Moberly, Missouri

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Moberly, Missouri
City of Moberly
Location within Randolph County and Missouri
Location within Randolph County and Missouri
Coordinates: 39°25′13″N 92°26′20″W / 39.42028°N 92.43889°W / 39.42028; -92.43889Coordinates: 39°25′13″N 92°26′20″W / 39.42028°N 92.43889°W / 39.42028; -92.43889
Country United States
State Missouri
County Randolph
Founded 1866
Incorporated 1868
 • Type Council-manager government[1][2]
 • Mayor Jerry Jeffrey
 • City Manager Brian Crane
 • Total 12.26 sq mi (31.75 km2)
 • Land 12.22 sq mi (31.65 km2)
 • Water 0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)
Elevation 866 ft (264 m)
Population (2010)[4]
 • Total 13,974
 • Estimate (2016)[5] 13,863
 • Density 1,100/sq mi (440/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 65270
Area code(s) 660
FIPS code 29-49034[6]
GNIS feature ID 0729342[7]

Moberly is a city in Randolph County, Missouri, United States. The population was 13,974 at the 2010 census.


Moberly was founded in 1866, and named after Colonel William E. Moberly,[8] the first president of the Chariton and Randolph County railroads.

On July 4, 1860, William Roberts entered into an agreement to deed forty acres of his land to the Chariton & Randolph Railroad Company. Later, Elijah Williams also sold twenty-five acres to the railroad. Both men received fifteen dollars per acre. Mr Williams’ home was built in 1859 and is located at 125 South Fifth, at the head of Burkhart. That makes it, most likely, the oldest house in Moberly that is still standing. The railroad company agreed to construct a line running west from the place where this land was intersected by the North Missouri Railroad and to lay out and plot a town site at the junction of the two roads. This is the Coates Street crossing of today.

At this time the only station within reach of the proposed junction was Old Allen, with a few houses and a post station located where the North Missouri crossed the old stage line plank road between Glasgow and Paris. In the summer of 1861 the Chariton and Randolph Railroad Company offered to all the residents of Allen who would move to the new site the same amount of land they owned and occupied in Allen.

Only Patrick Lynch, an Irish man, accepted the offer. He and his neighbors placed two long timbers under his small frame house. One end of each timber lay on the ground while the other end rested upon the axle of the detached front wheels of an ox-wagon. After hitching ten yoke of oxen to each pair of wheels, the drivers cracked their whips and moved the house southward. The house was set at the southeast corner near what is now Reed and Clark Street. Patrick Lynch, his wife, and six children lived there through the Civil War days.

April 28, 1864, saw the sale of the Chariton and Randolph Railroad Company to the North Missouri Railroad Company. The Civil War ended in April 1865, and the new owner of the railroad began making preparations to hold a lot sale. This sale was held on September 27th, 1866, and is considered the birthdate of Moberly.

The beautiful mural in the heart of downtown Moberly, Missouri showcases the city' historic roots.

On this date, free excursion trains ran from both the northern and eastern sections of the road. Many families came in ox carts, a few arrived in carriages, and others on horseback. A free lunch was spread on the land just north of what is now the Coates Street railroad crossing. After lunch, the auction began and the lots began coming up for bid. Comparatively few lots were sold that day. However, the railroad did deed lots 11 and 12 in block 12 to Patrick Lynch, since he had “held the city during the war without the loss of a life or a house.”P1100534-2

Moberly was named for Col. W.E. Moberly, who was a resident of Brunswick. He was the first president of the Chariton and Randolph Railroad Company.

A few other houses were built after the lot sale in 1866; however, it was decided to hold a second lot sale in the summer of 1867. After the second sale, more investors began to move in and growth was rapid.

On May 25, 1868, the Randolph County court organized and incorporated the town of Moberly.

The rest, as they say, is history. However, the biggest boost to the population of Moberly came when the railroad agreed to build their shops here. Moberly grew so rapidly, that it became known as “The Magic City”. That was because it seemed to spring up from the prairie like magic!

The facade of the historic 4th Street theater in downtown Moberly. Built in 1913; one of the oldest still working movie theaters.

In 1872, the trustees of our city gave the railroad company 200 acres of land laying between the west branch and the main line for the erection of the machine shops. They also donated 618 acres one and one-half miles west of the tract and exempted the entire amount from city taxes for twenty years. The construction began almost immediately. The round house was 300 feet in diameter and had stalls for sixty locomotives. The machine shops, where engines and cars were built and repaired awas 120 x 216 feet in dimension. In the rear of this building was the brass foundry, 30 x 50 feet. A two-story building , 60 x 200 feet housed the general offices of the master mechanic and master car builder. There was also a paint shop, a car shop, and the planning mill. Beyond these were the carpenter shops where railroad bridges were fabricated. The buildings were all of brick, capped and finished with Grafton stone, and covered with slate. These shops employed 1200 laborers at this time.5- Moberly.

