Sikeston, Missouri

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Sikeston, Missouri
Location of Sikeston, Missouri
Location of Sikeston, Missouri
Coordinates: 36°52′46″N 89°35′7″W / 36.87944°N 89.58528°W / 36.87944; -89.58528Coordinates: 36°52′46″N 89°35′7″W / 36.87944°N 89.58528°W / 36.87944; -89.58528
CountryUnited States
CountiesScott, New Madrid
 • TypeMayor-Council
 • MayorJerry Pullen
 • Total17.48 sq mi (45.27 km2)
 • Land17.32 sq mi (44.86 km2)
 • Water0.16 sq mi (0.41 km2)
Elevation328 ft (100 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total16,318
 • Estimate (2012[3])16,330
 • Density942.1/sq mi (363.7/km2)
Time zoneCentral (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST)CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code63801
Area code(s)573
FIPS code29-67790[4]
GNIS feature ID0726435[5]
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Sikeston, Missouri
Location of Sikeston, Missouri
Location of Sikeston, Missouri
Coordinates: 36°52′46″N 89°35′7″W / 36.87944°N 89.58528°W / 36.87944; -89.58528Coordinates: 36°52′46″N 89°35′7″W / 36.87944°N 89.58528°W / 36.87944; -89.58528
CountryUnited States
CountiesScott, New Madrid
 • TypeMayor-Council
 • MayorJerry Pullen
 • Total17.48 sq mi (45.27 km2)
 • Land17.32 sq mi (44.86 km2)
 • Water0.16 sq mi (0.41 km2)
Elevation328 ft (100 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total16,318
 • Estimate (2012[3])16,330
 • Density942.1/sq mi (363.7/km2)
Time zoneCentral (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST)CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code63801
Area code(s)573
FIPS code29-67790[4]
GNIS feature ID0726435[5]

Sikeston /ˈskstən/ is a city located both in southern Scott County and northern New Madrid County, in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is situated just north of the "Missouri Bootheel", although many locals consider Sikeston a part of it. By way of Interstate 55, Interstate 57, and U.S. Route 60, Sikeston is close to the halfway point between St. Louis, Missouri and Memphis, Tennessee and three hours from Nashville, Tennessee. The city is named after John Sikes, who founded it in 1860. It is the principal city of the Sikeston Micropolitan Statistical Area, which consists of all of Scott County, and has a total population of 41,143.

As of the 2010 census, the city population was 16,318, making it the fourth-most populous city in Missouri's 8th Congressional district (map) behind Cape Girardeau, Rolla, and Poplar Bluff and just ahead of Farmington. Before the 2010 census, it had been the second-most populous city in the district.


Sikeston is located at 36°52′46″N 89°35′7″W / 36.87944°N 89.58528°W / 36.87944; -89.58528 (36.879570, -89.585172).[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.48 square miles (45.27 km2), of which 17.32 square miles (44.86 km2) is land and 0.16 square miles (0.41 km2) is water.[1] The city is situated upon the Sikeston Ridge which runs north and south from 10 miles (16 km) north of Sikeston through New Madrid. Prior to 1927, the New Madrid-Sikeston Ridge Levee was constructed to protect the area from flooding from the Mississippi River. In the 1920s, the Little River Drainage District was formed to drain the low land area west of the Sikeston Ridge. By 1931, the levee construction had created the New Madrid floodway.


Historical population

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 16,318 people, 6,749 households, and 4,326 families residing in the city. The population density was 942.1 inhabitants per square mile (363.7/km2). There were 7,289 housing units at an average density of 420.8 per square mile (162.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 69.95% White, 26.20% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.85% Asian, 0.04% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 0.80% from other races, and 2.01% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.32% of the population.

There were 6,749 households of which 32.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 18.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.9% were non-families. 31.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.1% 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 2.96.

The median age in the city was 38.5 years. 25.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.1% were from 25 to 44; 26.2% were from 45 to 64; and 16% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 45.8% male and 54.2% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 16,992 people, 6,779 households, and 4,602 families residing in the city. The population density was 947.4 people per square mile (365.9/km2). There were 7,428 housing units at an average density of 414.2 per square mile (160.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 75.52% White, 22.36% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.37% Asian, 0.49% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.20% of the population.

The major reported ancestries in Sikeston are 17.1% American, 11.8% German, 11.5% Irish, 6.8% English, 2.9% French, and 1.5% Scotch-Irish.

There were 6,779 households out of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 17.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.1% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.6% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 85.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,872, and the median income for a family was $36,420. Males had a median income of $31,846 versus $19,623 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,509. About 16.2% of families and 21.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.3% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.



