Phelps County, Missouri: Wikis

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Phelps County, Missouri
Map of Missouri highlighting Phelps County
Location in the state of Missouri
Map of the U.S. highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location in the U.S.
Seat Rolla
Largest city Rolla
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

674 sq mi (1,746 km²)
673 sq mi (1,743 km²)
1 sq mi (4 km²), 0.21%
PopulationEst.
 - (2008)
 - Density

42,205
59/sq mi (23/km²)
Founded 1857
Named for John S. Phelps, a U.S. Congressman and former Governor of Missouri
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website www.phelpscounty.org
Old county courthouse listed on the
National Register of Historic Places

Phelps County is a county located in South Central Missouri in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it includes the mean center of U.S. population in 2000. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county's population was 39,825. A 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 42,205. The largest city and county seat is Rolla. The county was officially organized on November 13, 1857, and was named for the Honorable John Smith Phelps, a U.S. Congressman and former Governor of Missouri from 1877-1881.

Much of the county is included within the Ozark Highlands American Viticultural Area (AVA). Vineyards and wineries were first established in the county by Italian immigrants in Rolla. Since the 1960s, winemakers have revived and created numerous vineyards in Missouri and won national and international tasting awards.

The first Phelps County Court convened on November 25, 1857 in the John Dillon cabin. The historic courthouse was begun in mid-summer of 1860, used as a Union hospital during the American Civil War and served as the courthouse until February 1994, at which time all county offices were relocated in the new Phelps County Courthouse. The new courthouse was dedicated on May 22, 1994.

Contents

History

The first settlers came to this area in 1818 building along the riverbanks, doing a little farming. John Webber built the first house built in within the present city limits of Rolla in 1844.

One year later, Lt. James Abert started the first railroad reconnaissance survey in Rolla. Abert was later to become the first professor of Civil Engineering at the Missouri School of Mines. The founder of Rolla, Edmund Ward Bishop, was originally a railroad construction contractor in New York. He came to this part of the country in 1853 with the job of building the “Frisco Branch of the Southwest Railroad.”

Because of an urgent demand, Phelps County was created by legislative action on November 13, 1857 from portions of Pulaski, Maries and Crawford counties. A special commission was appointed to select the site for a county seat, with instructions to locate the site on the mail line of the railroad as near the center of the county as possible. Bishop then offered a tract of some 50 acres for the official town site, and it was accepted. There was disagreement over the site - the "westerners" wanted Rolla, and the "easterners" wanted Dillon, so the General Assembly did not legally declare Rolla to be the official county seat until 1861. The group favoring Dillon, approximately 600 of them, signed a petition of protest citing the fact that only two of the three commission members had met to consider the possible sites for the county seat. They contested the decision all the way through the Missouri Supreme Court. Before the high court could make a decision, however, the Legislature took action on January 14, 1860, confirming the location of the county seat at Rolla. Smarting under a considerable amount of criticism concerning the matter, all members of the county court resigned during April 1858, but later withdrew their resignations. It was finally settled in favor of Rolla.

Rolla was officially surveyed, laid out and named in 1858. Bishop wanted to call it Phelps Center, since his house was the center of the county. John Webber preferred the name "Hardscrabble" for the obvious reasons. George Coppedge, another original settler, and formerly of North Carolina, favored "Raleigh" after his hometown. The others agreed with Coppedge on the condition that it shouldn't have "that silly spelling, but should be spelled 'Rolla.' The county seat locating commission designated the area now known as Rolla to be the county seat.

The town of Rolla did not exist as of November 13, 1857, when the county was created. Only the J. Stever office and John Webber's home were located in the area. Early court business included the location and opening of roads from the county seat to various places within the state, including St. Louis, Springfield, Jefferson City, Lake Spring, and Salem. It is in this last road order, dated in July 1858, that the use of the name Rolla first appears in the court records. The name was used earlier, in May 1858, in a deed of railroad land to the county.

On April 26, 1859, the county court ordered the 50 acres donated by Mr. Bishop for the site of the county seat to be surveyed. The survey was conducted by A.E. Buchanan, a young railroad surveyor. Buchanan delivered his plat to the county court on May 31, 1859.

The railroad ran its first train on December 22, 1860, making Rolla the terminus of the road. Until the continuation of the Frisco, all goods were loaded on wagons and transported to Springfield and south and west on what is now U.S. Highway 66 (Interstate 44). During the American Civil War, Rolla was an important military post with as many as 20,000 Union troops here. The original Phelps County Court House was transformed into a hospital during the war.