Fast forward to the present. Moberly has grown, had its successes and failures. It has been home to both the famous and the infamous. But, mostly Moberly has been a nice place to raise a family and call home. In 1966, the 100th birthday was celebrated with a year-long party. Citizens who were just children or teenagers at the time recall fond memories of that event and now are planning an event to celebrate Moberly’s 150th birthday in 2016.[9]

The Missouri state Moberly Correctional Center was constructed two miles south of Moberly in 1963 as a minimum-security prison. As of 2014 it houses about 1800 minimum and medium security inmates.[10]

On Independence Day, 1995, a tornado ripped through downtown Moberly. There were no reported deaths, but there was a large amount of structural damage. Another tornado tore through the area (Renick) on Sunday, March 12, 2006. Four people were killed and thirteen were injured in the F3-level tornado. Dozens of homes were destroyed.

The World War II-era US Navy frigate USS Moberly (PF-63) was named for the town. The ship participated mostly in convoy escort, earning a battle star for her assistance in sinking a German submarine U-853.

Moberly is mentioned in the Tom Waits song "Black Market Baby," from the 1999 album Mule Variations.

The Burkholder-O'Keefe House, Moberly Commercial Historic District, and Moberly Junior High School are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[11][12]


The city of Moberly was born of a railroad auction on September 27, 1866. The county incorporated the town in 1868 with a board of trustees. The same year that the Wabash Railroad shops were finished in Moberly,[13][14] the city entered a charter into state record and incorporated.[15] At the time, there was no such thing as a council-manager government, but the 1950s saw the government form come into vogue in Missouri.[1] Now, the city of Moberly has a council-manager government. The council consists of five members elected for three-year terms and one city counselor who drafts ordinances and acts as legal counsel. Each year, the council elects one of its members as mayor and one as mayor pro tempore to serve for one year. To manage the city and oversee day-to-day operations, the council selects a city manager.[2] In 2015, the government had these officers:

City Council[edit]

  • Jerry Jeffrey, Mayor
  • Shane Adrian, Mayor pro tempore
  • Herb Lawrence
  • John Kimmons
  • Tim Brubaker
  • Randall Thompson, City Counselor
  • Brian Crane, City Manager
A panorama from the northeast corner of the Kwix-Kres-Kirk office building in downtown Moberly, Missouri.


Moberly is located at 39°25′13″N 92°26′20″W / 39.42028°N 92.43889°W / 39.42028; -92.43889 (39.420398, -92.438831).[16] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.26 square miles (31.75 km2), of which, 12.22 square miles (31.65 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water.[3]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 1,514
1880 6,070 300.9%
1890 8,215 35.3%
1900 8,012 −2.5%
1910 10,923 36.3%
1920 12,808 17.3%
1930 13,772 7.5%
1940 12,920 −6.2%
1950 13,115 1.5%
1960 13,170 0.4%
1970 12,988 −1.4%
1980 13,418 3.3%
1990 12,839 −4.3%
2000 11,945 −7.0%
2010 13,974 17.0%
Est. 2016 13,863 [5] −0.8%

The Moberly Micropolitan Statistical Area consists of Randolph County.

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[4] of 2010, there were 13,974 people, 4,960 households, and 3,019 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,143.5 inhabitants per square mile (441.5/km2). There were 5,687 housing units at an average density of 465.4 per square mile (179.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.4% White, 9.7% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.1% of the population.

There were 4,960 households of which 32.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.1% were married couples living together, 15.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.1% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.97.

The median age in the city was 35.7 years. 22% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 29.7% were from 25 to 44; 23.5% were from 45 to 64; and 13.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 53.8% male and 46.2% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 11,945 people, 5,001 households, and 3,090 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,033.8 people per square mile (399.3/km²). There were 5,812 housing units at an average density of 503.0 per square mile (194.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.51% White, 6.71% African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.39% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.67% of the population.

There were 5,001 households out of which 29.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.2% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-families. 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the city, the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 18.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 86.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,519, and the median income for a family was $37,488. Males had a median income of $27,152 versus $19,508 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,478. About 11.1% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.5% of those under age 18 and 14.7% of those age 65 or over.


