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Franklin County, Missouri facts for kids

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Franklin County
The Franklin County Courthouse in Union
The Franklin County Courthouse in Union
Official seal of Franklin County
Map of Missouri highlighting Franklin County
Location within the U.S. state of Missouri
Map of the United States highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Missouri
Founded December 11, 1818
Named for Benjamin Franklin
Seat Union
Largest city Washington
 • Total 931 sq mi (2,410 km2)
 • Land 923 sq mi (2,390 km2)
 • Water 8.0 sq mi (21 km2)  0.9%
 • Total 104,682
 • Density 112.44/sq mi (43.413/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 3rd

Franklin County is located in the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2020 census, the population was 104,682. Its county seat is Union. The county was organized in 1818 and is named after Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin County is part of the St. Louis, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area and contains some of the city's exurbs. It is located along the south side of the Missouri River.

The county has wineries that are included in the Hermann AVA (American Viticultural Area) and is part of the region known as the Missouri Rhineland, which extends on both sides of the Missouri River.


Occupied by succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples, this area was populated by the historic Osage tribe at the time of European encounter. The region was first settled by Europeans during the rule of the Spanish Empire. The Spanish log fort San Juan del Misuri (1796–1803) was built in present-day Washington. After the American Revolutionary War, migrants from the new United States started moving West. Among them were the family and followers of Daniel Boone, an explorer from Kentucky who settled the area starting in 1799. For the next two decades, most settlers came from the Upper South, especially Kentucky and Virginia, bringing their slaves with them to work the land.

In 1833 substantial numbers of German immigrant families settled in the area, and soon they outnumbered the slaveowners. The Germans opposed slavery, and their descendants became strong supporters of the Union during the U.S. Civil War. The Confederate General Sterling Price led his troops in ransacking this area during the war when guerrilla warfare engulfed many areas of the state.

Before the war the county was served by steamboats moving freight and passenger traffic on the Missouri River. Later it also became a railroad transportation center. Manufacturing industries were established at the end of the Civil War and successive ones have continued.

Bias Vineyard, near the small city of Berger, is located within the Hermann American Viticultural Area (AVA), designated in 1983. Röbller Vineyard and Winery near New Haven is also in the Hermann AVA. Wineries along both sides of the Missouri River are part of the Missouri Rhineland, whose vineyards were started by German immigrants in the mid-19th century. Before Prohibition, Missouri was the second-largest wine-producing state in the nation. Everything was closed down except for limited production of wine allowed for religious purposes. The state's wine industry had to be completely rebuilt, which has been taking place since the 1960s.

The rural county has had severe problems with local production, distribution and consumption of methamphetamine. The struggles of the county with adverse effects of the drug, was explored in a 2005 A&E documentary entitled Meth: A County in Crisis.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 931 square miles (2,410 km2), of which 923 square miles (2,390 km2) is land and 8.0 square miles (21 km2) (0.9%) is water. It is the fourth-largest county in Missouri by land area and third-largest by total area.

The center of the Missouri River forms the nominal northern border of the county, although the river has changed its course since boundaries were first established: a portion of St. Charles County near St. Albans is now south of the river, while a portion of Franklin County near Augusta is north of the river.

The Bourbeuse River runs for 107 miles in the county. It cuts a deep, narrow valley and is very crooked. It empties into the Meramec River near Union. This river is mostly undeveloped, with limited access and few bridges over it. During low water, a number of fords allow crossing.

The county is located in the Ozarks region, with steep hills and deep valleys, caves, springs, and sinkholes characteristic of karst areas. The underlying rock is typically carbonate, including limestone and dolomite. Mining activity in the county included ores of lead, copper, zinc, and deposits of refractory clay. The soils in most of the county tend to be thin, rocky red clay, and are poor for most agriculture, while the soil near the Missouri River is dark, rich, and thick, and used primarily for row crops such as corn, wheat, and soybeans. Much of the county is covered with thick forests, reestablished since in the 1920s.

Urbanization is increasing in the county, especially surrounding Washington and Union, and along Interstate 44. St. Albans is now a continuation of the suburban region of St. Louis County while the majority of the county retains a rural character and includes extensive wilderness areas, typical of exurban areas.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • I-44.svg Interstate 44
  • US 50.svg U.S. Route 50
  • US 66.svg U.S. Route 66 (1926–79)
  • MO-30.svg Route 30
  • MO-47.svg Route 47
  • MO-100.svg Route 100
  • MO-185.svg Route 185


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 2,379
1830 3,484 46.4%
1840 7,515 115.7%
1850 11,021 46.7%
1860 18,085 64.1%
1870 30,098 66.4%
1880 26,534 −11.8%
1890 28,056 5.7%
1900 30,581 9.0%
1910 29,830 −2.5%
1920 28,427 −4.7%
1930 30,519 7.4%
1940 33,868 11.0%
1950 36,046 6.4%
1960 44,566 23.6%
1970 55,116 23.7%
1980 71,233 29.2%
1990 80,603 13.2%
2000 93,807 16.4%
2010 101,492 8.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015 2020

As of the census of 2000, there were 93,807 people, 34,945 households, and 25,684 families residing in the county. The population density was 102 people per square mile (39/km2). There were 38,295 housing units at an average density of 42 per square mile (16/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.47% White, 0.94% Black or African American, 0.27% Asian, 0.24% Native American, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. Approximately 0.72% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 44.9% were of German, 13.0% American, 10.7% Irish and 7.7% English ancestry.

