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Missouri County Origins
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Missouri Facts
  • Capital: Jefferson City
  • Motto: The Welfare of the People shall be the supreme law
  • Nicknames: Show Me State
  • State Song: "Missouri Waltz"
  • State Tree: Flowering Dogwood
  • State Flower: Hawthorn
  • State Bird: Bluebird
  • Area: 69,697 sq. mi; 19th largest state; includes 752 sq mi. of inland water.
  • Highest Point: Taum Sauk MT, 1772 ft
  • Lowest Point: 230 ft along the Saint Francis River

The Great Seal
of Missouri


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Origins of Missouri Counties

Adair County Organized January 29, 1841, from Macon County and named for John Adair, governor of Kentucky; the county seat is Kirksville.

Andrew County Organized January 29, 1841, from the Platte Purchase and named for Andrew Jackson Davis, a prominent citizen of St. Louis and Savannah; the county seat is Savannah.

Atchison County Organized February 14, 1845, from Holt County and named for David Rice Atchison, United States senator. The boundaries for Allen County were defined by the Legislature in 1843 and attached to Holt County in 1845. Atchison County was organized out of this territory and the act defining Allen County repealed; the county seat is Rock Port.

Audrain County Organized December 17, 1836, from Callaway, Monroe and Ralls counties and named for James H. Audrain, Missouri legislator; the county seat is Mexico.

Barry County Organized January 5, 1835, from Greene County and named for U.S. Postmaster General William T. Barry. ; the county seat is Cassville.

Barton County Organized December 12, 1855, from Jasper County and named for David Barton, United States senator; the county seat is Lamar.

Bates County Organized January 29, 1841, from Van Buren (now Cass) County and named for Frederick Bates, governor of Missouri; the county seat is Butler.

Benton County Organized January 3, 1835, from Pettis and Greene counties and named for Thomas Hart Benton, United States senator; the county seat is Warsaw.

Bollinger County Organized March 1, 1851, from Cape Girardeau, Madison, Stoddard and Wayne counties and named for George F. Bollinger, pioneer settler and Missouri legislator; the county seat is Marble Hill.

Boone County Organized November 16, 1820, (effective January 1, 1821) from Howard County and named for Daniel Boone; the county seat is Columbia.

Buchanan County Organized December 31, 1838, from the Platte Purchase and named for James Buchanan, senator from Pennsylvania and later United States president; the county seat is St. Joseph.

Butler County Organized February 27, 1849, from Wayne County and named for William O. Butler, a Kentucky congressman; the county seat is Poplar Bluff.

Caldwell County Organized December 29, 1836, from Ray County and named for John Caldwell, Indian scout. Alexander Doniphan is credited with naming Caldwell County in honor of an Indian fighter whom his father, Joseph Doniphan, had known in Kentucky. According to Floyd C. Shoemaker, Doniphan probably referred to Colonel John Caldwell, the famous soldier for whom Caldwell County, Kentucky was named. Mathew Caldwell has also been cited as the man for whom the Missouri County was named; the county seat is Kingston.

Callaway County Organized November 25, 1820 (effective January 1, 1821) from Boone, Howard and Montgomery counties and named for James Callaway, Missouri ranger killed by Indians in the War of 1812; the county seat is Fulton.

Camden County Organized January 29, 1841, from Benton, Morgan and Pulaski counties and named for Charles Pratt, Earl of Camden. Originally organized in 1841 as Kinderhook County in honor of President Martin Van Buren's New York home. The name was changed to Camden on February 23, 1843; the county seat is Camdenton.

Cape Girardeau County Organized October 1, 1812, as one of the five original counties and named for Sieur de Girardot, a French officer. Sieur de Girardot is generally accepted as the man for whom the river bend above the original settlement of Cape Girardeau was named. Louis Houck in his History of Missouri states that the origin cannot now definitely be known. De Girardot was stationed with the French troops at Kaskaskia as early as 1704 and may have moved across the river to the bend above present Cape Girardeau; the county seat is Jackson.

Carroll County Organized January 2, 1833, from Ray County and named for Charles Carroll of Carrollton; the county seat is Carrollton.

Carter County Organized March 10, 1859, from Oregon, Reynolds, Ripley and Shannon counties; named for Zimri A. Carter, pioneer settler; the county seat is Van Buren.

