World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Perry County, Missouri

Perry County, Missouri
Perry County courthouse in Perryville
Map of Missouri highlighting Perry County
Location in the state of Missouri
Map of the United States highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location in the U.S.
Founded November 16, 1820
Named for Oliver Hazard Perry
Seat Perryville
Largest city Perryville
 • Total 484 sq mi (1,254 km2)
 • Land 474 sq mi (1,228 km2)
 • Water 9.8 sq mi (25 km2), 2.0%
 • (2010) 18,971
 • Density 40/sq mi (15/km²)
Congressional district 8th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website .usperrycountymo

Perry County is a Ste. Genevieve County and was named after Oliver Hazard Perry, a naval hero of the War of 1812.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties 2.1
    • Major highways 2.2
    • National protected area 2.3
  • Demographics 3
    • Religion 3.1
  • Politics 4
    • Local 4.1
    • State 4.2
    • Federal 4.3
      • Political culture 4.3.1
    • Missouri Presidential Preference Primary (2008) 4.4
  • Education 5
    • Public schools 5.1
    • Private schools 5.2
  • Tourism & attractions 6
  • Communities 7
    • Cities 7.1
    • Villages 7.2
    • Census-designated place 7.3
    • Unincorporated communities 7.4
    • Former communities 7.5
    • Townships 7.6
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Shaped like a camel's hump, Perry County consists of 471 square miles (1,200 km2) that fit neatly into a wedge created by the confluence of Apple Creek and the Mississippi River. Topographically, it is divided into lowlands and uplands. The lowlands comprise about one-eighth of the county and lie for the most part along the river. In the northeastern corner is the Bois Brule Bottom, meaning Burnt Wood, the most extensive tract of lowland, approximately 15 miles (24 km) long and up to 5 miles (8 km) wide. Its rich soil, coupled with its size, makes it the most productive farmland in the county. Smaller in size but still important is the Brazeau Bottom on the Mississippi River below Cape Cinque Hommes and the bottom situated near the mouth of Apple Creek.

The Uplands constitutes the largest part of the county and its topography varies greatly. The best parts of it are in the central area where the soil is generally good and the terrain nearly level or gently rolling. Rolling uplands surround this central section and are bounded by the Saline Hills to the west and the Mississippi River Hills and Bluffs to the east and northeast.

During the 18th Century, the Perry County area, like the rest of the future State of Missouri, was part of Louisiana. For most of the century the region was uninhabited, even by the French of nearby Ste. Genevieve. The latter was the first permanent White settlement in the Missouri area. In 1764, when the terms of the 1763 Treaty of Paris were announced in Louisiana, the French settlers found themselves transferred to an alien domination, that of Spain. In general the French were unhappy with the change of rule and the Spanish governance of the territory was an uneasy one, occasionally punctuated by armed rebellion. In the Ste. Genevieve area, the Spaniards, making a virtue of necessity, tended to let the French govern themselves.

The first inhabitants of what is now Perry County were Native Americans of the Shawnee tribe. In the 1780, they had crossed the Mississippi River from the East and spread throughout Southeast Missouri. Their largest village, Le Grand Village Sauvage - with a population of some 400, was located in the southern part of the county, just above Apple Creek, near present day Old Appleton. Within a decade of the Native American immigration, Spanish authorities showed an interest in opening the area to colonization by Americans.[3]

The first White settlers arrived in the region during the latter half of the 1790s and claimed rich land in Bois Brule Bottom. These Americans organized the region's original Baptist Church in 1807. In the early 19th century, a second group of American settlers crossed the Mississippi River to take advantage of Spanish land offers. These were Roman Catholics of English stock from north-central Kentucky. They had originally come from Maryland to escape religious discrimination and prided themselves on being descendants of Lord Baltimore's original colonists. The first of these to settle permanently in the future Perry County was Isidore Moore. He arrived in 1801 and became a patriarch of the area. Others soon followed whose family names predominated the decades: Tucker, Fenwick, Cissell, Hayton, Riney, Hamilton, Layton, Manning, and Hagan. Most of these settled in the uplands around Perryville in a place called the Barrens because of its open land.

