Cape Girardeau County, Missouri

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Cape Girardeau County
Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson
Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson
Map of Missouri highlighting Cape Girardeau County
Location within the U.S. state of Missouri
Map of the United States highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 37°23′N 89°41′W / 37.38°N 89.68°W / 37.38; -89.68
Country United States
State Missouri
FoundedOctober 1, 1812
Named forA rock promontory over the Mississippi River and Ensign Sieur Jean Baptiste de Girardot (also spelled Girardeau or Girardat)
SeatJackson
Largest cityCape Girardeau
Area
 • Total586 sq mi (1,520 km2)
 • Land579 sq mi (1,500 km2)
 • Water7.8 sq mi (20 km2)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total81,710
 • Density140/sq mi (54/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district8th
Websitewww.capecounty.us

Cape Girardeau County is located in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Missouri; its eastern border is formed by the Mississippi River. At the 2020 census, the population was 81,710.[1] The county seat is Jackson,[2] the first city in the US to be named in honor of President Andrew Jackson. Officially organized on October 1, 1812, the county is named after Ensign Sieur Jean Baptiste de Girardot, an official of the French colonial years. The "cape" in the county's name is named after a former promontory rock overlooking the Mississippi River; this feature was demolished during railroad construction. Cape Girardeau County is the hub of the Cape Girardeau–Jackson metropolitan area. Its largest city is Cape Girardeau.

History[edit]

Cape Girardeau County was organized on October 1, 1812, as one of five original counties in the Missouri Territory after the US made the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. It is named after Ensign Sieur Jean Baptiste de Girardot (also spelled Girardeau or Girardat), a French officer stationed 1704–1720 at Kaskaskia in the Illinois Country of New France. In 1733 he founded a trading post on the Mississippi River, which developed as the present-day city of Cape Girardeau.[3] The "cape" in the county name was a rock promontory overlooking the Mississippi River and Claire's house; the original cape rock was destroyed by railroad construction.

Jackson, Missouri is the county seat. The first Cape Girardeau County Courthouse was constructed in 1818 by John Davis. This courthouse burned in 1870. The present courthouse in Jackson was completed in 1908 and was designed by P.H. Weathers.

The county is the site of one of the oldest cold cases in the state of Missouri. Bonnie Huffman, a 20-year-old schoolteacher, was found murdered in a ditch just outside Delta on July 2, 1954. Her case was never solved.

Cape Girardeau is referenced in Dave Van Ronk's song "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me," which has found a place in the folk canon since its release in 1962. The song was featured prominently in the 2013 film Inside Llewyn Davis. In the second verse, the singer refers to having "been all around Cape Girardeau and parts of Arkansas...poor boy, I've been all around this world."

Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 586 square miles (1,520 km2), of which 579 square miles (1,500 km2) is land and 7.8 square miles (20 km2) (1.3%) is water.[4]

The geography of Cape Girardeau County varies greatly. The areas around the towns of Delta and Dutchtown are flood plains, which were cultivated as cotton plantations. Western and northern areas are hilly and forested.

Adjacent counties[edit]

Major highways[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18205,968
18307,44524.7%
18409,35925.7%
185013,91248.6%
186015,54711.8%
187017,55812.9%
188020,99819.6%
189022,0605.1%
190024,31510.2%
191027,62113.6%
192029,8398.0%
193033,20311.3%
194037,77513.8%
195038,3971.6%
196042,0209.4%
197049,35017.4%
198058,83719.2%
199061,6334.8%
200068,69311.5%
201075,67410.2%
202081,7108.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
1790-1960[6] 1900-1990[7]
1990-2000[8] 2010-2020[1]

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 68,693 people, 26,980 households, and 17,941 families residing in the county. The population density was 119 people per square mile (46/km2). There were 29,434 housing units at an average density of 51 per square mile (20/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 92.13% White, 5.28% Black or African American, 0.36% Native American, 0.75% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.31% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. Approximately 0.91% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 26,980 households, out of which 31.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.80% were married couples living together, 9.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.50% were non-families. 27.30% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.10% 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 2.96.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.40% under the age of 18, 13.40% from 18 to 24, 27.80% from 25 to 44, 21.60% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $45,862, and the median income for a family was $58,037. Males had a median income of $32,371 versus $20,833 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,303. About 6.70% of families and 11.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.40% of those under age 18 and 10.10% of those age 65 or over.

