Mississippi County, Missouri

Mississippi County, Missouri

Mississippi County Courthouse
Map of Missouri highlighting Mississippi County
Location in the U.S. state of Missouri
Map of the United States highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location in the U.S.
Founded February 14, 1845
Named for Mississippi River
Seat Charleston
Largest city Charleston
  Total 429 sq mi (1,111 km2)
  Land 412 sq mi (1,067 km2)
  Water 17 sq mi (44 km2), 4.0%
Population (est.)
  (2015) 14,036
  Density 35/sq mi (14/km²)
Congressional district 8th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website Mississippi County, Missouri

Mississippi County is a county located in the Bootheel of the U.S. state of Missouri, with its eastern border formed by the Mississippi River. As of the 2010 census, the population was 14,358.[1] The largest city and county seat is Charleston.[2] The county was officially organized on February 14, 1845, and was named after the Mississippi River.[3]


Mississippi County is located in what was formerly known as "Tywappity Bottom," a vast floodplain area bordered by the Scott County Hills on the north, St. James Bayou on the south, the Mississippi River on the east and Little River on the west.

In 1540, the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto penetrated to the Arkansas River and perhaps well into southeastern Missouri, which was populated by various Native American tribes. Under the pressure of a constantly advancing white settlement, the Native Americans gradually retreated westward to survive. The area of southeastern Missouri was noted for its level swampy lowlands, subject to the seasonal flooding of the Mississippi River, which had resulted in extremely fertile soils.

By 1820 European Americans from the United States, many migrating from southern states, had settled most of the present counties of southeastern Missouri. The settlers were mostly farmers who came from Illinois and states of the Upper South: Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. They wanted the fertile and cheap lands found in the area of present-day Charleston, Missouri.

European Americans reached Charleston in 1830. In 1837, Thankful Randol sold Joseph Moore 22½ acres of land; Moore laid out a plan for the city of Charleston. Its original boundary was 12 blocks - four north and south and three east and west. The Original Plat was filed on May 20, 1837. An act to incorporate the City of Charleston, Missouri, in the County of Mississippi, was enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri on March 25, 1872.

The virgin forests attracted timber barons at the turn of the 20th century. Following the clearing of the timber, residents with state assistance built levees were built and formed drainage districts to redevelop the land. As hundreds of miles of levees and dikes were constructed within the Little River Drainage District, thousands of acres of land were drained and reclaimed for agriculture use. The reclaimed land, highly fertile due to centuries of floods from the Mississippi River, was cultivated for cotton, corn, and wheat. Since the late 20th century, soybeans and rice have been important commodity crops.


3Horse statues at fireworks retailer Boomland overlooking Interstate 57.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 429 square miles (1,110 km2), of which 412 square miles (1,070 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (4.0%) is water.[4]

Adjacent counties

Mississippi County has borders across the river with four Kentucky counties, but there is no direct highway connection among them due to the barrier of the river. None of the four Kentucky counties that border Missouri has any direct highway connection with Missouri, making Kentucky and Missouri the only two U.S. states to border each other, even across a major river, without a direct highway connection between them. This reflects the relatively low populations among these counties, which are largely rural in character. In early 2016, it was declared as the poorest county in Missouri [5]

Major highways


The county was at its peak of population in 1940. With changes in agriculture and mechanization requiring fewer workers, jobs have declined, as has county population.

Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201514,036[6]−2.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790-1960[8] 1900-1990[9]
1990-2000[10] 2010-2015[1]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 13,427 people, 5,383 households, and 3,671 families residing in the county. The population density was 32 people per square mile (13/km²). There were 5,840 housing units at an average density of 14 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 77.93% White, 20.53% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.29% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Approximately 0.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,383 households out of which 31.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.70% were married couples living together, 17.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.80% were non-families. 28.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the county the population was spread out with 26.30% under the age of 18, 8.80% from 18 to 24, 25.40% from 25 to 44, 23.60% from 45 to 64, and 15.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 87.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,837, and the median income for a family was $35,554. Males had a median income of $26,110 versus $17,204 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,847. About 19.00% of families and 23.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.70% of those under age 18 and 21.70% of those age 65 or over.


According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2000), Mississippi County is a part of the Bible Belt with evangelical Protestantism being the majority religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in Mississippi County who adhere to a religion are Southern Baptists (53.88%), Methodists (13.70%), and Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (7.55%).


Of adults 25 years of age and older in Mississippi County, 61.1% possesses a high school diploma or higher while 9.6% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public schools

Private schools


The Democratic Party predominantly controls politics at the local level in Mississippi County. Democrats hold all but one of the elected positions in the county.

Mississippi County, Missouri
Elected countywide officials
Assessor Shirley Coffer Democratic
Circuit Clerk Leigh Ann Colson Democratic
County Clerk Hubert DeLay, Jr. Democratic
Collector Ann McCuiston Democratic
Carlin Bennett Republican
(District 1)
Robert Jackson Democratic
(District 2)
Steve Jones Democratic
Coroner Terry A. Parker Democratic
Prosecuting Attorney Darren Cann Democratic
Public Administrator Rick Reed Democratic
Recorder George Bays Democratic
Sheriff Keith Moore Democratic
Surveyor Martin Lucas Democratic
Treasurer Sandra B. Morrow Democratic


All of Mississippi County is a part of Missouri’s 161st District in the Missouri House of Representatives; it is represented by Steve Hodges (D-East Prairie).

