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Missouri History Timeline
Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Missouri
Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events,
and milestones in Missouri history.
Nomadic hunters were present in the area we now call Missouri perhaps
as early as 12,000 years ago. Divided into small bands, they ranged
widely over the land, hunting many now-extinct animals. The next period,
called Archaic, lasted from about 10,000 to 3,000 years ago. In this
period, these hunters used woven baskets and highly specialized stone
tools. Later on, the Woodland culture saw the introduction of pottery
and agriculture. Southeastern Missouri contains many artifacts and relics
of the culture called Mississippians or Mound Builders, a village society
that started about AD 800.
Missouri was admitted to the United States in 1821 as part of the Missouri Compromise. Located on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, the
state was an important hub of transportation and commerce in early America
1673 - First Europeans to set foot on land that would later
become Missouri were Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were
the during their voyage down the Mississippi River.
- April 9 - Explorer Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle
took possession of the Louisiana Territory area for France. He names
the region "Louisiana" in honor of King Louis XIV..
1703 - Mission of St. Francis Xavier abandoned because of
1714 - Frenchman, Etienne de Bourgmont builds a fort on the
Missouri River near the mouth of the Grand River.
1719 - Marc Antoine de La Loere Des Ursins, employed by the
Company of the Indies, with a crew of workmen, begins digging for lead
and silver in the Mine La Motte area and puts black slaves to work in
1724 - Fort Orleans built on the north bank of the Missouri
River by Etienne de Bourgmont in today's Carroll County; abandoned six
1750 - St Genevieve established a trading post, the first
permanent white settlement
- November 13 - Spain gained control of the Louisiana Territory
from France in the Treaty of Fontainebleau
- February 15 - City of St. Louis founded by Pierre Laclede
Liguest and Rene August Chouteau
1769 - City of St. Charles established by Louis Blanchette
as a trading post
- May 20 - Spanish government officially assumed control
of the Territory of Louisiana
1773 - Mine au Breton (later Potosi) founded
1774 - JB Tribeau starts the first school at St. Louis--it
operates about 40 years.
- February 14 - Colonel George Morgan established the city
of New Madrid
- January 4 - Louis Lorimer received trading privileges
and authority to establish a post at Cape Girardeau
1796 - Daniel Morgan Boone builds a cabin near the mouth of
Femme Osage Creek in St. Charles County. He later persuade his father
to come to Missouri.
1798 - Lieutenant Governor Zenon Trudeau of the Spanish government
offered Daniel Boone 1000 arpents to settle in the Louisiana Territory.
- Moses Austin made the first sheet lead and cannonballs manufactured
- October 30 - Spain returned the Louisiana Territory to
- April 30 - The US buys the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon
- May 21 - The Lewis and Clark Expedition set out from
- March 3 - The Territory of Louisiana established; the
seat of government was St. Louis
- June 18 - City of Ste. Genevieve incorporated
- Joseph Charless founded the first newspaper in Missouri, the
- Fort Osage is built overlooking the Missouri River under the
direction of William Clark as part of the vast federally controlled
fur trade system.
1809 - Missouri Fur Company organized in St. Louis. The abundance
of animal pelts in the Mississippi Valley region played a key role in
the development of the Upper Louisiana territory. Prominent members
of the Company included fur trader Manuel Lisa, Auguste and Pierre Chouteau,
and William Clark
- December 16 - First shocks of the New Madrid earthquakes, the
worst in US history
- June 4 - Portion of the Territory of Louisiana became the Territory
- October 1 - First general assembly of the Territory of Missouri
met; the five original counties were organized: Cape Girardeau,
New Madrid, St. Charles, St. Louis, and Ste. Genevieve
1813 - Rebecca Boone dies
- July 8 - Mid-Missouri's first circuit court opened at Cole's
- August 2 - Steamboat Zebulon M. Pike reached St. Louis,
the first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River above the
mouth of the Ohio River
- January 8 - Speaker of the US House of Representatives presented
the first petition to Congress from Missouri requesting statehood.
- 10,000 slaves in Missouri
- The Missouri statehood controversy became a national issue as
the issue of slavery was debated. The "Missouri Compromise" allowed
Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free
state, thus keeping the balance of slave and free states equal in
Congress. Although Missouri was allowed to enter as a slave state,
the remaining portion of the Louisiana Purchase area north of the
36 degrees 30minutes line was to be forever free of slavery.
- March 6 - Missouri's Enabling Act passed and approved by President
- July 19 - Missouri's first Constitution adopted
- August 28 - Missouri's first state elections were held and Alexander
McNair elected Missouri's first governor
- September 18 - Missouri's first General Assembly began its first
session at the Missouri Hotel in St. Louis
- August 10 - President James Monroe admitted Missouri
as the 24th state; the state capitol was located in St.
