JACKSON County, MO
Jackson County is located in the western portion of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2020 census, the population was 717,204. The estimated population in 2021 is 719,511 making it the second-most populous county in the state (after St. Louis County). Although Independence retains its status as the original county seat, Kansas City, Missouri serves as a second county seat and the center of county government. The county was organized December 15, 1826, and named for President Andrew Jackson (elected 1828). Jackson County is the most populated county in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Total employment in 2019 was 344,993.
Jackson County was long home to members of the indigenous Osage Native American tribe, who occupied this territory at the time of European encounter. The first known European explorers were French trappers who used the Missouri River as a highway for explorations and trading with Native American tribes. Jackson County was a part of the territory of New France, until the British victory in the French and Indian War in 1763 resulted in France's cession of this territory to Great Britain's ally, Spain. In 1800 Spain was forced by France in the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso to return its Louisiana Territory (of which modern Jackson County formed a part) to France. Abandoning its claims in North America, France sold the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
Operating on behalf of President Thomas Jefferson, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark passed through Jackson County on their famous Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804, to survey peoples, property and resources of the Louisiana Territory. Among other items, their report indicated a "high, commanding position" along the river within the current boundaries of Jackson County; in 1808 Fort Osage was constructed there. This stockade and trading post was one of the first U.S. military installations within the Louisiana purchase territory, and remained active until 1822.
In 1821, Jackson County became part of the newly admitted state of Missouri. Jackson County was organized on December 15, 1826, and named for Andrew Jackson, U.S. Senator (and later President) from Tennessee. Its county seat was designated as Independence, which was at the time a minuscule settlement near a spring. However, the rapid increase in westward exploration and expansion ultimately resulted in Independence becoming the starting point for three of the great Westward Trails: the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail, and the California Trail. Following the American Civil War and construction of railroads through this area, nearby Kansas City, Missouri ultimately eclipsed Independence, though both towns remain county seats.
In 1838, the "Town Company" bought a small piece of land along the Missouri River in northern Jackson County, establishing "Westport Landing" (today this is known as the River Market district). The area outside Westport Landing was renamed in 1839 as the "Town of Kansas", after the local Kanza or Kaw tribe. The town was chartered by Jackson County in 1850 and incorporated by the State of Missouri as the "City of Kansas" in 1853. In 1889, with a population of around 60,000, the city adopted a new charter and changed its name to Kansas City. In 1897, Kansas City annexed Westport.
Latter Day Saints
Jackson County figures prominently in the history of the Latter Day Saint movement. Although the sect was formed in upstate New York in 1830, in March 1831 Joseph Smith said that a location on the Missouri–Kansas border was to be the latter-day "New Jerusalem" with the "center place" located in Independence, the county seat. Traveling to the area in the Summer of 1831, Smith and some associates formally proclaimed Jackson County as the site, in a ceremony in August 1831.
Leadership and members of the Latter Day Saint movement began moving to Jackson County as soon as word was published of the August 1831 dedication ceremony. Open conflict with earlier settlers ensued, driven by religious and cultural differences, and the perception by pro-slavery Missourians that the "Yankee" "Mormons" were abolitionists. Mobs in the public and private sector used force to drive individual Saints from Jackson to nearby counties within Missouri; eventually, Latter Day Saints were given until the end of November 6, 1833 to leave the county en masse. On November 23, 1833, the few remaining LDS residents were ordered to leave Jackson County. By mid-1839, following the Missouri Mormon War, the LDS were driven from the state altogether. They did not return to Jackson County or Missouri in significant numbers until 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War.
Today several Latter Day Saint movement churches are headquartered in Jackson County, most notably the Community of Christ, the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), the Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite) and the Church of Christ with the Elijah Message. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS Church (the largest of the Latter Day Saint churches) has a strong presence in the county as well, though its headquarters is located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Joseph Smith had prophesied that a temple would be built in Independence "in this generation". The Community of Christ remains the only one of the aforementioned denominations (as of 2014) to have a temple in the city on part of the larger temple area designated by Smith. Smith's original temple site, a smaller five-acre section within that 66 acres (containing stones originally placed by Smith to mark the corners of his intended structure), is owned by the Church of Christ (Temple Lot). It hopes to build a temple of its own there sometime in the future.