There were 34,945 households, out of which 36.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.40% were married couples living together, 9.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.50% were non-families. 22.10% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.11.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 27.40% under the age of 18, 8.20% from 18 to 24, 30.00% from 25 to 44, 22.40% from 45 to 64, and 12.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 98.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $54,392, and the median income for a family was $62,969. Males had a median income of $35,849 versus $23,344 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,529. About 4.50% of families and 7.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.90% of those under age 18 and 8.80% of those age 65 or over.




Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


The unemployment rate in Franklin County is 2.9% as of December 2018, below state and national averages.

Manufacturing accounts for the most (23.8%) employment in Franklin County, primarily in the cities of Washington and Union, followed by trade, transportation and utilities (18.8%), education and health care (17.7%), and construction (11.3%).

The biggest employers in Franklin County are the manufacturing firms of Magnet LLC, Cardinal Brands Hazel Division, GDX Automotive, Sporlan Valve Company, Esselte, Silgan, Buddeez, and Meramec Group Inc. as well as the Meramec Valley R-III School District in the public education sector and Schatz Underground Cable Inc. in the construction industry. Small farms and wineries also greatly contribute to the economy in Franklin County.


The highest educational attainment in Franklin County consists of the following:

  • High School Graduates: 59.1%
  • Associate Degree: 10.6%
  • Bachelor's Degree: 10.9%
  • Graduate Degree: 7.5%

Public schools

    • New Haven Elementary School (K–6)
    • New Haven Middle School (7–8)
    • New Haven High School (9–12)
    • Meramec Valley Community School (Pre-K) – Pacific
    • Meramec Valley Early Childhood Center (Pre-K) – Pacific
    • Truman Elementary School (K–5) – Pacific
    • Robertsville Elementary School (K–5) – Robertsville
    • Zitzman Elementary School (K–5) – Pacific
    • Nike Elementary School (K–5) – Catawissa
    • Coleman Elementary School (K–5) – Villa Ridge
    • Riverbend School (8) – Pacific
    • Meramec Valley Middle School (6–7) – Pacific
    • Pacific High School (9–12) – Pacific
    • St. Clair Elementary School (K–2)
    • Edgar Murray Elementary School (3–5)
    • St. Clair Jr. High School (6–8)
    • St. Clair High School (9–12)
    • Spring Bluff R-XV (k-8)
    • Sullivan Primary School (Pre-K–1)
    • Sullivan Elementary School (2–5)
    • Sullivan Middle School (6–8)
    • Sullivan High School (9–12)
    • Beaufort Elementary School (K–6) – Beaufort
    • Central Elementary School (K–3) – Union
    • Clark-Vitt Elementary School (4–6) – Union
    • Union Middle School (7–8) – Union
    • Union High School (9–12) – Union
    • Family Resource Center (Pre-K) – Washington
    • Washington West Elementary School (Pre-K–6) – Washington
    • South Point Elementary School (K–6) – Washington
    • Marthasville Elementary School (K–6) – Marthasville
    • Labadie Elementary School (K–6) – Labadie
    • Clearview Elementary School (Pre-K–6) – Union
    • Campbellton Elementary School (K–6) – New Haven
    • Augusta Elementary School (Pre-K–06) – Augusta
    • Washington Middle School (7–8) – Washington
    • Washington High School (9–12) – Washington
    • Franklin County Elementary School (K–8) – New Haven
    • Lonedell Elementary School (K–8) – Lonedell
    • Gerald Elementary School (K–5) – Gerald
    • Strain-Japan Elementary School (K-08) - Sullivan

Private schools

  • The Fulton School at St. Albans – St. Albans – (Pre-K–12) – Nonsectarian, Montessori

Alternative schools

  • Autumn Hill State School (K–12) – Union – Handicapped/Special needs
  • Franklin County Special Education Cooperative (Pre-K–12) – St. Clair – Special Education
  • Four Rivers Career Center (9–12) – Washington – Vocational/Technical


  • East Central College – Union

Public libraries

  • Gerald Area Library
  • Scenic Regional Library
  • Sullivan Public Library
  • Washington Public Library
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