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The present Lucas County courthouse dates from 1894, so that probably is the
source of that date. Lucas County does date from 1846 although, of course,
there were no non-native residents at that time.
Much Lucas County history is based on an 1881 history book that is not
necessarily accurate, but tends to get endlessly repeated.
William McDermott, for example, probably wasn't the first permanent settler,
although he was the only one of the first who stuck around long enough to
die in Lucas County (and lay claim to the title).
Mormons were, indeed, the first non-native residents, but actually were
around for more than a year. The northern branch of the Mormon Trail (known
as the Trace) carried a majority of the Saints west from the summer of 1846
into 1849 (when a Chariton River crossing was engineered in extreme
northwest Appanoose County). So thousands of Mormons passed through and
Chariton Point (just south of where the city of Chariton is located now)
seems to have been a fairly major way station (a lesser version of Garden
Grove and Mount Pisgah) during that period --- not just a collection of six
shanties occupied for a year.
And so it goes ...