The famous Dred Scott case, which helped fuel the tensions that led to the Civil War, originated in Missouri. Dred Scott was a slave who sued for his freedom in the Missouri courts in 1857, but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled against him.
Osage County, Missouri has a rich and diverse history that dates back thousands of years. The area that would become Osage County was originally inhabited by indigenous Osage and Cherokee tribes. European explorers, such as Frenchman Etienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont, were among the first to explore the region in the early 18th century.

In the early 19th century, the United States government negotiated various treaties with the Osage tribe, which resulted in the forced removal of the tribe from the area. This allowed for the settlement of European-American pioneers, who established towns and agricultural communities in the region. The area was officially organized as a county on January 29, 1841, and was named after the Osage River that runs through it.

Osage County's early economy was primarily based on agriculture, with crops such as corn, wheat, and livestock being the main sources of livelihood. The arrival of the railroad in the late 19th century further boosted the county's economy, as it facilitated transportation and trade between Osage County and other parts of the state.

The county played a significant role in the development and expansion of the Missouri State Penitentiary, which was located in Osage County from 1836 to 2004. The penitentiary not only provided employment opportunities but also became a source of pride for the community. However, its closure in 2004 left a void in the county's economy, leading to efforts to diversify industries and promote tourism in recent years.

Today, Osage County continues to be an agricultural region, with farming and ranching playing a significant role in its economy. The county is also known for its beautiful natural landscapes, including the Osage River, Mark Twain National Forest, and numerous parks and recreational areas, attracting tourists and outdoor enthusiasts. Throughout its history, Osage County has evolved from its indigenous roots to a thriving rural community, embracing its heritage while adapting to changing times.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Osage County, Missouri.

  • Early 1800s: Osage County area inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Osage and Shawnee.
  • 1821: Missouri officially becomes a state, including present-day Osage County.
  • 1837: Osage County officially established, named after the Osage River that runs through the area.
  • Mid-1800s: Settlers began moving to Osage County, primarily of German and Irish descent.
  • 1851: Hermann, the county seat, is incorporated as a city.
  • 1861-1865: Osage County experiences the effects of the American Civil War, with some battles and skirmishes occurring in the area.
  • Late 1800s: Agriculture, particularly farming and livestock raising, becomes prominent in Osage County.
  • Early 1900s: Expansion of railroads brings increased transportation and economic growth to the county.
  • 1920s: Prohibition era marked by increased smuggling and illegal alcohol production in Osage County.
  • 1930s: Challenges faced during the Great Depression. Many residents struggled financially.
  • 1950s-1960s: Introduction of improved farming techniques and technology lead to increased productivity in Osage County.
  • 1970s-present: Osage County continues to rely on agriculture, but also diversifies its economy through tourism, small businesses, and industries.