Biggest cities in Missouri 150 years ago

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May 23, 2022
Hulton Archive // Getty Images

Biggest cities in Missouri 150 years ago

After the completion of the 1860 census and the election of President Abraham Lincoln, America imploded. Eleven southern states seceded from the Union in 1861, instigating four bloody years of the Civil War and fundamentally altering the social history of the U.S. The estimates of deaths caused by the Civil War begin around 600,000, but some claim as many as 750,000 individuals died throughout the conflict.

With so many families looking for a new start after combat finally ended and approximately 4 million Black Americans emancipated from slavery, it was time for many Americans to look for a new home to put down roots. The obvious choice for many was to move west, where there was more land to buy, settle, and cultivate. Many traveled by covered wagon, spending months on the dusty trail. Others who could afford better accommodations took a 25-day ride by stagecoach. All of them picked new cities and towns to make their homes, spreading the U.S. population more evenly across different states and territories.

On May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad route across the United States was completed, ushering in a new era of transportation. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, though with the loss of many lives, including those of the many Irish and Chinese immigrants hired to work 12-hour days in the hot western sun. Riding by steam engine, passengers could cross the entire country in four days, enabling waves of Americans and immigrants to quickly occupy land that would otherwise take months to settle.

The years of Civil War reconstruction, coupled with wagon, stagecoach, and railroad passengers finding new lives across the U.S., made the urban development reflected in the 1870 census incredibly interesting. Stacker compiled a list of the biggest cities in Missouri from 150 years ago using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. By transcribing Table XXV of the Ninth Census of the U.S., which was previously only available as a PDF, it's easy to explore what the urban landscape looked like less than a decade after the end of the Civil War as America healed and grew.

The largest city in Missouri ranked #4 among all cities nationwide in 1870. Of the 100 largest cities in the U.S., 3 were in Missouri. Keep reading to find out more about the historic metropolitan landscape in your home state or check out the data on your own on our site, GitHub, or data.world.

You may also like: Counties with the most college graduates in Missouri

Street scene with general store
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Library of Congress

#25. Brunswick, Chariton County

- Total population: 4,576 (#621 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,345
--- Female population: 2,231
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,497
Men and boys stand in front of a wagon shop
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Andreas Larsen Dahl/Wisconsin Historical Society // Getty Images

#24. Warrensburg, Johnson County

- Total population: 4,804 (#563 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,392
--- Female population: 2,419
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,581
People and horses standing in front of a rural building with a sign
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Carson Brothers/Buyenlarge // Getty Images

#23. Liberty, Clay County

- Total population: 4,831 (#555 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,492
--- Female population: 2,339
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,644
Horse drawn milk wagon in front of stores
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Camerique/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#22. Cedar, Boone County

- Total population: 5,020 (#518 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,580
--- Female population: 2,440
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,742
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#21. Boles, Franklin County

- Total population: 5,183 (#494 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,770
--- Female population: 2,413
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,833
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#20. Calumet, Pike County

- Total population: 5,185 (#491 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,680
--- Female population: 2,505
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,759
Two story wooden building with porch and people in rural town.
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#19. Wakenda, Carroll County

- Total population: 5,312 (#470 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,785
--- Female population: 2,557
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,834
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Alexander Alland, Sr./Corbis via Getty Images

#18. Boonville, Cooper County

- Total population: 5,319 (#469 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,665
--- Female population: 2,654
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,846
Group of people sitting on porch
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Carleton E. Watkins/Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

#17. Carondelet, St. Louis County

- Total population: 5,387 (#462 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,933
--- Female population: 2,454
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,784
Group of children pose with their teacher outside schoolhouse
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#16. Grand River, Henry County

- Total population: 5,450 (#449 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,878
--- Female population: 2,572
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,706
Group of six sitting at outdoor picnic
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Camerique/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#15. Springfield, Greene County

- Total population: 5,555 (#438 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,829
--- Female population: 2,726
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,541
Doctor making medical rounds in horse buggy.
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#14. St. Charles, St. Charles County

- Total population: 5,570 (#435 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,939
--- Female population: 2,631
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,602
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Detroit Publishing Company // Library of Congress

#13. Richmond, Ray County

- Total population: 5,581 (#434 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,904
--- Female population: 2,677
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,384
Farrier shoeing a horse with blacksmith and two other men standing nearby.
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#12. Salt River, Audrain County

- Total population: 5,602 (#430 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,900
--- Female population: 2,702
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,908
Men on steps of rural General Store
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#11. Washington, Franklin County

- Total population: 5,614 (#428 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,952
--- Female population: 2,662
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,947
Waiters and waitresses pose for a group picture
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#10. Bonhomme, St. Louis County

- Total population: 6,162 (#366 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,328
--- Female population: 2,834
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,890
Horse and wagon outside general store
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#9. Mount Sterling, Pettis County

- Total population: 6,305 (#354 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,174
--- Female population: 3,131
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,896
Group of young women out for a trip in a horse drawn Surrey
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Transcendental Graphics // Getty Images

#8. Lexington, Lafayette County

- Total population: 6,336 (#347 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,071
--- Female population: 3,265
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,262
Man standing in door of ice cream parlor
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#7. St. Ferdinand, St. Louis County

- Total population: 7,214 (#285 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,885
--- Female population: 3,329
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,343
People in street scene with horse and buggy and bicycles
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#6. Campbell, Greene County

- Total population: 8,694 (#225 nationwide)
--- Male population: 4,469
--- Female population: 4,225
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,555
Postman delivers mail by horsedrawn carriage
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Vintage Images // Getty Images

#5. Central, St. Louis County

- Total population: 8,923 (#221 nationwide)
--- Male population: 4,795
--- Female population: 4,128
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,761
Men standing next to horse drawn carriages in front of shops
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American Stock/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#4. Hannibal, Marion County

- Total population: 10,125 (#179 nationwide)
--- Male population: 5,177
--- Female population: 4,948
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,987
Men and women sitting with bicycles in park.
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Chicago History Museum // Getty Images

#3. St. Joseph, Buchanan County

- Total population: 19,565 (#77 nationwide)
--- Male population: 10,942
--- Female population: 8,623
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 5,217
Woman seated in horse drawn carriage with three people standing
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H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#2. Kansas City, Jackson County

- Total population: 32,260 (#38 nationwide)
--- Male population: 18,313
--- Female population: 13,947
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 8,856
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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#1. St. Louis, St. Louis County

- Total population: 310,864 (#4 nationwide)
--- Male population: 161,796
--- Female population: 149,068
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 93,469

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