Religion[edit]

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2010), Cape Girardeau County is part of the Bible Belt, with evangelical Protestantism being the most predominant religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in Cape Girardeau County who adhere to a religion are Roman Catholics (19.19%), Assemblies of God (19.13%), and Lutherans (LCMS) (16.58%).

Education[edit]

Of adults 25 years of age and older in Cape Girardeau County, 81.1% possess a high school diploma or higher while 24.2% hold a bachelor's degree as their highest educational attainment.

Public schools[edit]

  • Delta R-V School District—Delta
    • Delta Elementary School (K–6)
    • Delta High School (7–12)
  • Oak Ridge R-VI School District—Oak Ridge
    • Oak Ridge Elementary School (K–6)
    • Oak Ridge High School (7–12)
  • Nell Holcomb R-IV School District—Egypt Mills
    • Nell Holcomb Elementary School (K–8)
  • Jackson R-II School District—Jackson
    • Gordonville Attendance Center (K–3)—Gordonville
    • Millersville Attendance Center (K–3)—Millersville
    • North Elementary School (K–5)
    • Orchard Drive Elementary School (K–3)
    • South Elementary School (PK–5)
    • West Lane Elementary School (3–5)
    • Jackson Middle School (6–7)
    • Russell Hawkins Jr. High School (8–9)
    • Jackson High School (10–12)
  • Cape Girardeau Public Schools No. 63—Cape Girardeau
    • Alma Schrader Elementary School (K–4)
    • Blanchard Elementary School (K–4)
    • Clippard Elementary School (K–4)
    • Franklin Elementary School (K–4)
    • Jefferson Elementary School (K–4)
    • Cape Central Middle School (5–6)
    • Cape Central Jr. High School (7–8)
    • Cape Central High School (9–12)
    • Cape Girardeau Career & Technology Center (10–12)

Private schools[edit]

Post-secondary education[edit]

Public libraries[edit]

  • Cape Girardeau Public Library[10]
  • Jackson Public Library[11]
  • Riverside Regional Library[12]

Politics[edit]

Local[edit]

Since the late 20th century voters at the local level have switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, which is now predominant in Cape Girardeau County. Republicans hold all of the elected positions in the county.

Cape Girardeau County, Missouri
Elected countywide officials
Assessor Robert Adams Republican
Auditor Pete Frazier Republican
Circuit Clerk Charlene Biester Republican
County Clerk Kara Clark Summers Republican
Collector Barbara Gholson Republican
Commissioner
(Presiding)
Clint Tracy Republican
Commissioner
(District 1)
Paul Koeper Republican
Commissioner
(District 2)
Charles J. Herbst III Republican
Coroner Wavis Jordan Republican
Prosecuting Attorney Mark Welker Republican
Public Administrator Lisa Reitzel Republican
Recorder Drew Blattner Republican
Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson Republican
Treasurer Roger L. Hudson Republican

State[edit]

Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2020 72.53% 29,127 25.58% 10,272 1.90% 762
2016 65.70% 24,209 31.31% 11,539 2.99% 1,101
2012 56.02% 19,797 41.56% 14,686 2.43% 857
2008 56.23% 20,672 41.75% 15,348 2.02% 744
2004 65.26% 22,433 33.49% 11,511 1.25% 429
2000 62.50% 18,543 35.36% 10,491 2.14% 635
1996 49.68% 13,781 48.38% 13,422 1.94% 538
1992 54.41% 15,080 45.59% 12,636 0.00% 0
1988 70.08% 17,336 29.50% 7,298 0.42% 104
1984 70.39% 17,299 29.61% 7,276 0.00% 0
1980 66.50% 16,197 33.11% 8,064 0.39% 96
1976 56.62% 13,079 43.35% 10,013 0.03% 7
1972 57.09% 12,656 42.05% 9,322 0.85% 189
1968 37.96% 7,217 62.04% 11,795 0.00% 0
1964 42.74% 8,506 57.26% 11,396 0.00% 0
1960 49.07% 9,384 50.93% 9,739 0.00% 0

In the Missouri House of Representatives, Cape Girardeau County is divided into two legislative districts, both of which are represented by Republicans.

