October 11, 1909


Interesting Compilation by the Late
Calvin Smith Founded on Per-
sonal Recollections and
State Records.

Although the motto of the late Calvin Smith, Missouri pioneer who died October 1, was "The world is my country," he was none the less specially fond of the great state of Missouri, where he wiled away the years since 1822.

Mr. Smith, having been born in 1813, coming with his father, an 1812 war veteran, to Missouri when he was 9 years old, lived to see nearly every notable event in the civilization of the state and his interest in its future perhaps exceeded that of any other man. He often remarked that while he was spoken of merely as the oldest inhabitant of Missouri, he was really the father of the commonwealth.

Several years before his death Mr. Smith made a compilation of data concerning the naming of the counties of Missouri founded on state records and his personal recollection.

According to his information, Missouri honored her own sons most, naming thirty-three counties after them. Next comes Revolutionary heroes and an even twenty counties bear their name. Washington, Marion, Green and even Sergeant Jasper, who rescued a fallen flag from an exposed parapet during a bombardment, received their tribute at the hands of the Missouri pioneers engaged in county naming.


Missouri is an old state and while the civilizing process was going on General Zachary Taylor, nicknamed Rough-and-Ready, was fighting the Seminoles or the Mexicans and ten counties were named after his scouts and officers. Following an old habit of the Indians eleven counties were named after prominent rivers and one, Moniteau, after the Indian word meaning "Great Spirit."

An element of aristocracy and religion was introduced in the naming of St. Charles, in honor of Charles V, of France, and St. Louis after Louis XIV of the same country.

It was a day in which there were as many Dr. Cooks and Lieutenant Pearys when the territory was first opened for settlement but explorers were heroes then as now. Six counties bear names of these forerunners of civilization the most prominent of whom probably was Meriweather Lewis and Zebulon Montgomery Pike.

Origins of other Missouri county names:

ADAIR, called after General John Adair of Mercer county, Kentucky, who was elected governor of that state in 1820, and died May 19, 1840.
ANDREW, called for Andrew Jackson Davis, a prominent citizen of St. Louis and Savannah, Mo.
BATES, called for Frederick Bates, second governor of the state.
BOONE, named for Daniel Boone.
BUCHANAN, named for President James Buchanan.
CALDWELL, named for Captain Mathew Caldwell, an Indian scout and hunter of Kentucky.
CALLAWAY, named for Captain James Callaway, killed by the Indians on the Lutre.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, named for Ensign Steve Girardeau, a Frenchman and Indian trader.
CARROLL, for Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
CASS, in honor of Lewis Cass, U. S. senator.
CLAY, named after Henry Clay of Kentucky.
De KALB, called for Baron John De Kalb, a Frenchman of Revolutionary fame.
DOUGLAS, called for Stephen A. Douglas.
GENTRY, named in honor of Colonel Richard Gentry, killed at the battle of Ocheecobee, Fla.
JACKSON, in honor of Andrew Jackson.
JASPER, in honor of Sergeant Jasper, who saved the flag after it had been shot down during the bombardment of a fort in the Revolution.
JEFFERSON, for Thomas Jefferson.
JOHNSON, called after Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky.
KNOX, for General Henry Knox of the Revolution.
LAFAYETTE, named after the great French patriot, on occasion of his first visit to the United States.
LEWIS, named after Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
MERCER, called after John F. Mercer, also of Revolutionary War fame.
NEW MADRID, a compliment to the capital of Spain.
NODAWAY, coming from a similar Indian word, meaning "placid river."
PLATTE, named after its principal stream.
PULASKI, named for a Polish Count, who was a general in the Revolutionary war.
PUTNAM, named for General Putnam, of Bunker Hill fame.
RAY, named for John Ray of the constitutional convention.
SHANNON, called after Judge George W. Shannon, who was called "Peg-legged Shannon."
SHELBY, called for Kentucky Governor Isaac Shelby.
TANEY, called after Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.
WAYNE, called after Anthony Wayne of the Revolutionary war.
WEBSTER, named for Daniel Webster.
WORTH, called for General William J. Worth of the Florida and Mexican wars.