Sedalia is a city located
about south of the Missouri
River in Pettis County, Missouri. U.S.
and U.S. Highway
intersect in the city. As of 2006, the city had a total
population of 20,669. It is the county
seat of Pettis County.
The Sedalia Micropolitan
Statistical Area consists of
Pettis County. Sedalia is the location of the Missouri State Fair
and the Scott Joplin
Although there were bands of Shawnee
vicinity of Sedalia when the land was first settled by Americans,
historians believe the entire area was first occupied by the
(of historical American Indian
that became Sedalia was founded by General George Rappeen Smith (1804–1879), who
went on to found nearby Smithton, Missouri.
He filed plans for the official record on
November 30, 1857, and gave the area the name
The original plat included the land from today's Missouri Pacific Railroad
Third Street. In addition, the version filed jointly by General
Smith and David W. Bouldin
(?-1893) on October 16, 1860,
displayed the city spreading from Clay Street to the north and to
Smith Street (i.e., today's Third Street) in the south, and from
Missouri Street in the west to Washington Street in the east. Smith
and Bouldin anticipated that the city would grow North; however, it
grew South. During the Great
Depression, Sedalia was judged second most damaged
economically, behind Gary, Indiana.
Until it was incorporated in 1860 as Sedalia, the city had only
existed "on paper" (i.e., from November 30, 1857 to October 16,
1860). Both Sedville and Sedalia were named after Smith's daughter,
Sarah "Sed" Smith Cotton. According to local lore, the town council
changed the name from Sadieville
in part because "towns that end in -ville
don't amount to anything." (Lawrence Ditton, Sr.).
Sedalia had a population of around 300 people in 1860, and what
Ihrig et al. (1960 p.12) describe as a "bona fide population" of
around 1,000 in 1865.
According to Ihrig et al., (1960 p.123) Sedalia's population grew
- 1870: 4,560
- 1880: 9,561
- 1890: 14,068
- 1900: 15,231
- 1910: 17,8221
- 1920: 21,144
- 1930: 20,806
- 1940: 20,428
- 1950: 20,354
- 1960: 28,000-30,000 (estimated)
Following a victory for those proposing the "ridge route" for the
railway over those advocating the "river route", the railway
reached Sedalia in January 1861. Sedalia's early prosperity was
directly related to the railroad industry. Many jobs were
associated with maintaining tracks and machine shops for the
and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas
lines. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad was most
widely known as the "KATY", from its "K-T" stock exchange
The KATY trail is the nickname of the 225-mile-trail following the
railroad right-of-way through much of Missouri, a successful
project of "Rails to Trails" project.
A Texas Longhorn
Sedalia was also an important railhead
the Texas cattle drive of 1866.
During the Civil War, despite the presence of the Union soldiers
guarding the railroad, Sedalia was almost taken by the Confederate
forces of Major General Sterling
. Some 1,500 of Shelby's
Shelby's Iron Brigade
associated with Price's
surrounded Sedalia, overpowered the Union
militia that were under the command of Colonel John D. Crawford and
Lieutenant Colonel John [?D.] Parker, and began to loot and sack
the town on October 15, 1864. Once Confederate General M. Jeff
arrived in Sedalia, he ordered his men to stop the
destruction, and moved them on, leaving Sedalia once again in Union
While the Civil War delayed the building of the town, it also meant
that Sedalia had been the terminus of the railroad for three years.
Once the war was over, many of the thousands of Union soldiers who
had been stationed more or less permanently at Sedalia during the
war, and who had soon recognized its potential, made the choice to
migrate to Sedalia from their pre-war homes in other locations
across the United States.
Registered Historic Places
The following Sedalia locations have been listed on the National Register of
Sedalia is located at 38°42'11" North, 93°13'52" West (38.702918,
-93.231147).According to the United States Census Bureau
city has a total area of 12 square miles (31 km²), none
of which is covered by water.
Sedalia has a typical temperate
As with most continental climates, the micropolitan area has four
seasons. Springs here are noted for their rainy days and variable
temperatures. Thunderstorms are common and tornadoes occur during
this time of year. Summers are usually hot and dry, with droughts
occurring during several summers. Autumns are usually cool and
rainy, although several days of warm weather are not uncommon.
Winters are generally cold, with accumulating snow several days of
the winter season. Although not as common, ice storms can and do
occur as well.
As of the census
of 2000, there are 20,339
people in the city, organized into 8,628 households and 5,228
families. The population density
is 1,700.8 people per square mile (656.6/km²). There are 9,419
housing units at an average density of 787.6/sq mi
(304.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 88.62% White
, 4.95% African American
, 0.39% Native American
3.75% from other races
, and 1.86%
from two or more races. 5.55% of the population are Hispanic
of any race.