The Railroad museum run by the Randolph county historical society, connected to a walking path that runs south, and overlooking the Municipal Auditorium and West Rollins Street.
  • Moberly Parks and Recreation operates approximately 500 acres of parkland through five parks including maintained grounds, forest, lakes, the Howard Hils Athletic Complex consisting of eight baseball/softball fields and three football/soccer fields, the Moberly Aquatic Center, Thompson Campground, The Lodge, Municipal Auditorium, the Magic City Line - a one mile long miniature train track, over two miles of paved trails, boat ramps, fishing lakes, paddleboat/canoe rentals, and shelters.[20]
  • Moberly Midget League has provided a summer baseball program for the local youth since 1950. The program currently ranges from 8U to 14U.
  • The Moberly Optimist Club has provided a summer youth baseball for decades. The program currently ranges from T-ball to 8U.[21]
  • The Randolph County Historical Society has its headquarters in Moberly, and has two museums: one dedicated to county history and genealogy, and another dedicated to the Wabash, MKT, and CB&Q railroads[22]


Moberly is home to two colleges; Central Christian College of the Bible and Moberly Area Community College. The Moberly School District consists of seven schools. The Early Childhood Center serves preschoolers; North and South Park Elementary serve grades K-2; grades 3-5 attend Gratz Brown Elementary; grades 6-8 attend Moberly Middle School; and Moberly High School and Moberly Area Technical Center serve grades 9-12. East Park School serves as an alternative school.[23] The Seventh-day Adventist church operates Maranatha Adventist School, a K-8 school.[24] The St. Pius X Catholic Elementary School, operated by the Catholic Church of the same name, serves grade K-8.[25]

Beautiful Moberly Area Community College is one of Moberly's higher education centers.


Moberly is served by The Omar Bradley Airport. Commercial service is available 33 miles to the south in Columbia at the Columbia Regional Airport or the MO-X (an airport shuttle to and from STL and MCI), 60 miles to the south in Jefferson City via the Amtrak station, 45 miles to the north in La Plata via the Amtrak station, or 55 miles to the North in Kirksville at the Kirksville Regional Airport.

The city is served by U.S. Route 63 to the east on a bypass. The old route is designated as both Business 63 and Morley Street and goes through town. U.S. Route 24 goes through town as well. Route M (formerly Route 3) also skirts the edge of town. Other routes include Route DD (indirectly goes to Sugar Creek Lake), EE, A, and AA (past the prison). At one time there was a Business 24 that ran from Morley Street via West Coates Street to Johnson Street to Concannon Street turning North on Holman St to current U.S. 24. This route was de-numbered in the late 1960s. State Route 22 was also multiplexed with U.S. 63 to U.S. 24. When U.S. 63 was re-routed in the mid-1960s Highway 22 was truncated to its current end at U.S. 63 near Sturgeon, MO.

The Norfolk Southern Railway serves Moberly running west toward Kansas City, Missouri and east toward Hannibal, Missouri and points on. Norfolk Southern also runs south between Moberly and St. Louis, Missouri (via Centralia and Mexico, MO) and points on. Moberly was once the northern terminus of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad that ran between Moberly and Boonville, Missouri. Much of this route is still somewhat visible in satellite images.

Moberly is home to one of Norfolk Southern's many rail yards. Norfolk Southern used to have a line that ran north from Moberly to Albia, Iowa, but it was abandoned in the spring of 1992. The line was reopened from 1993-1995 to help in recovery efforts after the great Flood of 1993. By 1997, the line was dismantled between Moberly and Moulton, Iowa.

The Centerville, Iowa-owned Appanoose County Community Railroad currently operates the section from Moulton to Albia, Iowa.

Moberly showcasing its economic development and tourism being a great place to own a business in Central Missouri.


Moberly is served by a daily newspaper, the Moberly Monitor-Index. The Kwix Kres Kirk radio station operates from downtown.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Forms of Government for Missouri Municipalities" (PDF). Missouri Municipal League. 2007. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  2. ^ a b "City of Moberly Website". Moberly, MO. 2013. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  3. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2011-02-20. Retrieved 2012-07-08. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-07-08. 
  5. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ Eaton, David Wolfe (1917). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 344. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Moberly Correctional Center celebrates 50th Anniversary - Gate House
  11. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  12. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 9/04/12 through 9/07/12. National Park Service. 2012-09-14. 
  13. ^ "Randolph County Overview". Randolph County Historical Society. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  14. ^ "History of Moberly" pamphlet from Randolph County Historical Society, four pages.
  15. ^ "List of Works Relating to City Charters, Ordinances, and Collected Documents". Harvard College Library. 1913. p. 179. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  16. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  17. ^ "Missouri Population 1900 - 1990" (PDF). Missouri Census Data Center. Archived from the original (CSV) on 4 July 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  18. ^ "Census of Population and Housing, 1890, Final Reports Volume 1". United States Census Bureau. 1895. Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  19. ^ "Census of Population and Housing, 1880, Volume 1 Statistics of the Population of the United States, General Population Table 3". United States Census Bureau. 1881. Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Moberly Optimist Club – Missouri
  22. ^ Randolph County Historical Society website
  23. ^ Moberly School District
  24. ^ Maranatha School
  25. ^ St. Pius School
  26. ^

External links[edit]