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Webster County, Missouri

Webster County, Missouri
Webster County Courthouse
Map of Missouri highlighting Webster County
Location in the state of Missouri
Map of the United States highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location in the U.S.
Founded March 3, 1854
Named for Daniel Webster
Seat Marshfield
Largest city Marshfield
 • Total 594 sq mi (1,538 km2)
 • Land 593 sq mi (1,536 km2)
 • Water 1.2 sq mi (3 km2), 0.2%
 • (2010) 36,202
 • Density 61/sq mi (24/km²)
Congressional districts 4th, 7th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Webster County is a U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster.[3]

Webster County is part of the Springfield, MO Metropolitan Statistical Area.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties 2.1
    • Major highways 2.2
  • Demographics 3
  • Politics 4
    • Local 4.1
    • State 4.2
    • Federal 4.3
      • Political culture 4.3.1
    • Missouri Presidential Preference Primary (2008) 4.4
  • Education 5
    • Public schools 5.1
    • Private schools 5.2
  • Cities and towns 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


Webster County was organized on March 3, 1855 and encompasses 590 miles of the highest extensive upland area of Missouri’s Ozarks. The judicial seat is Marshfield, which lies 1,490 feet above sea level. Webster County is the highest county seat in the state of Missouri. Pioneer Legislator John F. McMahan named the county and county seat for Daniel Webster, and his Marshfield, Massachusetts home.[3]

Marshfield was laid out in 1856 by R.H. Pitts, on land that was given by C.F. Dryden and W.T. and B.F.T. Burford. Until a courthouse was built, the county business was conducted at Hazelwood where Joseph W. McClurg, later Governor of Missouri, operated a general store. Today’s Carthage Marble courthouse was built in 1939-1941 and is the county’s third.[3]

During the U.S. Civil War, a small force of pro-Southern troops was driven out of Marshfield in February 1862, and ten months later a body of Confederates was routed east of town. On January 9, 1863, General Joseph O. Shelby’s troops burned the stoutly built Union fortification at Marshfield and at Sand Springs, evacuated earlier. By 1862, the telegraph line passed near Marshfield on a route later called the “Old Wire Road.” [3]

In Webster County, straddling the divide between the Missouri and Arkansas rivers rise the headwaters of the James, Niangua, Gasconade, and Pomme de Terre rivers. A part of the 1808 Osage Native American land cession, the county was settled in the early 1830s by pioneers from Kentucky and Tennessee. A Native American trail crossed southern Webster County and many prehistoric mounds are in the area.

The railroad-building boom of the post Civil War period stimulated the county’s growth as a dairy, poultry, and livestock producer. The Atlantic & Pacific (Frisco) Railroad was built through Marshfield in 1872, and by 1883 the Kansas City, Springfield, and Memphis (Frisco) crossed the county. Seymour, Rogersville, Fordland and Niangua grew up along the railroad routes. Early schools in the county were Marshfield Academy, chartered in 1860; Mt. Dale Academy, opened in 1873; and Henderson Academy, chartered in 1879. Today, education is still at the forefront of the county’s foundation.

On April 18, 1880, an intense tornado measuring F4 on the Fujita scale struck Marshfield. Its damage path was 800 yards (730 m) wide and 64 miles (103 km) long. The tornado killed 99 people and injured 100, and it is said that 10% of Marshfield's residents were killed and all but 15 of its buildings were destroyed. The composition “Marshfield Cyclone” by the African-American musician John W. (Blind) Boone gave wide publicity to the cyclone, which is still listed as one of the top ten natural disasters in the history of the nation.

Astronomer Edwin P. Hubble (1889–1953) was born in Marshfield and attended through the third grade in the public school system. A replica of the Hubble telescope sits in the courthouse yard and the Marshfield stretch of I-44 was named in his honor.

Marshfield holds claim to the oldest Barbara visited the parade on July 4, 1991, while campaigning for the presidency through Missouri. Webster County also boasts the longest continuous county fair in the state of Missouri.

The annual Seymour Apple Festival, established in 1973, has grown to one of Missouri's largest free celebrations, with estimated crowds of more than 30,000 congregating on the Seymour public square each second weekend of September. The festival pays tribute to Seymour's apple industry, which began in the 1840s, with Seymour being called "The Land Of The Big Red Apple" around the turn of the 20th century, when Webster County produced more than 50 percent of the state's apple crop.

Featured at the annual three-day event are more than 10 musical acts, numerous competitions for people of all ages, as well as more than 150 craft vendors and food venues, featuring the festival's signature barbecued chicken. The festival is sponsored by the Seymour Merchants' Association and is staffed completely with volunteer labor from the community.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 594 square miles (1,540 km2), of which 593 square miles (1,540 km2) is land and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2) (0.2%) is water.[4]

Adjacent counties

Major highways


As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 31,045 people, 11,073 households, and 8,437 families residing in the county. The population density was 52 people per square mile (20/km²). There were 12,052 housing units at an average density of 20 per square mile (8/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.20% White, 1.16% Black or African American, 0.65% Native American, 0.26% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.31% from other races, and 1.39% from two or more races. Approximately 1.29% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 11,073 households out of which 37.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.00% were married couples living together, 8.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.80% were non-families. 20.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the county the population was spread out with 28.90% under the age of 18, 8.30% from 18 to 24, 29.70% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 11.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 101.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,948, and the median income for a family was $46,941. Males had a median income of $28,168 versus $20,768 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,948. About 9.60% of families and 14.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.00% of those under age 18 and 14.10% of those age 65 or over.



