St. Francois County, Missouri
|Saint Francois County, Missouri|
Location in the state of Missouri
Missouri's location in the U.S.
|Founded||December 19, 1821|
|Named for||St. Francis River|
452 sq mi (1,172 km²)
449 sq mi (1,164 km²)
3 sq mi (8 km²), 0.65%
145.6/sq mi (56.2/km²)
|Time zone||Central: UTC-6/-5|
St. Francois County (pronunciation: / /) is a county located in the Lead Belt region in Missouri in the United States. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the county's population was 65,359. The largest city and county seat is Farmington. The county was officially organized on December 19, 1821. It was named after the St. Francis River. The origin of the river's name is unclear. It might refer to St. Francis of Assisi. Another possibility is that Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit who explored the region in 1673, named the river for the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier. Marquette had spent some time at the mission of St. Francois Xavier before his voyage and, as a Jesuit, was unlikely to have given the river a name honoring the Franciscans.
|This section may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards, as This section is copied from CAMPBELL'S GAZETTEER OF MISSOURI, Robert A. Campbell, St. Louis, MO: 1874. pp. 495-501.. (May 2009)|
The first settlement in St. Francois County was made in the spring of 1796 at what is now known as Big River Mills by Andrew Baker, John Ally, Francis Starnater and John Andrews. They each located claims in 1794 but did not bring their families until 1796. Andrew Baker was the only one who had a house; the rest lived in camps. Baker, who built a large home along the north bank of Big River, established a community there. At one time he reportedly owned 200 slaves and was one of the wealthiest men in the area. Eventually all his children married and left the farm which consisted of 740 acres (3.0 km2). The farm was sold for taxes and later sold for $30 per acre. Several families settled that same year on Big River; among them were Elisha Baker, his son Elijah and Joseph Reed from Bois Brule Bottom. In 1798, Solomon George became the first to settle on Little St. Francois River.
A memorable circumstance occurred around March 1, 1797. Henry Fry and Rebecca Baker having concluded to be married, started, in company with Catharine Miller, Mary and Abraham Baker (two sisters and the brother of the intended bride,) and William Patterson, for Ste. Genevieve, the nearest point where anyone authorized to perform the service could be found. When they were eight or 10 miles (16 km) from home near the crossing of the Terre Bleu, they were met by the Native Americans and all, save Rebecca and Abraham Baker, were stripped of their clothing and left to find their way home in this plight; the wagon loaded with venison, intended for the wedding feast, was also robbed. This unfortunate adventure caused the postponement of the marriage for one year.
That same year, other immigrants began coming to this new country. Among these was the Reverend William Murphy, a native of Ireland and a pioneer Baptist minister from the Holston River area in East Tennessee who procured a land grant. He and his three sons Joseph, William and David, along with a friend, Silas George, arrived by boat that fall in Ste. Genevieve. None in that community could speak English, so a Mr. Madden, living three miles (5 km) distant, was sent for. He invited them to his home, and the following day sent a Native American with them to show where good claims could be secured. David Murphy located his claim in the north side of the selected site, where Washington School now stands. Reverend Murphy selected as his claim an area to the south that was later known as Carter Spring, now McIlvane Street, and Joseph Murphy located on a plot to the northwest, later known as the Swink farm situated on old Highway 67, all just south of the present site of Farmington in 1798. After securing their claims, these men returned to Tennessee for their families. But sickness overtook them, and both the Reverend Murphy and Silas George died before reaching home. In 1801, David Murphy, a son of Reverend Murphy, cut the first tree that was felled in what was long known as Murphy Settlement. The next year Joseph, William and Richard, brothers of David Murphy, arrived and began permanent settlements on grants made by the Spanish Government.
