Scott County, Missouri - History Contributed by Janeth Hargis

Scott County, Missouri

This information is transcribed by me, Janeth Hargis, from our visit to Benton in July of 1994 while attending a family reunion in St. Louis and in Sparta, Ill. Both were transcribed from a Bronze sign in front of the Courthouse in Benton.


The second county formed in Missouri's famed Southeast Lowland Region, Scott was organized 1821, and named for John Scott, the States first Congressman. southerners were first settlers on Spanish land grants in the late 1790's. The King's Highway (El Camino Real), laid out in 1789, crossed the county which lies in territory claimed by Osage tribes until 1808. the Delaware and shawnee roamed the area into the 1820's.

Benton, the county seat, laid out in 1822, is named for Thomas Hart Benton, one of Missouri's first U. S. Senators. From 1864-78 the county seat was located at Commerce a town laid out 1823 on Mississippi River. Long known as Tywappity, the townsite was a trading post and river landing by 1803. There was formed the first Baptist Church in what is now Missouri 1805.

New Hamburg, third town in the county, was settled by German immigrants in the 1840's. In St. Lawrence Catholic churchyard there is their first log church. Sikeston, the county's fourth and largest town, settled in 1800, was laid out in 1860, by John Sikes on the Cairo & Fulton R. R. (Mo. Pac.).

Scott County, cotton, soybean, melon, and grain producer, lies between the Mississippi and Little River District drainage ditches., one of largest drainage systems in the U. S. established 1905. Crowley's Ridge, remnant of an old coastal plain, crosses the county.

The county, devastated by guerrilla raid during the Civil War, grew rapidly from the 1870's to the early 1900's as its dense forests were limbered off and numerous railroads were built. Towns founded in this period are Diehlstadt, Morley, Oran, Perkins, Blodgett, Crowder, Vanduser, Illmo, Fornfelt, (Scott City), Chaffee, Ancell, and Kelso. the Thebes Mississippi River railroad bridge at Illmo dates from 1905. Near there is Cape St. Croix, a rock Island in the river where Father De Montigny erected a cross, 1699.

Near morley is the grave of Nathaniel W. Watkins, State legislator, Gen. Missouri State Guards, half-brother of Henry Clay. In the county for a time, lived Wilson Brown, 9yth Lt. Gov. of Mo. and noted early legislators Joseph Hunter II and Abraham Hunter. Rezin Bowie, brother of James was Syndic of Tywappity settlement before 1800.

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