The Republican Party predominantly controls politics at the local level in Webster County. Republicans hold all but two of the elected positions in the county.

Webster County, Missouri
Elected countywide officials
Assessor Jim Jones Republican
Circuit Clerk Jill Peck Republican
County Clerk Stanley D. Whitehurst Republican
Collector David Young Democratic
Paul Ipock Republican
(District 1)
Susie Knust Democratic
(District 2)
Denzil Young Republican
Coroner Michael Taylor Republican
Prosecuting Attorney Danette L. Padgett Republican
Public Administrator Donna Hannah Republican
Recorder Gary Don Letterman Republican
Sheriff Roye Cole Republican
Surveyor Dennis D. Amsinger Republican
Treasurer Mary P. Clair Republican


Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 46.31% 7,521 51.14% 8,306 2.55% 414
2004 67.61% 10,086 31.18% 4,651 1.21% 181
2000 56.66% 6,721 41.35% 4,904 2.99% 236
1996 54.63% 5,512 41.43% 4,180 3.94% 397

All of Webster County is a part of Missouri's 145th District in the Missouri House of Representatives and is currently represented by Lyndall Fraker (R-Marshfield). Fraker ran unopposed and was reelected with 100% of the vote in 2010.

Missouri House of Representatives - District 145 - Webster County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Lyndall Fraker 10,146 100.00

All Webster County is also a part of Missouri's 20th District in the Missouri Senate and is currently represented by State Senator Jay Wasson (R-Nixa). The 20th Senatorial District consists of Christian, Douglas, Webster and parts of Greene counties in Southwest Missouri.

Missouri Senate - District 20 - Webster County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jay Wasson 8,791 75.30
Democratic Terry Traw 2,883 24.70


All of Webster County is included in Missouri's 4th Congressional District and is currently represented by Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Following redistricting, the county will be moved into the neighboring 7th Congressional District.

U.S. House of Representatives – Missouri’s 4th Congressional District – Webster County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Vicky Hartzler 6,672 55.55
Democratic Ike Skelton* 4,574 38.08
Libertarian Jason Michael Braun 457 3.80
Constitution Greg Cowan 308 2.56

Political culture

Past Presidential Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 63.77% 10,431 34.76% 5,685 1.47% 240
2004 68.21% 10,194 31.16% 4,657 0.62% 93
2000 61.87% 7,350 35.13% 4,174 3.00% 356
1996 48.84% 4,958 37.97% 3,855 13.19% 1,339

Like most counties situated in Southwest Missouri, Webster County is a Republican stronghold in presidential elections. 2000 and 2004 by around two-to-one margins, and like many other rural counties throughout Missouri, Webster County strongly favored John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008. The last Democratic presidential nominee to carry Webster County was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Like most areas throughout the Bible Belt in Southwest Missouri, voters in Webster County traditionally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles which tend to strongly influence their Republican leanings. In 2004, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman—it overwhelmingly passed Webster County with 82.32 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 Webster County with 57.94 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 Webster 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 Webster County with 75.50 percent of the vote. The proposition strongly passed every single county in Missouri with 78.99 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 Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) received more votes, a total of 2,576, than any candidate from either party in Webster County during the 2008 Missouri Presidential Preference Primary.
Webster County, Missouri
2008 Republican primary in Missouri
John McCain 1,343 (26.59%)
Mike Huckabee 2,576 (51.00%)
Mitt Romney 897 (17.76%)
Ron Paul 168 (3.33%)
Webster County, Missouri
2008 Democratic primary in Missouri
Hillary Clinton 2,218 (61.20%)
Barack Obama 1,249 (34.46%)
John Edwards (withdrawn) 119 (3.28%)


Public schools

  • Fordland R-III School District - Fordland
    • Fordland Elementary School - (K-05)
    • Fordland Middle School - (06-08)
    • Fordland High School - (09-12)
  • Marshfield R-I School District - Marshfield
    • Edwin P. Hubble Elementary School - (K-01)
    • Daniel Webster Elementary School - (02-03)
    • Shook Elementary School - (04-05)
    • Marshfield Jr. High School - (06-08)
    • Marshfield High School - (09-12)
  • Niangua R-V School District - Niangua
    • Niangua Elementary School - (K-06)
    • Niangua High School - (07-12)
  • Seymour R-II School District - Seymour
    • Seymour Elementary School - (PK-05)
    • Seymour Middle School - (06-08)
    • Seymour High School - (09-12)

Private schools

  • Ozark Mennonite School - Seymour - (01-10) - Mennonite
  • Marshfield Christian School - Marshfield - (K-12) - Nondenominational Christianity

Cities and towns

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 14, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved November 22, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2014. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder".  

Further reading

  • History of Laclede, Camden, Dallas, Webster, Wright, Texas, Pulaski, Phelps, and Dent counties, Missouri (1889) full text

External links

  • [3] - Historical Tornadoes
  • [4] - Eyewitness account of the Marshfield tornado
  • Digitized 1930 Plat Book of Webster County from University of Missouri Division of Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books

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