Charles until a permanent location was designated
- September 1 - Santa Fe Trail opened by William Becknell's
successful trading expeditions to Santa Fe
- December 31 - Governor Alexander McNair signed the bill
designating the site for the City of Jefferson
- January 11 - Bill to create the Missouri State Seal adopted
- May 11- St. Regis Seminary opens in Florissant. It is the first
Roman Catholic institution established in the country for the higher
education of Native Americans
- August 1 - William Beaumont began research observing the human
- October 1 - Jefferson City designated Missouri's permanent seat
of government; all state records, equipment, and the Great Seal
were moved to Jefferson City
- January 22 - Missouri State Library established by law
1831 - Joseph Smith settles with his followers in Independence.
- November 30 - Writer Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) born in
- March 8 - Missouri State Penitentiary received its first prisoner
- Senator Thomas Hart Benton verbally attacks abolitionists for
sending petitions to the US Congress.
- March 28 - President Martin Van Buren issued a proclamation
which completed the annexation of the Platte Purchase area to Missouri,
establishing the northwestern border of the state
- November 15 - Missouri's first capitol in Jefferson City destroyed
- October 27 - Governor Lilburn Boggs issued the "Extermination
Order" against Mormons living in Missouri, demanding that members
of the Mormon church leave the state
- February 9 - The Geyer Act, the foundation of Missouri's public
school system approved
- April 14 - The University of Missouri, the first state university
west of the Mississippi River, opened
- National depression hits Missouri. Price plummet and foreclosures
and bankruptcies rise.
- Carthage (named for the ancient city) established along Spring
River just east of Joplin.
- June 7 - Susan Elizabeth Blow, founder of the public kindergarten
movement, born in St. Louis
- July 26- Joseph Robidoux filed a plat of a town which he called
- Great Missouri flood destroys the Independence wharves and Westport
Landing gains most of the Santa Fe trade.
- Missouri bans free blacks from settling in the state.
- Legislation enacted to establish a hospital for care and treatment
of the insane; State Hospital No. 1 established in Fulton and began
receiving patients in 1851
- October 18 - Boatmen's Bank, the oldest bank west of the Mississippi
- December 20 - St. Louis connected to the East Coast by telegraph
- Jesse Woodson James is born at Kearney.
- February 5 - Myra Belle Starr is born in Washington Country
- Hermann celebrates its first "Weinfest."
- March 4 - US Senator David Rice Atchison, from Missouri, was
President for a day
- Missouri towns of St. Louis, Independence, Westport, and St.
Joseph became points of departure for emigrants bound for California,
making Missouri the "Gateway to the West" with the discovery of
gold in California
- Second, and most serious, cholera epidemic struck St. Louis;
over 4000 people died
- February 4 - Town of Kansas (later Kansas City) incorporated.
- September 3 - Poet Eugene Field born in St. Louis.
- July 4 - Groundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of the
Pacific Railroad were held in St. Louis; the line was to go from
St. Louis to Jefferson City and then to some point on the western
- State Hospital No. 1 established in Fulton and began receiving
- George Caleb Bingham begins his painting of Daniel Boone, called
Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap.
1852- Martha Jane Canary is born in Princeton.
- May 30 - President Franklin Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska
Act, allowing the notion of "popular sovereignty" in determining
if a territory would be a slave state or a free state. This act
set the stage for the violent Kansas-Missouri border wars where
the Missouri "Border Ruffians" and the Kansas "Jayhawkers" transformed
a frontier quarrel over slavery's borders into a national issue
- August 30 - Side-wheel steamboat Arabia leaves St. Louis and
sink at Westport Landing on September 5th
- March 6 - The Dred Scott decision handed down by US Chief Justice
Roger B. Taney; the case originated in St. Louis. Under Missouri
statutes, in 1846 Scott was allowed to sue for his freedom from
slavery based on the fact that he had previously lived in a free
territory (Wisconsin) before his return to the slave state of Missouri
- Work began on the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, established
by Henry Shaw
1858 - Hermann's population grows to 1,400 inhabitants
1859 - Braille is first introduced in the Western Hemisphere
at the Missouri School for the Blind in St. Louis.
