Around the time of the Civil War, southwestern St. Charles County was a rural and isolated community. By 1888, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad negotiated to extend its line through the region. As the railroad moved in, two towns sprung up — both wanting to become the economic center for the region.
Local farmer and landowner Richard Matson recognized the benefits that this railroad could offer and contributed 20 acres to assure a depot would be built at his location. On the site, a small station, and other rail facilities were constructed. A town called "Matson" also grew alongside this new station with streets, a general store, grain elevator, schools, blacksmith shop, doctor, church and eventually a saloon.
Matson developed into a booming commercial entity and sought to grow even larger. During the height of its growth, local farmers two miles north of Matson began talk of developing a town of their own. By 1892, this small community featured a blacksmith, store, and trading post, but the railroad steamed by their farms and businesses on its way to Matson.
The leaders of this new town contacted the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad to make it known that they wanted a station of their own. They promised to construct a farm-to-market road into the town and proposed depot. People then built houses
in the area and a town developed. Ultimately, the town was named "Defiance" because they had succeeded in defying the Matson's by getting the railroad depot and post office to be built.
Defiance's growth was spurred by local businesses in Matson moving to the new town. Eventually, the Matson's doctor, general store, grain elevator, and church all relocated to Defiance.