Phelps County, Missouri

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Phelps County is a county located in south-central Missouri in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it includes the mean center of U.S. population in 2000. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county's population was 39,825. A 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 42,205. The largest city and county seat is Rolla. The county was officially organized on November 13, 1857, and was named for the Honorable John Smith Phelps, a U.S. Congressman and former Governor of Missouri from 1877-1881.

Much of the county is included within the Ozark Highlands American Viticultural Area (AVA). Vineyards and wineries were first established in the county by Italian immigrants in Rolla. Since the 1960s, winemakers have revived and created numerous vineyards in Missouri and won national and international tasting awards.

The first Phelps County Court convened on November 25, 1857 in the John Dillon cabin. The historic courthouse was begun in mid-summer of 1860, used as a Union hospital during the American Civil War and served as the courthouse until February 1994, at which time all county offices were relocated in the new Phelps County Courthouse. The new courthouse was dedicated on May 22, 1994.


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