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History of Carthage

carthage city courthouse

Carthage possesses a comprehensive history that is still a significant aspect of community life today. Nine years after being obtained by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Missouri area was established, succeeded by statehood in 1821. In January of 1841, Jasper County was formed, naming Carthage as the county seat in 1842.

Approximately 1,200 people resided in Carthage by 1861. The community, along with the entirety of Missouri, was stricken by heated debates over slavery and secession, causing a division throughout the state. The town endured a number of heated battles through the years, including the Battle of Carthage in 1861 and the Second Battle of Carthage in 1863. Though Missouri was given to the Union in 1862, fighting ensued, causing many residents to flee from Carthage in search of safer areas. The last catastrophe in the string of battles happened on September 22, 1864 when Confederate guerrillas set fire to most of Carthage, leaving the town in ruins.

lonely cowboy

Upon return to the city after the Civil War, residents were forced to rebuild the foundation of Carthage. In less than 10 years, around 6,000 people inhabited the growing community. Carthage enjoyed an industrial boom in the 1880s due to the incorporation of the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, the reopening of lead mines and the institution of limestone quarries. As the town expanded, more businesses established themselves in the area, introducing an array of new products. In addition, a number of buildings were erected, several schools were constructed and a host of diverse organizations were formed.


Throughout the war, county government had disbanded, leaving officials with no official courthouse. With the need to have a location in which to assemble, the construction of a new building was soon underway. By October of 1895, the county courthouse, located in Carthage, was completed.

The city of Carthage affords an assortment of historical sites—the Battle of Carthage Historic Park, the Battle of Carthage Civil War Museum, the 1895 Jasper County Courthouse and much more. Each site allows patrons to take a step back in time, reliving the beginnings of this prominent city.

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