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.
Ray County, Missouri, located in the central part of the state, has a rich and varied history that spans centuries. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Osage and Missouri Indians, who relied on the land's resources for their survival. However, as European settlers began to explore and settle the region in the early 19th century, the native populations were displaced.

In 1820, Ray County was officially established and named after John Ray, a Missouri state legislator. The county quickly became a center of economic activity due to its fertile lands and access to major transportation routes, such as the Missouri River and the historic Santa Fe Trail. Agriculture, especially the cultivation of tobacco and hemp, played a vital role in the county's early prosperity.

During the American Civil War, Ray County witnessed significant conflict as Missouri was torn apart by the division between Unionists and Confederate sympathizers. The Battle of the Little Blue, fought in 1864, took place in the county and resulted in a Union victory. The war left scars on the county, but it eventually rebounded and resumed its agricultural and commercial growth.

In the 20th century, Ray County continued to evolve and adapt to changing times. The development of transportation infrastructure, including highways and railroads, facilitated trade and contributed to the county's growth. Today, Ray County is a vibrant community with a diverse economy, encompassing agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries. Its historical heritage is preserved through various museums and landmarks, allowing visitors and residents to appreciate the rich history of this remarkable county.

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

  • 1820 - Ray County established as a county in Missouri
  • 1821 - Richmond becomes the county seat
  • 1833 - Battle of Crooked River takes place during the Mormon War
  • 1836 - Ray County Courthouse is built
  • 1855 - Missouri Pacific Railroad reaches the county
  • 1857 - First public school opens in Richmond
  • 1861 - Civil War begins, and Ray County is divided between Union and Confederate sympathizers
  • 1864 - Battle of Albany takes place during the Civil War
  • 1908 - Richmond suffers a devastating tornado
  • 1925 - Ray County Memorial Hospital is established
  • 1965 - Ray County Library is built in Richmond
  • 1988 - Ray County Historical Society is formed
  • 2003 - Ray County Museum is opened in Richmond