The first explorers and settlers came to a region of cypress swamps and forested prairies. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Little River Drainage District was formed to reclaim the land. This was the world's largest drainage project, moving more earth than completed during the construction of the Panama Canal.[8]

In 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto may have stood upon the Sikeston Ridge, although some historical references dispute this, believing that he traveled further south than Sikeston. In 1789, by order of the King of Spain, an overland route was laid out to connect the cities of St. Louis and New Orleans. This frontier road was known as the El Camino Real or King's Highway. From December 16, 1811 to February 4, 1812, the area was struck by a series of more than 2,000 earthquakes, known as the New Madrid Earthquake, a series of shock waves believed by some to have been the greatest in North American history.

The Hunter Memorial Cemetery, located on the grounds of the local Presbyterian Church, was established around 1812 after the New Madrid earthquake by Joseph Hunter II who served under George Rogers Clark during the Revolutionary War and on the Territorial Council for President Madison. In 1814, the village of Winchester was laid out about one-half a mile south of the future site of Sikeston and even became the seat of justice for New Madrid County, but the village disappeared after 1822 when the county seat was moved to New Madrid. The Winchester jail was completed in 1817 and was used until December 1821 when Scott County was organized.[9]

The land for the city of Sikeston was first owned by Frenchman Francis Paquette. In 1829, the city site was acquired by the Stallcup family. In 1859, city founder John Sikes, who had married into the Stallcup family, gained control of the land. In April 1860, the city was platted in anticipation of the completion of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad which would intersect with the Spanish King's Highway. In the city of New Madrid, the street was known as Big Prairie Road and as Sikeston Road after the city of Sikeston was established.[10] Today Kingshighway, also known as Business U.S. Highway 61 serves Sikeston as a primary north–south street and is lined with businesses and older historic homes. Sikeston's downtown area includes Malone Park, the city's oldest park, and the historic First Methodist Church columns, six pillars that remain as a reminder of the 1879 church which was destroyed by fire in 1968.

The first house in Sikeston is believed to have been located at 318 Baker Lane. The "Baker House" was probably built in 1855, about five years before the town was founded. One of the early inhabitants of this house was Lee Hunter for whom one of the elementary schools is named. In fact, the house once had a large barn that was located where Lee Hunter school is now situated. The Baker family moved into the house in 1888 and purchased it from the Hunter family in the early 1950s.

Civil War Era[edit]

Although Sikeston was only a small village during the Civil War, its position at the railroad and highway intersection gave it strategic significance. Around July 1861, there was a plan for Confederate forces of Brigadier General Gideon Johnson Pillow to link up with other units commanded by Sterling Price and Benjamin McCulloch for an advance on St. Louis, using the Sikeston area road of Kingshighway. In preparation for this advance, Confederate General Jeff Thompson gathered Missouri state troops and irregulars near Sikeston even robbing a bank in nearby Charleston to pay men and buy arms and supplies. Legend has it that he hid part of his money in Sikeston under one of the oak trees at the corner of New Madrid Street and Kingshighway. In the fall of 1861, General Pillow pushed a column of troops from New Madrid towards Sikeston and Cape Girardeau. On October 4, Confederate General Jeff Thompson reached Sikeston, planning to strike Cape Girardeau; however, his manpower was limited, and he decided to retreat into the swamps off to the west. On November 3, from Cairo, Illinois, Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant wrote a letter to Colonel Richard J. Oglesby, commander of the Union Headquarters District Southeast Missouri at Bird’s Point, ordering his troops to "strike for Sikeston" from the Mississippi River town of Commerce. Brigadier General Benjamin Prentiss and Colonel W. H. L. Wallace also converged in the Sikeston area in preparation of Grant's attack at the Battle of Belmont. In 1862, Sikeston was used as a transportation connection as Union Brigadier General Pope sent his artillery across the river to Commerce, Missouri, to be sent by rail to Sikeston for cart transportation to New Madrid, Missouri, in preparation for the Battle of Island Number Ten. On February 28, 1862, Pope left Commerce with his army of 12,000, arriving in Sikeston on March 2. Colonel William Pitt Kellogg, future governor of Louisiana, commanding the 7th Illinois cavalry, was the first to encounter the rebel sabotage of recently burned bridges and other obstructions. The federals were attacked just south of Sikeston by a small group of rebels led by General Thompson called the Swamp Fox, a nickname previously belonging to Revolutionary War Brigadier General Francis Marion. Thompson commanded a detachment of 85 horsemen and four to six experimental cannons that had been manufactured in Memphis. Colonel James Morgan Illinois troops were reinforced by Brigadier General Schuyler Hamilton's 2nd Division, hence Thompson quickly fled. Entering the area from Bird's Point, Brigadier General Eleazor Arthur Paine, commander of the 4th Division of Army of the Mississippi, repaired the railroad and telegraph lines and used troops from Illinois to form a garrison for Sikeston, Bertrand, and Charleston. War records indicate that on March 31, 1862, there were six Union officers and 143 Union soldiers present in Sikeston. On September 22, 1864, during Price's Raid, a Confederate force of 1,500 men near Sikeston under the command of Colonel William Lafayette Jeffers attacked Captain Lewis Sells' company of Union soldiers who were moving from Cape Girardeau to reinforce two companies of soldiers in Bloomfield.[11]

