Charleston, Missouri

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Charleston is a city in Mississippi County, Missouri, United States. The population was 4,732 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Mississippi County[3].



Charleston is the biggest town on the Missouri side near the confluence of the Mississippi River and Ohio River at Bird's Point, Missouri (11 miles east on U.S. Route 60). Its history has been tied to traffic on the rivers.

Settlement initially occurred on the north side in what in 1805 was called Matthews Prairie.

In 1837 Joseph Moore laid out the community after buying 22.5 acres (91,000 m2) for $337.[4] According to town lore Moore promised to name the town for his brother Charles if he helped. At various times it was called St. Charles Prairie and Carlos Prairie before ultimately being named Charleston.

In 1845 it was selected the county seat.

On September 1, 1861 Confederate General M. Jeff Thompson robbed the Union Bank of Charleston. Thompson, who handed the cashier a note, gave the cashier an hour to get approval from superiors to give him keys to the vault. After receiving the money he left a receipt for $57,000 and discovered later that only $56,000 was in the bags.[5]

The city was the epicenter of the October 31, 1895 6.6 earthquake on the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The quake damaged virtually all buildings in Charleston, creating sand volcanoes, cracked a pier on the Cairo Rail Bridge and toppled chimneys in St. Louis, Missouri, Memphis, Tennessee, Gadsden, Alabama and Evansville, Indiana. The quake is the biggest quake since the 1812 New Madrid earthquake which at 8.3 was the biggest recorded quake in the Contiguous United States.[6] One of the most visible signs of the quake is Henson Lake south of Charleston which was greatly expanded by the quake.

In 1901 the county courthouse was built. It was designed by J.B. Legg, who designed numerous buildings throughout Missouri including the Gasconade County, Missouri and St. Charles County, Missouri courthouses. On February 10, 1997, the courthouse was damaged by fire and was subsequently torn down.


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