Jackson County, Missouri

Jackson County is located in the western portion of the U.S. state of Missouri, on the border with Kansas. As of the 2020 census, the population was 717,204.[1] making it the second-most populous county in the state (after St. Louis County in the east).[2][3]

Jackson County
Truman Courthouse in Independence, designed by Edward F. Neild at the request of Harry S. Truman
Truman Courthouse in Independence, designed by Edward F. Neild at the request of Harry S. Truman
Map of Missouri highlighting Jackson County
Location within the U.S. state of Missouri
Map of the United States highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 39°01′N 94°20′W / 39.01°N 94.34°W / 39.01; -94.34
Country United States
State Missouri
FoundedDecember 15, 1826
Named forAndrew Jackson
SeatIndependence and Kansas City
Largest cityKansas City
 • Total616 sq mi (1,600 km2)
 • Land604 sq mi (1,560 km2)
 • Water12 sq mi (30 km2)  1.9%
 • Total717,204
 • Estimate 
716,862 Decrease
 • Density1,200/sq mi (450/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional districts4th, 5th, 6th

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.[4] The county was organized December 15, 1826, and named for former Tennessee senator Andrew Jackson, who would become President of the United States three years later in 1829.



Early years


Jackson County was long home to members of the indigenous Osage 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 regional Native American tribes. Jackson County was claimed as a part of the territory of New France, until 1763 and the British victory in the French and Indian War. After that, France ceded this territory west of the Mississippi River 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. Soon abandoning its claims in North America, Napoleon of 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 notable 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 was included in the newly admitted state of Missouri. Jackson County was organized on December 15, 1826, and named for Andrew Jackson, U.S. Senator from Tennessee and military hero of the War of 1812, who would ascend to the Presidency shortly after, in 1829.[5][6] Its county seat was designated as Independence, then 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 in 1853 as the "City of Kansas". 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

Community of Christ Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA. Dedicated 1994

Jackson County figures prominently in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as Mormons. The Church was formed in upstate New York in 1830 and in March 1831 President Joseph Smith said that a location on the Missouri–Kansas border was to be the latter-day "New Jerusalem"[7] with the "center place" located in Independence, the county seat.[8] 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.[9]

Leadership and members of the Church began moving to Jackson County soon after but open conflict with earlier settlers ensued, driven by religious and cultural differences. Many early settlers along the Missouri River had come from the upper South: Kentucky and Tennessee, for instance, and brought their slaves and pro-slavery customs with them. They believed that the "Yankee" Mormons, from New York and northern states, were abolitionists.[10] Mobs in the public and private sector used force to drive individual Saints from Jackson to nearby counties within Missouri and put Latter Day Saints on notice that they had until 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 Mormons 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.

Civil War


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.

Twentieth century

Harry S. Truman statue in Independence, Missouri

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.[11]

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.



The total employment as of 2021 is 332,758.[12]


Jackson County 16th Circuit courthouse in Kansas City

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.[13]

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.[14]

The County Prosecutor is a full-time salaried position elected at-large by the general population of the county for a four-year term[15]

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.[16]

Position Name Party First Elected
Executive Frank White Democratic 2016
Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker Democratic 2010
Sheriff Darryl Forté Democratic 2018
At-large Legislator Jalen Anderson Democratic 2018
At-large Legislator Donna Peyton Democratic 2022
At-large Legislator Megan Marshall Democratic 2022
Legislator District 1 Manny Abarca IV Democratic 2022
Legislator District 2 Venessa Huskey Democratic 2022
Legislator District 3 Charlie Franklin Democratic 2018
Legislator District 4 DaRon McGee Democratic 2022
Legislator District 5 Jeanie Lauer Republican 2018
Legislator District 6 Sean Smith Republican 2022

There are 244,570 registered voters.[17]

Law enforcement


The County Sheriff is a full-time salaried position elected by the general population of the county for a four-year term[18] As of 2021 the sheriff is Darryl Forté.[19] The Sheriff's Office is also responsible for the county's jail.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22]

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.[23]



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.[24]

As of February 10, 2021:

