Little Dixie (Missouri)

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Little Dixie is a 13- to 17-county region of mid-to-upper-mid Missouri found along the Missouri River, settled primarily by migrants from the hemp and tobacco districts of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. Today, the region identifies with the Midwest, but because of Southerners settling there first, the pre-Civil War culture was similar to that of the Upper South. The area was known as Boonslick country.[citation needed] When the Southerners resettled in Missouri, they brought their cultural, social, agricultural, architectural, political and economic practices, including slavery. On average Missouri’s slave population was only 10 percent, but in Little Dixie, county and township slave populations ranged from 20 to 50 percent, corresponding to the concentration of large plantations along the river.

While definitions of the counties included in Little Dixie vary, in 1860 the following counties had plantations and populations with proportions of slaves of 25 percent or more: Callaway, Boone, Howard, Saline, Chariton, Lafayette and Clay. The only other county of the state where the enslaved population was as high in 1860 was New Madrid in the southeast, devoted to cotton plantations along the Mississippi River.[1]

Missouri counties

According to the Missouri Division - Sons of Confederate Veterans, the “heart” of Little Dixie was the following counties:[2]

The major cash crop was hemp. In Lafayette County, locals declared hemp as king and dedicated all agricultural production to it while foregoing necessary food production. Planters in "Outer Little Dixie" counties, such as Platte, Howard, Chariton and Ralls,[2] grew millions of pounds of tobacco on large plantations with 20 or more slaves. Some farmers and planters grew cotton and sent their surplus down the Missouri River to St. Louis and New Orleans.

Planters named their large estates, such as Greenwood, Redstone, Oakwood and Sylvan Villa in Howard County. On these plantations, slave populations ranged between 15 and 70 people, who cultivated acreage of 500 acres (2 km²) to 2000 acres (8 km²), or more.


In many parts of Little Dixie, the antebellum plantation homes still stand today. Many people participate in heritage tourism and historic projects.

Mob violence took place against African Americans in this region, which appears to be strongly associated with the history of slavery and resulting race relations, especially late 19th century efforts by white Democrats to maintain white supremacy. Between 1889 and 1919, a period that is considered the "nadir of racial relations" in the United States, when Southern states disfranchised blacks through new constitutions and amendments, there were 13 lynchings of black men in total among Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Howard, Monroe, Pike, and Randolph counties. This number represented 16 percent of the lynchings in the state during this period, whereas these seven counties contained under 6 percent of the state's total population. African Americans comprised just over 50 percent of the victims of lynching in other parts of Missouri, but in these seven counties, more than 90 percent of the victims were black, and they were overwhelmingly men.[3][4][5]

Athletic Conference[edit]

"Little Dixie" later was used as the name of a Missouri athletic conference. The Little Dixie Conference, or LDC, was made up of the following area high schools:

The Little Dixie Conference disbanded prior to the 2006 fall sports season. All schools (except Community, Sturgeon and Madison) formed the new Mid-Missouri Conference along with North Callaway and Tipton high schools.


  1. ^ T. J. Stiles, Jesse James: The Last Rebel of the Civil War, New York: Vintage Books, 2003, pp.10-11
  2. ^ a b "Little Dixie, Missouri", Missouri Division - Sons of Confederate Veterans], accessed 3 Jun 2008
  3. ^ NAACP (1919). Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889—1918. NAACP. pp. 80–81. 
  4. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (1922). Fourteenth Census, vol. 3, Population, 1920: Composition and Characteristics of the Population by States. Government Printing Office. p. 546. 
  5. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (1922). Fourteenth Census, vol. 2, Population, 1920: General Report and Analytical Tables. Government Printing Office. p. 1348. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert M. Crisler, "Missouri's Little Dixie," Missouri Historical Review (Columbia, MO), Volume XLII [April 1948], pp. 130 - 139
  • Roy E. Coy, editor. Little Dixie and the Mystic Land of Poosey, St. Joseph, MO: St. Joseph Museum, 1954
  • R. Douglas Hunt, Agriculture and Slavery in Missouri's Little Dixie, Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1993
  • Albert Edmund Trombly. Little Dixie, Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Studies, 1955.
  • Paul I. Wellman, "Missouri's Little Dixie is Real Although it Appears on No Maps," Kansas City Times, 5 December 1941.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°N 93°W / 39°N 93°W / 39; -93