Sedalia is a city located about 30 miles south of the Missouri River in Pettis County, Missouri. U.S. Highway 50 and U.S. Highway 65 intersect in the city. As of 2006, the city had a total population of 20,669. It is the county seat of Pettis County. The Sedalia Micropolitan Statistical Area consists of Pettis County. Sedalia is the location of the Missouri State Fair and the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival. The current mayor of Sedalia is Bob Wasson.
Although there were bands of Shawnee
in the vicinity of Sedalia when the land was first settled by Americans, historians believe the entire area was first occupied by the Osage
(of historical American Indian
The area that became Sedalia was founded by General George Rappeen Smith (1804-1879), who went on to found nearby Smithton, Missouri. He filed plans for the official record on 30 November 1857, and gave the area the name Sedville.
The original plat included the land from today's Missouri Pacific Railroad south to Third Street. In addition, the version filed jointly by General Smith and David W. Bouldin (?-1893) on 16 October 1860, displayed the city spreading from Clay Street to the north and to Smith Street (i.e., today's Third Street) in the south, and from Missouri Street in the west to Washington Street in the east. Smith and Bouldin anticipated that the city would grow North; however, it grew South.
Until it was incorporated in 1860 as Sedalia, the city had only existed "on paper" (i.e., from 30 November 1857 to 16 October 1860). Both Sedville and Sedalia were named after Smith's daughter, Sarah "Sed" Smith Cotton. According to local lore, the town council changed the name from Sadieville
in part because "towns that end in -ville don't amount to anything." (Lawrence Ditton, Sr.).
Sedalia had a population of around 300 people in 1860, and what Ihrig et al. (1960 p.12) describe as a "bona fide population" of around 1,000 in 1865.
According to Ihrig et al., (1960 p.123) Sedalia's population grew as follows:
- 1870: 4,560
- 1880: 9,561
- 1890: 14,068
- 1900: 15,231
- 1910: 17,8221
- 1920: 21,144
- 1930: 20,806
- 1940: 20,428
- 1950: 20,354
- 1960: 28,000-30,000 (estimated)
Following a victory for those proposing the "ridge route" for the railway over those advocating the "river route", the railway reached Sedalia in January 1861. Sedalia's early prosperity was directly related to the railroad industry. Many jobs were associated with maintaining tracks and machine shops for the Missouri Pacific
and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad
lines. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad was most widely known as the "KATY", from its "K-T" stock exchange code.
The KATY trail is the nickname of the 225-mile-trail following the railroad right-of-way through much of Missouri, a successful project of "Rails to Trails" project.
Sedalia was also an important railhead for the Texas cattle drive of 1866.
During the Civil War, despite the presence of the Union soldiers guarding the railroad, Sedalia was almost taken by the Confederate forces of Major General Sterling Price. Some 1,500 of Shelby’s Shelby's Iron Brigade cavalry associated with Price's Missouri Expedition surrounded Sedalia, overpowered the Union militia that were under the command of Colonel John D. Crawford and Lieutenant Colonel John [?D.] Parker, and began to loot and sack the town on 15 October 1864. Once Confederate General M. Jeff Thompson arrived in Sedalia, he ordered his men to stop the destruction, and moved them on, leaving Sedalia once again in Union hands.
While the Civil War delayed the building of the town, it also meant that Sedalia had been the terminus of the railroad for three years. Once the war was over, many of the thousands of Union soldiers who had been stationed more or less permanently at Sedalia during the war, and who had soon recognized its potential, made the choice to migrate to Sedalia from their pre-war homes in other locations across the United States.
Registered Historic Places
The following Sedalia locations have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Sedalia is located at 38°42'11" North, 93°13'52" West (38.702918, -93.231147).
According to the United States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of 12 square miles (31 km²), none of which is covered by water.
Sedalia has a typical temperate
climate. As with most continental climates, the micropolitan area has four seasons. Springs here are noted for their rainy days and variable temperatures. Thunderstorms are common and tornadoes occur during this time of year. Summers are usually hot and dry, with droughts occurring during several summers. Autumns are usually cool and rainy, although several days of warm weather are not uncommon. Winters are generally cold, with accumulating snow several days of the winter season. Although not as common, ice storms can and do occur as well.
As of the census
of 2000, there are 20,339 people in the city, organized into 8,628 households and 5,228 families. The population density
is 1,700.8 people per square mile (656.6/km²). There are 9,419 housing units at an average density of 787.6/sq mi (304.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 88.62% White
, 4.95% African American
, 0.40% Asian
, 0.39% Native American
, 0.02% Pacific Islander
, 3.75% from other races
, and 1.86% from two or more races. 5.55% of the population are Hispanic
of any race.
There are 8,628 households out of which 28.8% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% are married couples living together, 12.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.4% are non-families. 33.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.32 and the average family size is 2.94.