Members of the 16th Circuit Court
Judges Year Appointed Appointed by Term Ends
Presiding Judge Jalilah Otto 2017 Eric Greitens (R) 2024
Judge Justine E. Del Muro 1993 Mel Carnahan (D) 2024
Judge Marco A. Roldan 1999 Mel Carnahan (D) 2024
Judge John M. Torrence 2001 Bob Holden (D) 2026
Judge Joel P. Fahnestock 2009 Matt Blunt (R) 2028
Judge J. Dale Youngs 2009 Jay Nixon (D) 2028
Judge James F. Kanatzar 2011 Jay Nixon (D) 2024
Judge Charles H. McKenzie 2011 Jay Nixon (D) 2024
Judge Kevin D. Harrell 2012 Jay Nixon (D) 2026
Judge Patrick W. Campbell 2013 Jay Nixon (D) 2026
Judge Kenneth R. Garrett III 2013 Jay Nixon (D) 2026
Judge S. Margene Burnett 2013 Jay Nixon (D) 2028
Judge Bryan E. Round 2014 Jay Nixon (D) 2028
Judge Jennifer M. Phillips 2015 Jay Nixon (D) 2028
Judge Mark A. Styles, Jr. 2016 Jay Nixon (D) 2024
Judge Cory L. Atkins 2019 Mike Parson (R) 2026
Judge Adam L. Caine 2020 Mike Parson (R) 2028
Judge Sarah A. Castle 2020 Mike Parson (R) 2028
Judge Jerri J. Zhang 2021 Mike Parson (R) 2028
Associate Judge Twila K. Rigby 1997 Mel Carnahan (D) 2026
Associate Judge Jeffrey L. Bushur 2000 Mel Carnahan (D) 2026
Associate Judge Mary F. Weir 2013 Jay Nixon (D) 2026
Associate Judge Jeffrey C. Keal 2013 Jay Nixon (D) 2024
Associate Judge Janette K. Rodecap 2014 Jay Nixon (D) 2024
Associate Judge Susan E. Long 2015 Jay Nixon (D) 2026
Associate Judge Kyndra J. Stockdale 2019 Mike Parson (R) 2024
Associate Judge R. Travis Willingham 2019 Mike Parson (R) 2026
Associate Judge Jessica Agnelly 2020 Mike Parson (R) 2026
Associate Judge Kea S. Bird-Riley 2020 Mike Parson (R) 2026

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.[25]


Lake Jacomo

According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 616 square miles (1,600 km2), of which 604 square miles (1,560 km2) is land and 12 square miles (31 km2) (1.9%) is water.[26]

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.

Adjacent counties

Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, at twilight

Major highways




National protected area



Historical population
2021 (est.)716,862[27]0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[28]
1790-1960[29] 1900-1990[30]
1990-2000[31] 2010-2020[1]

2020 Census

Jackson County Racial Composition[32]
Race Num. Perc.
White (NH) 419,542 58.5%
Black or African American (NH) 156,542 22%
Native American (NH) 2,713 0.4%
Asian (NH) 14,981 2.1%
Pacific Islander (NH) 1,727 0.24%
Other/Mixed (NH) 43,914 6.12%
Hispanic or Latino 77,785 10.85%

2010 census


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.[33]

2000 census


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 inhabitants 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 most other parts of the state of Missouri have trended rightward. The last Republican presidential candidate to carry the county was Richard Nixon in 1972, the only Republican to do so since 1932. John Ashcroft was the last Republican gubernatorial candidate in 1988 and Kit Bond for the Senate in 1998. Tom Schweich is the last Statewide Republican candidate to win the county in his landslide victory for State Auditor in 2014.

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.

