Historical Markers in
Morgan County, Missouri

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."
Morgan County, located in the central part of Missouri, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Evidence of human occupation in the area has been found as early as the Paleo-Indian era, which occurred around 10,000 BC. Native American tribes, such as the Osage, later inhabited the region and relied on the abundant natural resources for their livelihood.

European settlers began arriving in the early 19th century, attracted by the fertile land and opportunities for trade. Morgan County was officially established in 1833 and was named after Daniel Morgan, a respected Revolutionary War general. The county seat was established in Versailles, which remains the largest town in the county today.

Morgan County played a significant role in the Civil War. While the majority of its residents were sympathetic to the Union cause, the area experienced skirmishes and raids by Confederate forces. The Battle of California, one of the largest engagements in the county, took place in 1862. Following the war, Morgan County experienced a period of rapid growth as agriculture, mining, and the railroad industry developed.

Throughout the 20th century, Morgan County continued to thrive, although like many other rural communities, it faced challenges such as the Great Depression and the decline of agriculture. The construction of the Lake of the Ozarks in the 1930s brought new opportunities for tourism and outdoor recreation, leading to the development of resorts, restaurants, and marinas along the lake's shoreline. Today, Morgan County remains a picturesque and vibrant community, with a diverse economy that includes agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and services.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Morgan County, Missouri.

  • Morgan County established in 1833
  • Civil War begins, impacting Morgan County in 1861
  • Benton County split from Morgan County in 1835
  • 1877 - The Kansas City, Clinton, and Springfield Railroad reaches Versailles
  • 1895 - Versailles becomes the county seat
  • Early 1900s - Steamboats travel along the Osage River to deliver goods
  • 1930s - Lake of the Ozarks construction begins
  • 1954 - Lake of the Ozarks officially completed
  • 1981 - Truman Dam and Reservoir completed