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Ripley County, Missouri facts for kids

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Ripley County
Ripley County Courthouse in Doniphan
Ripley County Courthouse in Doniphan
Map of Missouri highlighting Ripley 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 January 5, 1833
Named for Eleazer Wheelock Ripley
Seat Doniphan
Largest city Doniphan
 • Total 632 sq mi (1,640 km2)
 • Land 630 sq mi (1,600 km2)
 • Water 2.1 sq mi (5 km2)
 • Total 10,679
 • Density 16.897/sq mi (6.524/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 8th

Ripley County is a county in the Ozarks of Missouri. At the 2020 census, it had a population of 10,679. The largest city and county seat is Doniphan. The county was officially organized on January 5, 1833, and is named after Brigadier General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley, a soldier who served with distinction in the War of 1812.

The original area included what would later become Oregon, Howell, Shannon and Carter counties. The historic Natchitoches Trail passes through Ripley County. It was a Native American trail to the Southwest that was used by pioneers, including Stephen F. Austin. During the American Civil War, Ripley County was strongly pro-Southern and provided four colonels for the Confederate Army. Several Civil War skirmishes took place in the county. Tourist areas include the Current River and the Mark Twain National Forest.


Located deep in the rugged, wooded hills of Southern Missouri, the area remained sparsely settled throughout the 19th century. Although organized in 1833, the county did not assume its present size until 1872.

When Congress created the Territory of Missouri in 1812, what became Ripley County was in New Madrid County. Three years later, Lawrence County was established, which included all of southern Missouri west of the St. Francis River and a portion of northern Arkansas. The seat of justice for Lawrence County was at Davidsonville in present-day Arkansas. In 1818 Wayne County was formed. This massive county included nearly one-fifth of the area in the Missouri Territory, with Greenville becoming the county seat.

In 1833 the General Assembly created Ripley County from part of Wayne County. The county then included present-day Ripley, Carter, Shannon, Oregon, and Howell Counties, with Van Buren as the county seat. Over the next 26 years, Ripley County’s boundaries decreased as new counties were formed: Shannon (1841), Oregon, which included today’s Oregon and Howell Counties (1845), and Carter (1859). The last boundary change took place in 1872.

Since most of the population lived in the south, voters moved the county seat to the new Doniphan, where a wooden courthouse was built. This building served the county until it was burned by Union troops, along with almost entire town of Doniphan, on September 19, 1864. William Russell, a county official, had earlier removed the county's record books and hid them in a cave south of town. They remained there until they were retrieved by the county clerk two years after the war.

Because of the chaos and destruction brought about by the Civil War, the courthouse was not replaced until 1871. A two-story brick courthouse was then built, using the $10,000 bond passed by the voters. It housed the administrative offices until it was destroyed by an accidental fire in January 1898.

Ripley County's current courthouse was designed by William F. Schrage of Kansas City, and was built by John McDonald Anderson of Emporia,Kansas in 1898–1899. A central tower, later destroyed during a 1929 tornado, dominated the two-story brick structure. Federal relief workers made repairs and renovations of the courthouse during the 1930s. An extensive remodeling project in the 1970s added central heating. The century-old courthouse is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and celebrated its centennial during the 1999 Labor Day Homecoming Festivities.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 632 square miles (1,640 km2), of which 630 square miles (1,600 km2) is land and 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2) (0.3%) is water.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected area


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 2,856
1850 2,830 −0.9%
1860 3,747 32.4%
1870 3,175 −15.3%
1880 5,377 69.4%
1890 8,512 58.3%
1900 13,186 54.9%
1910 13,099 −0.7%
1920 12,061 −7.9%
1930 11,176 −7.3%
1940 12,606 12.8%
1950 11,414 −9.5%
1960 9,096 −20.3%
1970 9,803 7.8%
1980 12,458 27.1%
1990 12,303 −1.2%
2000 13,509 9.8%
2010 14,100 4.4%
2020 10,679 −24.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015

As of the census of 2000, there were 13,509 people, 5,416 households, and 3,845 families residing in the county. The population density was 22 people per square mile (8/km2). There were 6,392 housing units at an average density of 10 per square mile (4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.17% White, 0.04% Black or African American, 1.33% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.05% from other races, and 1.17% from two or more races. Approximately 0.98% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The major first ancestries reported in Ripley County were 34.1% American, 14.0% Irish, 11.6% German and 10.7% English.

There were 5,416 households, out of which 30.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.40% were married couples living together, 9.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.00% were non-families. 25.90% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.80% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 25.30% from 25 to 44, 24.70% from 45 to 64, and 17.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 94.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $27,285, and the median income for a family was $33,101. Males had a median income of $22,056 versus $17,823 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,251. About 16.90% of families and 22.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.00% of those under age 18 and 20.40% of those age 65 or over.

At the end of 2008, the unemployment rate in Ripley County was 6.4%.


According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2000), Ripley County is a part of the Bible Belt with evangelical Protestantism being the majority religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in Ripley County who adhere to a religion are Southern Baptists (34.98%), Churches of Christ (12.20%), and Baptist Missionary Association of America (10.16%).



Census-designated places

Other unincorporated places


Of adults 25 years of age and older in Ripley County, 62.1% possesses a high school diploma or higher while 7.8% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public schools

  • Current River Area Vocational School – Doniphan – (09-12)
    • Doniphan Elementary School (K-02)
    • Doniphan Intermediate School (03-05)
    • Doniphan Middle School (06-08)
    • Doniphan High School (09-12)
  • Naylor R-II School District – Naylor
    • Naylor Elementary School (K-06)
    • Naylor High School (07-12)
  • Ripley County (Lone Star) R-IV School District – Doniphan

Private schools

Public libraries

  • Doniphan-Ripley County Library

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Ripley (Misuri) para niños

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