Cass County Organized March 3, 1835, from Jackson County and named for Lewis Cass, Michigan senator and presidential candidate. Originally organized as Van Buren County in honor of Martin Van Buren, the Democratic legislature changed the name to Cass on February 19, 1849, to honor Van Buren's Democratic opponent Lewis Cass. Van Buren ran as the Free-Soil candidate for president in 1848; the county seat is Harrisonville.

Cedar County Organized February 14, 1845, from Dade and St. Clair counties and named for its abundance of cedar trees; the county seat is Stockton.

Chariton County Organized November 16, 1820 (effective January 1, 1821) from Howard County and named for the Chariton River. Several origins of the name of the Chariton River have been suggested. The most plausible suggestion connects the name of the river with Joseph Chorette, a French fur trader of St. Louis. Trudeau, in his Journal of 1795, mentions Chorette as accompanying him on his expedition up the Missouri River and as being drowned on July 10 of that year while swimming in the river. The family name has the variants Choret, Care and Carrette in old documents; the county seat is Keytesville.

Christian County Organized March 8, 1859, from Greene, Taney and Webster counties and named for William Christian, Kentucky Revolutionary War soldier; the county seat is Ozark.

Clark County Organized December 16, 1836, from Lewis County and named for William Clark, governor of the Missouri Territory; the county seat is Kahoka.

Clay County Organized January 2, 1822, from Ray County and named for Henry Clay, Kentucky congressman; the county seat is Liberty.

Clinton County Organized January 2, 1833, from Clay County and named for DeWitt Clinton, governor of New York; the county seat is Plattsburg.

Cole County Organized November 16, 1820 (effective January 1, 1821) from Cooper County and named for Stephen Cole, pioneer settler and Indian fighter; the county seat is Jefferson City.

Cooper County Organized December 17, 1818 (effective February 1, 1819) from Howard County and named for Sarshel (Benjamin) Cooper, pioneer settler; the county seat is Boonville.

Crawford County Organized January 23, 1829, from Gasconade County and named for William H. Crawford, Georgia senator; the county seat is Steelville.

Dade County Organized January 29, 1841, from Barry and Polk counties and named for Francis L. Dade, pioneer settler; the county seat is Greenfield.

Dallas County Organized January 29, 1841, from Polk County and named for George M. Dallas, diplomat and later vice-president. Originally organized as Niangua County in 1841; the name was changed to Dallas on December 16, 1844, due to the alleged difficulty in both spelling and pronouncing Niangua; the county seat is Buffalo.

Daviess County Organized December 29, 1836, from Ray County and named for Joseph H. Daviess, Kentucky soldier in the War of 1812; the county seat is Gallatin.

DeKalb County Organized February 25, 1845, from Clinton County and named for Johann Kalb, Baron deKalb. Baron deKalb was a German-born officer who served with the French Army and was killed in the American Revolution; the county seat is Maysville.

Dent County Organized February 10, 1851, from Crawford and Shannon counties and named for Lewis Dent, pioneer settler; the county seat is Salem.

Douglas County Organized October 29, 1857, from Ozark County and named for Stephen A. Douglas, Illinois senator and later presidential candidate; the county seat is Ava.

Dunklin County Organized February 14, 1845, from Stoddard County and named for Daniel Dunklin, governor of Missouri; the county seat is Kennett.

Franklin County Organized December 11, 1818, (effective January 1, 1819) from St. Louis County and named for Benjamin Franklin; the county seat is Union.

Gasconade County Organized November 25, 1820, (effective January 1, 1821) from Franklin County and named for the Gasconade River. Gasconade may be one of the early satirical nicknames, like Paincourt, meaning "short of bread" for St. Louis, which has survived. It probably derived from the French word gascon meaning "boaster, braggart" which may have been applied to the people who lived along the river and who may have been inclined to brag about their exploits when they returned to St. Louis; the county seat is Hermann.

Gentry County Organized February 14, 1845, from Clinton County and named for Richard Gentry, Seminole War general; the county seat is Albany.

Greene County Organized January 2, 1833, from Crawford and Wayne counties and named for Nathaniel Greene, Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Springfield.

Grundy County Organized January 29, 1841, from Livingston County and named for Felix Grundy, Tennessee senator and United States attorney general; the county seat is Trenton.

