Historical Tidbits about Audrain County, MO

Map of Missouri highlighting Audrain County

Image via Wikipedia

Audrain County, Missouri’s known history dates back as far as 1816 when the first settler, a hermit named Robert Littleby, came to stay in today’s Audrain County and eventually built a cabin in what is now Prairie Township. Very little else is known about the early days in the area other than there were only occasional reports of people passing through the area. Life on the prairie was hard and initially not suitable for settling or farming because of the scarcity of timber and soil that was difficult to cultivate.

The first people to come through the area were emigrants from the eastern states, notably Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. While many of these people continued west, some stayed to form a community. Audrain County was formed in 1831 and founded in December 1837 with Mexico as the county seat. It is interesting to note that Mexico was originally named “New Mexico” when it was a stopping point for travelers headed for the then Republic of Texas. The word “new” was dropped when Texas became a state.

The first community school was built in 1832, before the county was even founded. The county’s school system was formally organized in 1874. Mexico became the focal point for growth in Audrain County. The town was incorporated in 1855 and chartered as a city in 1874. Many of the original town’s buildings are still standing around the historic square.

A local history of Audrain County written in 1884 notes that it was the junction point for three railways that connected Mexico with St. Louis and Chicago and describes Mexico as the “brightest of all town” in the county.

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