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Missouri Counties
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Missouri Counties

Missouri has one hundred and fourteen counties and one independent city. St. Louis City is separate from St. Louis County and is referred to as a "city not within a county." Following the Louisiana Purchase and the admittance of Louisiana into the United States in 1812, five counties were formed out of the Missouri Territory at the first general assembly. Most subsequent counties were apportioned from these five original counties.

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Carter County, Missouri

Carter County Education, Geography, and HistoryCarter County, Missouri Courthouse

Carter County is a county located in the state of Missouri. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 6,265. The county seat is Van Buren. The county was officially organized on March 10, 1859, and is named after Zimri A. Carter, a pioneer settler who came to Missouri from South Carolina in 1812.

Carter County is located in the Ozarks region of southeast Missouri.

Etymology - Origin of Carter County Name

Named for Zimri A. Carter, pioneer settler.


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

History of Carter County

It was formed from parts of Ripley, Shannon and Wayne counties on March 10, 1859. Named for the first settler, Zimri A. Carter (see Carter Creek). Adam Lane of Ripley, John Buford of Reynolds, and D.C. Reed of Shannon counties, who were appointed to locate the seat of justice, met at the home of James Brown (see Brown Hollow) on the first Monday in April, 1859, and selected Van Buren, the old county seat of Ripley County, for the seat of justice. The old log courthouse erected in 1853 was used until 1867, when a frame building was erected, which very recently has been replaced by a good modern structure. (HIST. MISSOURI, Conrad I, 507-508; Douglas I, 317; Houck III, 159-160; R.L. Coleman)

Source: Pottenger, Cora Ann. "Place Names Of Five Southern Border Counties Of Missouri." M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1945.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 509 square miles (1,320 km2), of which 507 square miles (1,310 km2) is land and 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2) (0.3%) is water.

Carter County is in the rugged southern Courtois Hills region of the southeastern Ozark Plateau, and is roughly dissected from north to south by the Current River. Much of the county consists of wooded hills and valleys, with the landscape becoming more rolling and the hills having broader tops and gentler slopes in the southeastern portions of the county. The topography of Carter County is essentially that of a highly dissected plateau.

The western and central sections of the county are drained by the Current River and its tributaries: Rogers Creek, Mill Creek, Pike Creek, Big Barren Creek, Aldridge Valley, Hen Peck Creek and Carters Creek. The eastern section of the county is drained by Cane Creek, Beaver Dam Creek, Little Black and Big Brushy Creek, all of which are tributaries of the Black River.

Stegall Mountain, with an elevation of 1,348 feet, is the highest point in the county. The county' lowest elevations, about 400 feet, may be found in the river valleys on its southern boundary.

The bedrock is mostly (92.3%) Ordovician in age, with 7% being Cambrian and the remainder Precambrian. The weathering of this bedrock has produced an extensive system of solution channels and caves. This has resulted in the creation of numerous springs, with the largest being Big Springs located in the Current River near Van Buren. Some of the larger caves to be found in Carter County are Camp Yarn Cave, Midco Cave, Granite Quarry Cave, and Lost Man's Cave.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Reynolds County (north)
  • Wayne County (northeast)
  • Butler County (southeast)
  • Ripley County (south)
  • Oregon County (southwest)
  • Shannon County (west)


Public schools

East Carter County R-II School District - Ellsinore
Van Buren R-I School District - Van Buren

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