Cass County, Missouri

Cass County, Missouri
Map of Missouri highlighting Cass County
Location in the U.S. state of Missouri
Map of the United States highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location in the U.S.
Founded March 3, 1835
Named for Lewis Cass
Seat Harrisonville
Largest city Belton
  Total 702 sq mi (1,818 km2)
  Land 697 sq mi (1,805 km2)
  Water 5.7 sq mi (15 km2), 0.8%
Population (est.)
  (2015) 101,603
Congressional district 4th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Cass County is a county located in the western part of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the population was 99,478.[1] Its county seat is Harrisonville.[2] The county was organized in 1835 as Van Buren County but was renamed in 1849 after U.S. Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan who later became a presidential candidate.[3][4]

Cass County is part of the Kansas City, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The Harrisonville area was originally inhabited by the Dhegihan Native American subgroup. The Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, Ponca and Kansa tribes make up this Siouan linguistic group. The Kansa tribal range extended southward from the Kansas-Missouri River junction as far as the northern edge of Bates County, Missouri, taking in the sites of modern Pleasant Hill, Garden City, Archie and Drexel. On their southeastern border they were neighbors of the Osage, although there is no evidence that either of these tribes ever had a truly permanent settlement in the territory of Cass County.

Early camp meetings southwest of Harrisonville often had as many as 500 Indians in attendance, as they seemed to enjoy the religious services as much as the white settlers.[5] These visitors were reported to be Shawnee and Delaware, both speaking related Algonquian languages.[5]

In 1818 a grant of land in southern Missouri was made to some Delawares, but it was receded by them in 1825, and most of them moved to a reservation in Kansas, while others had previously gone to Texas. Those who remained in the Harrisonville area were close relatives of the Sauk, Fox and Kickapoo tribes.

The first American settler on the site of modern Harrisonville was James Lackey in 1830. Other early settlers were Humphrey Hunt, John Blythe and Dr. Joseph Hudspeth. Lackey was considered a "squatter," as he built a cabin and enclosed a small field on the tract of public land taken for county seat purposes.

The site of the town was fixed under an act of the Missouri General Assembly in 1835, by David Waldo of Lafayette County and Samual Hink and William Brown, both of Jackson County. In the same year, the first court met for the county, known as Van Buren County. The Justices James McClellan and William Savage met in McClellan's residence about three miles (5 km) southeast of Peculiar on September 14, 1835. William Lyon was appointed clerk of the court and county government was organized, including the establishment of Grand River Township.

In the spring of 1837 the town of Harrisonville was located by Enoch Rice, Francis Prine and Welcome Scott, who had been appointed commissioners by the state legislature in the winter of 1836. These commissioners in company with Martin Rice, the county surveyor, met at the home of John Cook on April 3, 1837 and finally decided on Lackey's preemption claim. In May they laid off the town in lots 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the northeast and northwest quarters of Section 4, Township 44N., Range 31W. Within these 160 acres (0.65 km2) there were to be four streets: Wall and Pearl running east to west, Lexington and Independence going north and south, each less than 40 feet wide. Fleming Harris was appointed town commissioner on April 8, 1837. The first town lots were sold on June 12 of that year; those facing the public square sold at $20 each, the others at $10.

"Democrat" was strongly urged as a name for the new town but was finally rejected. Instead, the town was named after U.S. Representative Albert G. Harrison from Missouri.

On October 8, 1835, the first church in Harrisonville was organized in the county two miles southwest of town known as Hopewell or New Hope Baptist.

The first house within the town was erected by Jason L. Dickey in 1836.

The first jail in Harrisonville and second for the county was established in 1838. Its site was 312 S. Independence. One of its successors is listed among the state's historic sites.

Harrisonville eventually was served by railroad lines presently known as the Missouri Pacific and the Frisco. Railroad construction was responsible for the notorious "Gunn City Massacre," the background of which began in 1857. Cass County approved a large stock subscription for the Pacific Railroad Company. This corporation later surrendered the bonds to the new Saint Louis and Santa Fe Railroad, from whence they were still later assigned to the Land Grant Railroad & Construction Company of New York. Citizens of Cass County sought by injunction to prevent the funding of these bonds, but by legal maneuvering and collusion, a new set of bonds was issued secretly. Basically the outraged populace viewed this development as a sophisticated maneuver to benefit the holders of bonds that had become worthless by re-obligating the county to pay those same bonds. Three men who helped to perpetrate this swindle, including the county attorney and a judge of the county court, were shot and killed on April 24, 1872 while on board a Katy railroad spur between Bryson, Missouri and Paola, Kansas (in or near what is now known as Gunn City). Forty-one men were arrested and brought to trial for these killings, but there were no convictions. At the time of the shootings, a Republican newspaper, belonging to Mr. Porter J. Coston, in Harrisonville, Missouri, was burned by the same mob.[6][7]

The year before the Civil War, 12 cities in Missouri had population of approximately 2,500 or more. Harrisonville ranked 37th with a population of 675. In 1863 the town was depopulated, and most of the buildings burned, the jail among them . Fort Harrisonville was a Union stronghold for a brief period in 1863 and provided protection for loyal Union families.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 702 square miles (1,820 km2), of which 697 square miles (1,810 km2) is land and 5.7 square miles (15 km2) (0.8%) is water.[8]

