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Jackson County, Missouri
Map of Missouri highlighting Jackson County
Location in the state of Missouri
Map of the U.S. highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location in the U.S.
Seat Independence
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

616 sq mi (1,595 km²)
605 sq mi (1,567 km²)
12 sq mi (31 km²), 1.88%
 - (2008)
 - Density

1,104.8/sq mi (426.1/km²)
Founded December 15, 1826

Jackson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri. As of 2000, the population was 654,880. The 2008 Census estimates put the population of Jackson County at 668,417.[1] It is the second most populous county in Missouri after St. Louis County, owing mostly to the presence of Kansas City, the state's most populous city and focus city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Although Independence retains its status as the original county seat, Kansas City serves as a second county seat and the center of county government.[2]


Early years

Jackson County was home to members of the Osage Indian tribe. The first known European explorers were French trappers who used the Missouri River as a highway for exploration and trading with Native American tribes. Jackson County was a part of New France, until the British victory in the French and Indian War in 1763 resulted in the cession of this territory to Great Britain's ally, Spain. Spain was forced to return its Louisiana Territory (of which modern Jackson County then formed a part) to France in the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1800, which in turn sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

Explorers Merriwether Lewis and William Clark passed through Jackson County on their famous Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804. Among other items, their report indicated a "high, commanding position" along the river within the current boundaries of Jackson County that in 1808 became Fort Osage. This stockade and trading post was one of the first U.S. military installations within the Louisiana purchase territory, and remained active until 1822.

In 1821, Jackson County became part of the newly-admitted state of Missouri. Jackson County was organized on December 15, 1826 and named for Andrew Jackson, U.S. Senator (and later President) from Tennessee. Its county seat was designated as Independence, which was at the time only a minuscule settlement near a spring. However, the rapid increase in Westward exploration and expansion ultimately made Independence the starting point for three of the great Westward Trails: the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail and the California Trail. With the American Civil War and the coming of the railroads, nearby Kansas City ultimately eclipsed Independence, though both towns remain county seats.

In 1838, a small piece of land was bought along the Missouri River in northern Jackson County by the "Town Company", which established "Westport Landing" (today the River Market district). The area outside of Westport Landing was renamed the "Town of Kansas," after the local Kanza Indians, in 1839. The town was chartered by Jackson County in 1850 and incorporated by the State of Missouri as the "City of Kansas" in 1853. In 1889, with a population of around 60,000, the city adopted a new charter and changed its name to Kansas City. In 1897, Kansas City annexed Westport.

Latter-day Saints

Jackson County figures prominently in the history of the Latter Day Saint movement. Church founder Joseph Smith, Jr. taught that the Garden of Eden had been located in what is now Jackson County[3] and that the New Jerusalem spoken of in the Book of Revelation would be built there someday.[4] The "center place" for this New Jerusalem is located in Independence.[5] Although formed in upstate New York in 1830, the LDS church leadership and members began moving to Jackson County as early as 1831. Open conflict with earlier settlers ensued, driven by religious and cultural differences, prejudice and local belief that the so-called "Mormons" were abolitionists. By October 1833, vigilantes had used force to drive the Saints from Jackson to nearby counties within Missouri. By 1838, following the Missouri Mormon War, they would be driven from the state altogether, not to return to Jackson County or Missouri in large numbers until 1867.

Today several Latter Day Saint churches are represented in Jackson County, most notably the Community of Christ and the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), both of which have their worldwide headquarters there. Joseph Smith prophesied that a temple would be built in Independence "in this generation", though none has ever been erected by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, currently the world's largest LDS body. The Community of Christ remains the only Latter Day Saint organization (as of 2008) to have a temple in the city on the 66 acres originally designated by Smith. The heart of Smith's original site, a smaller five-acre plot (containing stones originally placed by Smith to mark the corners of his intended structure), is currently owned by the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), which hopes to build a temple of its own sometime in the future.

Civil War

During the Civil War, Jackson County was the scene of several engagements, the most notable of which was the Battle of Westport, sometimes referred to as "the Gettysburg of Missouri," in 1864. The decisive Union victory here firmly established Northern control of Missouri, and led to the failure of Confederate General Sterling Price's Missouri expedition. Other noteworthy battles were fought in Independence in 1862, Lone Jack a few days later, and again in Independence in 1864. All three battles resulted in Confederate victories.

Jackson County was heavily affected by Union General Thomas Ewing's infamous General Order No. 11 (1863). With large numbers of Confederate sympathisers living within its boundaries, and active Confederate operations in the area a frequent occurrence, the Union command was determined to deprive Confederate bushwhackers of all local support. Ewing's decree practically emptied the rural portions of the county, and resulted in the burning of large portions of Jackson and adjacent counties. According to American artist George Caleb Bingham, himself a resident of Kansas City at the time, one could see the "dense columns of smoke arising in every direction", symbolic of what he termed "a ruthless military despotism which spared neither age, sex, character, nor condition". The legacy of Ewing's "imbecilic" (according to Bingham) order would haunt Jackson County for decades after the war.