Post Civil War Era[edit]

One of the first rail lines west of the Mississippi River ran to Sikeston, and it was the terminus of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad until 1872. By 1900, Sikeston had a population of 1,100, and two drainage ditches had been completed. By this time, the city had two banks, two newspapers, and three hotels. One of the hotels built between 1895 and 1898 was a three-story brick hotel that was later known as the Mashall-Dunn Hotel which was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Prominent individuals who stayed at this hotel included Harry S. Truman, Alben W. Barkley, and Tom Pendergast.[12]

World War Era[edit]

During World War I, an infantry company was organized in Sikeston on August 25, 1917 until the spring of 1919. Company K became part of the 140th Infantry, 70th Brigade, U.S. 35th Infantry Division and fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and served as part of the occupation force of Europe. In 1920, American Legion Post 114 was chartered for the community of Sikeston and named after Henry Meldrun, a Sikeston native who was killed in Europe during World War I.[13] Between the two world wars, Company K was reorganized. The company helped secure rail centers during the railroad workers' strike of 1922, helped out with the aftermath of the Poplar Bluff tornado of 1927, and worked on the Mississippi River levees during the floods of 1927 and 1937. In 1941, Company K was sent to Camp Joseph T. Robinson, near Little Rock, where they drilled for eight months.

From 1940 until 1944, the Sikeston Memorial Municipal Airport which was previously dedicated on July 3–4, 1934, was known as Harvey Parks Airport and included long, barrack-style buildings as a site of the Missouri Institute of Aeronautics, which was established after General Hap Arnold asked flight training operations to triple their enrollments. The first U.S. Army Air Corps inspection officials arrived in July 1940 with the first flight cadet arriving that September. In June 1940, a home at West Gladys and New Madrid streets was transformed into a district infirmary in coordination with the building of the new air barracks.[14] World War II flying aces Robert S. Johnson and Harold E. Comstock trained at this location. The original gated entrance to Harvey Parks Airport now serves as the entrance to the city's Veterans Park.

During World War II, local National Guard unit Company K was assigned to the Western Defense Command in California. The Sikeston area students helped raise money to have 3 B-25 bomber named the Spirit of Sikeston, "the Sikeston Bulldog", and one other, and the local International Shoe factory started work on an army shoe order. These three planes were supposedly used in the Doolittle Raid, and are at the bottom of the Pacific between Japan and China.

Post World War Era[edit]

Following World War II, the now adjacent city of Miner was founded. The city was known as Minner in honor of one of the original residing landowners. However, the name was altered when the railroad inadvertently omitted an "n" from the switching station, renaming it Miner Switch. In 1951, the city became incorporated due to modern day pioneer William Howard McGill.

In 2000, the remains of Mason Yarbrough, a Sikeston native and World War II marine, were found on Makin Island and returned for a military funeral. The George E. Day Parkway is named for Medal of Honor winner Colonel George E. "Bud" Day, a F-100 Super Sabre pilot who is the only known American POW to escape into South Vietnam, although he was later recaptured and sent to the Hanoi Hilton.

Sikeston is home to the Missouri National Guard unit Company C 1140th Engineer Battalion which took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom from February 2004 until February 2005. Company C has been restructured from an engineering unit to a detachment of the 1221st Transportation Company, headquartered in Dexter, Missouri.


Notable visitors[edit]

On May 6, 1933, Robert Wadlow, tallest known person in history, visited Sikeston as his size 32 shoes were made at the Sikeston International Shoe Company plant.[15][16]

On May 17, 1946, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., father of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, died outside Sikeston on U.S. Route 60 after being thrown from his car and drowning in a drainage ditch. This occurred three months before Bill Clinton's birth.

On January 21, 1955, a mostly unknown 20-year-old Elvis Presley performed at the Sikeston Armory along with Johnny Cash. They both returned on September 7, 1955.[17]

In August 1957, D. N. Jackson debated Guy N. Woods in Sikeston.

On April 1, 1965, Ronald Reagan was the guest speaker for the Sikeston Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet and was presented an “Honorary Cotton Picker of Southeast Missouri” plaque, perhaps as part of an April Fools' Day joke.[18]

On May 27, 2004, Naomi Betts, a criminal who robbed a bank in Indianapolis, was arrested in Sikeston, following an airing of an episode of America's Most Wanted.

On April 26, 2006, the national commander of the American Legion, Thomas L. Bock, visited Sikeston to speak to American Legion Post 114.

