Howard County, formally organized by Judge James Lyon of Chickasaw County in July 17, 1855, is named in honor of General Tilghman Ashurst Howard. He held various offices in Tennessee and Indiana and was a long time friend of Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston.
A county seat battle raged in Howard County for 25 years. The county seat has been in the towns of Vernon Springs, Howard Center and New Oregon. Finally, in 1858, to put a stop to these battles, the county seat was located between the towns of Vernon Springs and New Oregon at a site called Pike's Peak. In February 1859 the courthouse was built with money raised by residents of Vernon Springs and New Oregon. This building was deemed unsafe and abandoned in 1865. The county records were then moved to a stone building in Vernon Springs.
In 1867 the citizens of Shook's Grove (now called Cresco) offered the county a new building. It was constructed by the Howard County Court House Association. In July 1867 the Board of Supervisors moved into this building but exceeded its authority when it did this, so the decision went to an election. The voters favored keeping the courthouse at Pike's Peak, but county business was still conducted at Cresco.