Early in the spring of 1800, William, Joseph and David Murphy returned to Missouri with their families. They were accompanied by a younger brother, Richard, who came to establish a home for their widowed mother, Sarah Barton Murphy. Soon Mrs. Murphy and three other sons—Isaac, Jesse and Dubart—her only daughter, Sarah, a grandson William Evans; a hired hand and African American woman and boy followed. The journey was made by flat boat down the Holston River into Ohio; thence to the Mississippi River and up to Ste. Genevieve, a distance of more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km). Many places infested with hostile Native Americans, they managed to pass in the night while keeping concealed along the banks during the day. When the party arrived at Ste. Genevieve, the inhabitants gave them a rousing welcome. About the same year, Michael Hart and his son Charles settled in the same vicinity.
At the time of this settlement the area was under Spanish rule. On October 7, 1800, Spain ceded the whole of upper and lower Louisiana to France. It was not until our own Louisiana Purchase on April 30, 1803 that this area became a part of the United States. Settlers came in large numbers after the Murphy Settlement was established, and at the close of 1803 it had grown to a sizable community. Most of the settlers had enjoyed freedom of worship in their previous homes but found here they were restricted in worshipping God according to their Protestant tradition. Mrs. Murphy frequently invited friends to her home where secret prayer meetings were held while sentinels kept guard to warn of approaching danger. The religious restriction imposed by the Spanish officials gave way when the United States came into full possession. When the settlement learned that control of the land had passed to the United States, Mrs. Murphy was given the honor of the first Protestant prayer in public west of the Mississippi.
There was never a lack of law and order in the Murphy settlement. Differences among people were generally referred to Sarah Barton Murphy and her decisions were accepted as final. There soon came an itinerant Methodist minister to the community who preached at Mrs. Murphy's home. Although most of the settlers were then Baptists, it was decided to organize a church at once. Mrs. Murphy donated 1-acre (4,000 m2) of ground, in what is now the Masonic Cemetery, for the erection of that church. The first Protestant house of worship in Farmington was a log structure about 22 by 30 feet (9.1 m). In 1805 Sarah Murphy organized and taught what is believed to have been the first Sunday school west of the Mississippi River. This great lady who exerted strong social, moral and religious influence over the entire community, died in 1817. A monument now stands to her memory on the site where that first church was erected.
The daily arrival of new immigrants continued the growth of the community. Families, whose names are still prevalent today, moved in and were instrumental in developing not only the area but the entire state of Missouri. Nathaniel Cook, one of Missouri's earliest and most prominent lawmakers, located his claim in the southeastern part of the county in 1800, now one of the most educated and affluent portions of St. Francois County. Following soon thereafter were such notables as: John Caldwell, William Holmes, Jesse Blackwell, Elliott Jackson and James Davis. From 1805 to 1810 settlements developed along such streams as St. Francois River, Doe Run Creek, and Flat River which are familiar to locals today; by such personages as Squire Eleazer Clay, John Robinson, Isaac and John Burnham, Lemuel Halsted, Samuel Rhoades, Solomon Jones and Mark Dent, many of whose descendants still reside in the county.
The constant influx of settlers to the area brought about a demand for a permanent seat of government. Appointed as commissioners to locate the county seat were Henry Poston, William Alexander and James Holbert. A generous donor was found in the persons of David Murphy and his wife Rachel, who by deed dated September 2, 1822 ".....gave as a donation to the County of St. Francois, upon which to fix the county seat, fifty two acres of land...”
The new county was made from parts of three counties already established, Ste. Genevieve, Jefferson and Washington, and comprised 410 square miles (1,100 km2). An article written by Sallie Burks Keith furnishes this interesting insight as to the method by which boundaries of the new county were established: "Mr. Carol Williams and three other men met at a point (supposedly the present Court House Square) and were to ride until six by the clock; one north, one south, one east and the other west. Where each stopped was to be the boundary line. Thus the irregular line."
At that time the first Governor of Missouri, Alexander McNair, appointed James Austin as Presiding Judge and George McGahan and James W Smith as judges for the first St. Francois County Court. They held their first meeting on February 25, 1822, in the home of Jesse Murphy, on a site now believed to be the home of John F Whitworth on McIlvane Street.