There are 8,628 households out of which 28.8% have children under
the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% are married couples
living together, 12.6% have a
female householder with no husband present, and 39.4% are
non-families. 33.1% of all households are made up of individuals
and 14.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or
older. The average household size is 2.32 and the average family
size is 2.94.
In the city the population is spread out with 24.7% under the age
of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to
64, and 17.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is
36 years. For every 100 females there are 90.0 males. For every 100
females age 18 and over, there are 86.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $28,641, and the
median income for a family is $34,938. Males have a median income
of $28,208 versus $19,520 for females. The per capita income
for the city is $15,931.
15.3% of the population and 12.5% of families are below the
. Out of the total
population, 20.8% of those under the age of 18 and 10.5% of those
65 and older are living below the poverty line.
The Sedalia Public Library was the first Carnegie Grant
awarded in Missouri. The
Board of Trustees received word of the $50,000 grant in the fall of
1899. After securing the property on which to build, and having
gained voter approval of a tax to support the library, the Board
laid the corner-stone in 1900. The building was completed in July
1901. Dedicated in 1901, the library is listed on the National Register of
Sedalia is home to the Daum Museum of Contemporary
named after its primary benefactor, Sedalia
radiologist and art collector Harold
. The museum, located on the State Fair Community College
campus, is home to the works of many famous artists including
(1941-), Sam Francis
(1923–1994), Helen Frankenthaler
(1928-), Sol LeWitt
(1928–2007), Robert Motherwell
(1915–1991), Julian Schnabel
(1951-), and Andy Warhol
The museum, designed by St. Louis-based Gunn & Smith
Architects, features three stories of gallery space—including a
main gallery with a translucent clerestory
, a cantilevered
stairway, a two-story atrium
, and an open-air sculpture
It features both permanent displays as
well as temporary displays from world renowned artists.
The old Wheel Inn Drive In
Since 1901, the Missouri State
has been held in Sedalia every August with the exception
of 1943 and 1944 because of World War II. Many singers and actors
make the annual trip to the fair. Ronald
, George W. Bush
, and other presidents have given
speeches on the fairgrounds, though not during the State
In 1974, the Missouri State Fairgrounds was the site of the
the Ozark Music
which was one of the largest but least remembered
music festivals of the 1970s. While the plan was for a
pop/rock/bluegrass festival selling about 50,000 tickets, an influx
of about 184,000 fans and many rock bands strained the capacity of
the fairgrounds and the city. Some estimates put the crowd count at
350,000 people. It counts as one of the largest music events (Rock
Festivals) in history. The festival, hosted by Wolfman Jack
, garnered a full page ad in
American television movie The Day After, which the
ABC Television Network
aired on November 20, 1983, Sedalia is destroyed when Minuteman II Missile silos around the area
come under attack.
At the time of the movie's release, 150 of these missiles were
located around the Sedalia area in underground silos. They had been sited
there since the first Minuteman missiles had been activated under
the control of the 351st Missile
Wing located at Whiteman Air Force Base south of Knob Noster on January 14, 1964.
The release of the movie led to a significant (if somewhat
laughably belated) increase in local community concern. Some of
this lingered until all of the missiles were dismantled between
1992 and 1997 as a result of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
between the U.S. and Russia.
Two of the most widely seen films in which Sedalia is featured are
the 1977 movie Heroes
starring Henry Winkler
and Harrison Ford
, and the 1977 film Scott
, starring Billy
. Sedalia was mentioned briefly in the motion
, when it was
announced that Sedalia's VFW
unit had sent goodies to the
4077 in Korea.
Parts of the 1941 film "Bad Men of Missouri" are set in
Sedalia is mentioned in "Old Yellar".
The classic, long running Western
ran on CBS
, featured Sedalia. It starred
as the "trail boss", Gil
Favor, and the emerging Clint
as the "ramrod" (i.e., second in charge), Rowdy Yates.
The series was set on the (fictional) "Rawhide Trail". According to
the series' story-line, the trail was used by Texan drovers in the
early to middle 1860s to move cattle overland from Texas to the
(factual) Sedalia railhead of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad
Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival,
Sedalia is well known as the adopted home of ragtime music's most
well known musician and stylist Scott
Sedalia has been the host to several rock and roll events, such as
the Ozark Music Festival
1974, and the Delicious Rox
Little Sister of Liberty
to celebrate its fortieth anniversary—which had the theme of
"Strengthen the Arm of
Liberty"—the Boy Scouts of
America donated two hundred 8ft 6in (260 cm) copper
replicas of the Statue of
Liberty, which were known collectively as the "Little
Sisters of Liberty", to various communities in 39 states of the
The project was the brainchild of the Scout
Commissioner of the (then) Kansas City Area Council, Kansas City
businessman, J.P. Whitaker.
