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Mississippi County is a county located in the Bootheelmarker of Southeast Missourimarker in the United Statesmarker. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county's population was 13,427. A 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 13,504. The largest city and county seat is Charlestonmarker . The county was officially organized on February 14, 1845, and was named after the Mississippi River.


Mississippi County is located in what was formerly known as "Tywappity Bottom," a vast area bordered by the Scott County Hills on the north, St. James Bayou on the south, the Mississippi River on the east and Little River on the west.

In 1540, Hernando De Soto penetrated to the Arkansas Rivermarker and perhaps well into Southeast Missouri, populated only by various Native American tribes. Under the pressure of a constantly advancing white immigration, the Native Americans were forced to retreat further westward to survive. The entire area of Southeast Missouri was noted for its level swampy lowlands, subject to the overflow of the Mississippi River during periods of excessively heavy rainfall. Virgin forests attracted the timber barons who demanded the forests. Following the clearing of the land, levees were built and drainage districts were formed. As hundreds of miles of levees and dikes were constructed within the drainage districts, thousands of acres of land were reclaimed for agriculture use. The reclaimed land, was made especially rich by centuries of floods from the Mississippi River, was excellent farm land for corn, wheat, cotton, and later soybeans.

By 1820 settlements had been made in most of the present counties of Southeast Missouri. The settlers, largely farmers, came from Illinoismarker, Kentuckymarker, Tennesseemarker, and Virginiamarker, in search for fertile and cheap land which they found around Charleston.

The site of the present City of Charleston was originally entered in 1830. In 1837, a personby the name of Thankful Randol sold Joseph Moore 22½ acres of land and the City of Charleston was immediately laid out. Its original boundary was 12 blocks - four north and south and three east and west. The Original Plat was filed on May 20, 1837. An act to incorporate the City of Charleston, Missouri, in the County of Mississippi, was enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri on March 25, 1872.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 429 square miles (1,111 km²), of which, 413 square miles (1,070 km²) of it is land and 16 square miles (41 km²) of it (3.67%) is water.

Adjacent counties

Major highways


As of the census of 2000, there were 13,427 people, 5,383 households, and 3,671 families residing in the county. The population density was 32 people per square mile (13/km²). There were 5,840 housing units at an average density of 14 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 77.93% White, 20.53% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.29% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Approximately 0.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,383 households out of which 31.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.70% were married couples living together, 17.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.80% were non-families. 28.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the county the population was spread out with 26.30% under the age of 18, 8.80% from 18 to 24, 25.40% from 25 to 44, 23.60% from 45 to 64, and 15.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 87.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,837, and the median income for a family was $35,554. Males had a median income of $26,110 versus $17,204 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,847. About 19.00% of families and 23.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.70% of those under age 18 and 21.70% of those age 65 or over.


Of adults 25 years of age and older in Mississippi County, 61.1% possesses a high school diploma or higher while 9.6% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public Schools

Private Schools

Cities and towns



Politics at the local level in Mississippi County is completely controlled by the Democratic Party. All of Mississippi County's elected officeholders are Democrats.

Office Incumbent Party
Assessor W. R. "Bill" Thompson Democratic
Circuit Clerk Leigh Ann Colson Democratic
Clerk Hubert DeLay, Jr. Democratic
Collector Faye P. Elliott Democratic
Commissioner – District 1 Robert Jackson Democratic
Commissioner – District 2 Steve Jones Democratic
Coroner Terry A. Parker Democratic
Highway Engineer Richard Wallace Democratic
Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg Democratic
Prosecuting Attorney Darren Cann Democratic
Public Administrator Rick Reed Democratic
Recorder Judy Rolwing Democratic
Sheriff Keith Moore Democratic
Surveyor Martin Lucas Democratic
Treasurer Sandra B. Morrow Democratic


Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 50.27% 2,659 47.70% 2,523 2.03% 107
2004 48.65% 2,558 50.30% 2,645 1.05% 55
2000 41.97% 2,170 56.79% 2,936 1.24% 64
1996 25.52% 1,325 73.11% 3,796 1.37% 71

Mississippi County is a part of Missouri’s 161st Legislative District and is currently represented in the Missouri House of Representativesmarker by Rep. Steve Hodges (D-East Prairiemarker). In 2008, Hodges ran unopposed and was reelected with 100% of the vote.