Harrison County Organized February 14, 1845, from Daviess County and named for Albert G. Harrison, Missouri congressman; the county seat is Bethany.

Henry County Organized December 13, 1834, from Lillard (now Lafayette) County and named for Patrick Henry, Revolutionary patriot. Originally organized on October 15, 1841, by an act of the Legislature; the county seat is Clinton.

Hickory County Organized February 14, 1845, from Benton and Polk counties and named for Andrew Jackson, "Old Hickory"; the county seat is Hermitage.

Holt County Organized January 29, 1841, from the Platte Purchase and named for David Rice Holt, Missouri legislator from Platte County. Originally organized and named Nodaway County, the name was changed seventeen days later to honor the memory of D.R. Holt, who died during the legislative session; the county seat is Oregon.

Howard County Organized January 23, 1816, (effective March 1, 1816) from St. Charles and St. Louis counties and named for Benjamin Howard, governor of the Missouri Territory; the county seat is Fayette.

Howell County Organized March 2, 1857, from Oregon County and named for James Howell, pioneer settler. Some sources also state the county was named for Thomas J. Howell; the county seat is West Plains.

Iron County Organized February 17, 1857, from Madison, Reynolds, St. Francois, Washington and Wayne counties and named for abundant iron ore; the county seat is Ironton.

Jackson County Organized December 15, 1826, from Lillard (now Lafayette) County and named for Andrew Jackson; the county seat is Independence.

Jasper County Organized January 29, 1841, from Barry County and named for William Jasper, Revolutionary War soldier; the county seat is Carthage.

Jefferson County Organized December 8, 1818, (effective January 1, 1819) from St. Louis and Ste. Genevieve counties and named for Thomas Jefferson; the county seat is Hillsboro.

Johnson County Organized December 13, 1834, from Lillard (now Lafayette) County and named for R.M. Johnson, Kentucky senator and later vice president; the county seat is Warrensburg.

Knox County Organized February 14, 1845, from Scotland County and named for Henry Knox, Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Edina.

Laclede County Organized February 24, 1849, from Camden, Pulaski and Wright counties and named for Pierre Laclede Liquest, founder of St. Louis; the county seat is Lebanon.

Lafayette County Organized November 16, 1820, (effective January 1, 1821) from Cooper County and named for Marquis de La Fayette. Originally organized as Lillard County in honor of James (William) Lillard of Tennessee, who served in the first state constitutional convention and first State Legislature. The name was changed in honor of Marquis de La Fayette's visit to the United States by an act of the Legislature on February 16, 1825; the county seat is Lexington.

Lawrence County Organized February 14, 1845, from Barry and Dade counties and named for James Lawrence, naval hero of the War of 1812; the county seat is Mount Vernon.

Lewis County Organized January 2, 1833, from Marion County and named for Captain Meriwether Lewis, governor of the Missouri Territory; the county seat is Monticello.

Lincoln County Organized December 14, 1818, (effective January 1, 1819) from St. Charles County and named for Benjamin Lincoln, Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Troy.

Linn County Organized January 6, 1837, from Chariton County and named for Lewis F. Linn, United States senator; the county seat is Linneus.

Livingston County Organized January 6, 1837, from Carroll County and named for Secretary of State Edward Livingston; the county seat is Chillicothe.

McDonald County Organized March 3, 1849, from Newton County and named for Alexander McDonald, Revolutionary War soldier. Originally defined by the Legislature as Seneca County and attached to Newton County for civil and military purposes on January 1, 1847, the name was changed to McDonald upon formal organization of the county; the county seat is Pineville.

Macon County Organized January 6, 1837, from Chariton and Randolph counties and named for Nathaniel Macon, Revolutionary War soldier and North Carolina congressman; the county seat is Macon.

Madison County Organized December 14, 1818, (effective January 1, 1819) from Cape Girardeau and Ste. Genevieve counties and named for United States President James Madison; the county seat is Fredericktown.

Maries County Organized March 2, 1855, from Osage and Pulaski counties and named for the Maries River. Maries is probably a corruption of the French "marias" meaning "marsh" or "swamp". The Maries River, like the upper reaches of the Osage River was once said to be called Le Marias de Cygnes or "Marsh of Swans". It has also been suggested that the Big and Little Maries Rivers were named for two French girls and that the name is the plural of Marie; the county seat is Vienna.

