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Revised 27 December 2010


Missouri is known to have been an occupied area for thousands of years.  The earliest people known to have settled in the area, possibly as long ago as 20,000 years, were what is called "mound builders"  (click on the link to read more about them and use your back arrow to return to this page.)  By the time the area was being explored by the white man, these people had long ago disappeared.  It sits between two of the largest rivers in the United States, the Missouri River and the Mississippi.  The earliest explorer to the area is said to have been Hernando (or Fernando, depending on what source you are reading) De Soto, who visited the mouth of the Mississippi River in approximately 1541.  In 1673, Father Jacque Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored the mouth of the Mighty Missouri River.  The Native Americans dwelling in the area at the time would have been members of the Missouri, Fox, Shawnee and Osage tribes. Although rumors went out of a great wealth in gold, silver and furs, the only actual findings were salt and lead, both worth their weight in gold to the early settlers.

Missouri was visited again in 1862 when French explorer, Robert Cavelier de La Salle, took possession of this section as part of Louisiana and claimed it in the name of France.  Although a Catholic mission was established 50 miles south of present-day of St. Louis in the early 1700s, the first actual settlement was not established until some time between 1735 and 1750.  This was called Sainte Genevieve.  The first actual American settlement was established in 1787 when a man by the name of John Dodge established himself in the area of what has become Perry County.  He was joined by Isreal Dodge in 1790 and by Dr. Jesse Bryan in about 1793.    By 1795, American settlements were established on Femme Osage Creek  (now St. Charles County)  This was called Upper Louisiana or New Spain (See "Pioneer Families of Missouri" published in 1876 by William S. Bryan and Robert Rose and reprinted in 1935 with an introduction by W. W. Elwang.)

Through the period of 1682 through 1803, control of the area passed back and forth between France as they waged their various wars.  In 1803, Missouri became a possession of the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase.  In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (Click on your back arrow to return to this page.) were chosen by President Thomas Jefferson to lead an exploratory expedition to explore the territory west of the Missouri River.  Also a matter of interest is the fact that in the years 1811/1812, Missouri was struck with three sizeable earthquakes in an area now known as the New Madrid fault.  These tremors are among the most violent quakes recorded in North American history, one of which has been said to have been 8.0 on the Richter scale. In the wake of all this, Missouri became an official territory in 1812.  It claimed a population of around 20,000, mostly settlers from Kentucky, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.  Indian raids continued on the settlements until the peace treaties of 1815.  

Missouri joined the Union on 10 August of 1821 as a slave state under the Missouri Compromise of 1820.  Six additional counties were added with the Platte Purchase in 1837 which was annexed from land originally intended for Kansas.  When Missouri first petitioned to become a state in 1818 as a slave state, it spurred the first clash between the North and South that ultimately led to the Civil War.  It was only through the Missouri Compromise that the ultimate action was temporarily defused.  In 1857, the Dred Scott Decision in Missouri escalated the slavery crisis.  This landmark case gave Mr. Scott and his wife their freedom after he was moved from a slave state, where he and his family were slaves, into a free state which opposed slavery.  Many of the slave owners of the state felt this infringed on their property rights.  By the time the Civil War finally erupted with the firing upon Fort Sumpter, Missouri  had sent 110,000 sons to fight for the North and 30,000 to fight for the South.  It is the only state in which Confederate dead and Union dead are buried side by side.  Many battles and skirmishes were fought in Missouri.  For further information on the battles of that region, I refer you to the Civil War website and more particularly to the page on Missouri in that site.  This same period of time (1861) the Poly Express was begun out of St. Joseph, culminating in San Francisco.

The end of the war did not relieve the violence that was occurring in Missouri.    Many Confederate soldiers turned to lives of crime.  Missouri was at the mercy of the outlaws, who staged stagecoach raids, robbed banks and held up trains, one of which was the infamous Jesse James, who was finally killed in 1882, in the quiet of his home, by someone who was seeking the reward.

