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.

Dent County, Missouri

Dent County Education, Geography, and HistoryDent County, Missouri Courthouse

Dent County is a county located in the state of Missouri. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 15,657. The largest city and county seat is Salem. The county was officially organized on February 10, 1851 by Dustin Counts & Nicholas Berardy, and is named after state representative Lewis Dent, a pioneer settler who arrived in Missouri from Virginia in 1835.

Etymology - Origin of Dent County Name

Named for Lewis Dent, pioneer settler.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

History of Dent County

Dent was formed from Shannon and Crawford Counties and organized in 1851. The county is located in the south central part of the state and is bounded by Phelps and Crawford Counties on the north; on the east by Iron and Reynolds Counties; on the south by Shannon and Texas Counties, and on the west by Phelps and Texas Counties. The county was reorganized in 1855. Named in honor of Lewis Dent, the first representative. The Dent family were among the early settlers in this region. Mark Dent, Lewis Dent's father, came to Missouri in 1803 when it was still French territory and settled at what is now Bismarck in St. Francois County. Because of Indian attacks, he returned to Virginia and in 1811 returned to Missouri. His oldest son Lewis was born in Virginia in 1807 and remained there until about 1835 when he came to Dent County. A letter in the possession of the Dent family written by Mark Dent in 1831 from St. Francis, Missouri, to Lewis in Virginia urges him to come before next May. The county history sets the date of his settlement near Salem as 1835. Campbell (1873) seems to be in error in saying the county was named for "Frederick" Dent. Frederick Dent was a St. Louisian and the father-in-law of Grant, but had nothing to do with this section. (HIST. DENT, p. 574; Campbell; T.P. Dent)

Source: O'Brien, Anna. "Place Names Of Five Central Southern Counties of Missouri." M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1939.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 755 square miles (1,960 km2), of which 753 square miles (1,950 km2) is land and 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2) (0.2%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Crawford County (northeast)
  • Iron County (southeast)
  • Reynolds County (southeast)
  • Shannon County (south)
  • Texas County (southwest)
  • Phelps County (northwest)


Of adults 25 years of age and older in Dent County, 66.3% possesses a high school diploma or higher while 10.1% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public schools

Dent-Phelps R-III School District - Salem
Green Forest R-II School District - Salem
North Wood R-IV School District - Salem
Oak Hill R-I School District - Salem
Salem R-80 School District - Salem

Alternative and vocational schools

Salem 61 School - Salem - (K-12) - Special Education
Ozark Hills State School - Salem - (K-12) - A school for handicapped students and those with other special needs.

Colleges and universities

Southwest Baptist University Annex - Salem - A satellite campus of Southwest Baptist University.

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