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Wright County, Missouri facts for kids

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Wright County
Wright County Courthouse in Hartville
Wright County Courthouse in Hartville
Map of Missouri highlighting Wright 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 29, 1841
Named for Silas Wright
Seat Hartville
Largest city Mountain Grove
 • Total 683 sq mi (1,770 km2)
 • Land 682 sq mi (1,770 km2)
 • Water 1.4 sq mi (4 km2)  0.2%
 • Total 18,815
 • Estimate 
 • Density 27.548/sq mi (10.636/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 8th

Wright County is a county located in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,815. Its county seat is Hartville. The county was officially organized on January 29, 1841, and is named after Silas Wright (D-New York), a former Congressman, U.S. Senator and Governor of New York.


Wright County is bordered by Laclede County on the north, Texas County on the east, Douglas County on the south, and Webster County on the west. It is in the part of the state considered Southwest Missouri. Formed from part of Pulaski County on January 29, 1841, Wright County was named in honor of Silas Wright, a prominent New York Democrat. The county seat of Hartville was probably named after Hartsville, Tennessee, from where many early settlers originally came. Wright County lost part of its land in 1845 to Texas County, in 1849 to Laclede, and in 1855 a big chunk to Webster.

It appears there were no Native American settlements early in the area, although the wandering Delawares, Shawnees, and Piankashaws did come through. Early white settlers were in the county in 1836 and were probably hunters. Earliest known settlers (by 1840) were Samuel Thompson, Robert Moore, John W. Burns, Jeff and Robert Montgomery, Benjamin Stephens, James Young, William Franklin, Isham Pool, and the Tuckers, according to Goodspeed.

The county has been devastated several times by storms. The tornado that swept through Southwest Missouri that devastated Webster County on April 18, 1880, also killed Polly and Sallie Scott and Mack, according to Goodspeed, in Wright County. A flood that occurred April 22–23, 1885, drowned James Woods and his son Yat. Another tornado on May 8, 1888, did considerable damage, as did a hailstorm near the same time that reportedly left hail 3-4 inches deep and in drifts 5–8 feet high, after falling for two hours. Goodspeed gives great accounts of these storms, as well as others.

A good-sized portion of the county is located in the Mark Twain National Forest. The Gasconade River and its tributaries flow through the county, as well allowing for great recreational opportunities.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 683 square miles (1,770 km2), of which 682 square miles (1,770 km2) is land and 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) (0.2%) is water.

Wright County lies within the Salem Plateau region of the Ozarks. The bulk of the county is drained by the north flowing Gasconade River and its tributary streams. The southern edge of the county is drained by the south flowing headwaters of North Fork River. The terrain is moderately hilly.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • US 60.svg U.S. Route 60
  • MO-5.svg Route 5
  • MO-38.svg Route 38
  • MO-95.svg Route 95

National protected area


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 3,387
1860 4,508 33.1%
1870 5,684 26.1%
1880 9,712 70.9%
1890 14,484 49.1%
1900 17,519 21.0%
1910 18,315 4.5%
1920 17,733 −3.2%
1930 16,741 −5.6%
1940 17,967 7.3%
1950 15,834 −11.9%
1960 14,183 −10.4%
1970 13,667 −3.6%
1980 16,188 18.4%
1990 16,758 3.5%
2000 17,955 7.1%
2010 18,815 4.8%
2020 18,188 −3.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015

As of the census of 2000, there were 17,955 people, 7,081 households, and 5,020 families residing in the county. The population density was 26 people per square mile (10/km2). There were 7,957 housing units at an average density of 12 per square mile (4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.61% White, 0.28% Black or African American, 0.66% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.27% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. Approximately 0.77% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,081 households, out of which 33.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.50% were married couples living together, 8.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.10% were non-families. 26.30% 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 2.50 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 27.20% under the age of 18, 8.20% from 18 to 24, 25.30% from 25 to 44, 22.80% from 45 to 64, and 16.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 94.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $30,685, and the median income for a family was $37,139. Males had a median income of $24,876 versus $17,608 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,319. About 17.30% of families and 21.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.10% of those under age 18 and 17.60% of those age 65 or over.


According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2000), Wright County is a part of the Bible Belt with evangelical Protestantism being the majority religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in Wright County who adhere to a religion are Southern Baptists (49.92%), National Association of Free Will Baptists (19.84%), and Pentecostals (7.55%).



Of adults 25 years of age and older in Wright County, 71.1% possesses a high school diploma or higher while 9.8% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public schools

    • Grovespring Elementary School - Grovespring - (K-06)
    • Hartville Elementary School (PK-06)
    • Hartville High School (07-12)
    • Wilder Elementary School (PK-05)
    • Mansfield Jr. High School (06-08)
    • Mansfield High School (09-12)
    • Mountain Grove Elementary School (K-04)
    • Mountain Grove Middle School (05-08)
    • Mountain Grove High School (09-12)
    • Norwood Elementary School (PK-04)
    • Norwood Middle School (05-08)
    • Norwood High School (09-12)
    • Manes Elementary School (K-08)

Private schools

  • Mountain Grove Christian Academy - Mountain Grove - (PK-12) - Non-denominational Christian
  • Liberty Faith Christian Academy - Norwood - (K-12) - Non-denominational Christian

Alternative and vocational schools

  • Ozark Mountain Technical Center - Mountain Grove - (09-12) - Vocational/Technical
  • Ozark Regional Juvenile Detention Center - Mountain Grove - (05-12) - Juvenile Hall
  • Skyview State School - Mountain Grove - (K-12) - A school for handicapped students and those with other special needs.

Public libraries

  • Wright County Library
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