shop, and a few other buildings. This small cluster of buildings and businesses would grow to become Owensville.

The general store was owned by a man named Francis Owen and the blacksmith was a man named Edward Luster. In 1847, the two men met for a game of horseshoes that would have a lasting impact on our city.

According to legend, Luster defeated Owens in that game of horseshoes and with his victory, Luster gained the privilege of naming the town. Declaring that, "Owensville sounds better than Lusterville," Luster elected to name the town after his defeated foe. Owensville is a name that is shared by two other towns in the United States: Owensville, Ohio and Owensville, Indiana.

After the town was named, land was set aside to locate the County Court House in Owensville. This plan was never realized and the land was later used to create Buschmann Park.

A post office was soon established and the community began to thrive. By the turn of the century, the village had grown and was becoming a small but thriving business center. The same men who had previously guided ox teams along the path from St. James to Hermann were now hauling agricultural products and clay. The agriculture and clay industries were among the first in the area and they provided considerable business for the railroad that snaked through the region.

A corn cob pipe factory was created and eventually it was joined by a shoe factory that quickly became mainstays of the Owensville economy. Agriculture, clay, and shoes were the dominant economic factors in the city until after World War II when the industrial community began to diversify.

Plastics fabrication and commercial printing firms arose in Owensville in the late 1960s, and by 1979, the two industries had provided the city with a strong and growing economy. These industries helped pave the way for the thriving industrial park that can be found in Owensville today.

In May of 1911, the residents of Owensville elected to change the form of government in their town. Previously classified as a Village, Owensville became a Fourth Class City and the Board of Trustees was replaced with a Mayor and Board of Aldermen. The Mayor and Board of Aldermen serve two year terms and the city is divided into two wards with two Aldermen being elected from each ward.