- April 3 - Pony Express started its first run from St. Joseph
to Sacramento, California
- August 10 - Battle of Wilson's Creek resulted in a Union retreat
and southwestern Missouri was left in Confederate hands until the
Battle of Pea Ridge
- September 11 - President Abraham Lincoln revoked John Fremont's
emancipation proclamation for Missouri
- October 28 - Missouri's "Rebel Legislature" adopted an Act of
March 6 thru 8 - 3-day battle at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, Union Army
forced the Confederates, excluding the state guard from Missouri, to
retreat; ending the threat of Confederate military control in Missouri
- August 21 - William Clarke Quantrill and his band of pro-Southern
guerillas raided the pro-Union town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing
nearly 150 men and boys. This attack served to avenge the imprisonment
of their wives, mothers, and sisters in Kansas City
- August 25 - Brigadier General Thomas Ewing issued General Order
No. 11, requiring all people living in Jackson, Cass, Bates, and
northern Vernon counties to vacate the area unless their loyalty
to the Union could be proven
1864 - George Washington Carver born near Diamond, Missouri
- January 11- Slavery abolished in Missouri by an ordinance of
immediate emancipation, making Missouri the first slave state to
emancipate its slaves before the adoption of the 13th
Amendment to the US Constitution
- April 10 - Missouri's second Constitution (Drake Constitution)
was adopted. A group of politicians, known as "Radicals," favored
emancipation of slaves and disfranchisement of persons who were
sympathetic to the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Radicals
included an "Ironclad Oath" in the new constitution to exclude former
Confederate sympathizers from the vote and certain occupations,
severely limiting their civil rights
- April 6 - Lincoln Institute (later Lincoln University) was incorporated
as an institution for black students in Missouri
- August -11 The Missouri Historical Society organized in St.
- Calamity Jane (May 1, 1852 – August 1, 1903), born in Princeton,
Mo. In 1862, the family moved to Virginia City, Nevada. An Indian
uprising separated her from her father and brothers at the age of
10. She'll become a famous woman of the Kansas plains, Calamity
- Sedalia is an important railhead for the Texas cattle
drive of 1866.
- May 8 - The Missouri Woman's Suffrage Club organized in St.
Louis; the sole purpose of this organization was the political enfranchisement
of women, the first such organization in the United States
1870 - M. Lemma Barkeloo was the first woman lawyer in Missouri
(St. Louis); She was the first woman trial lawyer in the United States,
and the first woman lawyer to try a case in federal court.
- May 8 - Phoebe W. Couzins of St. Louis became Missouri's first
woman law school graduate when she graduated from the Washington
University Law Department
- January 20 - Governor B. Gratz Brown and family moved into the
newly completed Governor's Mansion
- The Missouri Supreme Court upheld a decision by the St. Louis
Circuit Court, denying Virginia Minor the right to register to vote
- Susan Blow opened the first public kindergarten in the United
States in St. Louis
- January 31 - Frst train robbery at Gads Hill by the James Gang
- July 4 - Eads Bridge, spanning the Mississippi River, was opened
in St. Louis
- Grasshopper plague in Missouri caused an estimated $15 million
worth of damages
- October 30 - Missouri's third Constitution was adopted
- July 28 - Governor Thomas Crittenden offered a $5000 reward
for the arrest and conviction of members of the Jesse James gang
- April 3- Jesse James was killed by Bob Ford in St. Joseph
- October 5 - Frank James surrenders himself to the governor of
Missouri, and stands trial for robbery and murder. He is acquitted.
1887 - Couzins become the nation's first Woman US Marshal
1891 - St. Louis' Wainwright Building, one of America's first
skyscrapers, was designed by Louis Sullivan.
- October 30 - The American School of Osteopathy was incorporated
by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in Kirksville
- May 4 - Volunteers for the Spanish-American War began arriving
in St. Louis
- March 9 - The State Historical Society of Missouri was incorporated
- Scott Joplin's "The Maple Leaf Rag" was published in Sedalia,
- September 9 - First State Fair held at Sedalia opened
- November 29 - Monsanto Company founded in St. Louis
- April 30- World's Fair opened in St. Louis
1907 - Primary election law was adopted in Missouri
1909 - Missouri Supreme Court handed down a decision in the
case against Standard Oil Company, affirming the company's violation
of Missouri antitrust laws
- February 5 - Missouri State Capitol destroyed by fire after
being struck by lightning
- Direct election of senators was authorized; previously US senators
from Missouri were elected by the General Assembly
- March 22- State Flag
1918 - World War 1 ended
- April 5 - Governor Frederick D. Gardner signed a law granting
presidential suffrage to women
- July 2 - Missouri became the eleventh state to ratify the Nineteenth
Amendment granting suffrage to women
- August 31 - Marie Byrum became the first woman to vote in Missouri
- August 4 - The Centennial Road Law, providing for the construction
of a modern system of Missouri highways, was signed into law
- November 7 - Mellcene T. Smith and Sarah Lucille Turner became
the first women elected to the Missouri state legislature
- May 21 - Charles Lindbergh landed the "Spirit of St. Louis"
- Ocober 29 - Stock market crashed
- April 24 - A bill creating the Missouri State Highway Patrol
was signed by Governor Henry S. Caulfield
- Bagnell Dam was completed, forming the Lake of the Ozarks, one