When the region was transferred to American sovereignty in 1803-1804, the Barrens became part of the Louisiana Territory. Prior to the admission of Missouri to statehood in 1821, several new migrations altered the religious composition of the future county. In 1817, a large group of Methodists from the same state whose family names live on, like Abernathy, Farrar, and Rutledge. In 1826, they built their first log meeting house, which was later replaced by York Chapel.

Until 1821, the Barrens region formed the southern portion of Brazeau, Cinque Hommes, and Bois Brule. Their boundaries, following natural geographical features, were quite irregular. In 1856, the borders were made symmetrical and two new townships, St. Mary's and Saline, were added.

After 1821, the descendants of French colonial families from Ste. Genevieve trickled into Perry County, and in the middle of the next decade, their ranks swelled by immigrants from France itself. They settled on the lands that were near the present city of Perryville. At about the same time, a small group of Flemings settled in the northeastern part of the county, with the present town of Belgique as their center. There were also Swiss in the same area.

The late 1830s saw the beginnings of a heavy German immigration that would permanently alter the ethnic balance of the county. In the fall of 1838, more than 600 Saxon Lutherans, under the leadership of Pastor Martin Stephan, uprooted themselves and migrated to Missouri in what is called The Saxon Lutheran Migration, seeking to avoid the enforced religious conformity brought about by the Prussian Union of churches. They settled in the southeastern corner of the county and moved inland through a series of towns whose names enshrined both religion and nationality: Wittenberg, Friedheim, Frohna, Dresden, Altenburg, and Paitzdorf, which was renamed Uniontown during the American Civil War. Much of the legacy of the German immigration lives on today through the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Others who settled in the area were German Catholics, mostly from Bavaria and Baden. They settled in the Barrens area. The Lutherans and Presbyterians established churches in the region bounded by the 1856 township of Brazeau. The Methodists located farther west in the area that comprised the 1856 township of Cinque Hommes. There they set up two churches, the first York Chapel, near present day Longtown, about 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Perryville, and in 1836 a second in Perryville itself. Then in 1844-1845, they divided between north and south over the question of whether a bishop could own slaves. The two Methodist churches in Perry County parted company, the city congregation going with the North and the York Chapel siding with the South. The Baptists of the county tended to congregate in both Bois Brule Bottom and in the area of Saline Township. In the first decades of the 19th century, they met in private homes.

While it is one of the oldest communities in Missouri, Perry County also founded the first college west of the Mississippi River, dating to 1827.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 484 square miles (1,250 km2), of which 474 square miles (1,230 km2) is land and 9.8 square miles (25 km2) (2.0%) is water.[4] It is located across the Mississippi River from Illinois.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected area


As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 18,132 people, 6,904 households, and 4,957 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile (15/km²). There were 7,815 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.21% White, 0.18% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.12% from other races, and 0.58% from two or more races. Approximately 0.51% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,904 households out of which 34.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.50% were married couples living together, 7.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 24.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the county the population was spread out with 26.00% under the age of 18, 8.60% from 18 to 24, 27.90% from 25 to 44, 21.90% from 45 to 64, and 15.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 99.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $44,264, and the median income for a family was $53,034. Males had a median income of $28,337 versus $19,720 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,066. About 5.20% of families and 9.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.90% of those under age 18 and 13.20% of those age 65 or over.


Unlike many rural counties throughout Southeast Missouri, Perry County is exempt from the Bible Belt with Roman Catholicism being the majority religion, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2000). The most predominant denominations among residents in Perry County who adhere to a religion are Roman Catholics (60.33%), Lutherans (29.72%), and Southern Baptists (4.69%).

Roman Catholic churches

Lutheran churches

Presbyterian churches

Methodist churches

Baptist churches



The Republican Party predominantly controls politics at the local level in Perry County. Republicans hold all but two of the elected positions in the county.

