Bates County was the only county in the United States to have endured total evacuation during the US Civil War, under Order No.11. It was also the setting for the first black Union soldiers to fight for their freedom during the Civil War. The First Kansas Colored Division fought at the Battle of Island Mound four miles North of present day Rich Hill, MO. A statue commemorating this event has been placed on the North lawn of the courthouse in Butler, MO. seven miles from the battle sight.
There were 6,511 households out of which 32.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.80% were married couples living together, 7.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.00% were non-families. 26.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the county the population was spread out with 26.50% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 26.00% from 25 to 44, 22.60% from 45 to 64, and 17.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 95.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $30,731, and the median income for a family was $36,470. Males had a median income of $30,298 versus $19,772 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,477. About 11.50% of families and 14.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.30% of those under age 18 and 14.10% of those age 65 or over.