The county was officially organized December 19, 1821, from parts of Ste. Genevieve, Washington, and Jefferson counties. James Austin, George McGahan and James W. Smith were appointed by the Governor as a county court, and their first meeting, held February 25, 1822, was at the house of Jesse Murphy, where they appointed John D. Peers as county clerk. The first circuit court was held at the same place, and on April 1, 1822, the Honorable N. B. Tucker was named judge and John D. Peers served as clerk. Henry Poston, John Andrews, William Alexander and James Holbert were appointed commissioners to locate the county seat, and on September 22, 1822, D. Murphy donated 53 acres (210,000 m2) of land for that purpose which the county court accepted on February 27, 1823. In 1824, a stray-pen and a log jail, made double, and a brick court-house were built. At various times churches and schoolhouses were built in convenient localities; new settlers joined the pioneers, and peace and prosperity reigned. The following are some of the early citizens elected to represent St. Francois County in the Missouri House of Representatives: Henry Poston (1826); David Murphy (1828); Corbin Alexander (1830, 1832).
Around 1845, the manufacture of pig-iron was begun at Iron Mountain and Pilot Knob, and the hauling of the iron to Ste. Genevieve, the nearest landing on the Mississippi River, gave remunerative employment to a great number of teams, and the colliers, smelters and others furnished a home market for the surplus farm products. In 1851, the old log jail was set on fire by an inmate, who came near perishing in the flames. It was soon replaced by a substantial stone building. In 1850, the old courthouse was removed, and a larger and more commodious one was erected in its stead. In 1851-1852, a plank road was built from Iron Mountain to Ste. Genevieve via Farmington, which gave a new impetus to trade. In 1854, Prewitt and Patterson erected some bloom furnaces three miles (5 km) east of Farmington on the plank road where it crossed Wolf Creek, which gave employment to a great number of men and teams. The ore was hauled from Iron Mountain and the iron to Ste. Genevieve for shipment. In 1858, this furnace, known as Valley Forge, became the property of Chouteau, Harrison and Vallé, Charles A. Pilley, superintendent, and was profitably worked until 1863 when the machinery was removed and the buildings and lands sold.
At the beginning of the late American Civil War, St. Francois County, like most others in Missouri, was divided politically, and many took refuge from the enrollment act in the ranks under M. Jeff. Thompson, whose force at one time destroyed the Iron Mountain Bridge over Big River.
One notable character during the Civil War was Sam Hildebrand, who some believe was a despicable killer. You can read the Autobiography of Sam Hildebrand and make up your own mind.
Public schools 
- Bismarck R-V School District - Bismarck
- Bismarck Elementary School (PK-06)
- Bismarck High School (07-12)
- Farmington R-VII School District - Farmington
- Jefferson Elementary School (01-04)
- Lincoln Intermediate School (05-06)
- Roosevelt Elementary School (01-04)
- Truman Kindergarten (K)
- Washington-Franklin Elementary School (01-04)
- W.L. Johns Early Childhood Center (PK)
- Farmington Middle School (07-08)
- Farmington High School (09-12)
- North St. Francois County R-I School District - Bonne Terre
- North St. Francois County Primary School (PK-02) - Bonne Terre
- North St. Francois County Parkside Elementary School (03-04) - Desloge
- North St. Francois County Intermediate School (05-06) - Desloge
- North St. Francois County Middle School (07-08) - Desloge
- North St. Francois County High School (09-12) - Bonne Terre
- St. Francois County Central R-III School District - Park Hills
- Park Hills Central Elementary School (K-02)
- West Elementary School (03-05)
- Park Hills Central Middle School (06-08)
- Park Hills Central High School (09-12)
- West St. Francois County R-IV School District - Leadwood
Private schools 
- St. Paul Lutheran School - Farmington - (PK-08) - Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
- St. Joseph School - Farmington - (K-08) - Roman Catholic
- St. Joseph Elementary School - Bonne Terre - (PK-06) - Roman Catholic
Vocational-technical and other schools 
- Juvenile Detention Center - Farmington - (04-12)
- Midwest Learning Center - Farmington - (04-12)
- Unitec Career Center - Bonne Terre - (10-12)
Colleges and universities 
According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2000), St. Francois County is a part of the Bible Belt with evangelical Protestantism being the majority religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in St. Francois County who adhere to a religion are Southern Baptists (45.48%), Roman Catholics (14.94%), and Methodists (8.37%).
