Oregon County, Missouri

For the territory in the Pacific Northwest, see Oregon Country. For the city in Holt County, see Oregon, Missouri.
Oregon County, Missouri

Oregon County Courthouse in Alton
Map of Missouri highlighting Oregon 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 Oregon Territory
Seat Alton
Largest city Thayer
  Total 792 sq mi (2,051 km2)
  Land 790 sq mi (2,046 km2)
  Water 1.7 sq mi (4 km2), 0.2%
Population (est.)
  (2015) 10,953
  Density 14/sq mi (5/km²)
Congressional district 8th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Oregon County is a county located in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,881.[1] Its county seat is Alton.[2] The county was officially organized on February 14, 1845, and was named for the Oregon Territory in the northwestern United States.

Home to a large area of the Mark Twain National Forest, Oregon County contains more national forest acreage than any county in the state of Missouri. It also contains the Irish Wilderness, the largest federally protected wilderness area in the state. Hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding opportunities abound on the Ozark Trail and the White's Creek Trail. Canoeing, kayaking, jonboating, and fishing are popular on the Eleven Point River, which is Missouri's only National Wild and Scenic River.

Grand Gulf State Park is a Missouri state park just west of Thayer which includes a collapsed karst canyon.


Oregon County was created in 1845, at a time when the Oregon boundary dispute was a major issue.[3]

During the American Civil War, men from Oregon County enlisted to fight for the Confederate States of America on three separate occasions.

In July 1861, the Second Infantry Regiment of McBride's Seventh Division, Missouri State Guard was formed. Oregon County men made up Companies A, D, F, and G. On August 10, 1861 they fought at the Battle of Wilsons Creek near Springfield and were victorious.

In early 1862 the Missouri State Guard was disbanded and regular Confederate Army units were formed. During February and March 1862, Oregon County men were mustered into companies D and I of the Fourth Missouri Infantry Regiment. The Fourth Missouri was sent to Mississippi, where they took part in the Battle of Corinth on October 3–4, 1862. The Oregon County men suffered heavy losses to both disease and battle casualties, and surrendered with 30,000 other Confederates after the Siege of Vicksburg ended on July 4, 1863.

In the late winter and spring of 1864, Major Matthew G. Norman began organizing a regiment of cavalry. They would join with men from northern Arkansas men led by Lt. Colonel James H. Tracy to form Fristoe's Regiment, Missouri Cavalry. Colonel Edward T. Fristoe, a native of Rappahannock, Virginia, would lead his regiment during General Sterling Price's ill-fated Missouri raid in the fall of 1864.

Other units Oregon County men enlisted in were Freeman's Regiment, Missouri Cavalry, and the Fifteenth Missouri Cavalry Regiment from neighboring Ripley County. Only a few Oregon County men joined the Union Army. Oregon County suffered greatly during the war from raids by Union troops, as well as from atrocities committed by bushwhackers supporting neither side.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 792 square miles (2,050 km2), of which 790 square miles (2,000 km2) is land and 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2) (0.2%) is water.[4] Arkansas is located to the south of Oregon County.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected area


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201510,953[5]0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2015[1]

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 10,344 people, 4,263 households, and 3,018 families residing in the county. The population density was 13 people per square mile (5/km²). There were 4,997 housing units at an average density of 6 per square mile (2/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.61% White, 0.10% Black or African American, 2.88% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.08% from other races, and 2.19% from two or more races. Approximately 1.09% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Among the major first ancestries reported in Oregon County were 29.7% American, 13.4% English, 13.1% Irish, and 13.0% German.

There were 4,263 households out of which 29.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.80% were married couples living together, 8.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.20% were non-families. 26.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.30% under the age of 18, 7.00% from 18 to 24, 24.10% from 25 to 44, 26.50% from 45 to 64, and 18.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 96.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $26,119, and the median income for a family was $31,637. Males had a median income of $22,304 versus $16,353 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,043. About 16.30% of families and 22.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.20% of those under age 18 and 20.00% of those age 65 or over.


According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2000), OregonCounty is a part of the Bible Belt with evangelical Protestantism being the majority religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in Oregon County who adhere to a religion are Southern Baptists (36.10%), National Association of Free Will Baptists (34.45%), and Churches of Christ (9.81%).



The Democratic Party predominantly controls politics at the local level in Oregon County. Democrats hold most of the elected positions in the county.

