Callaway County obtained its royal name during the hostilities of the Civil War. Some say the name came from the pro-Union side in Missouri’s legislature because of the county’s tenacious southern sympathies. Some said that Callawegians were determined to have a “Kingdom” of their own.
Colonel Jefferson Jones, a Fulton attorney, heading a ragtag Confederate army of too old men and too young boys, pulled off a magnificent bluff of the local Union forces under Colonel T.J.C. Fagg and General John B. Henderson. Described as a “good lark” by one of his men, Jones with four wooden “Quaker cannons” (made of logs and painted black) moved in close to the Union forces and under a flag of truce sent General Henderson a note declaring his purpose to suffer no invasion of Callaway County. [He is reported to have called it the “Kingdom of Callaway”] Jones further cautioned the general against occupancy of the county by Federal troops, that they were only to pass through when needed and pay full value for all they received; and that henceforth, every guarantee to person and property in the Constitution and under the law should be religiously kept and observed towards the inhabitants of the county. Jones said if the terms were agreed to, he would disperse his forces and go home – otherwise the strength of his forces would decide the issue. General Henderson agreed to Jones’ terms and the standoff ended with not a shot fired.
Another story is of John Sampson, a pro-Southern legislator, sent to Jefferson City from Callaway County. When a legislative committee in 1862 declared him disloyal (it was rumored he had chaired a meeting that favored secession of the state from the Union), he reportedly jumped to his feet shouting, “I am from the Kingdom of Callaway–6 feet, 4 1/2 inches tall, and all South, by God!” Needless to say he was expelled from the legislature like so many other candidates the county sent to Jefferson City.