Carthage, Missouri

Carthage, Missouri

Stores around the Courthouse square

Location within Jasper County and Missouri
Coordinates: 37°10′4″N 94°18′54″W / 37.16778°N 94.31500°W / 37.16778; -94.31500Coordinates: 37°10′4″N 94°18′54″W / 37.16778°N 94.31500°W / 37.16778; -94.31500
Country United States
State Missouri
County Jasper
  Type City Council
  Mayor Mike Harris
  Total 11.69 sq mi (30.28 km2)
  Land 11.65 sq mi (30.17 km2)
  Water 0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)
Elevation 1,004 ft (306 m)
Population (2010)[2]
  Total 14,378
  Estimate (2012[3]) 14,097
  Density 1,200/sq mi (470/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
  Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 64836
Area code(s) 417
FIPS code 29-11656 [4]
GNIS feature ID 0715455 [5]

Carthage is a city in Jasper County, Missouri, United States. The population was 14,378 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Jasper County[6] and is nicknamed "America's Maple Leaf City."[7]


Entrance to the Powers Museum
Carthage Route 66 Drive-In

Jasper County was formed in 1841. Carthage was chosen as the county seat, the area cleared and the town platted in 1842.[8] The city was named after ancient Carthage.[9] By the time of the American Civil War, there were over 500 residents,[10][11] a brick and stone courthouse, and several businesses.

The area was divided over slavery, and almost all of the African-Americans in the county at the time were slaves. The Battle of Carthage, fought on July 5, 1861, was a clash between Union troops from St. Louis and Confederate troops led by the pro-Southern Missouri Governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson. The "Second Battle of Carthage" occurred in October 1863 when Union troops confronted Confederate troops north of town and forced them to return to Arkansas. The town experienced minor skirmishes and attacks throughout the war; pro-Confederate guerrillas burned most of the city (including the courthouse) in September 1864. Historical accounts, such as Jasper County, Missouri in the Civil War (1923) by Col. Ward L. Schrantz, document the regional warfare.

The area grew rapidly following the Civil War. The Missouri Western Railroad arrived in 1872. Town residents started a foundry, furniture factory, woolen and grain mills, a plow works and numerous liveries and other businesses.[12] Leggett & Platt, now a Fortune 500 company still based in Carthage, was founded in 1883. Nearby lead mines and limestone quarries also contributed significant wealth and Carthage became one of the most prosperous towns in the area. Residents poured their money into ornate Victorian-style homes, many of which are now part of the Carthage South District, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The Jasper County Courthouse, also on the National Register of Historic Places, was built of Carthage stone in 1894-95. There is a mural inside the courthouse depicting the history of Jasper County. Growth in Carthage can be documented through Sanborn Maps, many of which are available online.[13]

Numerous local buildings, in addition to the courthouse, were built in the late 19th and early 20th century out of stone from local quarries. The limestone is hard enough to be polished into "Carthage marble" and was used in both the interior and exterior of the state capitol building in Jefferson City, Missouri. The quarries known today as the Carthage Underground, a commercial space that utilizes but a small portion of the extensive uncharted quarries nearby.[14]

In 1925, Ozark Wesleyan College merged three Methodist colleges into one institution and built a campus in the center of town. The college operated only a few years before closing. The campus was home to Our Lady of the Ozarks College from 1944–1971 and now houses the Vietnamese-American Catholic religious Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix. This Vietnamese order of priests and brothers came from Vietnam to settle in Carthage in 1975, immediately following the Vietnam War.[15] In the monastery of this Vietnamese congregation the controversial archbishop Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục died in 1984.

U.S. Highways 66 and 71 came through town in the 1920s, and for a time the town saw a stream of cross-country traffic. Route 66 intersected with U.S. Route 71 at the present intersection of Central and Garrison Avenue. The original owners of a Boots Court motel at this crossroads promoted a drive-in restaurant with a KDMO AM radio broadcast, "Breakfast at the Crossroads of America", named as a reference to the two major highways of the era. Route 66 was eventually re-routed, and then replaced in the 1960s with Interstate 44 running south of town.

In the late 20th century, the town began actively courting tourism, emphasizing its history (the Battle of Carthage, Victorian architecture, and Route 66), as well as its proximity to the Precious Moments hotel and store, along with the popular country music destination Branson, Missouri.


Carthage is located at 37°10′4″N 94°18′54″W / 37.16778°N 94.31500°W / 37.16778; -94.31500 (37.167773, -94.314958).[16] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.69 square miles (30.28 km2), of which, 11.65 square miles (30.17 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water.[1]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201514,319[17]−1.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]

Carthage is part of the Joplin, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area.

2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 14,378 people, 5,169 households, and 3,419 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,234.2 inhabitants per square mile (476.5/km2). There were 5,753 housing units at an average density of 493.8 per square mile (190.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 73.6% White, 1.5% African American, 1.0% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.6% Pacific Islander, 18.9% from other races, and 3.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.6% of the population.

There were 5,169 households of which 38.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.2% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.9% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.26.

The median age in the city was 32 years. 28.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.9% were from 25 to 44; 20.7% were from 45 to 64; and 13.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.9% male and 51.1% female.

2000 census

At the 2000 census,[4] there were 12,668 people, 4,813 households and 3,157 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,328.2 per square mile (512.7/km²). There were 5,217 housing units at an average density of 547.0 per square mile (211.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.46% White, 2.39% African American, 1.05% Native American, 1.59% Asian, 0.21% Pacific Islander, 6.65% from other races, and 4.94% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 18.27% of the population.

