A petition was presented to the County Court in 1877 to incorporate the town of Dexter as a village and then a city.
Charles E. Stokes was the first official mayor of Dexter, as a city, in 1889 (it was agreed upon that a mayor would be elected and six alderman in 1888, but it wasn't until 1889 this was completed and Stokes served the last month of what would have been a two year term). In 1890 he was elected for a full two-year term. In 1892, he decided against running in 1892. W. C. Brown ran and was elected. Six months into his term, he resigned and moved from the area, Stokes was selected to serve the remaining eighteen months. He chose not to run again in 1894 because he planned to move to St. Louis. John H. McAnally was elected in 1894.