Missouri House of Representatives – District 146 – Cape Girardeau County (2020)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Barry Hovis 21,012 100.00% +18.11
Missouri House of Representatives – District 146 – Cape Girardeau County (2018)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Barry Hovis 15,289 81.89% -18.11
Democratic Gayla Dace 3,381 18.11% +18.11
Missouri House of Representatives – District 146 – Cape Girardeau County (2016)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Donna Lichtenegger 18,530 98.12%
Missouri House of Representatives – District 146 – Cape Girardeau County (2014)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Donna Lichtenegger 7,933 98.34%
Missouri House of Representatives – District 146 – Cape Girardeau County (2012)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Donna Lichtenegger 16,824 98.37%
  • District 147 – Consists of most of the city of Cape Girardeau and a small sliver of the mostly rural stretch of Highway 74 to Dutchtown. The seat is currently vacant after Wallingford resigned in January 2022.
Missouri House of Representatives – District 147 – Cape Girardeau County (2020)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Wayne Wallingford 10,167 63.14% -1.64
Democratic Andy Leighton 5,935 36.86% +1.64
Missouri House of Representatives – District 147 – Cape Girardeau County (2018)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kathy Swan 8,616 64.78% -8.88
Democratic Renita Green 4,685 35.22% +8.88
Missouri House of Representatives – District 147 – Cape Girardeau County (2016)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kathy Swan 10,575 73.15%
Libertarian Greg Tlapek 3,782 26.16%
Missouri House of Representatives – District 147 – Cape Girardeau County (2014)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kathy Swan 5,214 69.37%
Democratic Gary Gaines 1,676 22.30%
Libertarian Greg Tlapek 615 8.18%
Missouri House of Representatives – District 147 – Cape Girardeau County (2012)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kathy Swan 12,546 97.30%

In the Missouri Senate, all of Cape Girardeau County is a part of Missouri's 27h District and is currently represented by Holly Thompson Rehder (R-Sikeston.

Missouri Senate – District 27 – Cape Girardeau County (2020)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Holly Rehder 28,941 73.58% -2.01
Democratic Donnie Owens 10,391 26.42% +2.01
Missouri Senate – District 27 – Cape Girardeau County (2016)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Wayne Wallingford 27,062 75.59% '
Democratic Donnie Owens 8,739 24.41%
Missouri Senate – District 27 – Cape Girardeau County (2012)[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Wayne Wallingford 29,734 98.09% '

Federal[edit]

All of Cape Girardeau County is included in Missouri's 8th Congressional District and is currently represented by Jason Smith (R-Salem) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Smith was elected to a fifth term in 2020 over Democratic challenger Kathy Ellis.

U.S. House of Representatives – Missouri’s 8th Congressional District – Cape Girardeau County (2020)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jason Smith 29,028 72.93% -0.54
Democratic Kathy Ellis 10,036 25.21% +0.25
Libertarian Tom Schmitz 739 1.86% +0.29
U.S. House of Representatives – Missouri's 8th Congressional District – Cape Girardeau County (2018)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jason Smith 23,687 73.47% -0.94
Democratic Kathy Ellis 8,048 24.96% +2.66
Libertarian Jonathan L. Shell 505 1.57% -1.72

Cape Girardeau County, along with the rest of the state of Missouri, is represented in the U.S. Senate by Josh Hawley (R-Columbia) and Roy Blunt (R-Strafford).

U.S. Senate – Class I – Cape Girardeau County (2018)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Josh Hawley 22,964 70.65% +16.98
Democratic Claire McCaskill 8,886 27.34% -13.49
Libertarian Japheth Campbell 307 0.95% -4.55
Independent Craig O'Dear 232 0.71%
Green Jo Crain 114 0.35% +0.35

Blunt was elected to a second term in 2016 over then-Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.