Adjacent counties

Major highways


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2015101,603[9]2.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]
1790-1960[11] 1900-1990[12]
1990-2000[13] 2010-2015[1]

As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 82,092 people, 30,168 households, and 22,988 families residing in the county. The population density was 117 people per square mile (45/km²). There were 31,677 housing units at an average density of 45 per square mile (18/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.62% White, 1.42% Black or African American, 0.58% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.50% from other races, and 1.35% from two or more races. Approximately 2.21% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 30,168 households out of which 38.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.60% were married couples living together, 9.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.80% were non-families. 20.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the county the population was spread out with 28.40% under the age of 18, 7.30% from 18 to 24, 30.20% from 25 to 44, 22.30% from 45 to 64, and 11.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $49,562, and the median income for a family was $55,258. Males had a median income of $39,001 versus $26,174 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,073. About 4.20% of families and 5.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.00% of those under age 18 and 5.20% of those age 65 or over.


Public schools

Private schools



Republicans held eleven of the thirteen elected positions in the county as of the 2014 election.

Cass County, Missouri
Elected countywide officials
Assessor Bob Huston Republican
Circuit Clerk Kim York Republican
County Clerk Michael Vinck Republican
Collector Pam Shipley Democratic
Jeff Cox Republican
(District 1)
Luke Scavuzzo Democratic
(District 2)
Jimmy Odom Republican
Prosecuting Attorney Ben Butler Republican
Public Administrator Melody Folsom Republican
Recorder Mike Medsker Republican
Sheriff Dwight E. Diehl Republican
Treasurer Steve Cheslik Republican


Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 45.77% 22,592 52.18% 25,754 2.05% 1,010
2004 53.53% 23,538 44.97% 19,772 1.49% 659
2000 52.74% 18,777 45.18% 16,084 2.08% 742
1996 38.32% 11,038 59.21% 17,055 2.47% 710

Cass County is divided into four legislative districts in the Missouri House of Representatives, all of which are held by Republicans.

Missouri House of Representatives – District 120 - Cass County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Scott N. Largent 1,505 71.23
Democratic Zac A. Maggi 534 25.27
Constitution Richard Hoxsey 74 3.50
Missouri House of Representatives – District 122 - Cass County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Mike McGhee 2,326 72.57
Democratic Holmes Osborne 879 27.43
Missouri House of Representatives – District 122 - Cass County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Chris Molendrop 10,268 71.51
Democratic Holmes Osborne 879 28.49
Missouri House of Representatives – District 120 - Cass County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Scott N. Largent 1,505 71.23
Democratic Zac A. Maggi 534 25.27
Constitution Richard Hoxsey 74 3.50

All of Cass County is a part of Missouri’s 31st District in the Missouri Senate and is currently represented by David Pearce (R-Warrensburg).

Missouri Senate - District 31 - Cass County (2008)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican David Pearce 26,640 55.55
Democratic Chris Benjamin 21,318 44.45


Half of Cass County is included in Missouri’s 4th Congressional District and is currently represented by Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. House of Representatives – Missouri’s 4th Congressional District - Cass County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Vicky Hartzler 10,315 59.90
Democratic Ike Skelton* 6,268 36.40
Libertarian Jason Michael Braun 386 2.24
Constitution Greg Cowan 251 1.46

The other half of Cass County is included in Missouri’s 5th Congressional District and is currently represented by Emanuel Cleaver (D-Kansas City) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. House of Representatives – Missouri’s 5th Congressional District - Cass County (2010)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jacob Turk 12,295 66.72
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver* 5,604 30.41
Libertarian Randy Langkraehr 341 1.85
Constitution Dave Lay 187 1.01

Political Culture

Past Presidential Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 58.99% 29,695 39.42% 19,844 1.59% 802
2004 61.63% 27,253 37.73% 16,681 0.64% 283
2000 56.07% 20,113 41.60% 14,921 2.33% 835
1996 46.52 13,495 40.48% 11,743 13.00% 3,772

Missouri Presidential Preference Primary (2008)

Cass County, Missouri
2008 Republican primary in Missouri
John McCain 3,195 (31.28%)
Mike Huckabee 3,033 (29.70%)
Mitt Romney 3,324 (32.55%)
Ron Paul 477 (4.67%)
Cass County, Missouri
2008 Democratic primary in Missouri
Hillary Clinton 6,500 (59.76%)
Barack Obama 3,995 (36.73%)
John Edwards (withdrawn) 302 (2.78%)


See also


  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. Eaton, David Wolfe (1916). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 272.
  4. "Disappearing Missouri Names". The Kansas City Star. March 19, 1911. p. 15. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014 via
  5. 1 2 The History of Cass and Bates Counties, Missouri. National Historical Company, Saint Joseph, Missouri. 1883. p. 272. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  6. "Nome and Seward: History, Biography, Descriptions, and Stories," by E.S. Harrison, Google Digitized Books, (p. 337)
  7. O'Flaherty, Daniel C. "General Jo Shelby:Undefeated Rebel," (University of North Carolina Press) 1954; ISBN 0-8078-4878-6; republished, 2000.
  8. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  9. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  10. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 22, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  11. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  12. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  13. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  14. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2011-05-14.

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 38°39′N 94°21′W / 38.65°N 94.35°W / 38.65; -94.35

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