Perry County, Missouri
Elected countywide officials
Assessor Charles Triller Republican
Circuit Clerk Becky A. Paulus Republican
County Clerk Randy Taylor Republican
Collector Rodney J. Richardet Republican
Carl Lueckel, Jr. Republican
(District 1)
Patrick Heaps Democratic
(District 2)
Jim Sutterer Republican
Coroner Herbert E. Miller Democratic
Prosecuting Attorney Thomas L. Hoeh Republican
Public Administrator Tamara M. Tarrillion Republican
Recorder Sue Oster Republican
Sheriff Gary J. Schaaf Republican
Surveyor Tim Baer Republican
Treasurer Veronica J. Hershey Republican


Perry County is divided into two districts in the Missouri House of Representatives, both of which are held by Republicans.

  • District 116 - Currently represented by Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) and includes North of the city of Perryville as well as some area east and west of the city. Engler has represented the district since 2012.
  • District 145 - Currently represented by Shelley Keeney (R-Marble Hill) and includes the rest of Perry County (Altenburg, Biehle, Frohna, Longtown).

All of Perry County is a part of Missouri's 27th District in the Missouri Senate and is currently represented by State Senator Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau).The 27th Senatorial District consists of Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Madison, Mississippi, Perry, and Scott counties.

Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2012 51.57% 4,057 46.36% 3,647 2.07% 163
2008 51.85% 4,391 46.24% 3,916 1.90% 161
2004 64.57% 5,293 34.43% 2,822 1.00% 82
2000 65.33% 4,735 33.37% 2,419 1.30% 94
1996 48.94% 3,307 49.62% 3,353 1.44% 97
1992 56.65% 4,020 43.35% 3,076 0.00% 0
1988 74.11% 4,459 25.49% 1,534 0.40% 24
1984 68.20% 4,309 31.80% 2,009 0.00% 0
1980 56.14% 4,333 43.81% 3,381 0.05% 4
1976 64.46% 4,416 35.44% 2,428 0.10% 7


Perry County is included in Missouri’s 8th Congressional District and is currently represented by Jason T. Smith (R-Salem) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Smith won a special election on Tuesday, June 4, 2013, to finish out the remaining term of U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R-Cape Girardeau). Emerson announced her resignation a month after being reelected with over 70 percent of the vote in the district. She resigned to become CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative.

U.S. House of Representatives - District 8 – Perry County (2012)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jo Ann Emerson 6,272 80.16 +9.19
Democratic Jack Rushin 1,326 16.95 -5.89
Libertarian Rick Vandeven 226 2.89 +1.03
U.S. House of Representatives - District 8 - Special Election – Perry County (2013)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican James T. Smith 1,240 72.09
Democratic Steve Hodges 380 22.09
Constitution Doug Enyart 63 3.66
Libertarian Bill Slantz 35 2.03
Write-in Robert W. George 1 0.06
Write-in Thomas Brown 1 0.06

Political culture

Past Presidential Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2012 70.98% 5,669 27.34% 2,184 1.67% 134
2008 63.92% 5,527 34.75% 3,005 1.33% 115
2004 67.60% 5,583 31.78% 2,621 0.52% 43
2000 67.61% 4,667 30.20% 2,085 2.18% 151
1996 50.54% 3,427 37.12% 2,517 12.34% 837
1992 44.19% 3,205 34.82% 2,525 20.66% 1,498
1988 64.08% 3,836 35.68% 2,136 0.23% 14
1984 70.98% 4,493 29.02% 1,837 0.00% 0
1980 65.72% 5,053 31.42% 2,416 2.86% 220
1976 59.06% 4,086 40.49% 2,801 0.45% 31

At the presidential level, Perry County is a reliably Republican stronghold. 2000 and 2004. The last Democratic presidential nominee to win Perry County was Lyndon B. Johnson in the landslide Election of 1964.

Like most rural areas, voters in Perry County generally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles which strongly 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 Perry County with 85.07 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 Perry County with 69.45 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 Perry 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 Perry County with 69.52 percent of the vote. The proposition strongly passed every single county in Missouri with 75.94 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.

