Stoddard County Information
To look back at Stoddard County’s history would be to look back at the strong pioneers that traveled from the east looking for a better place to raise their families. It would also look back at the peaceful Shawnee and Delaware Indian tribes that lived here, but in 1832 moved further west. It would also take in the railroad which, once built, helped to bring prosperity to the area.
Stoddard County was once a land that was wild, uncivilized and featured swamps and heavy forest growth. There were no roads, except for the Indian trails that followed Crowleys Ridge. It took strong-willed pioneers to clear the land, build their homes and bring civilization to this untamed territory.
Bloomfield, founded in 1835, is the oldest town in Stoddard County. It grew, prospered and became one of the leading towns in Southeast Missouri. In 1840 it’s population numbered around 300 to 400. The growth of Bloomfield was halted by the Civil War and related incidents.
Early transportation was done over navigable waterways but wasn’t an adequate system. A road was built from Cape Girardeau to Bloomfield and on to Northeast Arkansas. It was in the early 1850s that leaders in the county began the tedious work of bringing a railroad into the area. The preliminary work was extensive — raising funds, purchasing land and enticing the railroad companies to bring their lines into Stoddard County. It wasn’t until the 1870s that the first train made its appearance at Dexter.
Dexter was founded in 1869 and incorporated in 1873. It grew from an area that was once covered with heavy forest. The town itself was laid out by the railroad, which sold lots for as little as $25 and as much as $300.
Other towns sprang up around the county, filling with people who became teachers, lawyers, bankers and farmers. All came to the area with the strong pioneering spirit to build a new life.
Stoddard County’s courthouse was built in 1867 and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. A memorial to Stoddard County veterans who lost their lives serving their country is located on the grounds. Also at the courthouse on the Memorial Monument is a gift plaque from the Armed Forces Information Service designating Bloomfield as the birthplace of the Stars and Stripes, a military newspaper.
If you would like to visit some of the historic locations in Stoddard County, we have several listed on our Tourism page. If you would like to learn more about Stoddard County or have some questions about our area, contact us and we’ll get the information to you.