In the city the population is spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 86.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $28,641, and the median income for a family is $34,938. Males have a median income of $28,208 versus $19,520 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,931. 15.3% of the population and 12.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 20.8% of those under the age of 18 and 10.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
The Sedalia Public Library was the first Carnegie Grant
awarded in Missouri. The Board of Trustees received word of the $50,000 grant in the Fall of 1899. After securing the property on which to build, and having gained voter approval of a tax to support the library, the Board lay the corner-stone in 1900. The building was completed in July 1901. Dedicated in 1901, the library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Sedalia is home to the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art
named after its primary benefactor, Sedalia radiologist and art collector Harold Daum
. The museum, located on the State Fair Community College
campus, is home to the works of many famous artists including Dale Chihuly
(1941-), Sam Francis
(1923-1994), Helen Frankenthaler
(1928-), Sol LeWitt
(1928-2007), Robert Motherwell
(1915–1991), Julian Schnabel
(1951-), and Andy Warhol
The 16,000-square-foot museum, designed by St. Louis-based Gunn & Smith Architects, features three stories of gallery space — including a 3,400-square-foot main gallery with a translucent clerestory, a cantilevered stairway, a two-story atrium, and an open-air sculpture court. It features both permanent displays as well as temporary displays from world renowned artists.
Since 1901, the Missouri State Fair
has been held in Sedalia every August with the exception of 1943 and 1944 because of World War II. Many singers and actors make the annual trip to the fair. Ronald Reagan
, George W. Bush
, and other presidents have given speeches on the fairgrounds, though not during the State Fair.
In 1974, the Missouri State Fairgrounds was the site of the the Ozark Music Festival which was one of the largest but least remembered music festivals of the 1970s. While the plan was for a pop/rock/bluegrass festival selling about 50,000 tickets, an influx of about 184,000 fans and many rock bands strained the capacity of the fairgrounds and the city. Some estimates put the crowd count at 350,000 people. It counts as one of the largest music events (Rock Festivals) in history. The festival, hosted by Wolfman Jack, garnered a full page ad in Rolling Stone magazine.
In the American television movie The Day After, which the ABC Television Network aired on November 20 1983, Sedalia is destroyed when Minuteman II Missile silos around the area come under attack.
At the time of the movie's release, 150 of these missiles were located around the Sedalia area in underground silos. They had been sited there since the first Minuteman missiles had been activated under the control of the 351st Missile Wing located at Whiteman Air Force Base south of Knob Noster on January 14, 1964. The release of the movie led to a significant (if somewhat laughably belated) increase in local community concern. Some of this lingered until all of the missiles were dismantled between 1992 and 1997 as a result of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the U.S. and Russia.
Two of the most widely seen films in which Sedalia is featured are the 1977 movie Heroes, starring Henry Winkler and Harrison Ford, and the 1977 film Scott Joplin , starring Billy Dee Williams. Sedalia was mentioned briefly in the motion picture MASH, when it was announced that Sedalia's VFW unit had sent goodies to the 4077 in Korea.
The classic, long running Western
, which ran on CBS
, featured Sedalia. It starred Eric Fleming
as the "trail boss", Gil Favor, and the emerging Clint Eastwood
as the "ramrod" (i.e., second in charge), Rowdy Yates. The series was set on the (fictional) "Rawhide Trail". According to the series' story-line, the trail was used by Texan drovers in the early to middle 1860s to move cattle overland from Texas to the (factual) Sedalia railhead of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (the KATY).
Sedalia is well known as the adopted home of ragtime music's most well known musician and stylist Scott Joplin
Sedalia has been the host to several rock and roll events, such as the Ozark Music Festival in 1974, and the Delicious Rox Festival in 2006.
Little Sister of Liberty
In 1950, to celebrate its fortieth anniversary — which had the theme of "Strengthen the Arm of Liberty — the Boy Scouts of America
donated two hundred 8ft 6in (260cm) copper replicas of the Statue of Liberty
, which were known collectively as the "Little Sisters of Liberty", to various communities in 39 states of the U.S. The project was the brainchild of the Scout Commissioner of the (then) Kansas City Area Council, Kansas City businessman, J.P. Whitaker.
One of the two hundred replicas was donated to Sedalia; and it was installed at the County Courthouse.
A number of newspapers have been published in Sedalia, in alphabetical order:
- The Daily Democrat (1871-1873)
- The Independent Press (1871-1873)
- The Pacific Enterpise (1863-1864)
- The Sedalia Advertiser (1864-1865)
- The Sedalia Bazoo (1881-1895)
- The Sedalia Capital
- The Sedalia Daily Democrat (1874-1925)
- The Sedalia Democrat (1949-)
- The Sedalia News-Journal (2003-)
- The Sedalia Times
Scott Joplin's alma mater, George R. Smith College
, an historically black college
(HBCU), operated from 1894 until it burned down on 26 April 1925. The land for the college had been donated by the Smith sisters Sarah and Martha Elizabeth.
They also donated land for Dunbar Park. Sarah Smith-Cotton's family home was converted into Smith-Cotton High School.
The Sedalia Business College and Institute of Penmanship was founded in 1881. It was the predecessor of Robbins Business College. This evolved into Central Business College.
State Fair Community College is a public two-year institution offering post-secondary college level courses.
Smith-Cotton High School, Whittier High School
, Sacred Heart High School
, and St. Paul's Lutheran
are also located in Sedalia.
A new high school is being constructed and will open its doors in the fall of 2009. The new name has not been chosen, but residents informally are calling it Sedalia High School.
People born in, who live in, or are otherwise associated with Sedalia, are known as Sedalians.
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