There were 4,813 households of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.5% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.4% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.04.

25.4% of the population were under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 95.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.7 males.

The median household income was $32,557 and the median family income was $37,927. Males had a median income of $29,315 compared with $21,442 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,281. About 12.7% of families and 19.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.5% of those under age 18 and 13.0% of those age 65 or over.


Major area employers include Leggett & Platt, a Fortune 500[19] corporation manufacturing household durables, which is headquartered in the town, H.E. Williams, Inc. (a manufacturer of home electric lighting implements), Otts Foods, Schreiber Foods, and Goodman Manufacturing (all producing various food products) and the Carthage Underground, formerly a quarry, which now serves as a storage area with climate control for various products. Carthage was well known in the early 20th century for the fine-grained, extremely dense grey limestone, "Carthage Marble", which came from that mine and was used for numerous public buildings throughout the US, including the Capitol Building in Jefferson City and the Jasper County Courthouse.

Carthage has several food manufacturers and processing plants in and around the city. These plants produce a great deal of slaughterhouse waste. Changing World Technologies and its subsidiary Renewable Environment Solutions built the first operational commercial thermal conversion plant in the United States to take advantage of the large amount of feedstock for the thermal conversion process made available by the many food rendering plants in the area in 2003.

In Jan 2008, a new city-owned hospital, McCune-Brooks, opened and the old facility has been renovated for use by the Carthage Water and Electric Plant. The new Carthage High School opened in 2009.[20]

Dyno Nobel and Buckley Powder Company co-owns an explosives plant a couple miles southwest of Carthage.


James Scott

As noted above, Carthage was the site of the Battle of Carthage, the first official engagement of the American Civil War, on July 5, 1861. Local groups stage reenactments of the battle,[21] near the grounds of the State Historic Site which commemorates the event.

Carthage is located on Historic U.S. Route 66. The original alignment around town is still marked, and several old businesses built to cater to travelers can still be seen.[22]

Since 1966, Carthage has held a festival each October called the Maple Leaf Festival.[23] The week-long festival is named for the many maple trees that grow in the town, whose leaves change into bright colors such as red, orange, and yellow in the fall. Many people from towns from all over Jasper County and further attend the parade, bringing applicants for the parade such as hometown bands, businesses, spookhouses, television stations, and various entertainment. It is a tradition for the people participating in the parade to hand out large amounts of candy to children, as well as advertisements and other small items such as frisbees and footballs. The parade usually runs from the town square, where snacks can be bought and ends at the junior high school, where children can be picked up.

Since 1978, Carthage has hosted the annual Marian Days celebration for Vietnamese American Catholics. The event, which typically draws 50,000 to 70,000 attendees, takes place on the 28-acre (110,000 m2) campus of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix.[24]

Carthage is also the home of the Precious Moments Park and Chapel, a tourist attraction with paintings and oversized depictions of the popular porcelain figurines.

Histories of Carthage include Ward L. Schrantz's Jasper County Missouri in the Civil War (Carthage, Missouri: The Carthage, Missouri Kiwanis Club, 1923), History of Jasper County, Missouri (Des Moines, Iowa: Mills & Company, 1883) and Images of America: Carthage, Missouri (Chicago, Illinois: Arcadia Publishing, 2000).

Victorian era homes of Carthage are featured in It Wasn't A Dream, It Was A Flood, a 1974 autobiographical, 16mm short film about poet Frank Stanford.

Composer James Scott, regarded as one of the three most important composers of classic ragtime, lived in Carthage from 1901 to 1906. Scott attended Lincoln High School and worked in the music store of Charles L. Dumars. Demand for the music of Scott, who began to compose while living in Carthage, convinced Dumars to publish Scott's "A Summer Breeze" in 1903.[25]


The government of Carthage is represented by a Mayor-council government. Carthage is divided into five wards which are represented by two members. There is a total of 11 council members including the Mayor.

Carthage is in Missouri's 7th congressional district and is being represented in the United States Congress by Billy Long since 2010.

In the Missouri House of Representatives, Carthage is in the 127th District and since 2008 is being represented by Tom Flanigan, a former Carthage City Council alderman. In the Missouri Senate, Ron Richard represents the Joplin-Carthage area since 2010.

The Carthage, Missouri Police Department is the law enforcement agency in the city of Carthage, Missouri. Currently they employ 29 Officers.[26]

Notable people


  1. 1 2 "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  2. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  3. "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-06-17. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
  4. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  7. Carthage, Missouri Chamber of Commerce - America's Maple Leaf City!
  8. Eaton, David Wolfe (1916). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 178.
  9. Merkner, Sue A. (Jul 27, 1977). "Odd places give Missouri towns foreign names". The Nevada Daily Mail. p. 5. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  10. A history of Jasper County, Missouri, and its people, Volume 1 By Joel Thomas Livingston, Page 42
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-02-17. Retrieved 2006-05-01.
  13. Sanborn Maps for Missouri:Carthage, University of Missouri Digital Library. Accessed 2011-03-14.
  14. Underground Ozarks
  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-10-09. Retrieved 2005-08-28.
  16. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  17. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  18. U.S. Decennial Census
  19. "Fortune 500 2008: Fortune 1000 401-500". CNN.
  24. Because of this, it makes Carthage the third largest city in the state for a week or so. "Vietnamese Americans Make Pilgrimage to Missouri". National Public Radio. August 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
  25. Jasen David A. and Trebor Jay Tichenor (1978). Rags and Ragtime. Dover.

External links

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