Missouri House of Representatives - District 161 - Mississippi County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Steve Hodges* 2,407 69.77 -30.23
Republican Ron McCormick 1,043 30.23 +30.23

All of Mississippi County is a part of Missouri's 27th District in the Missouri Senate and is currently represented by State Senator Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau). Crowell defeated Linda Sanders (D-Jackson) by almost a two-to-one margin, 64.24-35.76 percent in the district. The 27th Senatorial District consists of Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Madison, Mississippi, Perry, and Scott counties.

Missouri Senate - District 27 - Mississippi County (2008)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jason Crowell 2,497 50.60
Democratic Linda Sanders 2,438 49.40
Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2012 30.71% 1,822 60.48% 2,938 2.02% 98
2008 50.27% 2,659 47.70% 2,523 2.03% 107
2004 48.65% 2,558 50.30% 2,645 1.05% 55
2000 41.97% 2,170 56.79% 2,936 1.24% 64
1996 25.52% 1,325 73.11% 3,796 1.37% 71
1992 41.95% 2,315 58.05% 3,204 0.00% 0
1988 32.58% 1,638 67.22% 3,379 0.20% 10
1984 47.15% 2,307 52.85% 2,586 0.00% 0
1980 38.35% 2,091 61.56% 3,356 0.09% 5
1976 32.75% 1,617 67.17% 3,316 0.08% 4


Mississippi County is included in Missouri’s 8th Congressional District and is represented by Jason T. Smith (R-Salem) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Smith won a special election on Tuesday, June 4, 2013, to finish out the remaining term of U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R-Cape Girardeau). Emerson announced her resignation a month after being reelected with over 70 percent of the vote in the district. She resigned to become CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative.

U.S. House of Representatives - District 8 – Mississippi County (2012)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jo Ann Emerson 3,270 68.40 +4.37
Democratic Jack Rushin 1,406 29.41 -2.98
Libertarian Rick Vandeven 105 2.20 +1.25
U.S. House of Representatives - District 8 - Special Election – Mississippi County (2013)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Steve Hodges 1,028 58.18
Republican Jason T. Smith 693 39.22
Constitution Doug Enyart 27 1.53
Libertarian Bill Slantz 18 1.02
Write-in Thomas Brown 1 0.06

Political culture

Past Presidential Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2012 60.91% 2,997 37.76% 1,858 1.32% 65
2008 56.65% 3,034 41.95% 2,247 1.40% 75
2004 54.79% 2,903 44.81% 2,374 0.40% 21
2000 45.93% 2,395 52.85% 2,756 2.33% 439
1996 30.39% 1,595 61.63% 3,235 7.98% 419
1992 29.45% 1,675 56.73% 3,226 13.65% 776
1988 43.99% 2,218 55.81% 2,814 0.20% 10
1984 49.78% 2,502 50.22% 2,524 0.00% 0
1980 44.08% 2,459 54.49% 3,040 1.43% 80
1976 33.87% 1,733 65.79% 3,366 0.33% 17

At the presidential level, Mississippi County is a fairly independent-leaning or battleground county although, like many counties in the impoverished Bootheel with a significant African American population, it does have a slight tendency to lean Democratic. While George W. Bush carried Mississippi County in 2004, Al Gore won the county in 2000, although both times the margins of victory were significantly closer than in many of the other rural areas. Bill Clinton also carried Mississippi County both times in 1992 and 1996 by convincing double-digit margins. And like many of the other rural counties in Missouri, Mississippi County favored John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008, although the margin of victory was smaller than in most rural areas.

Like most rural areas throughout Missouri, voters in Mississippi County generally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles but are more moderate or populist on economic issues, typical of the Dixiecrat philosophy. In 2004, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman—it overwhelmingly passed in Mississippi County with 86.87 percent of the vote. The initiative passed the state with 71 percent of support from voters as Missouri became the first state to ban same-sex marriage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to fund and legalize embryonic stem cell research in the state—it failed in Mississippi County with 57.35 percent voting against the measure. The initiative narrowly passed the state with 51 percent of support from voters as Missouri became one of the first states in the nation to approve embryonic stem cell research. Despite Mississippi County’s longstanding tradition of supporting socially conservative platforms, voters in the county have a penchant for advancing populist causes like increasing the minimum wage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a proposition (Proposition B) to increase the minimum wage in the state to $6.50 an hour—it passed Mississippi County with 75.66 percent of the vote. The proposition strongly passed every single county in Missouri with 75.94 percent voting in favor as the minimum wage was increased to $6.50 an hour in the state.

Missouri Presidential Preference Primary (2008)

In the 2008 Missouri Presidential Preference Primary, voters in Mississippi County from both political parties supported candidates who finished in second place in the state at large and nationally.

Mississippi County, Missouri
2008 Republican primary in Missouri
John McCain 373 (33.73%)
Mike Huckabee 471 (42.59%)
Mitt Romney 226 (20.43%)
Ron Paul 15 (1.36%)
Mississippi County, Missouri
2008 Democratic primary in Missouri
Hillary Clinton 1,094 (65.43%)
Barack Obama 502 (30.02%)
John Edwards (withdrawn) 57 (3.41%)


See also


  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. Eaton, David Wolfe (1916). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 330.
  4. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  5. "The Poorest County in Every State".
  6. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  7. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  8. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  9. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  10. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  11. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  12. "Charleston School District". Charleston School District.
  13. http://www.eprairie.k12.mo.us/
  14. Timothy Rolwing. "St. Henry Catholic Church, Charleston, Missouri, Welcomes You!".
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Coordinates: 36°50′N 89°17′W / 36.83°N 89.29°W / 36.83; -89.29

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