In April 1861, Fort Sumter was fired upon and a decision was made to support the South. On May 10, the Circuit Court session saw a heated debate of secession, which caused a breakup of the proceedings. As the story goes, Circuit Court Judge James McBride soon departed to assume command as a Confederate general under Sterling Price. Outside the courthouse, a group of men drew down the United States flag and raised a Confederate flag, which had been hastily pieced together by the women of Rolla. The tension was thick when the group then moved to the newspaper office of Charles Walder, a Union supporter and editor of the Rolla Express. Walder was forced to close his shop and cease printing. Southern sympathizers patrolled the town day and night, often ordering Union sympathizers to leave town.

On June 14 of that year, General Franz Sigel arrived by train with his 3rd Missouri Infantry and took over the town. From that day until the close of the war, Rolla was in Union hands.

The 13th Illinois Infantry Regiment, under Colonel John B. Wyman, was brought in to guard Rolla and the Pacific Railroad’s terminal. It was this regiment that did the basic planning and building of Fort Wyman, although other regiments undertook the task of finishing it. President Abraham Lincoln’s personal order was that Rolla should be held at all costs. Being situated at the terminus of the railroad, military wagon trains went out from Rolla to all Union armies stationed southwest in Arkansas, Hartville, and Springfield and northwest to the Linn Creek area, now know as Lake of the Ozarks.

After General Price's defeat at Pea Ridge in March 1862, several troops that were organized by Governor Jackson returned home. Confederate sympathizers, unwilling to profess their loyalty and support to the Union after the battle, were treated harshly. One example is the shooting of former Presiding Justice Lewis F. Wright and four of his sons in 1864, after being taken from their homes for "questioning."

Other towns within the county included Newburg, incorporated in 1888, and St. James, incorporated in 1869. Arlington and Jerome were both incorporated in 1867, but neither is incorporated at this time. Doolittle, the last of Phelps County's towns to be formed, was incorporated on July 2, 1944. Other Phelps County communities include Edgar Springs which was incorporated during the 1970s.

Rolla was an important site during the Civil War because the southwest branch of the Pacific Railroad ended here. Thousands of Union troops and their supplies came to Rolla by train from St. Louis and then were transferred to wagon trails to go to the battles of Wilson Creek in Springfield and Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove in Arkansas, plus a number of other smaller skirmishes. The railroad had arrived in Rolla in 1860 but the outbreak of the war halted the westward expansion of the line.

The town of about 600 civilians had a large population of Union troops at that time. Since the Union forces seized control of the town early in the war, they had a big impact upon the town and its operation.

The town was a busy place for the visitor. In 1860 sugar sold for 10 cents a pound, tobacco for 30 cents a pound. Whiskey went for 25 cents a gallon. City lots sold for $25 per lot. The Courthouse was used as a hay storage barn and later as a hospital for wounded soldiers. After the commanding general of the Union Forces, General Nathaniel Lyon, was killed at the Wilson's Creek battle near Springfield, his body was brought to Rolla to be transported back East for burial. Old town Rolla was located along Main Street near the Courthouse. The business district moved to Pine Street in the late 19th Century.

Following the Union defeat at Wilson's Creek on August 10, 1861, the Union Army fell back to Rolla and began building an earthen fort on the top of a hill alongside the present Highway 63 about a mile from the Courthouse. The rectangular fort had a dry moat around the perimeter with 32-pound field pieces located on each corner of the fort to cover any attack on Rolla from the south. It was named Fort Wyman after Colonel John B. Wyman. Fort Dette was a more detailed fort that was constructed in 1863 on what is now the campus of the University of Missouri-Rolla. It was constructed in a cross shape with positions for both 24-pound cannons and ports for individual rifle fire.

The Morrill Land-Grant College Act was approved by the U.S. Congress, and in 1863 the Missouri Legislature accepted this opportunity to set up a new type of higher education within the state. The act specified that the "leading object shall be without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and mechanics arts...in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits of professions of life."

The Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy was founded in 1870 because the area was rich in minerals and because the geographic location was good. Phelps County bid $130,545, including lands and bonds, and was awarded the prize. Today it is known as one of the finest engineering schools in the world. Not confined to mining and metallurgy, it confers degrees in twelve fields of engineering and science, as well as graduate degrees.

