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Keytesville, Missouri
City of Keytesville
Location of Keytesville, Missouri
Location of Keytesville, Missouri
Country United States
State Missouri
County Chariton
 • Total 0.78 sq mi (2.02 km2)
 • Land 0.77 sq mi (1.99 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
715 ft (218 m)
 • Total 440
 • Estimate 
 • Density 581.27/sq mi (224.45/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 660
FIPS code 29-38468
GNIS feature ID 0720566

Keytesville is a city in and the county seat of Chariton County, Missouri, United States. The population was 440 as of the 2020 census. Keytesville is the hometown of U.S. Army General Maxwell D. Taylor, who commanded the "Screaming Eagles" 101st Airborne division during the Normandy invasion of World War II. Confederate General Sterling Price, who attacked Keytesville during an unsuccessful cavalry raid across his home state, had previously operated a hotel there.


Chariton County's second courthouse. It replaced one destroyed by Confederate raiders during the Civil War.

The town is named for Englishman James Keyte, the town founder. Keyte, a Methodist preacher, purchased a large parcel of land in 1830 and, two years later, donated fifty acres of it to Chariton County for the purpose of establishing a centralized seat of county government. Prior to that time, the county business had been conducted from "Old Chariton," a small village near the confluence of the Chariton and Missouri Rivers. However, incessant disease-spreading mosquitoes and repeated river flooding necessitated a new location.

The first courthouse was constructed in Keytesville between 1833 and 1834. As a two-story, four-room brick building, it survived until September 20, 1864, when it was burned down by the Confederate raiders during the American Civil War. James Keyte constructed the first home in Keytesville, and the first business as well. Both were log structures, with the second doubling as a post office. Keyte is also responsible for the town's first industry of any sort, when he constructed a mill near his home on Muscle Fork Creek. Isaac Redding added a Keytesville's first hotel in August 1842. Keytesville was incorporated on February 3, 1868, by the state of Missouri, and incorporated as a Missouri 4th class city in March 1883.

Confederate raid

One of Keytesville's native sons, Sterling Price, was a key figure in Missouri during the Civil War, and violence would be visited on the community as well. As mentioned above, on September 20, 1864, a Confederate force of 250 men—among them George Todd and other members of Quantrill's Raiders —under Major John Thrailkill arrived at the edge of town. This was part of General Price's larger 1864 campaign through the Show Me state, as his forces advanced from eastern Missouri to the Kansas City area along the Missouri river. At the time, Thrailkill's force arrived Keytesville was defended by a small Union detachment of thirty-five men from the Missouri militia, commanded by Lieutenant Anthony Pleyer. Early on the morning of September 20, under a flag of truce, Major Thrailkill demanded the surrender of the Union troops, promising fair treatment. Seeing the situation as hopeless, Pleyer complied. Rather than being taken prisoner, the Union garrison was paroled. Confederate forces then briefly occupied the town, liberating supplies from various merchants, setting the courthouse ablaze and killing two citizens—Chariton County sheriff Robert Carmon and William Young, a Union scout and alleged spy.

A second courthouse was built not long after the Civil War concluded. In February 1866, a contract was awarded for construction of a two-story brick building with cupola. It was built at a cost of $40,000, and served the county until 1973. By the mid-1890s, Keytesville had an estimated population of around 1,100 citizens. Two newspapers, the Chariton Courier and Keytesville Signal, served the community. Business and industry at that time consisted of Keytesville Roller Mill, a large water-powered grist mill on Muscle Fork Creek, two banks, a building and loan association, two hotels, a distillery, general mercantiles, restaurants, and sundry other businesses. Due to its location 1.5 mi (2.4 km) north of the Wabash Railroad line, the merchants of Keytesville needed a reliable and convenient way to attract potential customers. This led, in 1889, to the construction of a streetcar line, something one would only expect in much larger cities. Hugo Bartz and J. J. Moore, two prominent citizens of the time, secured land and financing for the project, which when completed consisted of two miles of track, and a large barn for horses and rolling stock, constructed for a cost of $10,000. Two horse-drawn passenger coaches and a large flatcar for freight delivered new arrivals at the Wabash depot to the town.

Keytesville today

While small, the town does have an active business district and chamber of commerce. Included are a swimming pool, insurance sales, bank, convenience store, law offices, chiropractor, restaurant, auto repair, agricultural services and medical clinic. The town has various service clubs and organizations, including the Lions Club. There are three sites in Keytesville listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the First Presbyterian Church, the Chariton County Jail and Sheriff's Residence, and the Redding-Hill House. A new Chariton County Courthouse was constructed in Keytesville in the summer of 1974 and occupied the following July. This was made necessary due to a fire that destroyed the previous Chariton County Courthouse on August 27, 1973.


Keytesville is located on the Lewis and Clark Trail, now U.S. Route 24. It is 10 mi (16 km) east of Brunswick and 30 mi (48 km) west of Moberly. Keytesville is located at 39°26′3″N 92°56′13″W / 39.43417°N 92.93694°W / 39.43417; -92.93694 (39.434144, -92.936967). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.78 square miles (2.02 km2), of which, 0.77 square miles (1.99 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 529
1880 737 39.3%
1890 819 11.1%
1900 1,127 37.6%
1910 963 −14.6%
1920 872 −9.4%
1930 738 −15.4%
1940 854 15.7%
1950 733 −14.2%
1960 644 −12.1%
1970 730 13.4%
1980 689 −5.6%
1990 564 −18.1%
2000 533 −5.5%
2010 471 −11.6%
Est. 2019 447 −5.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 471 people, 225 households, and 124 families residing in the city. The population density was 611.7 inhabitants per square mile (236.2/km2). There were 275 housing units at an average density of 357.1 per square mile (137.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 98.5% White, 0.6% African American, 0.4% Native American, and 0.4% Asian.

There were 225 households, of which 20.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.2% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 44.9% were non-families. 40.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.07 and the average family size was 2.71.

The median age in the city was 46.4 years. 17.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.2% were from 25 to 44; 31.5% were from 45 to 64; and 21% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.7% male and 50.3% female.

19th-century Keytesville


Keytesville school, built in 1889.

Keytesville R-III School district serves the town of Keytesville and surrounding rural area. Education in the community dates to before the Civil War, but many records indicating the exact date were lost in an 1861 fire at the county clerk's office. In 1889, what might be considered the first modern-style school, a large 2-story building, was erected at a cost of $13,000 By 1909, Keytesville school was rated a first-class school by the state of Missouri. In 1949, a large number of the rural schools were combined with Keytesville to form the current district. The current high school was constructed in 1959, with the current elementary school added in 1967. In 2010, the district had a total of 153 students K-12, and a graduation rate of 90-percent. The school mascot is the Tiger and school colors are black and gold. Keytesville competes athletically in the Carroll-Livingston Activities Association. Its enrollment places the Tigers in Class 1 under Missouri State High School Activities Association guidelines.

Notable people from Keytesville

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