Wright County, Missouri

Wright County, Missouri

Wright County Courthouse in Hartville
Map of Missouri highlighting Wright County
Location in the U.S. state of Missouri
Map of the United States highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location in the U.S.
Founded January 29, 1841
Named for Silas Wright
Seat Hartville
Largest city Mountain Grove
  Total 683 sq mi (1,769 km2)
  Land 682 sq mi (1,766 km2)
  Water 1.4 sq mi (4 km2), 0.2%
Population (est.)
  (2015) 18,268
  Density 28/sq mi (11/km²)
Congressional district 8th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website www.wrightcountymo.com

Wright County is a county located in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,815.[1] Its county seat is Hartville.[2] The county was officially organized on January 29, 1841, and is named after Silas Wright (D-New York), a former Congressman, U.S. Senator and Governor of New York.[3]


Wright County is bordered by Laclede County on the north, Texas County on the east, Douglas County on the south, and Webster County on the west. It is in the part of the state considered Southwest Missouri. Formed from part of Pulaski County on January 29, 1841, Wright County was named in honor of Silas Wright, a prominent New York Democrat. The county seat of Hartville was probably named after Hartsville, Tennessee, from where many early settlers originally came. Wright County lost part of its land in 1845 to Texas County, in 1849 to Laclede, and in 1855 a big chunk to Webster.

It appears there were no Native American settlements early in the area, although the wandering Delawares, Shawnees, and Piankashaws did come through. Early white settlers were in the county in 1836 and were probably hunters. Earliest known settlers (by 1840) were Samuel Thompson, Robert Moore, John W. Burns, Jeff and Robert Montgomery, Benjamin Stephens, James Young, William Franklin, Isham Pool, and the Tuckers, according to Goodspeed.

The county has been devastated several times by storms. The tornado that swept through Southwest Missouri that devastated Webster County on April 18, 1880, also killed Polly and Sallie Scott and Mack, according to Goodspeed, in Wright County. A flood that occurred April 22–23, 1885, drowned James Woods and his son Yat. Another tornado on May 8, 1888, did considerable damage, as did a hailstorm near the same time that reportedly left hail 3-4 inches deep and in drifts 5–8 feet high, after falling for two hours. Goodspeed gives great accounts of these storms, as well as others.

A good-sized portion of the county is located in the Mark Twain National Forest. The Gasconade River and its tributaries flow through the county, as well allowing for great recreational opportunities.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 683 square miles (1,770 km2), of which 682 square miles (1,770 km2) is land and 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) (0.2%) is water.[4]

The county is drained by the Gasconade River and the headwaters of White River. The terrain is moderately hilly.[5]

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected area


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201518,268[6]−2.9%
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 17,955 people, 7,081 households, and 5,020 families residing in the county. The population density was 26 people per square mile (10/km²). There were 7,957 housing units at an average density of 12 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.61% White, 0.28% Black or African American, 0.66% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.27% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. Approximately 0.77% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,081 households out of which 33.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.50% were married couples living together, 8.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.10% were non-families. 26.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the county the population was spread out with 27.20% under the age of 18, 8.20% from 18 to 24, 25.30% from 25 to 44, 22.80% from 45 to 64, and 16.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 94.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $30,685, and the median income for a family was $37,139. Males had a median income of $24,876 versus $17,608 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,319. About 17.30% of families and 21.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.10% of those under age 18 and 17.60% of those age 65 or over.


According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2000), Wright County is a part of the Bible Belt with evangelical Protestantism being the majority religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in Wright County who adhere to a religion are Southern Baptists (49.92%), National Association of Free Will Baptists (19.84%), and Pentecostals (7.55%).


Of adults 25 years of age and older in Wright County, 71.1% possesses a high school diploma or higher while 9.8% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public schools

Private schools

Alternative and vocational schools



The Republican Party completely controls politics at the local level in Wright County. Republicans hold every elected position in the county.