United States presidential election results for Jackson County, Missouri[34]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 126,535 37.88% 199,842 59.82% 7,678 2.30%
2016 116,211 38.14% 168,972 55.46% 19,504 6.40%
2012 122,708 39.32% 183,953 58.95% 5,400 1.73%
2008 124,687 36.75% 210,824 62.14% 3,755 1.11%
2004 130,500 41.30% 183,654 58.12% 1,839 0.58%
2000 104,418 38.38% 160,419 58.96% 7,225 2.66%
1996 85,534 34.26% 140,317 56.20% 23,807 9.54%
1992 78,611 26.96% 145,999 50.06% 67,027 22.98%
1988 107,810 42.02% 147,964 57.67% 793 0.31%
1984 132,271 49.48% 135,067 50.52% 0 0.00%
1980 106,156 41.36% 135,805 52.91% 14,726 5.74%
1976 101,401 43.07% 130,120 55.27% 3,920 1.66%
1972 129,989 58.34% 92,830 41.66% 0 0.00%
1968 91,086 39.22% 112,154 48.30% 28,980 12.48%
1964 78,766 32.81% 161,290 67.19% 0 0.00%
1960 123,589 46.38% 142,869 53.62% 0 0.00%
1956 122,182 47.78% 133,522 52.22% 0 0.00%
1952 133,093 48.88% 138,792 50.97% 412 0.15%
1948 86,471 38.17% 139,186 61.44% 870 0.38%
1944 95,406 45.51% 113,803 54.29% 423 0.20%
1940 101,568 42.46% 137,285 57.39% 366 0.15%
1936 79,119 26.79% 215,120 72.84% 1,080 0.37%
1932 83,214 32.39% 172,456 67.13% 1,215 0.47%
1928 126,589 56.59% 96,703 43.23% 385 0.17%
1924 91,141 51.79% 76,002 43.19% 8,839 5.02%
1920 79,875 50.49% 76,791 48.54% 1,548 0.98%
1916 32,943 41.68% 44,556 56.38% 1,530 1.94%
1912 5,618 8.89% 32,209 50.97% 25,367 40.14%
1908 26,998 45.18% 31,461 52.65% 1,301 2.18%
1904 25,794 53.16% 20,582 42.42% 2,145 4.42%
1900 21,581 47.74% 22,542 49.87% 1,083 2.40%
1896 18,711 46.94% 20,705 51.94% 446 1.12%
1892 11,044 39.02% 15,825 55.90% 1,438 5.08%
1888 14,350 46.64% 15,663 50.91% 752 2.44%



K-12 schools


School districts include:[35]


  • Jackson County Historical Society[36]











Census-designated places


Unincorporated communities


See also



  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 7, 2022.
  2. ^ "Explore Census Data".
  3. ^ "Eastern Jackson County: Suburbs pick up urbanization trend | Thinking Bigger". August 2, 2018.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ Eaton, David Wolfe (1916). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. pp. 177.
  6. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 167.
  7. ^ Smith, Joseph Fielding (1956). McConkie, Bruce R. (ed.). Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith. Vol. 3. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft. p. 74. LCCN 56034495. OCLC 3188957.
  8. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 57:1–5
  9. ^ H. Michael Marquardt, "The Independence Temple of Zion", 1997. Retrieved March 28, 2008.
  10. ^ "The Manifesto of the Mob". Blacklds.org. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
  11. ^ Information for this section was obtained largely from 175 Years of Jackson County History Archived January 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Jackson County Historical Society.
  12. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Jackson County, Missouri". www.census.gov.
  13. ^ "County Government".
  14. ^ "County Executive".
  15. ^ "County Prosecutor".
  16. ^ "County Legislature".
  17. ^ IT, Missouri Secretary of State -. "Registered Voters in Missouri". www.sos.mo.gov. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  18. ^ "County Sheriff".
  19. ^ "About Us". Jackson County Sheriffs Office. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  20. ^ "129th Correction Officer Academy Graduation". Jackson County Missouri. July 1, 2019. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  21. ^ "Jackson Co. Sheriff Mike Sharp to resign amid damaging allegations". WDAF-TV. April 18, 2018. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  22. ^ "Darryl Forté Named As Sheriff". Jackson County, Missouri. May 10, 2018. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  23. ^ Reid, Cat (May 5, 2019). "Jackson County sheriff adopts 'restrictive' pursuit policy after deputy charged in May 2018 crash". KSHB. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  24. ^ "Our Judges".
  25. ^ "County Municipal Court".
  26. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  27. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021". Retrieved October 7, 2022.
  28. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  29. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  30. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  31. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  32. ^ "P2 Hispanic or Latino, And Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2020: Dec Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Jackson County, Missouri".
  33. ^ 2010 census report for Jackson County, Missouri
  34. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  35. ^ "2020 Census – School District Reference Map: Jackson County, MO" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 22, 2022. Retrieved July 22, 2022. - Text list
  36. ^ "Jackson County Historical Society|Home". JCHS. Archived from the original on October 1, 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018.

39°01′N 94°20′W / 39.01°N 94.34°W / 39.01; -94.34