National Register Listings in
New Madrid County, Missouri

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The infamous outlaw Jesse James was born in Clay County, Missouri, in 1847. He later became known for his bank and train robberies and was killed by a member of his own gang in 1882.
New Madrid County, Missouri, has a rich and complex history that spans several centuries. It all began in the late 1600s when the region was home to the indigenous Mississippian culture. These native people thrived along the Mississippi River, leaving behind mounds and artifacts that provide insights into their way of life.

European settlement of the area started in the late 1700s when French-Canadian fur traders arrived, establishing small settlements. In 1789, Spain gained control of the region through the Treaty of Paris, and the area around the present-day New Madrid became known as "La Nouvelle Madrid." Under Spanish rule, the town developed as a fur trading post and agricultural center.

In 1803, as part of the Louisiana Purchase, New Madrid County came under American control. This period is best known for the devastating New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812. These massive earthquakes, among the most powerful recorded in the continental United States, caused significant damage to the area and altered the course of the Mississippi River. The earthquakes' impact on New Madrid is still evident in the geological formation known as the "sunken lands."

In the decades following the earthquakes, the county experienced a period of growth and prosperity. The fertile farmland attracted settlers, and the area became known for its agricultural production. Steamboats became a common sight on the Mississippi River, bringing commerce and connecting the region to markets downstream. As the county developed, towns like New Madrid and Portageville emerged as important economic and cultural centers.

Today, New Madrid County continues to thrive, embracing its unique history while looking towards the future. The county's rich heritage, natural beauty, and agricultural prominence make it an important part of Missouri's cultural landscape.

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

  • 1789 - New Madrid County, MO is established as a county in the Missouri Territory
  • 1803 - The New Madrid earthquake, one of the most powerful earthquakes in U.S. history, strikes the area
  • 1812 - Another series of strong earthquakes, known as the New Madrid earthquakes, occur in the county
  • 1821 - Missouri becomes a state and New Madrid County remains part of the newly formed state
  • 1834 - The county seat is moved from New Madrid to the newly established town of New Madrid
  • 1872 - The county seat is moved again, this time to the town of New Madrid
  • 1930 - The Great Mississippi Flood affects New Madrid County, causing extensive damage
  • 1986 - The New Madrid Historical Museum is established to preserve and showcase the county's history
  • 2000 - New Madrid County celebrates its bicentennial