Marion County Organized December 23, 1826, from Ralls County and named for Francis Marion, Revolutionary War hero; the county seat is Palmyra.

Mercer County Organized February 14, 1845, from Grundy County and named for John F. Mercer, a Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Princeton.

Miller County Organized February 6, 1837, from Cole and Pulaski counties and named for John Miller, governor of Missouri; the county seat is Tuscumbia.

Mississippi County Organized February 14, 1845, from Scott County and named for the Mississippi River. Mississippi is derived from the Algonquin Indian words: missi meaning "great" and seepee meaning "water"; the county seat is Charleston.

Moniteau County Organized February 14, 1845, from Cole and Morgan counties and named for Moniteau Creek. The name Moniteau is the French spelling of the Indian word meaning "spirit of God". It has been said that the creek was named by the Indians for the painted figure of a man "spirit of God", that was on a rock at the mouth; the county seat is California.

Monroe County Organized January 6, 1831, from Ralls County and named for James Monroe; the county seat is Paris.

Montgomery County Organized December 14, 1818, (effective January 1, 1819) from St. Charles County and named for Richard Montgomery, a Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Montgomery City.

Morgan County Organized January 5, 1833, from Cooper County and named for Daniel Morgan, a Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Versailles.

New Madrid Organized October 1, 1812, as one of the five original counties and named for Madrid, Spain; the county seat is New Madrid.

Newton County Organized December 31, 1838, from Barry County and named for John Newton, a Revolutionary War soldier; the county seat is Neosho.

Nodaway County Organized February 14, 1845, from Andrew County and named for the Nodaway River. Nodaway is a Potawatomi Indian word meaning "placid". "Jump over the river" has also been suggested as the meaning; the county seat is Maryville.

Oregon County Organized February 14, 1845, from Ripley County and named for the Territory of Oregon; the county seat is Alton.

Osage County Organized January 29, 1841, from Gasconade County and named for the Osage River. The name Osage is generally believed to be a corruption by the French of Washazhe, the name of the Osage Indians. The name has also been given as Wawsashe, Wacase, and Wassashsha. Marquette spelled the named Ouchage and Autrechacha. The name, to the Indians, meant "people"; the county seat is Linn.

Ozark County Organized January 29, 1841, from Taney County and named for the Ozark Mountains. Ozark is the anglicized version of the French abbreviation "aux arcs" for Aux Arkansas meaning "in the county of Arkansas". Originally organized January 29, 1841, as Ozark County, the name was changed to Decatur by an act of the Legislature on February 22, 1843. On March 24, 1845, the name was changed back to Ozark; the county seat is Gainesville.

Pemiscot County Organized February 19, 1851, from New Madrid County and named for the Indian word meaning "liquid mud"; the county seat is Caruthersville.

Perry County Organized November 16, 1820, (effective January 1, 1821) from Ste. Genevieve County and named for Oliver H. Perry, naval hero of the War of 1812; the county seat is Perryville.

Pettis County Organized January 26, 1833, from Cooper and Saline counties and named for Spencer Pettis, Missouri congressman; the county seat is Sedalia.

Phelps County Organized November 13, 1857, from Crawford County and named for John F. Phelps, congressman and later governor of Missouri; the county seat is Rolla.

Pike County Organized December 14, 1818, (effective February 1, 1819) from St. Charles County and named for Zebulon Montgomery Pike, explorer; the county seat is Bowling Green.

Platte County Organized December 31, 1838, from the Platte Purchase and named for the Platte River. Platte is a French word meaning "flat" or "shallow"; the county seat is Platte City.

Polk County Organized January 5, 1835, from Greene County and named for United States President James K. Polk; the county seat is Bolivar.

Pulaski County Organized January 19, 1833, from Crawford County and named for Casmir Pulaski, Polish general of the American Revolution; the county seat is Waynesville.

Putnam County Organized February 28, 1845, from Adair and Sullivan counties and named for Israel Putnam, a Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Unionville.

Ralls County Organized November 16, 1820, (effective January 1, 1821) from Pike County and named for Daniel Ralls, Missouri legislator; the county seat is London.

Randolph County Organized January 22, 1829, from Chariton and Ralls counties and named for John Randolph of Virginia; the county seat is Huntsville.