- Memorial United Methodist Church of Farmington has a rich heritage. The history of Farmington Methodism dates back to 1803 when Farmington was Murphy’s Settlement. Sarah Barton Murphy, widow of the minister who claimed this land, invited others to prayer in her log cabin home. This was the beginning of the first Protestant Sunday School west of the Mississippi River, and the place is marked by a monument in the northeast corner of the Masonic Cemetery on South Henry Street.
As more settlers arrived, the Methodist Episcopal Church continued to grow until the division that brought on the Civil War in the nation also caused a split in the congregation. After the war, the church was reorganized as the Methodist Episcopal Church and M.E. Church South, which occupied a frame building on the corner of Jefferson and Harrison Streets. In 1881 the M.E. Church South congregation moved to a new brick building on the corner of West Columbia and Clay Streets. They soon outgrew this facility, tore it down, and built a new brick building on the same site. (This is now occupied by the Free Will Baptist Church.)
The Methodist Episcopal Church North which had been inactive since 1844, revived after the war, chiefly through the leadership of Miss Eliza A. Carleton. She was a well-educated, devout woman who established Carleton Institute, north of town. In response to her call, three ministers came and organized a Farmington circuit, including all of St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties and parts of Jefferson, Washington, Iron, and Madison counties. In 1878 Farmington was made a charge. This group purchased a large brick building at Harrison and South Henry, from the Christian Church which had become inactive during the war. Services were held on the second floor, and the resident minister and his family lived on the first floor. This church was strengthened by the presence of Carleton College, which then had moved to Farmington. As this congregation grew; a new site was purchased at the corner of West Columbia and Franklin Streets. A building of native limestone erected here and was often called the Rock Church. The church growth was paralleled by the general growth of the town.
The M.E. Church South received substantial bequests and a fine organ from descendants of Mrs. Murphy, so the board, in 1927, voted to change the name from M.E. Church South to Murphy-Long Memorial Methodist Church. Likewise, about 10 years later, the M.E. Church North, memorialized Miss Carleton, calling it Carleton Memorial Church. After the merger in 1950 the family names were dropped, but the word Memorial continued.
In 1939, the Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal South, and the Protestant Methodist Churches voted to unite nationally and worldwide. In 1950 the two local Methodist churches voted for unification. This was a combination of two enthusiastic, dynamic congregations determined to work together in the Lord’s service.
Under the leadership of Rev. Elbert C. Cole, the two separated congregations grew into one, drawing strength from one another. After much deliberation and prayerful study, the merged membership made the decision for a new building on a new 3.5 acre site on the North side of town. The membership of the new church worked vigorously to provide financing necessary for this large undertaking. As population moved toward Farmington, and transportation became easier, small churches joined with larger ones. The Copenhagen Church, originally German-speaking, became part of the M.E. (Rock) Church in 1917. Members of Delasus joined the merged Methodists about 1950. In 1960 Salem Church, North of town, joined the larger church, and then St. Paul’s congregation followed in 1965.
Countless projects by organizations in the church and sacrificial giving on the part of individual made possible the new facilities which are in use today. The first phase of the building, which included the sanctuary and education department, was completed in 1953. In 1957 the church was debt free and dedicated as a house of prayer for all people. The parish house, which included the fellowship hall, kitchen, parlor, and basement rooms, was completed in 1962. The parsonage, a bequest gift from a lifelong member, was dedicated in 1979. In 1998 a new addition was added to the building including several new classrooms and offices. A prayer garden was dedicated in 2006.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 452 square miles (1,170 km2), of which, 449 square miles (1,160 km2) of it is land and 3 square miles (7.8 km2) of it (0.65%) is water.
