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Independence, Missouri
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Independence, Missouri

Independence is a city Jackson County in the U.S. state of Missouri, and the fourth largest city in the state. It is part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. As of the 2006, the city had a total population of 114,000. It is the county seat of Jackson County.


Missouri and Osage Indians originally claimed the area, followed by the Spanish and a brief French tenure. It became American territory with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Lewis and Clark recorded in their journals that they stopped in 1804 to pick plums, raspberries, and wild apples at a site that would become Independence.

Independence was founded on March 29, 1827 and quickly became an important frontier town. Independence was the farthest point westward on the Missouri River where steamboats or other cargo boats could travel due to the convergence of the Kansas River with the Missouri River approximately six miles west of Independence, near the current Kansas-Missouri border. Independence immediately became a jumping off point for the emerging fur trade, accommodating merchants and adventurers beginning the long trek westward on the Santa Fe Trail.

In 1831, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons) began moving to the Jackson County, Missouri, area. Shortly thereafter, Joseph Smith, Jr., the Latter-day Saint prophet, declared a spot just west of Courthouse Square to be the place for a prophesied temple of the New Jerusalem in expectation of the Second Coming of Christ. Tension grew with local Missourians until finally the Latter-Day Saints were expelled from the area. Many branches of Latter Day Saint movement gradually returned to the city, often making Independence their headquarters, including the Community of Christ, the Restoration Branches and the Church of Christ (Temple Lot).

Independence saw great prosperity from the late 1830s through the mid-1840s while the business of outfitting pioneers boomed. Between 1848 and 1868, it was a hub of the Central Route to California. On March 8, 1849 the Missouri General Assembly granted a home-rule charter to the town and on July 18, 1849, William McCoy was elected the first mayor. In the mid-1800s an act of Congress defined Independence as the start of the Oregon Trail.
A map of the Oregon Trail, marking Independence.
A map of the Oregon Trail, marking Independence.
Harry S. Truman's Independence home, now part of the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site.
Harry S. Truman's Independence home, now part of the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site.

Independence saw two important battles during the Civil War, the first on August 11, 1862 when Confederate troops captured the town, and the second in October 1864 which lasted two days. The war took its toll on Independence and the town was never able to regain its previous prosperity although a flurry of building activity took place soon after the war.

President Harry S. Truman grew up in Independence and in 1922 was elected judge of the County Court of Jackson County, Missouri (an administrative, not judicial, position). Although he was defeated for reelection in 1924, he won back the office in 1926 and was reelected in 1930. Truman performed his duties in this office diligently, and won personal acclaim for several popular public works projects, including an extensive series of fine roads for the growing use of the automobiles, building of a new County Court building in Independence, and a series of 12 Madonna of the Trail monuments to pioneer women dedicated across the country in 1928 and 1929. He later returned to the city after two terms as President. His wife, First Lady Bess Truman, was born and raised in Independence. Both the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum are in Independence.

Independence continues to be of great importance to branches of the Latter Day Saint movement and is the headquarters of the Community of Christ. The Community of Christ has built a large and striking temple in Independence (see Independence Temple), and also operates other buildings nearby, including a large auditorium. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) operates a large visitors center nearby to these buildings, all of which are nearby to the original Temple Lot, which still remains empty.



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 78.4 square miles (203.2 km²), of which, 78.3 square miles (202.9 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.17%) is water.


Historical censuses

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 113,288 people, 47,390 households, and 30,566 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,446.3 people per square mile (558.4/km²). There were 50,213 housing units at an average density of 641.1/sq mi (247.5/km²). Independence has a population of 111,806 in 1980 and 112,301 in 1990. The racial makeup of the city was 91.87% White, 2.59% African American, 0.70% Asian, 0.64% Native American, 0.46% Pacific Islander, 1.43% from other races, and 2.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.69% of the population.

There were 47,390 households out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.9% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.5% were non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,012, and the median income for a family was $45,876. Males had a median income of $34,138 versus $25,948 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,384. About 6.4% of families and 8.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.8% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.


Four school districts have areas within the city: Independence, Blue Springs, Fort Osage Schools, and Raytown. Three public high schools are located within the city limits: Truman High School, William Chrisman High School, and Van Horn High School, all in the Independence School District. The city also is home to one campus of the city-wide Blue River Community College.


Santa-Cali-Gon Days is an annual Labor Day festival held in Independence since 1973 that celebrates the city's heritage as a starting point on three major frontier trails: the Santa Fe Trail, the California Trail and the Oregon Trail. The Santa-Cali-Gon celebration has been held for many years. In the 1940's men grew their beards from one Sant-Cali-Gon to the next in beard growing contests. This contest was being held in the 1950's with horse and covered wagon, and many other things that would have been purchased in Independence before taking the trail to the South-West. Many people traveled to New Mexico to recover from tuberculosis, but returned because there was no work.

Historical Town Square

Located in the historical center of town sits the town square. Along the square are numerous family owned shops surrounding the old main courthouse. This courthouse houses Harry S Truman's former courtroom and his home is a short walk away and available for tours. Also located right on the square stands the remains of the jail, now turned museum, which housed the likes of Jesse James. A farmers market is held on the Northeast side of the square on Saturdays mid-May through Mid-September. The above mentioned Santa-Cali-Con festival is held on the square.

Sister City

* Higashimurayama, Japan


* Independence (Amtrak station)

Famous residents

* Jim Butcher, New York Times Best Selling author
* Teresa Carpenter, Pulitzer prize winning journalist
* Arliss Howard, actor on the TV show Medium
* Bob Lewis, former member and co-founder of Devo
* Ginger Rogers, Silver screen dancing partner of Fred Astaire
* Charles E. Spahr, CEO, Standard Oil of Ohio
* David Stover, NASCAR driver
* Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States
* Bess Truman, 33rd First Lady of the United States
* Margaret Truman Daniel, daughter of Harry and Bess Truman


1. ^ a b American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
2. ^ US Board on Geographic Names. United States Geological Survey (2007-10-25). Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
3. ^ Missouri by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1-R. Population Estimates (geographies ranked by estimate)
4. ^ Find a County. National Association of Counties. Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
5. ^ US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990. United States Census Bureau (2005-05-03). Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
6. ^ Encyclopedia of American History


City's official website
Independence Chamber of Commerce
"This is Where I Belong", a National Park Service article about Truman and Independence
Harry S. Truman Library & Museum