of the largest artificial lakes in the world with approximately
1400 miles of shoreline
1933 - William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, was opened
to the public in Kansas City
1935 - Thomas Hart Benton painted A Social History of Missouri
in the State Capitol Building's House Lounge
- July 1 - First Missouri Conservation Commission was appointed
- December 12 - The United States Supreme Court handed down its
decision in the Lloyd Gaines case. The court struck a blow to Missouri's
"separate but equal" laws, stating that in the absence of an equal
law school for black students, Gaines should be admitted to the
University of Missouri law school
- May 22 - Kansas City "Boss" Tom Pendergast sentenced to 15 months
in the federal penitentiary for income tax evasion
- The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation was organized by JS McDonnell;
it merged with Douglas to form McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation
1940 - The Ellis Fischel State Cancer Center was opened in
Columbia, becoming the first state-owned and operated hospital west
of the Mississippi River devoted exclusively to the care of cancer patients
1944 - U. Senator Harry S. Truman of Independence is elected
- The Missouri Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Kraemer
v. Shelley St. Louis housing segregation case
- March 30 - Missouri's fourth, and current, Constitution became
- April 12 - US Vice President Harry S Truman became President
upon the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
- September 2 - Japan signed documents of surrender ending World
War II in the Pacific on the deck of the USS Missouri
- March 5 - Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of England,
delivered his "Iron Curtain" speech at Fulton's Westminster College
1948 - President Harry S Truman elected to the Presidency
1949 - The state legislature adopts The Missouri Waltz as
the official state song.
1952 - Leonor K. Sullivan became Missouri's first woman US
- September 22 - The Missouri State Penitentiary Riot
- June 8 - Missouri Commission on Human Rights was created
1965 - The Gateway Arch (Jefferson National Expansion Memorial)
designed by Eero Saarinen was completed. Located on the original settlement
site of St. Louis, it symbolizes the role of St. Louis in the development
of the western frontier
1967 - The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation merged with Douglas
to form McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation in 1967
- April - Race riots in Kansas City in response to the death of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
1972 - Mary Gant became Missouri's first woman state senator
1973 - US withdraws from Viet Nam
1977 - Gwen B. Giles became Missouri's first African-American
woman state senator
- High levels of dioxin are discovered in Times Beach, near St.
- Farmers suffer during a national farm crisis.
- Foreign trade restrictions are loosened, affecting Missouri's
industries, especially shoes and automobiles.
- May - Court-ordered desegregation began in Missouri, attempting
to alleviate the racial isolation of black students. The court determined
that the State of Missouri was required to pay half of the cost
of school desegregation plans; numerous legal issues arose
- Population center of the U. moves into Missouri to DeSoto.
1982 - Government workers began taking soil samples, testing
for dioxin at Times Beach; the town was later evacuated
1983 - Scott Joplin is awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
- May 30 - Margaret B. Kelly became the first woman to hold
statewide office in Missouri when she was appointed to the office
of State Auditor
- Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Knoster was designated as the
home of the B-2 Stealth Bomber unit
- Ann K. Covington became the first woman appointed to the Missouri
- The Missouri Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Nancy
Cruzan "right to life" case
- Missouri's first presidential primary on the occasion of Richard
Gephardt, US Congressman from Missouri, running for the Democratic
1992 - Missouri voters approved riverboat gambling excursions
on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers
- The Great Flood of 1993 devastated parts of Missouri and the
- Outstanding Schools Act was passed; it was a $310 million measure
to reform Missouri schools and their funding
- Internet launched in Missouri
1995 - Scientists, archeologists, and interested descendants
gather in Kearney to dig up Jesse James' grave.
1996 - Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher delivers
a major address at Westminister College in Fulton to commemorate one
of the most famous speeches of the post-World War II era: Churchill's
1946 "Iron Curtain" speech.
- October 16 - Involved in a hotly contested race for the Senate
with incumbent Republican Senator John Ashcroft. Governor Mel Carnahan,
his son, and a campaign advisor die in a small-plane crash just
outside of St. Louis on October 16th. A memorial service on October
20th is attended by President Clinton. Carnahan wins the election
in November and his wife Jean will go to Washington
- October 20 - Memorial service attended by President Clinton.
2001 - John Ashcroft becomes US Attorney General.
2007 - Two missing teenage boys, (one since 2002 -, found at home of Michael Devlin near St. Louis; he was charged with
- Gunman killed five at Kirkwood council meeting;
- Anheuser-Busch sold to Belgian brewer InBev
- Tornado struck Joplin, over 100 people killed, over 1,100 injured, major destruction
- St. Louis Cardinals won World Series
2012 - Several towns suffered extensive damage from midwest storm system
Sources: Portions reprinted by permission of the
Missouri State Archives