Name Date formed Parent County County Seat
Adair 1841 Macon Kirksville
Allen 1843 Renamed Atchison in 1845  
Andrew 1841 Platte Purchase Savannah
Arkansas 1813 New Madrid (abolished in 1819 when the Territory of Arkansas was formed.)  
Ashley 1845 Renamed Texas county, same year  
Atchison 1845 Holt (part of Platte purchase; attached to Holt County until 1854.  In 1848, lost a 10-mile strip to Iowa) Rockport
Audrain 1836 Monroe (created in 1831, but remained attached to the counties of Callaway, Monroe and Rails until 1836.  In 1842, it gained an additional 31 square miles from Monroe County Mexico
Barry 1855 Greene (There was an error in the original survey which was rectified in 1876, which established the western line 1 1/2 miles east of the prior boundary Cassville
Barton 1855 Jasper Lamar
Bates 1851 Jackson (on 22 Feb 1855, three southern tiers of townships in Cass County were added to Bates) Butler
Benton 1835 Pettis, St. Clair (remained unorganized until January of 1837.  In 1845, 24 square miles of N.W. part of Benton became parts of Pettis and Hickory County was created, reducing Benton to its present size) Warsaw
Bollinger 1851 Cape Girardeau, Stoddard, Wayne Marble Hill
Boone 1820 Howard Columbia
Buchanan 1839 Platte Purchase Saint Joseph
Butler 1849 Wayne Poplar Bluff
Caldwell 1836 Ray Kingston
Callaway 1820 Montgomery Fulton
Camden 1841 Benton, Pulaski (Organized as Kinderhook, renamed 23 Feb 1843.  The line between Camden and Miller changed in 1845.) Camdenton
Cape Girardeau 1812 Original District Jackson
Carroll 1833 Ray Carrollton
Carter 1859 Ripley, Shannon Van Buren
Cass 1835 Jackson (Organized as Van Buren; renamed 19 Feb 1849; three southern tiers of townships relinquished to Bates County 22 Feb 1855) Harrisonville
Cedar 1845 Dade, St. Clair Stockton
Chariton 1820 Howard Keytesville
Christian 1859 Greene, Taney, Webster (two different source dates given.  One says 8 March 1869, others say 8 March 1860.  County seat was selected May 1859) Ozark
Clark (Old) 1818 Arkansas (Never organized; abolished in 1819 when the Territory of Arkansas was created.)  
Clark (New) 1836 Lewis Kahoka
Clay 1822 Ray Liberty
Clinton 1833 Clay Plattsburg
Cole 1820 Cooper Jefferson City
Cooper 1818 Howard Boonville
Crawford 1829 Gasconade Steelville
Dade 1841 Greene (Lost 19-mile strip on northern boundary to Cedar County and a 9-mile strip on the southern boundary to Lawrence County.) Greenfield
Dallas 1844 Polk (Organized in 1842 as Niangua County.  Boundaries slightly changed in 1844 and name changed to Dallas) Buffalo
Daviess 1836 Ray Gallatin
Decatur 1841 Created as Ozark County in 1841, renamed Decatur County from 1843 to 1845 then back to Ozark County  
DeKalb 1845 Clinton Maysville
Dent 1851 Crawford, Shannon Salem
Dodge  1851 Putnam (Discontinued in 1853; had lost territory when the Iowa boundary was established, which brought its area below the constitutional limit of 400 square miles; its territory was then added to Putnam County.  
Douglas 1857 Ozark, Taney (Territory was increased in 1864 by adding portions of Taney and Webster counties.) Ava
Dunklin 1845 Stoddard (In 1863, a strip one mile wide was taken from Stoddard and added to the northern boundary) Kennett
Franklin 1818 St. Louis.  The boundaries were not defined until 1845 Union
Gasconade 1820 Franklin (In 1869, it relinquished 36 square miles to Crawford County) Hermann
Gentry 1841 Clinton (Organization not completed until 1843) Albany
Greene 1833 Crawford Springfield
Grundy 1841 Livingston Trenton
Harrison 1845 Daviess Bethany
Hempstead 1818 Arkansas (Was abolished in 1819 when the Territory of Arkansas was created.)  
Henry 1834 Lafayette (Originally named Rives county.  Name changed 15 October 1841 Clinton
Hickory 1845 Benton, Polk Hermitage
Holt 1841 Platte Purchase Oregon
Howard 1816 St. Charles, St. Louis Fayette
Howell 1857 Oregon, Ozark West Plains
Iron 1857 Dent, Madison, Reynolds, St. Francis, Washington, Wayne Ironton
Jackson 1826 Lafayette (Nearly all of its territory was acquired from Osage and Kansas Indians on 2 June 1825) Independence
