Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
Shannon County is in the south central section of Missouri, in the second tier of counties north of Arkansas and 5 miles west of the Mississippi River. It is bordered on the north by Dent Co., on the east by Reynolds and Carter, on the south by Oregon, and on the west by Texas and Howell. Shannon was separated from Crawford County in 1841, but it is the most sparsely settled county in the state. The county was named in honor of George F. Shannon of Marion County, who was a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804 and later became United States attorney, Shannon was born in Pennsylvania in 1785 and was the son of a Revolutionary soldier. He was one of nine children, several of whom became noted, one, Wilson, being governor of Ohio and territorial governor of Kansas. At the age of 19, Shannon joined the Lewis and Clark expedition. He was the only member of the party who was the social equal of the leaders, and the journal shows that he was self-reliant. He narrowly escaped death when he became separated from the party while looking for two horses.
From August 26 to September 11, he was lost in the wilderness and found the expedition again only by accident after he had determined to return down the Missouri (River) alone. In 1807 he went with Nathaniel Pryor on an Indian expedition and received a leg wound which resulted in his having the leg removed, and he received the soubriquet "Peg-leg Shannon." In May 1810, W. Clark sent him to Philadelphia to help Nicholas Biddle prepare the expedition journal for publication. He was the only member of the party who helped at first hand, and he is supposed to have aided materially in interpreting the notes and in giving personal recollections. He returned to Missouri in 1828, and made his home at St. Charles, but died suddenly in 1836. His grave is unmarked. (--Place Names.)
A county in the southern part of the State, bounded on the north by Dent and Reynolds; on the east by Reynolds and Carter; on the south by Carter and Oregon, and on the west by Howell and Texas Counties ... The greater part of the lands of the county was entered in 1858-9, at twelve and one-half cents an acre. The territory now comprising Shannon County was explored early in the beginning of the century, and about 1819 many, lured by the stories of valuable deposits of minerals, went to the county, but none, save a few hunters, remained.
Just who was the pioneer settler is obscure, as that distinction is accredited to different persons. Shannon County was created by legislative act approved January 29, 1841, and named in honor of Honorable John Shannon, of St. Louis. It was reduced to its present limits in 1859, when Carter County was organized, cutting off a portion of the eastern part. The Legislature named as commissioners to locate a permanent seat of justice, John L. Pettit, of Wayne, Richard Britton, of Madison, and David Hanger, of Washington County. This committed failed to act, and January 26, 1843, another board of commissioners was appointed -- consisting of Samuel Hyer, of Crawford; West Mandling, of Ripley, and Joseph M. Stephenson (county unknown) -- and directed to meet at the place of holding courts on the first Monday of April, 1843. The meeting of the courts was the house of Andrew McCane, on Jack's Fork of Current River, where is now located the town of Eminence.
During the Civil War bands of guerillas overran the county, stealing and destroying property and killing inoffensive citizens. They destroyed the county seat, leaving hardly a building standing, and not until the close of hostilities were the courts re-established, and the town of Eminence reconstructed anew.
Shannon County is divided into fourteen townships, namely, Birch Tree, Blair's Creek, Bowlin, Casto, Delaware, Eminence, Jackson, Jasper, Montier, Moore, Newton, Pike Creek, Spring Valley and Winona. (--Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, Conard, 1901, Vol. 5, pp. 572, 573.)