According to the 2010 census, there are only five cities in Missouri with a population exceeding 100,000 and two of them are in the same county. Jackson County is home to number 1 and number 5. Kansas City is the largest with a population approaching 500,000. Independence ranks number 5 and has a population of just over 117,000.
Jackson County was formed on Dec. 15, 1826. It was named after Tennessee’s former Senator Andrew Jackson, who would later become President of the United States. Independence was founded shortly thereafter on March 29, 1827, and has quite a historical background in its own right. Thanks to the California, Oregon, and Santa Fe Trails, Independence was known as the Queen City of the Trails.
Kansas City wasn’t founded until the 1830s, but it didn’t go by that name at the time. It was incorporated on June 1, 1850, as the town of Kansas. As early as 1852, Congress began to organize the Kansas and Nebraska territories. Having a town by the same name next to the new territory became confusing so, on March 28, 1853, the town of Kansas was renamed the City of Kansas, or Kansas City.
Besides having two of the five largest cities, Jackson County is the only county in Missouri with two county seats: Independence and Kansas City. While Independence is entirely within Jackson County, Kansas City and Jackson County do not share the same border. Kansas City is so large in area that it also takes up space in parts of Clay, Cass, and Platte counties. Each of these counties were formed at different times (Clay being formed ahead of Jackson County on Jan. 2, 1822) and have their own county seats. Liberty is the county seat of Clay County. Harrisonville is the county seat of Cass County, which was formed on March 3, 1835. Platte County was formed on Dec. 31, 1838, and its county seat is Platte City.
Today, Jackson County has a population of just under 700,000 and is second only to St. Louis County which boasted a million residents in the 2010 census.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News since April 2008, She has covered the War Between the States, U.S. history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.email@example.com.