Although the Kansas City Missouri Temple opened in May 2012 in adjacent Clay County, the LDS Church still believes that a temple will also be built in the future on the Independence Temple Lot (currently owned by the Church of Christ (Temple Lot)). An LDS visitors' center is situated adjacent to the Temple Lot, and the Community of Christ temple is located directly across the street.
Many early members of the Latter Day Saint movement—including Brigham Young—believed that Jackson County was the site of the biblical Garden of Eden. Others who believed this included Heber C. Kimball, and George Q. Cannon, but there are no surviving first-hand accounts of that doctrine being definitively taught by Joseph Smith himself. Official LDS Church doctrine is unclear as to the exact location of the Garden. According to LDS tradition, it is somewhere in Jackson County in the vicinity of Adam-ondi-Ahman (in nearby Daviess County).
During the Civil War, Jackson County was the scene of several engagements, the most notable of which was the Battle of Westport in 1864, sometimes referred to as "the Gettysburg of Missouri". The Union victory here firmly established Northern control of Missouri, and led to the failure of Confederate General Sterling Price's Missouri expedition. Other noteworthy battles were fought in Independence in 1862, Lone Jack a few days later, and again in Independence in 1864.
Jackson County was strongly affected by Union General Thomas Ewing's infamous General Order No. 11 (1863). With large numbers of Confederate sympathizers living within its boundaries, and active Confederate operations in the area a frequent occurrence, the Union command was determined to deprive Confederate bushwhackers of all local support. Ewing's decree practically emptied the rural portions of the county, and resulted in the burning of large portions of Jackson and adjacent counties. According to American artist George Caleb Bingham, who described the order as "imbecilic" and was a resident of Kansas City at the time, one could see the "dense columns of smoke arising in every direction", symbolic of what he termed "a ruthless military despotism which spared neither age, sex, character, nor condition". Because of the destruction carried out under the order, its legacy haunted Jackson County for decades after the war.
The coming of the railroads and the building of stockyards led to the rapid expansion of Kansas City in the late 19th century. During the 1920s and '30s, the city became a noted center for Jazz and Blues music, as well as the headquarters of Hallmark Cards and the site of Walt Disney's first animation studio. The county fared better than many during the Great Depression, as local political boss Thomas Pendergast worked to implement a $50,000,000 public works project that provided thousands of jobs. One of Pendergast's political protegés was a young World War I veteran from Independence, Harry S. Truman, who had been his nephew's commanding officer in the war. Truman was elected Presiding Judge (equivalent to a County Executive) of Jackson County with Pendergast support in 1926. He later was elected as a U.S. Senator from Missouri, Vice President and, in 1945, following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, succeeded him to become the thirty-third President of the United States. Truman was also elected president in 1948 in his own right.
Following World War II, developers followed new highways and created subdivisions for new housing, which increasingly encroached on rural portions of the county. They provided housing for the nation's returning veterans and their young families. Independence, Blue Springs and Lee's Summit underwent growth during this period, which continues to the present. Kansas City, on the other hand, suffered problems of urban decay as jobs and families left the industrial city, problems common to many large American cities in the late 20th century.
Recent building projects have sought to reverse this trend, including work on the city's famous City Market, Westport district, 18th and Vine Historic District, and most recently, the Kansas City Power & Light District.
Some of the county's local history is presented at the Pleasant Hill Historical Society Museum, in Pleasant Hill on the southern edge of the county.
Jackson County was the second county to adopt a home-rule charter under the Missouri Constitution. The Jackson County Charter was adopted by the voters in 1970 and was amended in 1985 and 1986.
Executive power of the county is vested in the county executive, which is a full-time salaried position. The county executive is elected at-large by the general population of the county for a four-year term.
