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Missouri was the 24th state to join the Union. Today, it is the 18th largest by population and the 21st by area. Eight states border Missouri — Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Only Tennessee borders as many.

Of all the cities in Missouri, only five have a population exceeding 100,000: Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Columbia and Independence.

St. Louis was founded in 1764 and named after Louis IX of France. The city was incorporated in 1822, a year after Missouri achieved statehood.

There are 114 counties in Missouri, and St. Louis isn't in any of them. Prior to 1875, St. Louis was in St. Louis County. In 1867, the Missouri Legislature gave the county the authority to assess and collect city taxes. This did not sit well with city residents, as those who lived outside the city had control of all the money and most of it came from the city. When the new state Constitution was written in 1875, "the great divorce," as it came to be called, was a top priority. It took three months and more than 50 argumentative sessions, but separation of the city and county was finally allowed. Now it was up to the residents, and Aug. 22, 1876, was the designated day. While the split barely passed in the city, it failed big time in the county. However, when the word "fraud" reared its ugly head, a commission was forced to investigate. Hundreds of votes were invalidated and the measure separating city and county passed.

St. Louis County was now forced to relocate their county seat and build a new courthouse. Ralph Clayton, a farmer who owned 700 acres in the center of the town that now bears his name, donated 100 acres to the county. The ground-breaking took place April 19, 1878, with Clayton himself holding the shovel. Eight months and $38,000 later, the new courthouse opened in December.

The short-term sense of this separation has been paved with long-term problems, too many, in fact, for the scope of this column. Several attempts over the years have been made to reunite the city and county, but so far, those attempts have been met with failure.

Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County and has written Historically Yours for the Boonville Daily News for more than 10 years. In celebration of Missouri's Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show-Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to [email protected]

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