U.S. Senate - Class III - Cape Girardeau County (2016)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Roy Blunt 24,173 65.66%
Democratic Jason Kander 11,219 30.47%
Libertarian Jonathan Dine 863 2.34%
Green Johnathan McFarland 289 0.79%
Constitution Fred Ryman 268 0.73%

Political culture[edit]

United States presidential election results for Cape Girardeau County, Missouri[14]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 28,907 71.68% 10,760 26.68% 661 1.64%
2016 27,017 72.41% 8,492 22.76% 1,802 4.83%
2012 25,370 70.81% 9,728 27.15% 731 2.04%
2008 24,768 66.14% 12,208 32.60% 470 1.26%
2004 23,814 68.90% 10,568 30.57% 183 0.53%
2000 19,832 66.42% 9,334 31.26% 693 2.32%
1996 15,557 56.32% 9,957 36.05% 2,108 7.63%
1992 13,464 47.48% 9,605 33.87% 5,286 18.64%
1988 16,583 67.53% 7,904 32.19% 69 0.28%
1984 17,404 70.32% 7,346 29.68% 0 0.00%
1980 14,861 60.54% 8,625 35.13% 1,063 4.33%
1976 12,607 54.42% 10,440 45.07% 117 0.51%
1972 15,693 71.42% 6,280 28.58% 0 0.00%
1968 10,298 53.34% 6,656 34.48% 2,351 12.18%
1964 8,776 43.43% 11,431 56.57% 0 0.00%
1960 11,331 58.10% 8,172 41.90% 0 0.00%
1956 10,638 58.22% 7,633 41.78% 0 0.00%
1952 10,729 57.42% 7,933 42.46% 22 0.12%
1948 7,084 47.32% 7,872 52.58% 15 0.10%
1944 8,339 54.88% 6,845 45.05% 11 0.07%
1940 9,297 51.71% 8,642 48.07% 39 0.22%
1936 7,374 45.16% 8,892 54.45% 64 0.39%
1932 5,796 40.51% 8,394 58.67% 117 0.82%
1928 7,344 57.25% 5,464 42.59% 21 0.16%
1924 6,076 52.08% 4,967 42.58% 623 5.34%
1920 7,537 61.41% 4,584 37.35% 152 1.24%
1916 3,753 54.60% 2,993 43.55% 127 1.85%
1912 2,203 37.63% 2,587 44.19% 1,064 18.18%
1908 3,381 55.51% 2,621 43.03% 89 1.46%
1904 3,090 56.31% 2,187 39.86% 210 3.83%
1900 2,778 52.58% 2,318 43.88% 187 3.54%
1896 2,482 49.60% 2,473 49.42% 49 0.98%
1892 2,203 47.83% 1,996 43.33% 407 8.84%
1888 2,198 51.02% 1,894 43.96% 216 5.01%


Unusually for a rural Southern county (straddling the Mississippi embayment), Cape Girardeau County has generally voted Republican since the Civil War. After voting for Lincoln in 1864 and Grant in 1868, it did vote Democratic four times in a row; but from 1888 on, it has voted Democratic only in Franklin Roosevelt's and Lyndon Johnson's landslides of 1932, 1936, and 1964; in the three-way race in 1912 (when it gave Wilson a plurality); and for Missouri native Harry Truman in 1948.[15]

Like most areas throughout rural Missouri, voters in Cape Girardeau County generally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles which have influenced their shift to Republicans. In 2004, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman—it overwhelmingly passed Cape Girardeau County with 83.19 percent of the vote. The initiative passed the state with 71 percent of support, as Missouri became the first state to ban same-sex marriage. In 2006, Cape Girardeau County voted against a state constitutional amendment to fund and legalize embryonic stem cell research, with 63.12 percent opposed. The initiative narrowly passed the state with 51 percent of support, and Missouri became one of the first states to approve such research. Cape Girardeau County's voters have supported such populist causes as increasing the minimum wage. In 2006, Cape Girardeau County voted to increase the minimum wage to $6.50 an hour with 60.04 percent of the vote. The proposition strongly passed every county in Missouri, with 75.94 percent voting in favor. (During the same election, voters in five other states also strongly approved increases in the minimum wage.)