One of the two hundred replicas was donated to Sedalia; and it was
installed at the County Courthouse.
Senator Truman speaking in Sedalia,
A number of newspapers have been published in Sedalia, in
- The Daily Democrat (1871–1873)
- The Independent Press (1871–1873)
- The Pacific Enterpise (1863–1864)
- The Sedalia Advertiser (1864–1865)
- The Sedalia Bazoo (1881–1895)
- The Sedalia Capital
- The Sedalia Daily Democrat (1874–1925)
- The Sedalia Democrat
- The Sedalia News-Journal (2003-)
- The Sedalia Times
Scott Joplin's alma mater, George R. Smith College
, a historically black college
(HBCU), operated from 1894 until it burned down on April 26,
The land for the college had been donated by the Smith sisters
Sarah and Martha Elizabeth. They also donated land for Dunbar Park.
Sarah Smith-Cotton's family home was converted into Smith-Cotton High School
The Sedalia Business College and Institute of Penmanship was
founded in 1881. It was the predecessor of Robbins Business
College. This evolved into Central Business College.
State Fair Community
is a public two-year institution offering
post-secondary college level courses.
Smith-Cotton High School, Whittier High School,
Sacred Heart High School, and St. Paul's
Lutheran are also located in Sedalia.
A new high school is being constructed and will open its doors in
the fall of 2009. The school will be called Smith Cotton High
People born in, who live in, or are otherwise associated with
Sedalia, are known as Sedalians
- United States Census Estimates 2006
- Ihrig, et al., 1960, p.5.
- Ihrig, et al., 1960, p.8.
- Ihrig, et al., 1960, pp.2, 8.
- The significance of the description of "bona fide population"
is that "from 1861 to 1864 Missouri was under martial law and
Sedalia, as a military post, was governed by the post commander.
There was no mayor, council or executive or legislative body except
the military power" (Ihrig et al., 1960 p.12).
- Ihrig et al., (1960 p.123) also noted that: ::There is
considerable disagreement about the 1950 census, it being contended
that many people were missed. The Survey on [sic] Buying Power
[viz., the Sales and Marketing Management magazine's
annual Survey of Buying Power] indicates an
estimated population of 26,300 on January 1, 1958. The 1960 census
had not been taken when this [centenary] history was written, but
it is believed the 1960 population of Sedalia is between 28,000 and
- Ihrig, et al., 1960, p.7.
- From Sedalia: It's Late Defence and Capture
(Missouri Democrat, October ?, 1864)
- Mueller, (2007), pp.85-86
- Ihrig, et al., 1960, p.13.
- Sedalia Public Library - Sedalia, MO
- Kinzer, S., " IN THE MIDDLE; What's This? An Art Boom In the
Heartland", New York Times, (24 April 2002),
- Attoun, M., "Little Sisters of Liberty",
Scouting, (October 2007)
- Boy Scouts of America, Troop 101, Cheyenne, Wyoming:
Replica Statue of Liberty Search (includes a photograph of
Sedalia's "Little Sister of Liberty")
- The following unsigned tribute appeared on the plaque affixed
to its base: ::WITH THE FAITH AND COURAGE OF ::THEIR FOREFATHERS
WHO MADE ::POSSIBLE THE FREEDOM OF THESE ::UNITED STATES ::THE BOY
SCOUTS OF AMERICA ::DEDICATE THIS REPLICA OF THE ::STATUE OF
LIBERTY AS A PLEDGE ::OF EVERLASTING FIDELITY AND ::LOYALTY: ::40TH
ANNIVERSARY CRUSADE TO ::STRENGTHEN THE ARM OF LIBERTY ::1950
:Taken from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's
Inventory of American Sculpture, Control Number
- The college was more widely known across the United States as
the George R. Smith College for
Negroes. Subsequent to the fire, an unsuccessful attempt was
made (through the Methodist Church) to rebuild the college (Ihrig,
et al., 1960, p.48).
- Swearingen, (?1995). "Sedalia's Founding Mothers: A Tribute",
University of Missouri
- Berlin, E.A., "Scott Joplin in Sedalia: New Perspectives",
Black Music Research Journal, Vol.9, No.2, (Autumn 1989),
- Cassity, M.J., Defending a Way of Life: An American
Community in the Nineteenth Century, State University of New
York Press, (Albany ), 1989. ISBN 0-88706-868-5
- Cassity, M.J., Defending a Way of Life: The Development of
Industrial Market Society and the Transformation of Social
Relationships in Sedalia, Missouri 1850–1890, Ph.D.