The general surface of St. Francois County is hilly or undulating, but the extreme southern and northeastern corners are table lands excellently adapted to fruit-culture and grazing purposes. The country around Farmington, and for several miles on either side of the St. Francis River, is excellent land, well timbered and sufficiently undulating to render drainage unnecessary. It is well supplied with water from never-failing springs and is drained by Blackwell and Rock Creeks, St. Francis River, Wolf and Back Creeks. Stono Mountain, embraced in this section, is said to afford excellent sheep pasturage.
The northern portion of the county is drained northward by Big River and its tributaries, including the Flat River, most often known locally as "Flat River Creek."
The southwestern portion of the county, drained by Indian Creek, is exceedingly hilly. The central and northern section is drained by Big River and its tributaries, Flat River, Davis Creek, Big Branch, Terre Bleu and Three Rivers. The name "Flat River" preserves the name of the town of Flat River, which was dissolved in the formation of the city of Park Hills in 1994. The valleys of these streams are excellently adapted to agricultural purposes, the cereals all doing well. On several of the steams mentioned, there are good mills, and many more excellent sites having sufficient water power to run a mill the entire year.
The uplands are well timbered, yielding from 40 to 100 cords of wood to the acre. The timber consists of white, red and black oak, ash, cherry, walnut, hickory, maple, gum, papaw and dogwood, with beach, sycamore and butternut on the bottoms. Cedar and pine are found in a few localities on the uplands. The soil is generally a black loam. In the vicinity of Farmington, after passing through the first or top soil, there is rich, red-clay subsoil. If these lands have a specialty, it is for grass. All kinds of grass grow luxuriantly, producing from 2 to 2 1/12 tons per acre, which readily markets at from $12 to $20 per ton. Blue grass, it is said by farmers from the blue grass region of Kentucky, does nearly as well here as there, and as an evidence, it is found growing spontaneously in the woods, lawns, old fields and meadows.
Adjacent counties 
- Jefferson County (north)
- Ste. Genevieve County (east)
- Perry County (southeast)
- Madison County (south)
- Iron County (southwest)
- Washington County (west)
Major highways 
National protected area 
- Mark Twain National Forest (part)
As of the census of 2000, there were 55,641 people, 20,793 households, and 14,659 families residing in the county. The population density was 124 people per square mile (48/km²). There were 24,449 housing units at an average density of 54 per square mile (21/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.14% White, 2.02% African American, 0.35% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.80% of the population.
There were 20,793 households out of which 32.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.90% were married couples living together, 11.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.50% were non-families. 24.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the county the population was spread out with 24.00% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 29.40% from 25 to 44, 22.50% from 45 to 64, and 14.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 103.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.90 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $39,551, and the median income for a family was $47,923. Males had a median income of $29,961 versus $19,412 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,047. Approximately 14.90% of the population and 11.00% of families were below the poverty line, including 19.80% under the age of 18 and 11.50% over the age of 65.
Cities and towns 
The Democratic Party predominantly controls politics at the local level in St. Francois County. Democrats hold all but one of the elected positions in the county.
|St. Francois County, Missouri|
|Elected countywide officials|
|Circuit Clerk||Vicki J. Weible||Democratic|
|County Clerk||Mark L. Hedrick||Democratic|
|Collector||Pamela J. Williams||Democratic|
|David C. Cramp||Democratic|
|Prosecuting Attorney||Wendy Wexler Horn||Democratic|
|Public Administrator||V. Kenneth Rohrer||Democratic|
|Sheriff||Daniel R. Bullock||Democratic|
|2012||44.17% 9,965||52.88% 11,930||2.94% 664|
|2008||34.55% 8,418||63.49% 15,468||1.96% 478|
|2004||52.14% 11,903||46.43% 10,601||1.43% 327|
|2000||46.42% 8,712||50.22% 9,425||3.36% 632|
|1996||40.23% 7,192||57.19% 10,224||2.58% 461|
St. Francois County is divided into two legislative districts in the Missouri House of Representatives.