Ray County Organized November 16, 1820, (effective January 1, 1821) from Howard County and named for John Ray, member of the first State Constitutional Convention; the county seat is Richmond.

Reynolds County Organized February 25, 1845, from Shannon County and named for Thomas Reynolds, governor of Missouri; the county seat is Centerville.

Ripley County Organized January 5, 1833, from Wayne County and named for Eleazar W. Ripley, a soldier in the War of 1812; the county seat is Doniphan.

Saint Charles County Organized October 1, 1812, as one of the five original counties and named for Italian Cardinal St. Charles Borromeo; the county seat is St. Charles.

Saint Clair County Organized January 29, 1841, from Rives (later Henry) County and named for Arthur St. Clair, a Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Osceola.

Saint Francois County Organized December 19, 1821, from Jefferson, Ste. Genevieve and Washington counties and named for the St. Francois River. The river was probably named by the early French for St. Francois of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order; the county seat is Farmington.

Saint Louis City Organized August 22, 1876, under the 1875 Constitution of the State of Missouri. Until that date, St. Louis City and St. Louis County were one entity. After that time, St. Louis City became its own entity, maintaining its own courthouse and records; the county seat is It is not a county as such; records are in the city.

Saint Louis County Organized October 1, 1812, as one of the five original counties; named for St. Louis (King Louis IX of France), patron saint of King Louis XV; the county seat is Clayton.

Sainte Genevieve County Organized October 1, 1812, as one of the five original counties and named for the French Saint, Patroness of Paris; the county seat is Ste. Genevieve.

Saline County Organized November 25, 1820, (effective January 1, 1821) from Cooper County and named for its numerous salt springs; the county seat is Marshall.

Schuyler County Organized February 14, 1845, from Adair County and named for Philip Schuyler, a Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Lancaster.

Scotland County Organized January 29, 1841, from Clark, Lewis, and Shelby counties and named for Scotland; the county seat is Memphis.

Scott County Organized December 28, 1821, (effective March 1, 1822) from New Madrid County and named for John Scott, Missouri congressman; the county seat is Benton.

Shannon County Organized January 29, 1841, from Ripley County and named for George Shannon on the Lewis and Clark Expedition; the county seat is Eminence.

Shelby County Organized January 2, 1835, from Marion County and named for Isaac Shelby, governor of Kentucky and a Revolutionary War soldier; the county seat is Shelbyville.

Stoddard County Organized January 2, 1835, from New Madrid County and named for Amos Stoddard, first American Civil Commandant of Upper Louisiana; the county seat is Bloomfield.

Stone County Organized February 10, 1851, from Taney County and named for William Stone, pioneer judge of Taney County; the county seat is Galena.

Sullivan County Organized February 14, 1845, from Linn County and named for James Sullivan, a Revolutionary War general. Originally defined by the Legislature as Highland County on February 17, 1843, the name was changed upon actual organization; the county seat is Milan.

Taney County Organized January 6, 1837, from Greene County and named for Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court; the county seat is Forsyth.

Texas County Organized February 14, 1845, from Shannon and Wright Counties and named for the Republic of Texas. Originally defined by the Legislature as Ashley County on February 17, 1843, the name was changed to Texas upon organization; the county seat is Houston.

Vernon County Organized February 27, 1855, from Bates County and named for Miles Vernon, Missouri legislator. The original law establishing Vernon County was approved on February 17, 1851, but was later declared to be unconstitutional in that the boundaries described were identical to those of Bates County; the county seat is Nevada.

Warren County Organized January 5, 1833, from Montgomery County and named for Joseph Warren, a Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Warrenton.

Washington County Organized August 21, 1813, (effective November 1, 1813) from Ste. Genevieve and named for George Washington; the county seat is Potosi.

Wayne County Organized December 11, 1818, (effective February 1, 1819) from Cape Girardeau and Lawrence counties and named for Anthony Wayne, a Revolutionary War general; the county seat is Greenville.

Webster County Organized March 3, 1855, from Greene County and named for Daniel Webster; the county seat is Marshfield.

Worth County Organized February 8, 1861, (effective February 25, 1861) from Gentry County and named for William Jenkins Worth, a soldier in the Florida and Mexican Wars; the county seat is Grant City.

Wright County Organized January 29, 1841, from Pulaski County and named for Silas Wright, a New York senator; the county seat is Hartville.



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