Twentieth century

The coming of the railroads and the building of stockyards led to the rapid expansion of Kansas City in the late 1800s. During the 1920s and 30s, the city became a noted center for Jazz and Blues music, as well as the headquarters of Hallmark Cards and the location of Walt Disney's first animation studio. The county fared better than many during the Great Depression, as local political boss Thomas Pendergast worked for implementation of a $50,000,000 public works project that provided thousands of jobs (and a great deal of money for the corrupt Pendergast). One of Pendergast's political proteges was a young World War I veteran from Independence: Harry Truman, who went on to become the thirty-third President of the United States in 1944.

Suburban sprawl became a part of Jackson County's landscape following World War II, as returning soldiers and other workers moved into new homes being built in subdivisions that increasingly encroached on rural portions of the county. Independence, Blue Springs and Lee's Summit experienced growth during this period, which continues to the present. Kansas City, on the other hand, experienced the same problems with urban decay afflicting many large American cities during this time. Recent building projects have sought to reverse this trend, including work on the city's famous City Market, the Westport district, the 18th and Vine Historic District and most recently the Kansas City Power & Light District.[6]

Law and government

Jackson County was the second county to adopt a home-rule charter under the Missouri constitution. The Jackson County Charter was adopted by the voters in 1970 and was amended in 1985 and 1986.

Executive power of the county is vested in the county executive, which is a full-time salaried position. The county executive is elected by the general population of the county for a four-year term.

Ordinances are passed by a county legislature. The legislature is made up of nine members, six elected from smaller districts within the county and three elected "at large" from larger districts by voters of the whole county. Member terms are 4 years, beginning on January 1 following the election.

There are 244,570 registered voters.[7]


Lake Jacomo

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 616 square miles (1,596 km²), of which, 605 square miles (1,567 km²) of it is land and 12 square miles (30 km²) of it (1.88%) is water.

The Missouri River comprises Jackson County's northern border. The county has historically been a major traveling point for American river travel.

Adjacent counties

  • Clay County (north)
  • Ray County (north-east)
  • Lafayette County (east)
  • Johnson County (south-east)
  • Cass County (south)
  • Johnson County, Kansas (south-west)
  • Wyandotte County, Kansas (north-west)

Major highways

  • I-29.svg Interstate 29
  • I-35.svg Interstate 35
  • I-70.svg Interstate 70
  • I-435.svg Interstate 435
  • I-635.svg Interstate 635
  • I-470.svg Interstate 470
  • I-670.svg Interstate 670
  • US 24.svg U.S. Route 24
  • US 40.svg U.S. Route 40
  • US 50.svg U.S. Route 50
  • US 71.svg U.S. Route 71
  • MO-7.svg Route 7
  • MO-150.svg Route 150
  • MO-291.svg Route 291
  • MO-350.svg Route 350

Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, at twilight

Cities and towns

  • Blue Springs
  • Blue Summit
  • Buckner
  • Grain Valley
  • Grandview
  • Greenwood
  • Independence
  • Kansas City
  • Lake Lotawana
  • Lake Tapawingo
  • Lee's Summit
  • Levasy
  • Lone Jack
  • Oak Grove
  • Raytown
  • River Bend
  • Sibley
  • Sugar Creek
  • Unity Village

National protected area

  • Harry S Truman National Historic Site


As of the census[8] of 2000, there were 654,880 people, 266,294 households, and 166,167 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,083 people per square mile (418/km²). There were 288,231 housing units at an average density of 476 per square mile (184/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 70.10% White, 23.27% Black or African American, 0.48% Native American, 1.28% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 2.43% from other races, and 2.25% from two or more races. 5.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.7% were of German, 9.1% American, 8.9% Irish and 8.8% English ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 266,294 households out of which 29.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.40% were married couples living together, 14.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.60% were non-families. 31.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.80% under the age of 18, 9.10% from 18 to 24, 31.10% from 25 to 44, 21.50% from 45 to 64, and 12.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 92.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,277, and the median income for a family was $48,435. Males had a median income of $35,798 versus $27,403 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,788. About 9.00% of families and 11.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.40% of those under age 18 and 8.70% of those age 65 or over.

See also

  • List of counties in Missouri
  • Missouri census statistical areas


  1. "Missouri County Officials" (PDF). Missouri (Secretary of State). p. 115. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. Bruce A. Van Orden, “I Have a Question: What do we know about the location of the Garden of Eden?”, Ensign, Jan. 1994, 54–55; see also Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, 7:438-39 (1888); Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 219 (1967); Heber C. Kimball, "Advancement of the Saints", Journal of Discourses 10:235 (1863); Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young to Orson Hyde, March 15, 1857 (1830- ); Wilford Woodruff, Susan Staker (ed.), Waiting for the World to End: The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 305 (1993); John A. Widtsoe, G. Homer Durham (ed.), Evidences and Reconciliations, 396-397 (1960); Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 19-20
  4. Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie (ed.) Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 3:74 (1954-56).
  5. Doctrine & Covenants 57:1-5
  6. Information for this section was obtained largely from 175 Years of Jackson County History, by the Jackson County Historical Society.
  7. Registered Voters in Missouri 2008
  8. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links


Coordinates: 39°01′N 94°20′W / 39.01°N 94.34°W / 39.01; -94.34

ar:مقاطعة جاكسون، ميزوري bpy:জ্যাকশন কাউন্টি, মিসৌরি no:Jackson County (Missouri) nds:Jackson County (Missouri) pt:Condado de Jackson (Missouri) sv:Jackson County, Missouri zh:杰克逊县 (密苏里州)