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Charleston, Missouri
Main Street
Main Street
Location of Charleston, Missouri
Location of Charleston, Missouri
U.S. Census Map
U.S. Census Map
Country United States
State Missouri
County Mississippi
 • Total 4.85 sq mi (12.56 km2)
 • Land 4.80 sq mi (12.42 km2)
 • Water 0.06 sq mi (0.14 km2)
322 ft (98 m)
 • Total 5,056
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,140.12/sq mi (440.24/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 573
FIPS code 29-13366
GNIS feature ID 0715743

Charleston is a city in Mississippi County, Missouri, United States. The population was 5,056 at the 2020 census. It is the county seat of Mississippi County. It is a home to a local correctional facility.


Charleston is the biggest town on the Missouri side near the confluence of the Mississippi River and Ohio River at Bird's Point, Missouri (11 miles east on U.S. Route 60). Its history has been tied to traffic on the rivers.

Settlement initially occurred on the north side in what in 1805 was called Matthews Prairie.

After purchasing 22.5 acres (91,000 m2) for $337, Joseph Moore laid out Charleston in 1837. Some say the community derives its name from nearby Charles Prairie, while others believe the name is a transfer from Charleston, South Carolina. In 1845, it was selected as the county seat and a post office named Charleston has been in operation since 1847.

The Battle of Charleston was fought on August 19, 1861. Killed in the battle was one Union soldier and thirteen Missouri State Guard soldiers.

On September 1, 1861, Confederate General M. Jeff Thompson robbed the Union Bank of Charleston. Thompson, who handed the cashier a note, gave the cashier an hour to get approval from superiors to give him keys to the vault. After receiving the money, he left a receipt for $57,000 and discovered later that only $56,000 was in the bags.

The city was the epicenter of the October 31, 1895 6.6 earthquake on the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The quake damaged virtually every building in Charleston, creating sand volcanoes and cracking a pier on the Cairo Rail Bridge. In addition, chimneys toppled in St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; Gadsden, Alabama; and Evansville, Indiana. The fate of specific buildings may also be traced by Sanborn Maps that were produced of the town during this period. This was the largest quake since the 1812 New Madrid earthquake, which measured at 8.3 and was the biggest recorded quake in the Contiguous United States. One of the most visible signs of the quake is located south of Charleston at Henson Lake, which was greatly expanded by the quake.

In 1901 the county courthouse was built. It was designed by J.B. Legg, who designed numerous buildings throughout Missouri including the Gasconade County, Missouri and St. Charles County, Missouri courthouses. On February 10, 1997, the courthouse was damaged by fire and was subsequently torn down.

The Hearnes Site, Missouri Pacific Depot, Moore House, and Jacob Swank House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.86 square miles (12.59 km2), of which, 4.80 square miles (12.43 km2) is land and 0.06 square miles (0.16 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 273
1870 635 132.6%
1880 1,028 61.9%
1890 1,381 34.3%
1900 1,893 37.1%
1910 3,144 66.1%
1920 3,410 8.5%
1930 3,357 −1.6%
1940 5,182 54.4%
1950 5,501 6.2%
1960 5,911 7.5%
1970 5,131 −13.2%
1980 5,230 1.9%
1990 5,085 −2.8%
2000 4,732 −6.9%
2010 5,947 25.7%
2020 5,056 −15.0%

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 5,947 people, 1,705 households, and 1,107 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,239.0 inhabitants per square mile (478.4/km2). There were 1,883 housing units at an average density of 392.3 per square mile (151.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 47.55% White, 50.45% Black or African American, 0.03% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 0.61% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.78% of the population.

There were 1,705 households, of which 35.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.5% were married couples living together, 25.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.1% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.6% 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 3.05.

The median age in the city was 37.1 years. 20.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 32% were from 25 to 44; 26.4% were from 45 to 64; and 11.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 61.3% male and 38.7% female.


Charleston R-I School District operates one elementary school, one middle school, and Charleston High School. Charleston High School has won 11 state boys basketball championships, the most recent being in 2012.

Charleston has a public library, a branch of the Mississippi County Library District.

Notable people

  • Charlie Babb, former NFL player for the Miami Dolphins
  • Lanie Black, Missouri state legislator
  • William H. Danforth, businessman
  • Ricky Frazier, former basketball player
  • Betty Cooper Hearnes, Missouri politician
  • Warren E. Hearnes, former Missouri Governor
  • James Boon Lankershim, Los Angeles area landowner and real estate developer
  • Ernie Nevel, baseball player
  • Kenny Rollins, basketball player
  • Joseph J. Russell, former member of the State house of representatives in 1886–1890 and served as speaker pro tempore of the house in 1886 and as speaker in 1888
  • John E. Scott, former state senate president pro tempore
  • Samuel "Bay" Taylor, Negro league baseball player
  • Matt Whiteside, baseball player

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Charleston (Misuri) para niños

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