Missouri presidential preference primaries[edit]

2020[edit]

The 2020 presidential primaries for both the Democratic and Republican parties were held in Missouri on March 10. On the Democratic side, former Vice President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) both won statewide and carried Cape Girardeau County by a wide margin. Biden went on to defeat President Donald Trump in the general election.

Missouri Democratic Presidential Primary – Cape Girardeau County (2020)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Joe Biden 3,030 56.54
Democratic Bernie Sanders 2,064 38.52
Democratic Tulsi Gabbard 50 0.93
Democratic Others/Uncommitted 215 4.01

Incumbent President Donald Trump (R-Florida) faced a primary challenge from former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, but won both Cape Girardeau County and statewide by overwhelming margins.

Missouri Republican Presidential Primary – Cape Girardeau County (2020)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Donald Trump 5,277 98.05
Republican Bill Weld 21 0.39
Republican Others/Uncommitted 84 1.56

2016[edit]

The 2016 presidential primaries for both the Republican and Democratic parties were held in Missouri on March 15. Businessman Donald Trump (R-New York) narrowly won the state overall, but Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) carried a plurality of the vote in Cape Girardeau County. Trump went on to win the nomination and the presidency.

Missouri Republican Presidential Primary – Cape Girardeau County (2016)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Ted Cruz 7,404 46.61
Republican Donald Trump 6,192 38.98
Republican John Kasich 1,257 7.91
Republican Marco Rubio 701 4.41
Republican Others/Uncommitted 330 2.08

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-New York) narrowly won statewide, but Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) carried a majority of the vote in Cape Girardeau County.

Missouri Democratic Presidential Primary – Cape Girardeau County (2016)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Bernie Sanders 2,375 52.36
Democratic Hillary Clinton 2,116 46.65
Democratic Others/Uncommitted 45 0.99

2012[edit]

The 2012 Missouri Republican Presidential Primary's results were nonbinding on the state's national convention delegates. Voters in Cape Girardeau County supported former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania), who finished first in the state at large, but eventually lost the nomination to former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Massachusetts). Delegates to the congressional district and state conventions were chosen at a county caucus, which selected a delegation favoring Santorum. Incumbent President Barack Obama easily won the Missouri Democratic Primary and renomination. He defeated Romney in the general election.

2008[edit]

In 2008, the Missouri Republican Presidential Primary was closely contested, with Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) prevailing and eventually winning the nomination. However, former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Massachusetts) won a plurality in Cape Girardeau County.

Missouri Republican Presidential Primary – Cape Girardeau County (2008)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Mitt Romney 3,922 35.32
Republican John McCain 3,528 31.77
Republican Mike Huckabee 3,068 27.63
Republican Ron Paul 361 3.25
Republican Others/Uncommitted 226 2.04

Then-Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) received more votes than any candidate from either party in Cape Girardeau County during the 2008 presidential primary. Despite initial reports that Clinton had won Missouri, Barack Obama (D-Illinois), also a Senator at the time, narrowly defeated her statewide and later became that year's Democratic nominee, going on to win the presidency.

Missouri Democratic Presidential Primary – Cape Girardeau County (2008)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Hillary Clinton 4,510 56.55
Democratic Barack Obama 3,145 39.44
Democratic Others/Uncommitted 320 4.02

Communities[edit]

Cities[edit]

Villages[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "2020 Population and Housing State Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Eaton, David Wolfe (1916). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 270.
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  6. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  7. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  8. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  9. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  10. ^ Breeding, Marshall. "Cape Girardeau Public Library". Libraries.org. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  11. ^ Breeding, Marshall. "Jackson Public Library". Libraries.org. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  12. ^ Breeding, Marshall. "Riverside Regional Library". Libraries.org. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Cape Girardeau County Election Results". Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  14. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  15. ^ "County winners, 1836-2016". Google Docs. Retrieved January 16, 2021.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°23′N 89°41′W / 37.38°N 89.68°W / 37.38; -89.68