Wright County, Missouri
Elected countywide officials
Assessor Brenda Day Republican
Circuit Clerk Joe Chadwell Republican
County Clerk Nelda Masner Republican
Collector Cindy Cottengim Republican
Zach Williams Republican
(District 1)
Tommy Gaddis Republican
(District 2)
Mike Sherman Republican
Coroner Ben Hurtt Republican
Prosecuting Attorney Jason W. MacPherson Republican
Public Administrator John T. Miller Republican
Recorder Kathy Garrison Republican
Sheriff Glenn Adler Republican
Surveyor W. Andrew Daniel Republican
Treasurer Naomi Gray Republican


All of Wright County is a part off Missouri's 144th District in the Missouri House of Representatives and is currently represented by Tony Dugger (R-Hartville).

Missouri House of Representatives - District 144 - Wright County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Tony Dugger* 5,368 100.00 +25.78

All of Wright 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 - Wright County (2008)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Chuck Purgason 5,706 70.98
Democratic Eric Reeve 2,333 29.02
Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2012 61.13% 4,866 36.16% 2,878 2.71% 216
2008 49.57% 4,198 47.53% 4,025 2.90% 245
2004 71.37% 5,955 27.33% 2,280 1.30% 109
2000 62.56% 4,872 35.73% 2,783 1.71% 133
1996 62.03% 4,310 35.13% 2,441 2.84% 197
1992 56.36% 4,280 43.64% 3,314 0.00% 0
1988 74.68% 4,789 24.92% 1,598 0.41% 26
1984 74.30% 4,928 25.70% 1,705 0.00% 0
1980 60.21% 4,035 39.67% 2,659 0.12% 8
1976 61.66% 3,780 38.29% 2,347 0.05% 3


Wright 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 – Wright County (2012)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jo Ann Emerson 6,172 79.07 +7.77
Democratic Jack Rushin 1,334 17.09 -5.99
Libertarian Rick Vandeven 300 3.84 +1.15
U.S. House of Representatives - District 8 - Special Election – Wright County (2013)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jason T. Smith 1,412 80.41
Democratic Steve Hodges 298 16.97
Constitution Doug Enyart 26 1.48
Libertarian Bill Slantz 20 1.14

Political culture

Past Presidential Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2012 73.29% 5,830 24.55% 1,953 2.16% 172
2008 67.94% 5,784 30.03% 2,557 2.03% 173
2004 72.97% 6,090 26.22% 2,188 0.81% 68
2000 68.75% 5,391 28.70% 2,250 2.55% 200
1996 53.67% 3,754 32.59% 2,280 13.74% 961
1992 44.60% 3,427 36.62% 2,814 18.55% 1,425
1988 64.92% 4,151 34.91% 2,232 0.17% 11
1984 70.38% 4,687 29.62% 1,973 0.00% 0
1980 66.27% 4,451 32.49% 2,182 1.24% 83
1976 54.87% 3,397 44.92% 2,781 0.21% 13

Like most counties situated in Southwest Missouri, Wright County is a Republican stronghold in presidential elections. George W. Bush carried Wright County in 2000 and 2004 by more than two-to-one margins, and like many other rural counties throughout Missouri, Wright County strongly favored John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008. No Democratic presidential nominee has won Wright County in over 50 years.

Like most rural areas throughout the Bible Belt in Southwest Missouri, voters in Wright County traditionally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles which tend to strongly influence their Republican leanings. In 2004, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman—it overwhelmingly passed Wright County with 86.28 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 Wright County with 64.84 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 Wright 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 Wright County with 70.99 percent of the vote. The proposition strongly passed every single county in Missouri with 78.99 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)

Wright County, Missouri
2008 Republican primary in Missouri
John McCain 746 (23.69%)
Mike Huckabee 1,878 (59.64%)
Mitt Romney 298 (9.46%)
Ron Paul 178 (5.65%)
Wright County, Missouri
2008 Democratic primary in Missouri
Hillary Clinton 1,143 (69.48%)
Barack Obama 452 (27.48%)
John Edwards (withdrawn) 36 (2.19%)


See also


  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. Eaton, David Wolfe (1918). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 372.
  4. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  5.  Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Wright. III. A S. county of Missouri". The American Cyclopædia.
  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 22, 2014.
  8. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  9. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  10. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  11. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.

Further reading

Coordinates: 37°16′N 92°28′W / 37.27°N 92.46°W / 37.27; -92.46

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