(Front):(See other side)
Comprising 411 square miles of Missouri's great alluvial plain, this county, organized in 1845, is a high producer of cotton, grain, and soybeans. The Mississippi (Algonquin Indian for Great Water), flowing along some 70 miles of the county's eastern boundary, separates it from Ill. and Ky. A boundary dispute over Wolf Island was settled, 1871, in Kentucky's favor by U.S. Supreme Court.
Charleston, the county seat, known today as "Cotton Capital" and shoe manufacturing center, was first called Mathews' Prairie for John Mathews, settler on a Spanish grant there, 1801. John Rodney laid out the town, named for Chas. Moore, 1837, on land of W.P. Bernard, Joseph Moore, and Thankful Randol.
First settlement was Birds Point across from Cairo, Ill., where a 1-mile bridge, built 1929, crosses the river. John Johnson came there, 1800, and Abraham Bird (later one of founders of Hannibal) had a trading post and river landing, 1805. Settled by Ky. and Tenn. Pioneers, the country lies in the 1808 Osage Indian land cession. 350 prehistoric mounds remain. New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-12 violently affected the country.
(Back):(Continued from other side)In Mississippi County is historic Belmont Battlefield. There on Nov. 7, 1861, Gen. U.S. Grant with 3114 troops saved the forces of Col. R.J. Oglesby from possible capture by engaging 2500 Confederates under Gen. G.J. Pillow in a 6-hour battle. Union losses were 485; Confederates, who held Belmont, lost 641. A chain was put across the river from Confed. held Columbus, Ky., to Belmont in a futile effort to halt Union gunboats. Part of the chain is in Columbus-Belmont Battlefield State Park, Ky. From 1861-65, the county suffered continual war activity.
Among towns founded after the war, is East Prairie, laid out in 1883 as Hibbard. Today's 2 branches of the Mo. Pac. R.R. date from 1869, the St. Louis Southwestern from the late 1890's. In the 1880's, large lumber companies came to harvest the fine forests. First levees were built in 1890's.
Big Oak Tree State Park, opened in the county, 1937, is a 1007-acre botanical garden with some of largest oak trees in U.S. In the county was born the archaeologist Thomas Beckwith (1840-1913) and it was the home of writer, planter Thad Snow (1881-1955).