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Chillicothe, Missouri
Livingston County Courthouse with mural depicting the community being the home of sliced bread.  The district around the courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Livingston County Courthouse with mural depicting the community being the home of sliced bread. The district around the courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Chilli ; Home of Sliced Bread; The Highway City
Location of Chillicothe, Missouri
Location of Chillicothe, Missouri
Coordinates: 39°47′43″N 93°33′09″W / 39.79528°N 93.55250°W / 39.79528; -93.55250Coordinates: 39°47′43″N 93°33′09″W / 39.79528°N 93.55250°W / 39.79528; -93.55250
Country United States
State Missouri
County Livingston
Town (Large) March 1st, 1855
 • Type Township
 • Total 7.16 sq mi (18.54 km2)
 • Land 7.13 sq mi (18.48 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
797 ft (243 m)
 • Total 9,515
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,360.58/sq mi (525.29/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 660
FIPS code 29-13690
GNIS feature ID 0715783

Chillicothe is a city in the state of Missouri and the county seat of Livingston County, Missouri, United States. The population was 9,515 at the 2010 census. The name "Chillicothe" is Shawnee for "big town", and was named after their Chillicothe, located since 1774 about a mile from the present-day city.

History of Chillicothe and Livingston County

Locust Street, Chillicothe, MO
Locust Street in c. 1908

This territory was originally settled by indigenous peoples of the Americas. The Osage and Missouri were in the territory at the time of earliest European contact, which was mostly by French explorers and traders. By 1800 the Shawnee and Iowa had migrated here. The Shawnee came from the Ohio Country, where they had been under pressure before the American Revolution from aggressive Iroquois and later encroaching European Americans. Displacing the Osage, the Shawnee had a major village known as Chillicothe about a mile from the present-day city. Chillicothe was also the name of a major band of the tribe. Other Native American tribes in the area were the Sac and Fox, and Pottawatomi, all of whom hunted in the area.

In the early 19th century, European-American migration to Missouri increased. The original survey of Chillicothe by United States citizens was filed for record August 31, 1837, and a resurvey of the same was filed August 5, 1859. Chillicothe was incorporated as a city by an act of the General Assembly, approved March 1, 1855. It was selected as the County seat by commissioners and the first term of the county court began on May 7, 1838. In August of that year an order was made to erect the first Court House, the cost not to exceed $5,000, in the Public Square; The first circuit court for the trial of civil and criminal causes was held on the 3d of July 1887.

Livingston was settled by emigrants from the older counties and others from the Upper South states of Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as Ohio and other "Old Northwest" states, as the westward migration continued. Prior to completion of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad in 1859, the city was minimally developed with cheap frame houses, with little pretense of architectural beauty or design. The building materials being hewed and sawed from the oak and walnut timber surrounding the town, as timber originally covered the site.

The railroad gave an impetus for town improvements. Soon two and three-story brick business buildings were constructed in place of the former frame structures. From 1865 to 1870, the city improved rapidly, then a lull lasted until 1875, when the erection of the beautiful three-story, $36,000 school building was started, now known as "Middle School." From that time on Chillicothe made a slow, steady growth up to 1886, when the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad was built through here. That year also saw the introduction of the "Water Works" and electric lights. The city continued to modernize in the early 20th century.

The Missouri Training School for Girls

The Missouri Training School for Girls (1889-1981) was correctional facility of the Missouri Division of Youth Services. It opened in 1889. In 1956 it received all of the black girls after the Missouri Training School for Negro Girls in Tipton closed. It closed in 1981.


Chillicothe is located at 39°47′35″N 93°33′07″W / 39.793045°N 93.551957°W / 39.793045; -93.551957. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.03 square miles (18.21 km2), of which 7.02 square miles (18.18 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water. Chillicothe lies near the Grand River.

The city is crossed by U.S. Route 36, U.S. Route 65 and Missouri Route 190.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 994
1870 3,978 300.2%
1880 4,078 2.5%
1890 5,717 40.2%
1900 6,905 20.8%
1910 6,265 −9.3%
1920 6,772 8.1%
1930 8,177 20.7%
1940 8,012 −2.0%
1950 8,694 8.5%
1960 9,236 6.2%
1970 9,519 3.1%
1980 9,089 −4.5%
1990 8,804 −3.1%
2000 8,968 1.9%
2010 9,515 6.1%
2019 (est.) 9,705 2.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 9,515 people, 3,612 households, and 2,146 families living in the city. The population density was 1,355.4 inhabitants per square mile (523.3/km2). There were 4,108 housing units at an average density of 585.2 per square mile (225.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.5% White, 3.7% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.5% of the population.

There were 3,612 households, of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.6% were non-families. 35.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.90.

The median age in the city was 39.6 years. 21.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.3% were from 25 to 44; 24.3% were from 45 to 64; and 18.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 41.3% male and 58.7% female.

In popular culture

  • City of Chillicothe, a.k.a. "Chili", is the name of a spaceship in Robert A. Heinlein's novel Methuselah's Children.
  • Chillicothe is known as "The Home of Sliced Bread". On July 7, 1928, the Chillicothe Baking Company began selling pre-sliced bread "at quality grocers in the area", marking the first time sliced bread was available commercially in the world. They used the Rohwedder Bread Slicer, a machine created by Iowa inventor, Otto Rohwedder.
  • In Damon Knight's 1954 science fiction short story "Rule Golden," Chillicothe is the site of a U.S. military base at which Aza-Kra, an alien ambassador, is detained and investigated.


The Chillicothe R-II School District provides preschool through 12th grade education as well as some other educational programs to students in and around Chillicothe.

PK-12th grade
  • Chillicothe High School (9th-12th grade)
  • Chillicothe Alternative School (9th-12th grade)
  • Chillicothe Middle School (6th-8th grade)
  • Dewey Elementary School (4th-5th grade)
  • Field Elementary School (2nd-3rd grade)
  • Chillicothe Elementary School (Pre-K-1st)
Other programs and campuses
  • Garrison School - headquarters for Title I Preschool, Even Start Family Literacy, Parents as Teachers, adult GED classes, and Early Intervention Assistance
  • Grand River Technical School
  • Litton Agri-Science Learning Center
Private schools
  • Bishop Hogan Memorial School (PK-8), operated by St. Columban Catholic Church, Chillicothe
Public library

The town has a lending library, the Livingston County Library. The town has a children library, the Lillian DesMarias Youth Library.

Notable people

  • Moses Alexander, 11th governor of Idaho
  • Bower Slack Broaddus, judge
  • Courtney W. Campbell, congressman
  • William Lincoln Garver, architect, author, and socialist politician
  • Claude B. Hutchison, botanist and politician
  • Mike Lair, politician and teacher
  • Jerry Litton, congressman
  • Charles H. Mansur, congressman
  • Shirley Collie Nelson, country music artist/actress
  • Henry Moses Pollard, congressman
  • John Quinn, politician
  • William Y. Slack, Civil War general and politician
  • Clarence Edwin Watkins, publisher
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