Jasper 1841 Newton Carthage
Jefferson 1818 Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis Hillsboro
Johnson 1834 Lafayette Warrensburg
Kinderhook 1841 Benton, Pulaski (Renamed Camden 23 Feb 1843)  
Knox 1845 Scotland Edina
Laciede 1849 Camden, Pulaski, Wright Lebanon
Lafayette 1829 Cooper (Originally called Lillard.  Name changed 16 Feb 1825)  
Lawrence (Old) 1815 New Madrid (Abolished in 1818)  
Lawrence (New) 1845 Barry, Dade Mount Vernon
Lewis 1833 Marion Monticello
Lillard 1820 Cooper (Changed to Lafayette 16 Feb 1825)  
Lincoln 1818 St. Charles Troy
Linn 1837 Charlton Linneus
Livingston 1837 Carroll Chillicothe
McDonald 1849 Newton (In 1876, an error in the survey was corrected, which established a new eastern line and annexed a 2 1/2 mile strip previously included in Barry county.) Pineville
Macon 1837 Randolph Macon
Madison 1818 Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve Fredericktown
Maries 1855 Osage, Pulaski (In 1859 and 1868, small tracts of land were exchanged with Phelps County.) Vienna
Marion 1826 Ralls Palmyra
Mercer 1845 Grundy Princeton
Miller 1837 Cole (Line between Camden and Miller changed in 1845; Territory was annexed from Morgan in 1860; other minor changes occurred in 1868) Tuscumbia
Mississippi 1845 Scott Charleston
Moniteau 1845 Cole, Morgan California
Monroe 1831 Ralls Paris
Montgomery 1818 St. Charles Montgomery City
Morgan 1833 Cooper Versailles
New Madrid 1812 Original District New Madrid
Newton 1838 Barry (In 1845, a strip two miles wide was detached from Newton and attached to Jasper) Neosho
Niangua 1842 Polk (Boundaries were slightly changed and the name was changed to Dallas on 10 Dec. 1844)  
Nodaway 1845 Andrew Maryville
Oregon 1845 Ripley Alton
Osage 1841 Gasconade (On 1 March 1855, the boundaries between Osage and Pulaski were defined) Linn
Ozark 1841 Taney Gainesville
Pemiscot 1851 New Madrid Caruthersville
Perry 1820 Ste. Genevieve Perryville
Pettis 1833 Cooper, Saline Sedalia
Phelps 1857 Crawford, Pulaski, Maries Rolla
Pike 1818 St. Charles Bowling Green
Platte 1838 Platt Purchase Attached to Clay for civil and military purposes from December 1836 to 31 December 1838) Platte City
Polk 1835 Greene Bolivar
Pulaski (0ld) 1818 Franklin (Organization was not perfected and much of its territory became gasconade in 1829; It was abolished in 1819 when the Territory of Arkansas was created.)  
Pulaski (New)  1833 Crawford Waynesville
Putnam 1845 Linn (When the Iowa boundary was established, the areas of both Putnam and Dodge were below the constitutional limit; Dodge was disorganized in 1853 and its territory was regained by Putnam.) Unionville
Ralls 1820 Pike New London
Randolph 1829 Charlton Huntsville
Ray 1820 Howard Richmond
Reynolds 1845 Shannon Centerville
Ripley 1823 Wayne Doniphan
Rives 1834 Lafayette (Name changed to Henry 15 October 1841)  
St. Charles 1812 Original district St Charles
St. Claire 1841 Rives (Later Henry) Osceola
Ste. Genevieve 1812 Original District Ste. Genevieve
St. Francois 1821 Jefferson, Ste. Genevieve, Washington Farmington
St. Louis 1812 Original District Clayton
St. Louis City 1764   St. Louis
Saline 1820 Cooper, Howard Marshall
Schuyler 1845 Adair Lancaster
Scotland 1841 Lewis Memphis
Scott 1821 New Madrid Benton
Shannon 1841 Ripley, Washington Eminence
Shelby 1835 Marion Shelbyville
Stoddard 1835 Cape Girardeau Bloomfield
Stone 1851 Taney Galena
Sullivan 1845 Linn Milan
Taney 1837 Greene Forsyth
Texas 1845 Shannon, Wright Houston
Van Buren 1835 Jackson (Name changed to Cass 19 February 1849)  
Vernon 1855 Bates (created 15 Feb 1851, but was declared unconstitutional since its territory was exactly that of Bates; legally created 27 Feb 1855; reorganized 17 October 1865 after total suspension of civil order during the Civil War.) Nevada
Warren 1833 Montgomery Warrenton
Washington 1813 Ste. Genevieve Potosi
Wayne 1818 Cape Girardeau Greenville
Webster 1855 Greene, Wright Marshfield
Worth 1861 Gentry Grant City
Wright 1841 Pulaski Hartville