Education

Of adults 25 years of age and older in Phelps County, 79.0% possesses a high school diploma or higher while 21.1% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

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Public schools

Private schools

Alternative & Vocational Schools

  • B.W. Robinson State School - Rolla - (K-12) - Special Education
  • Rolla Technical Center - Rolla - (11-12) - Vocational/Technical
  • Rolla Technical Institute High School - Rolla - (09-12) - Vocational/Technical

Colleges & Universities

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 674 square miles (1,746 km²), of which, 673 square miles (1,743 km²) of it is land and 1 square miles (4 km²) of it (0.21%) is water.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected area

Demographics

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 39,825 people, 15,683 households, and 10,240 families residing in the county. The population density was 59 people per square mile (23/km²). There were 17,501 housing units at an average density of 26 per square mile (10/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.24% White, 1.50% Black or African American, 0.59% Native American, 2.35% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.47% from other races, and 1.79% from two or more races. Approximately 1.22% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 15,683 households out of which 30.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.70% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.70% were non-families. 28.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.70% under the age of 18, 14.50% from 18 to 24, 26.10% from 25 to 44, 21.80% from 45 to 64, and 13.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 103.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,243, and the median income for a family was $49,343. Males had a median income of $29,428 versus $19,893 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,275. About 11.30% of families and 16.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.00% of those under age 18 and 13.00% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns

Politics

Local

Politics at the local level in Phelps County is evenly split between the Republican and Democratic parties with Republicans and Democrats each controlling seven elected offices.

Office Incumbent Party
Assessor Kevin D. Rasmussen Democratic
Circuit Clerk Sue Brown Republican
Clerk Carol Bennett Democratic
Collector David R. Haas Democratic
Commissioner – District 1 Larry J. Stratman Republican
Commissioner – District 2 Charles “Bud” Dean Democratic
Coroner Larry Swinfard Democratic
Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp Democratic
Prosecuting Attorney Courtney M. George Republican
Public Administrator Kathleen S. Oliver-Rogers Republican
Recorder Robin Kordes Republican
Sheriff Richard Lisenbe Democratic
Surveyor Louis D. Gilbert Republican
Treasurer Carol Green Republican

State

Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 43.33% 8,485 53.28% 10,226 3.39% 481
2004 59.09% 10,970 39.54% 7,341 1.37% 254
2000 51.59% 8,280 45.77% 7,345 2.64% 424
1996 34.97% 5,342 62.55% 9,555 2.49% 380

Phelps County is divided into three legislative districts in the Missouri House of Representatives.

  • District 147 - Rep. Don Wells (R-Cabool). Consists of the southern-western parts of the county. In 2008, Wells ran unopposed and was reelected with 100 percent of the vote.
  • District 149 – Rep. Dan W. Brown (R-Rolla). Consists of Rolla and the surrounding areas. In 2008, Brown defeated Wayne Bledsoe (D) 60.03-38.17 percent while Dennis E. Hustead (C) received 1.80 percent in Phelps County.
  • District 150 – Rep. Jason T. Smith (R-Salem). Consists of the northern-eastern parts of the county. In 2008, Smith defeated James D. Ellis (D) 69.97-30.03 percent; Phelps County backed Smith with 70.80 percent while Ellis received 29.20 percent.

Phelps County is also a part of Missouri's 16th Senatorial District and is currently represented by State Senator Frank A. Barnitz (D-Lake Spring). In 2006, Barnitz defeated Susie Snyders (R) 52.44-47.56 percent. Phelps County backed Barnitz with 56.24 percent while Snyders received 43.76 percent. The 16th Senatorial District consists of Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Montgomery, Osage, Phelps, and Pulaski counties.

In Missouri's gubernatorial election of 2008, Governor of Missouri Jay Nixon (D) defeated former U.S. Representative Kenny Hulshof (R) with 58.40 percent of the total statewide vote. Nixon performed extremely well and won many of the rural counties in the state, including Phelps County. The former attorney general Nixon carried Phelps County with 53.28 percent of the vote to Hulshof’s 43.33 percent.

Federal

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Phelps County is represented by Jo Ann Emerson (R-Cape Girardeau) who represents all of Southeast Missouri as part of Missouri's 8th Congressional District.

Political Culture

Past Presidential Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 60.22% 11,706 38.04% 7,394 1.74% 338
2004 63.50% 11,874 35.65% 6,666 0.85% 160
2000 58.49% 9,444 38.78% 6,262 2.73% 440
1996 45.69% 6,990 41.87% 6,405 12.45% 1,904

At the presidential level, Phelps County is a fairly Republican-leaning county. George W. Bush easily carried Phelps County in 2000 and 2004. Bill Clinton was the last Democratic presidential nominee to carry Phelps County in 1992, and like many of the rural counties throughout Missouri, Phelps County favored John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008.