Missouri Presidential Preference Primary (2008)

Perry County, Missouri
2008 Republican primary in Missouri
John McCain 973 (43.59%)
Mike Huckabee 575 (25.76%)
Mitt Romney 542 (24.28%)
Ron Paul 96 (4.30%)
Perry County, Missouri
2008 Democratic primary in Missouri
Hillary Clinton 1,180 (61.24%)
Barack Obama 650 (33.73%)
John Edwards (withdrawn) 81 (4.20%)


Of adults 25 years of age and older in Perry County, 71.2% possesses a high school diploma while 9.9% holds a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public schools

  • Altenburg 48 Elementary School - Altenburg - (K-08)
  • Perry County School District No. 32 - Perryville
    • Perryville Early Childhood Special Education Center (PK)
    • Perryville Elementary School (K-04)
    • Perry County Middle School (05-08)
    • Perryville High School (09-12)
    • Perryville Area Career & Technology Center (09-12)

Private schools

Tourism & attractions

Perry County offers a number of historic, architectural and scenic attractions.

Visitors can explore the grounds of the St. Mary's of the Barrens Seminary, the first college founded west of the Mississippi River dating back to 1827. Other features include the National Shrine of our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, the Rosati Log Cabin, the Countess Estelle Doheny Museum with its priceless Gospel of St. John from the Gutenberg Bible and the Bishop Edward Sheehan Memorial Museum and Rare Book Room. Guided tours of the museums are available by request.

In Perryville, the county seat, visitors can stroll the beautiful square surrounding the Perry County Courthouse built in 1904 with its chiming clock tower. The Square is considered a show place of the city with newly completed streets, decorative sidewalks, "Washington" style light fixtures and decorative tree plantings. Newly brick-paved plaza, landscaped seating areas, park benches, a sundial, a drinking fountain, a directional marker and a gazebo have been added to the courthouse lawn.

On the northeastern corner of the square sits the Levi Block building constructed around 1829, which is thought to be the oldest remaining commercial building in Perryville. It now houses Hilderbrand Jewelers.

The Faherty House, located at 11 S. Spring Street, was originally constructed by Henry Burns in 1825 as a two-room stone house with a basement. It is thought to be the oldest remaining residence in the city. A brick, two-room addition to the house was built in the 1850s. The house also stands on one of the original town lots of Perryville. The restored house features a circa 1830-1890 exterior and interior and is owned and maintained by the Perry County Historical Society.

The Perry County Museum is located at the entrance of the Perryville City Park in the Doerr House, (Wednesday and weekends, May–October).

In southeastern Perry County near the Mississippi River are the early German villages of Frohna, Altenburg, and Wittenberg.

The Saxon Lutheran Memorial in Frohna is dedicated to the preservation of the religious and cultural heritage of the 1839 Saxon Immigration to Missouri (daily, year-round). The memorial boasts two original log houses, a large log barn, a collection of tools and antique farm machinery, a visitor's center, country store and gift shop.

In Altenburg, visit the Concordia Log Cabin College (1839), the Loeber Log Cabin (1839) and Trinity Lutheran Church (1867). The log cabin college was the first Lutheran Seminary west of the Mississippi River. Guided tours of historic Altenburg are also available by appointment.

Traveling south, visit the Tower Rock Natural Area, a designated national landmark, which features a 10-mile (16 km) hiking trail. Tower Rock is a 60-foot (18 m) high rock, which stands majestically in the Mississippi River. The history of Tower Rock dates to 1698, when three missionaries established a landing atop the rocky island. Nearby, the early 19th century settlement of Apple Creek features the Lady of St. Joseph Shrine.

Perry County has approximately 650 known caves. It has more caves than any other county in Missouri, which is nicknamed "The Cave State."[11]




Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities

Former communities


See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^

External links

  • Official Perry County, Missouri Website
  • Early History of Perry County
  • St. Mary's of the Barrens
  • St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1893.Half a Century of Sound Lutheranism in America: A Brief Sketch of the History of the Missouri Synod.Graebner, August Lawrence. (describes how settlers in Perry County founded the Missouri Synod)
  • Digitized 1930 Plat Book of Perry County from University of Missouri Division of Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.