Dissertation, University of Missouri–Columbia, 1973.
- Chalfant, R., Down at the Junction: a study of Madam Lizzie
Cook, a prostitute in Sedalia, Missouri, 1870–1879, M.A.
of Missouri, 1994.
- Chalfant, R., Show me the fair : a history of the Missouri
State Fair, Walsworth Publications, (Marceline), 2002. ISBN
- Chalfant, R., "The Midland's Most Notorious": A Study of
Prostitution in Sedalia, Missouri, 1860–1900, Ph.D.
Dissertation, University of Missouri–Columbia, 2005.
- Christensen, L.O.(ed), Dictionary of Missouri
Biography, University of Missouri Press, (Columbia), 1999.
- Claycomb, W.B., On the Mainlines: Railroading in Sedalia,
MO, W.B. Claycomb, (Hughesville), 1998.
- Claycomb, W.B., On the Mainlines: Railroading in Sedalia,
Missouri, Sedalia Heritage Foundation, (Sedalia), 2003.
- Claycomb, W.B., Imhauser, B.C. & Nolen, R.M., Bothwell
Regional Health Center: A Lifetime of Caring, 1930–2005,
Bothwell Regional Health Center, (Sedalia), 2005.
- Crisler, R.M., "Cities of Central Missouri", Economic
Geography, Vol.23, No.1, (January 1947), pp.72–75.
- Demuth, I. M., The History of Pettis County, Missouri,
including an authentic history of Sedalia, other towns and
townships, together with... biographical sketches..., F. A.
North, (Sedalia), 1882.
- Dickson, T., There's a Town in Missouri: Hermann, Hannibal,
Springfield, St. Joseph, Joplin, Cape Girardeau, Fulton, Sedalia,
Lamar, Lexington, Independence, St. Louis, 1902, New Sunrise
- Hale, L.L., Sedalia, Missouri: 100 Years in Pictures,
Walworth Publishing, (Marceline), 1960.
- Harding, S.B., Life of George R. Smith, Founder of
Sedalia, Mo., in its Relations to the Political, Economic, and
Social life of Southwestern Missouri, Before and During the Civil
War, Kessinger Publishing, 2007 (facsimile , reprint of 1904).
- Ihrig, B.B. et al. (eds), The First One Hundred Years, A
History of the City of Sedalia, Missouri, 1860–1960,
Centennial History Committee, Sedalia, 1960.
- Imhauser, R.C., Images of America: Sedalia, Arcadia
Publishing, (Charleston), 2007. ISBN 0-73855-087-6
- Lang, H.N., Life in Pettis County, 1815–1873, Hazel N.
Lang, (Sedalia), 1975.
- McComb, D.G., Texas: A Modern History, University of
Texas Press, (Austin), 1989. ISBN 0-29274-665-2
- Mueller, D.L., M. Jeff Thompson: Missouri's Swamp
Fox of the Confederacy, University of Missouri Press,
(Columbia), 2007. ISBN 0-82621-724-9
- North, F.A., Hand-Book of Sedalia, Including Its History
and Business Directory, F. A. North, (Sedalia), 1882.
- Peters, J.A., Case Study of a Gathering: The Ozark Music
Festival, M.A. Dissertation, Central Missouri State
- Ruger, A., "Bird's eye view of the city of Sedalia, Pettis Co.,
- Scotten, F.C., History of the Schools of Pettis County,
Missouri, 1974; Prepared under the Direction of C. F.
Scotten, C.F. Scotton, (Sedalia) 1974.
- Snider, R.L., The Show Must Go On. A Plan for
Rehabilitating an Historic Theatre: Case Studies of Three Historic
Theatre Rehabilitations in Missouri, Ph.D. Dissertation,
University of Missouri–Columbia, 1999.
- Swearingen, "Sedalia's Founding Mother", Preservation
Issues, Vol.4, No.2, ?1995.
- Thelen, D.P., Paths of Resistance: Tradition and Dignity in
Industrializing Missouri, Oxford University Press, 1986. ISBN
- Whites, L., Neth, M. & Kremer, G.R. (eds), Women in
Missouri History: In Search of Power and Influence, University of Missouri Press,
(Columbia), 2004. ISBN 0-82621-526-2
- Yanow, S., Jazz: A Regional Exploration, Greenwood
Press, (Westport), 2005. ISBN 0-31332-871-4
- Bird, Kenneth L." Rails To The Osage", Menwith Productions,
2009, 'Story of the Sedalia, Warsaw & Southern Railroad' ISBN