Oregon County, Missouri
Elected countywide officials
Assessor Charles Alford Democratic
Circuit Clerk Rosemary Romans Democratic
County Clerk Tracy Bridges Democratic
Collector Misty Hower Democratic
Leo Warren Democratic
(District 1)
Johnny D. Wrenfrow Democratic
(District 2)
Buddy Wright Democratic
Coroner Tom Clary Democratic
Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Hyde Crask Democratic
Public Administrator Mike Crawford Republican
Recorder Dawn Holman Democratic
Sheriff George R. Underwood Democratic
Surveyor Scott Simer Democratic
Treasurer Kim Hollis Democratic


All of Oregon County is a part of Missouri’s 153rd District in the Missouri House of Representatives and is currently represented by Steve Cookson (R-Fairdealing).

Missouri House of Representatives - District 153 - Oregon County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Steve Cookson 2,133 61.52 -38.48
Democratic George Meyers 1,175 33.89 +33.89
Constitution Rory Calhoun 159 4.59 +4.59

All of Oregon County is a part of Missouri's 33rd District in the Missouri Senate and is currently represented by State Senator Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield). In 2008, Purgason defeated Democrat Eric Reeve 67.31-32.69 percent in the district. The 33rd Senatorial District consists of Camden, Howell, Laclede, Oregon, Shannon, Texas, and Wright counties.

Missouri Senate - District 33 - Oregon County (2008)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Chuck Purgason 2,709 61.03
Democratic Eric Reeve 1,730 38.97
Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2012 50.01% 2,200 46.85% 2,061 3.14% 138
2008 38.07% 1,742 59.22% 2,710 2.71% 124
2004 55.76% 2,579 42.16% 1,950 2.08% 96
2000 45.82% 1,938 51.70% 2,187 2.48% 105
1996 38.02% 1,466 59.23% 2,284 2.75% 106
1992 39.27% 1,635 60.73% 2,529 0.00% 0
1988 53.00% 1,978 46.60% 1,739 0.40% 15
1984 52.93% 2,087 47.07% 1,856 0.00% 0
1980 40.12% 1,542 59.82% 2,299 0.05% 2
1976 37.19% 1,350 62.73% 2,277 0.08% 3


Oregon County is included in Missouri’s 8th Congressional District and is currently 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 – Oregon County (2012)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jo Ann Emerson 3,061 70.42 +9.38
Democratic Jack Rushin 1,103 25.37 -9.21
Libertarian Rick Vandeven 183 4.21 +2.08
U.S. House of Representatives - District 8 - Special Election – Oregon County (2013)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican James T. Smith 574 59.05
Democratic Steve Hodges 297 30.56
Constitution Doug Enyart 90 9.26
Libertarian Bill Slantz 11 1.13

Political culture

Past Presidential Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2012 65.28% 2,886 32.10% 1,419 2.62% 116
2008 57.77% 2,652 39.45% 1,811 2.78% 128
2004 59.26% 2,769 39.01% 1,823 1.73% 81
2000 59.56% 2,521 37.04% 1,568 3.40% 144
1996 39.10% 1,502 46.73% 1,795 14.16% 544
1992 33.10% 1,402 53.31% 2,258 13.31% 564
1988 45.59% 1,717 54.22% 2,042 0.19% 7
1984 49.41% 1,979 50.59% 2,026 0.00% 0
1980 39.07% 1,523 59.67% 2,326 1.26% 49
1976 30.23% 1,122 69.07% 2,564 0.70% 26

At the presidential level, Oregon County is a fairly independent-leaning or battleground county. While George W. Bush carried Oregon County in 2000 and 2004, the margins of victory were smaller than in many of the other rural areas. Bill Clinton also carried Oregon County both times in 1992 and 1996. Like most of the other rural counties in Missouri, Oregon County favored John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008.

Like most rural areas throughout Southeast Missouri, voters in Oregon County generally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles. In 2004, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman—it overwhelmingly passed Oregon County with 87.09 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 Oregon County with 56.78 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 Oregon 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 Oregon County with 73.14 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. During the same election, voters in five other states also strongly approved increases in the minimum wage.

Missouri Presidential Preference Primary (2008)

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

Oregon County, Missouri
2008 Republican primary in Missouri
John McCain 242 (20.47%)
Mike Huckabee 696 (58.88%)
Mitt Romney 134 (11.34%)
Ron Paul 101 (8.54%)
Oregon County, Missouri
2008 Democratic primary in Missouri
Hillary Clinton 989 (71.77%)
Barack Obama 332 (24.09%)
John Edwards (withdrawn) 42 (3.05%)


Of adults 25 years of age and older in Oregon County, 72.0% possesses a high school diploma or higher while 9.1% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public schools


See also


  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. Eaton, David Wolfe (1917). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 337.
  4. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  5. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  6. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  7. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  8. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  9. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  10. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.

Coordinates: 36°41′N 91°24′W / 36.69°N 91.40°W / 36.69; -91.40

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