Mississippi County is also a part of Missouri's 27th Senatorial District and is currently represented by State Senator Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeaumarker). In 2008, Crowell defeated Linda Sanders (D) 64.2-35.8 percent. Mississippi County narrowly backed Crowell with 50.60 percent while Sanders received 49.40 percent; it was Crowell’s worst county in his district. The 27th Senatorial District consists of Bollingermarker, Cape Girardeaumarker, Madisonmarker, Mississippi, Perrymarker, and Scottmarker counties.

In Missouri's gubernatorial election of 2008, Governor of Missouri Jay Nixon (D) defeated former U.S. Representative Kenny Hulshof (R) with 58.40 percent of the total statewide vote. While Nixon performed extremely well and won many of the rural counties in the state, Mississippi County was not one of these. Hulshof, who was born and raised in neighboring Scott County, narrowly carried Mississippi County with 50.27 percent of the vote to Nixon’s 47.70 percent.


In the U.S. House of Representatives, Mississippi County is represented by Jo Ann Emerson (R-Cape Girardeau) who represents all of Southeast Missouri as part of Missouri's 8th Congressional District.

Political Culture

Past Presidential Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 56.65% 3,034 41.95% 2,247 1.40% 75
2004 54.79% 2,903 44.81% 2,374 0.40% 21
2000 45.93% 2,395 52.85% 2,756 2.33% 439
1996 30.39% 1,595 61.63% 3,235 7.98% 419

At the presidential level, Mississippi County is a fairly independent-leaning or battleground county although, like many counties in the impoverished Bootheel with a significant African American population, it does has a slight tendency to lean Democratic. While George W. Bush carried Mississippi County in 2004, Al Gore won the county in 2000, although both times the margins of victory were significantly closer than in many of the other rural areas. Bill Clinton also carried Mississippi both times in 1992 and 1996 by convincing double-digit margins. And like many of the other rural counties in Missouri, Mississippi County favored John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008, although the margin of victory was smaller than in most rural areas.

Like most rural areas throughout Missouri, voters in Mississippi County generally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles but are more moderate or populist on economic issues, typical of the Dixiecrat philosophy. In 2004, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman—it overwhelmingly passed Mississippi County with 86.87 percent of the vote. The initiative passed the state with 71 percent of support from voters as Missouri became the first state to ban same-sex marriage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to fund and legalize embryonic stem cell research in the state—it failed in Mississippi County with 57.35 percent voting against the measure. The initiative narrowly passed the state with 51 percent of support from voters as Missouri became one of the first states in the nation to approve embryonic stem cell research. Despite Mississippi County’s longstanding tradition of supporting socially conservative platforms, voters in the county have a penchant for advancing populist causes like increasing the minimum wage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a proposition (Proposition B) to increase the minimum wage in the state to $6.50 an hour—it passed Mississippi County with 75.66 percent of the vote. The proposition strongly passed every single county in Missouri with 75.94 percent voting in favor as the minimum wage was increased to $6.50 an hour in the state. During the same election, voters in five other states also strongly approved increases in the minimum wage.

2008 Missouri Presidential Primary

In the 2008 Missouri Presidential Primary, voters in Mississippi County from both political parties supported candidates who finished in second place in the state at large and nationally.


Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansasmarker) won Mississippi County with 42.59 percent of the vote. U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizonamarker) finished in second place in Mississippi County with 33.73 percent. Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Massachusettsmarker) came in third place, receiving 20.43 percent of the vote while libertarian-leaning U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texasmarker) finished fourth with 1.36 percent in Mississippi County.

Huckabee slightly led Missouri throughout much of the evening until the precincts began reporting from St. Louis where McCain won and put him over the top of Huckabee. In the end, McCain received 32.95 percent of the vote to Huckabee’s 31.53 percent—a 1.42 percent difference. McCain received all of Missouri’s 58 delegates as the Republican Party utilizes the winner-take-all system.


Former U.S. Senator and now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New Yorkmarker) won Mississippi County by an almost two-to-one margin over now President Barack Obama (D-Illinoismarker). Clinton carried Mississippi County with 65.43 percent of the vote while Obama received 30.02 percent of the vote. Although he withdrew from the race, former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolinamarker) still received 3.41 percent of the vote in Mississippi County.

Clinton had a large initial lead in Missouri at the beginning of the evening as the rural precincts began to report, leading several news organizations to call the state for her; however, Obama rallied from behind as the heavily African American precincts from St. Louismarker began to report and eventually put him over the top. In the end, Obama received 49.32 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 47.90 percent—a 1.42 percent difference. Both candidates split Missouri’s 72 delegates as the Democratic Party utilizes proportional representation.

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton received more votes, a total of 1,094, than any candidate from either party in Mississippi County during the 2008 Missouri Presidential Primaries.


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