The County Prosecutor is a full-time salaried position elected at-large by the general population of the county for a four-year term
Ordinances are passed by a county legislature. The legislature is made up of nine members: six are elected from smaller, single-member districts within the county. Three are elected "at large" from larger districts, each by voters of the whole county. Member terms are 4 years, beginning on January 1 following the election.
There are 244,570 registered voters.
The County Sheriff is a full-time salaried position elected by the general population of the county for a four-year term the sheriff is Darryl Forté. The Sheriff's Office is also responsible for the county's jail.
Sheriff Mike Sharp resigned in April 2018 amidst scandal. He was the subject of a lawsuit that alleged sexual misconduct, personal use of public funds and sexual harassment. Sheriff Darryl Forté was then appointed. He had recently retired as the chief of the Kansas City Police Department. He was elected to a full term in November of that year.
In mid-2019, Sheriff Forté directed a more-restrictive policy on high-speed pursuits the day after one of his deputies was charged with injuring a bystander during such a chase in May 2018.
Jackson County is the only county that falls under the jurisdiction of the 16th Judicial Circuit of the Missouri Circuit Courts. The Court seats 19 Circuit Judges and 10 Associate Circuit Judges. All Judges of the court are appointed by the Governor of Missouri, Circuit Judges serve a term of 6 years and Associate judges serve a term of 4 years.
Jackson County also has a municipal court with one judge. The Municipal Judge is appointed by the County Executive with approval by the County Legislature and they serve a 4-year term.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which is land and (1.9%) is water.
Notable Lakes include
The Missouri River comprises Jackson County's northern border (with the exception of one small portion north of the river around the intersection of Highways 210 and 291 as well as all of the 291 bridge). The county has historically been a major traveling point for American river travel.
thumb|right|Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, at twilight
20px Interstate 70 Alternate
20px U.S. Route 24 Bus.
National protected area
As of the 2010 census Jackson County had a population of 674,158. The racial and ethnic makeup of the population was 63.3% non-Hispanic white, 23.7% non-Hispanic black, 0.5% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander alone or in combination with one or more other races, 0.1% non-Hispanic from some other race, 3.8% reporting two or more races and 8.4% Hispanic or Latino.
As of the census of 2000, there were 654,880 people, 266,294 households, and 166,167 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,083 people per square mile (418/km2). There were 288,231 housing units at an average density of 476 per square mile (184/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 70.10% White, 23.27% Black or African American, 0.48% Native American, 1.28% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 2.43% from other races, and 2.25% from two or more races. 5.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.7% were of German, 9.1% American, 8.9% Irish and 8.8% English ancestry.
There were 266,294 households, out of which 29.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.40% were married couples living together, 14.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.60% were non-families. 31.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.05.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.80% under the age of 18, 9.10% from 18 to 24, 31.10% from 25 to 44, 21.50% from 45 to 64, and 12.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.00 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $39,277, and the median income for a family was $48,435. Males had a median income of $35,798 versus $27,403 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,788. About 9.00% of families and 11.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.40% of those under age 18 and 8.70% of those age 65 or over.
According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2010), Jackson County is sometimes regarded as being on the northern edge of the Bible Belt, with evangelical Protestantism being the most predominant religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in Jackson County who adhere to a religion are Roman Catholics (19.51%), Southern Baptists (17.96%), and non-denominational evangelical Christians (11.52%).
Jackson County is a solidly Democratic county and has remained so even as the state of Missouri has trended rightward. The last Republican presidential candidate to carry the county was Richard Nixon in 1972, the only Republican to do so since 1932.
The county's Democratic lean is due almost entirely to the presence of Kansas City. In 2008, for example, John McCain barely carried the areas of the county outside Kansas City, but Barack Obama carried Kansas City by a nearly 3-to-1 margin, enough for him to carry the county as a whole with 62 percent of the vote. Generally, Democratic strength is concentrated south of the Missouri River, with the wealthier areas north of the river being more friendly to Republicans.
This page uses material from the Wikipedia article Jackson County, MO, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 4.0.