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Scott County, Missouri facts for kids

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Scott County
Scott County courthouse in Benton
Scott County courthouse in Benton
Map of Missouri highlighting Scott 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 28, 1821
Named for John Scott
Seat Benton
Largest city Sikeston
 • Total 426 sq mi (1,100 km2)
 • Land 420 sq mi (1,100 km2)
 • Water 5.9 sq mi (15 km2)  1.4%
 • Total 38,059
 • Density 89.34/sq mi (34.49/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 8th

Scott County is a county located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2020 census, the population was 38,059. Its county seat is Benton. The county was organized in 1821 and named for U.S. Representative John Scott, the first federal representative from Missouri. Scott County comprises the Sikeston, MO Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Cape Girardeau-Sikeston, MO-IL Combined Statistical Area. The county is home to Scott County Central High School, which has won 18 state championships in boys basketball—the most of any high school in the state.


This area along the Mississippi River was long occupied by indigenous peoples. In historic times, the large and powerful Osage people dominated a large territory including this area and up and west from the later St. Louis, Missouri. Cape St. Croix, a rock island in the Mississippi River, has a cross erected by Jesuit missionary Father De Montigny, who traveled with early French explorers in 1599. Some French colonists established trading relationships with the Osage; the traders were based in St. Louis, founded in the late 18th century.

Spain had taken control in 1763 after French lost to Britain in the Seven Years' War. They laid out the King’s Highway (El Camino Real) in 1789, a north-south route crossing the county and extending through St. Louis, Missouri. In the late 1790s, Southerners were the first United States settlers on Spanish land grants in this area. France briefly took back the territory, then sold it to the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Delaware (Lenape) and Shawnee people migrated into the area in the 1820s from territories east of the Mississippi, pushed by European-American encroachment on their lands.

The second county formed in Missouri’s Southeast Lowland Region, Scott County was created by the Missouri state legislature on December 28, 1821. The county was named in honor of John Scott (1785–1861), the first congressman from Missouri.

One of the earliest settlements was Commerce, Missouri, long known as Tywapitty, derived from an Osage language term. It was an early French fur trading post. Under Spanish rule before 1800, Rezin Bowie was syndic of Tywappity Settlement. (He was the brother of Kentucky frontiersman Jim Bowie.) This was established as a river landing by 1803, and residents formed the first Baptist Church in Missouri here in 1805. The city was platted in 1823. It served as the Scott county seat from 1864–1878.

The current county seat of Benton was laid out in 1822; it is named after Thomas Hart Benton, one of Missouri’s first U.S. Senators.

New Hamburg, the third town founded in the county, was settled by a wave of German immigrants in the late 1840s, who came to this country after the German revolutions of 1848. The first log church was St. Lawrence Catholic Church. Sikeston, the largest city in the county and the fourth settlement to be founded, was settled in 1800 and was laid out in 1860 by John Sikes on the Cairo & Fulton Railroad.

The county was devastated by guerrilla raids during the U.S. Civil War. Afterward, it developed rapidly from the 1870s to the early 1900s; its dense forests were lumbered off and numerous railroads were constructed. Towns founded during this period included Diehlstadt, Morley, Oran, Perkins, Blodgett, Crowder, Vanduser, Illmo, Fornfelt (Scott City), Chaffee, Ancell, and Kelso. The Thebes-Mississippi River Railroad Bridge at Illmo was built in 1905.

Located near Morley is the gravesite of Nathaniel W. Watkins, a state legislator and a general in the Missouri State Guards. He was a half-brother of statesman Henry Clay. Wilson Brown, the ninth lieutenant governor of Missouri, lived in the county for a time. Noted early legislators such as Joseph Hunter II and Abraham Hunton also lived here.

Cotton, soybeans, melon and grains were all common crops in rural Scott County. Between the Mississippi River and Little River District drainage ditches lies one of the oldest drainage systems in the United States, Crowley’s Ridge, established in 1905, is a remnant of an old coastal floodplain and natural levee that crosses the country.

On January 28, 2004, the Scott County Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 426 square miles (1,100 km2), of which 420 square miles (1,100 km2) is land and 5.9 square miles (15 km2) (1.4%) is water. The county's eastern border with Illinois is formed by the Mississippi River.

Adjacent counties

Major highways


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 2,136
1840 5,974 179.7%
1850 3,182 −46.7%
1860 5,247 64.9%
1870 7,317 39.5%
1880 8,587 17.4%
1890 11,228 30.8%
1900 13,092 16.6%
1910 22,372 70.9%
1920 23,409 4.6%
1930 24,913 6.4%
1940 30,377 21.9%
1950 32,842 8.1%
1960 32,748 −0.3%
1970 33,250 1.5%
1980 39,647 19.2%
1990 39,376 −0.7%
2000 40,422 2.7%
2010 39,191 −3.0%
2020 38,059 −2.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015

As of the census of 2000, there were 40,422 people, 15,626 households, and 11,219 families residing in the county. The population density was 37/km2 (96/mi2). There were 16,951 housing units at an average density of 16/km2 (40/mi2). The racial makeup of the county was 87.68% White, 10.50% Black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.40% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races. Approximately 1.11% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 15,626 households, out of which 35.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.60% were married couples living together, 13.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 25.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 27.40% under the age of 18, 8.50% from 18 to 24, 27.50% from 25 to 44, 22.90% from 45 to 64, and 13.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 91.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,735, and the median income for a family was $48,847. Males had a median income of $30,169 versus $19,269 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,363. About 12.30% of families and 16.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.50% of those under age 18 and 13.60% of those age 65 or over.


According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2000), Scott County is a part of the Bible Belt with evangelical Protestantism being the majority religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in Scott County who adhere to a religion are Southern Baptists (40.54%), Roman Catholics (27.12%), and Methodists (9.28%).



Of adults 25 years of age and older in Scott County, 72.9% possesses a high school diploma or higher while 10.6% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public schools

    • Chaffee Elementary School (K-06)
    • Chaffee Jr.-Sr. High School (07-12)
    • Oran Elementary School (K-06)
    • Oran High School (07-12)
    • Scott County Elementary School (K-05)
    • Scott County Middle School (06-08)
    • Thomas W. Kelly High School (09-12)
    • Scott City Elementary School (K-04)
    • Scott City Middle School (05-08)
    • Scott City High School (09-12)
    • Scott County Central Elementary School (PK-06)
    • Scott County Central High School (07-12)
    • Sikeston Kindergarten and Early Childhood Center (PK-K)
    • Lee Hunter Elementary (01-04)
    • Southeast Elementary (01-04)
    • Wing Elementary (01-04)
    • Sikeston 5th & 6th Grade Center (05-06)
    • Sikeston Jr. High School (07-08)
    • Sikeston Sr. High School (09-12)
    • Sikeston Alternative Education Center
    • Sikeston Career and Technology Center

Private schools

Colleges and universities

Public libraries

  • Chaffee Public Library
  • Sikeston Public Library

See also

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

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