Like most rural areas throughout Southeast Missouri, voters in Phelps County generally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles which tend to 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 Phelps County with 77.94 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 Phelps County with 52.25 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 Phelps 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 Phelps County with 69.42 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.

2008 Missouri Presidential Primary

In the 2008 Missouri Presidential Primary, voters in Phelps County from both political parties supported candidates who finished in second place in the state at large and nationally.

Republican

Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) won Phelps County with 35.15 percent of the vote. U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) finished in second place in Phelps County with 29.68 percent. Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Massachusetts) came in third place, receiving 27.26 percent of the vote while libertarian-leaning U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) finished fourth with 6.53 percent in Phelps County.

Huckabee slightly led Missouri throughout much of the evening until the precincts began reporting from St. Louis where McCain won and put him over the top of Huckabee. In the end, McCain received 32.95 percent of the vote to Huckabee’s 31.53 percent—a 1.42 percent difference. McCain received all of Missouri’s 58 delegates as the Republican Party utilizes the winner-take-all system.

Democratic

Former U.S. Senator and now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) won Phelps County over now President Barack Obama (D-Illinois), although the margin of victory was not as large as many other rural counties throughout the state; in fact, it was Clinton’s worst county in Missouri’s 8th Congressional District. Clinton carried Phelps County with 53.93 percent of the vote while Obama received 42.34 percent of the vote. Although he withdrew from the race, former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina) still received 2.75 percent of the vote in Phelps County. Obama may have able to siphon away some votes in Phelps County due to the university subplot (UMR) in Rolla.

Clinton had a large initial lead in Missouri at the beginning of the evening as the rural precincts began to report, leading several news organizations to call the state for her; however, Obama rallied from behind as the heavily African American precincts from St. Louis began to report and eventually put him over the top. In the end, Obama received 49.32 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 47.90 percent—a 1.42 percent difference. Both candidates split Missouri’s 72 delegates as the Democratic Party utilizes proportional representation.

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton received more votes, a total of 2,392, than any candidate from either party in Phelps County during the 2008 Missouri Presidential Primaries. Barack Obama came in second place but also received more votes, a total of 1,878, than Mike Huckabee (who received 1,728 and first place in the GOP Primary in Phelps County).

Coordinates: 37°53′N 91°47′W / 37.88°N 91.79°W / 37.88; -91.79

References


Genealogy

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

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Phelps County, Missouri
Map
File:Map of Missouri highlighting Phelps County.png
Location in the state of Missouri
Map of the USA highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location in the USA
Statistics
Founded 1857
Seat Rolla
Largest City Rolla
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

 sq mikm²)
 sq mi ( km²)
 sq mi ( km²), 0.21%
wikipedia:Population
 - (2000)
 - Density

39825
Time zone Central : UTC-6/-5
Named for: John S. Phelps
Old county courthouse listed on the
National Register of Historic Places

Phelps County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau it includes the mean center of U.S. population in 2000. The county was organized in 1857 and was named for John S. Phelps, U.S. congressman and governor. As of 2000, the population was 39,825. Its county seat is Rolla.

Contents

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,746 km² (674 sq mi). 1,743 km² (673 sq mi) of it is land and 4 km² (1 sq mi) of it (0.21%) is water.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

Demographics

As of the census² of 2000, there were 39,825 people, 15,683 households, and 10,240 families residing in the county. The population density was 23/km² (59/sq mi). There were 17,501 housing units at an average density of 10/km² (26/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 93.24% White, 1.50% Black or African American, 0.59% Native American, 2.35% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.47% from other races, and 1.79% from two or more races. 1.22% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 15,683 households out of which 30.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.70% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.70% were non-families. 28.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.70% under the age of 18, 14.50% from 18 to 24, 26.10% from 25 to 44, 21.80% from 45 to 64, and 13.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 103.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,378, and the median income for a family was $38,693. Males had a median income of $29,428 versus $19,893 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,084. About 11.30% of families and 16.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.00% of those under age 18 and 13.00% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns


Coordinates: 37°53′N 91°47′W / 37.88, -91.79

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Phelps County, Missouri. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
Facts about Phelps County, MissouriRDF feed
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County of subdivision1 Missouri  +
Short name Phelps County  +

This article uses material from the "Phelps County, Missouri" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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