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The "Show-Me State" is Missouri's official nickname and is believed to have originated from a speech given by Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver in 1899. He said, "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."
Cole County, Missouri, is located in the central part of the state. It was formed on November 16, 1820, and named after Captain Stephen Cole, an early settler and veteran of the War of 1812. The county was established when the Missouri State Legislature decided to divide the more populous and prosperous Boone County into smaller jurisdictions.

The first European settlers arrived in the area in the early 1800s, primarily of German and Irish descent. They were attracted by the fertile soil along the banks of the Missouri River. Cole County quickly became an important agricultural center, with crops such as wheat, corn, and tobacco dominating the local economy. The county seat, Jefferson City, was chosen to be the capital of Missouri in 1821, further boosting its growth and development.

During the Civil War, Cole County was a divided community. Although Missouri officially remained in the Union, there were Confederate sympathizers in the area. Jefferson City was occupied by Union troops for the majority of the war, and several notable skirmishes took place in the county. In the post-war years, Cole County experienced economic growth and modernization. The arrival of the railroad in the late 19th century and the construction of the Missouri State Penitentiary in the early 20th century brought further development and employment opportunities.

Today, Cole County continues to be an important political and economic hub in central Missouri. Jefferson City, the county seat, remains the state capital and houses numerous government buildings and institutions. The county is also known for its rich natural beauty, with the Missouri River offering opportunities for outdoor activities and recreation. Cole County's history is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of its residents, who have shaped the area into the thriving community it is today.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Cole County, Missouri.

  • 1818 - Cole County is established on November 16
  • 1821 - The new state capital, Jefferson City, is selected to be located in Cole County
  • 1837 - Construction of the Missouri State Penitentiary begins in Jefferson City
  • 1861 - The Civil War begins, and Cole County becomes divided in its support of the Union and Confederate causes
  • 1865 - The Civil War ends, and Cole County begins the process of rebuilding and recovering from the war
  • 1896 - The first automobile arrives in Cole County
  • 1911 - The current Missouri State Capitol building is completed in Jefferson City
  • 1941 - The Jefferson City Army Airfield is established, becoming an important training center during World War II
  • 1954 - The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, known as the Gateway Arch, is completed in St. Louis, just outside of Cole County
  • 1964 - The Missouri State Penitentiary is expanded, becoming the largest walled prison in the United States
  • 1980 - The Missouri State Penitentiary closes after 133 years of operation
  • 2008 - The Capitol Avenue Historic District in Jefferson City is added to the National Register of Historic Places