- District 106 - Currently represented by Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) and consists of the eastern parts of the county and includes all of the city of Farmington.
|Missouri House of Representatives - District 106 - St. Francois County (2008)|
- District 107 - Currently represented by Linda R. Black Fischer (D-Bonne Terre) and consists of the western parts of the county and includes the communities of Bismarck, Bonne Terre, Desloge, Iron Mountain Lake, Leadington, Leadwood, and Park Hills.
|Missouri House of Representatives - District 107 - St. Francois County (2010)|
|Democratic||Linda R. Black Fischer*||5,836||62.71||+10.93|
All of St. Francois County is a part of Missouri's 3rd District in the Missouri Senate and is currently represented by State Senator Kevin Engler (R-Farmington). In 2008, Engler defeated Democrat Dennis Riche 58.72-41.28 percent in the district. The 3rd Senatorial District consists of Carter, Iron, Reynolds, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, and Washington counties, and parts of Jefferson County.
|Missouri Senate - District 3 - St. Francois County (2008)|
|U.S. House of Representatives - District 8 - St. Francois County (2012)|
|Republican||Jo Ann Emerson||15,423||69.22|
Political culture 
|2012||58.35% 13,248||38.89% 8,829||2.76% 628|
|2008||51.57% 12,660||47.01% 11,540||1.42% 350|
|2004||52.71% 12,087||46.87% 10,748||0.43% 98|
|2000||49.50% 9,327||48.17% 9,075||2.33% 439|
|1996||34.98% 6,200||50.96% 9,034||14.06% 2,492|
At the presidential level, St. Francois County is a fairly independent-leaning or battleground county although it does has a slight tendency to lean Democratic. While George W. Bush carried St. Francois County in 2000 and 2004, both times the margins of victory were significantly closer than in many of the other rural areas. Bill Clinton also carried St. Francois County both times in 1992 and 1996 by convincing double-digit margins. Like many of the other rural counties in Missouri, St. Francois County favored John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008, although the margin of victory was small.
Like most rural areas throughout Missouri, voters in St. Francois County generally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles but are more moderate or populist on economic issues, typical of the Dixiecrat philosophy. In 2004, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman—it overwhelmingly passed St. Francois County with 79.03 percent of the vote. The initiative passed the state with 71 percent of support from voters as Missouri became the first state to ban same-sex marriage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to fund and legalize embryonic stem cell research in the state—it failed in St. Francois County with 50.53 percent voting against the measure. The initiative narrowly passed the state with 51 percent of support from voters as Missouri became one of the first states in the nation to approve embryonic stem cell research. Despite St. Francois County’s longstanding tradition of supporting socially conservative platforms, voters in the county have a penchant for advancing populist causes like increasing the minimum wage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a proposition (Proposition B) to increase the minimum wage in the state to $6.50 an hour—it passed St. Francois County with 79.36 percent of the vote. The proposition strongly passed every single county in Missouri with 75.94 percent voting in favor as the minimum wage was increased to $6.50 an hour in the state. During the same election, voters in five other states also strongly approved increases in the minimum wage.
Missouri Presidential Preference Primary (2008) 
- Former U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) received more votes, a total of 5,418, than any candidate from either party in St. Francois County during the 2008 Missouri Presidential Preference Primary. She also received more votes than the total number of votes cast in the entire Republican Primary in St. Francois County.
|St. Francois County, Missouri|
|2008 Republican primary in Missouri|
|John McCain||1,727 (38.01%)|
|Mike Huckabee||1,631 (35.90%)|
|Mitt Romney||949 (20.89%)|
|Ron Paul||134 (2.95%)|
|St. Francois County, Missouri|
|2008 Democratic primary in Missouri|
|Hillary Rodham Clinton||5,418 (70.25%)|
|Barack Obama||1,993 (25.84%)|
|John Edwards (withdrawn)||224 (2.90%)|
See also 
This article incorporates text from Campbell's Gazetteer of Missouri, by Robert A. Campbell, a publication from 1874 now in the public domain in the United States.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- St. Francois County, Missouri Place Names, Western Historical Manuscript Collection
- Parkland News (St. Francois County)
- Digitized 1930 Plat Book of St. Francois County from University of Missouri Division of Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books
|Washington County||Ste. Genevieve County|
|Iron County||Madison County||Perry County|