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MO Bicentennial Minutes: Formation of Scott and St. Francois Counties

Scott County 1821
Scott County 1821

The General Assembly formed a number of counties in the year of statehood. Among these were two designated in December 1821 in southeast Missouri: St. Francois and Scott.

St. Francois County formed by legislation enacted and activated December 19. Portions of Ste. Genevieve, Washington, and Jefferson counties comprised the new

St. Francois County 1821
St. Francois County 1821

county. Although the name came from the St. Francis River, the river commemorated St. Francois Xavier, co-founder of the Society of Jesus and a Jesuit missionary in Asia. The boundaries followed points designated from the U. S. Public Land Survey of the area, except the south boundary bordered Madison County. The enabling legislation set up a commission to locate a county seat, eventually designated at Murphy’s Settlement, or Farmington.

Scott County enabling legislation passed December 28, but specified activation on March 1, 1822. The entire county formed from New Madrid County. Scott County commemorated Missouri’s territorial representative and soon to be legislator in the U. S. House of Representatives, John Scott of Ste. Genevieve. Scott had ably represented Missouri through much of the debates and legislative actions leading to statehood.

Scott County’s boundaries began in the Mississippi River opposite the mouth of James Bayou, then led northwest to a point north of the line between congressional townships 25 and 26, then paralleled the northern boundary of a land grant confirmed to Moses Hurley where Mrs. Elizabeth Phillips lived. The boundary continued to the west boundary of New Madrid County. The division line divided New Madrid County, and Scott County was the northern portion. Cape Girardeau County formed the north boundary.

So, Happy Birthday to St. Francois and Scott counties, also celebrating their bicentennials!

Bill Eddleman was born in Cape Girardeau, and is an 8th-generation Cape Countian. His first Missouri ancestor came to the state in 1802. He attended SEMO for two years before transferring to the University of Missouri to study Fisheries and Wildlife Biology. He stayed at Mizzou to earn a master of science in Fisheries and Wildlife, and continued studies in Wildlife Ecology at Oklahoma State University.
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