On February 22, 2014, columnist and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson spoke at the Sikeston Field House.[19]

Miscellaneous events[edit]

In 1916, landowner Leonard McMullin built a home of Colonial Revival architecture at 214 North Scott Street. Billed as the "Flying Farmer," he was the first commercial pilot in the state of Missouri, flying numerous exhibitions at state fairs.

In 1931, J. Otto Hahs (1891–1969) invented and patented the coin-operated horse in Sikeston.[20]

In 1942, the last lynching in Missouri took place in Sikeston. Information of this event is contained within the book The Lynching of Cleo Wright by Dominic J. Capeci, Jr. It marked the first time the federal government had gotten involved in a civil rights case and how in the end a grand jury in the town allowed "mob justice" to rule. [1]

In the 1950s, the "Gay 90's Village Museum" of music machines owned by Paul Eakins was established. The museum was closed in the mid-1970s when Eakins sold the bulk of his collection to Walt Disney World.[21]

Around 1965, Sikeston was the location where Dr. Dewey Urban performed the first successful tooth transplant between two unrelated persons.[22]

In 1968, Sikeston became the location for the first Wal-Mart store built outside of Arkansas along with a store at Claremore, Oklahoma.[23] The Sikeston Wal-Mart is known as Store #9 while the store in Claremore is known as Store #12.[24] Sam Walton was known for visiting the Sikeston store several times a month by flying his airplane into the Sikeston Municipal Airport.

In 1973, the first Drury Inn was built in Sikeston.[25]

A horse named Sikeston, owned by Luciano Gaucci, won the Gran Criterium in 1988, the Premio Parioli in 1989, the Premio Ribot in 1990, the Queen Anne Stakes and Premio Roma in 1991, and the Premio Presidente della Repubblica in 1991 and 1992.

Weather events[edit]

1986 tornado[edit]

On May 15, 1986, a tornado hit the city of Sikeston and destroyed about 100 homes, prompting former Governor John Ashcroft to visit and call on the National Guard for assistance. On the same day, the nearby community of Vanduser was also hit by a tornado while storms precipitated flooding to the north in Cape Girardeau. [2]

2009 storm[edit]

On January 26–27, 2009, the city of Sikeston and the surrounding area were hit with a devastating ice storm, the January 2009 Central Plains and Midwest ice storm. This storm knocked out electrical service to large parts of the city for several days and damaged a large percentage of the trees, making this event the worst natural disaster to hit the city since at least the 1986 tornado. Restoration of city electrical power was delayed as a circuit breaker at the Coleman Substation had exploded on January 21 just before the ice storm hit. Governor Jay Nixon surveyed the fog-covered damage by helicopter and visited the Sikeston Field House which was being used as a shelter.


Entertainment and recreation[edit]

Sikeston's Park system includes 14 parks. The largest park, the Sikeston Recreation Complex, features a fishing lake, picnic shelters and playground equipment. With tennis courts and several soccer fields, baseball diamonds and a little league football field, the Recreation Complex is home to a number of sporting events, including state and regional tournaments.

Parks include Armory Park, Central Park, Clayton Park, Dudley Park, American Legion Park, Malone Park, Mary Lou Montgomery Park, R.S. Matthews Park, Roberta Rowe West End Park, Rotary Park, Sikeston Recreation Complex, and Veterans Park.

In addition, the Sikeston Missouri Arts Council and the Sikeston Art League offer community concerts, cultural performances and art shows throughout the year. The Sikeston Little Theater is the oldest performing arts group between St. Louis and Memphis. The Arts Council's Missoula Children's Theater give annual performances. The new Albritton Mayer Center for the arts provides a home for a host of multimedia cultural presentations.

Sikeston has long been associated with country music. Some performers at the local Jaycee rodeo have included Kenny Rogers in 1977 and Loretta Lynn in 1983 with Charlie Daniels and Lee Greenwood performing multiple times. Upon his visit, Kenny Rogers donated an Arabian stallion to be auctioned off to bring money to the local cerebral palsy center which in appreciation changed its name to the Kenny Rogers Children’s Center.


Sikeston is home to several houses of worship [5]. Some of the early Sikeston churches and those with their founding dates include the following:[26]

Health care[edit]

Missouri Delta Medical Center was founded in Sikeston in 1948. The hospital employs over 600 healthcare providers and has 200 beds.


Public schools[edit]

Of all residents in Sikeston who are 25 years of age and older, 73.3% hold a high school diploma or higher as their highest educational attainment; 14.2% possess a bachelor's degree or higher; 5.0% hold a graduate or professional degree; and 26.7% have less than a high school diploma.

Area high schools

Sikeston has a tradition in other sports. In baseball and boys basketball, the Bulldogs rank among the state's leaders in all-time playoff appearances. In boys track and field, they captured the 2009 Class 3 state championship and consistently place among the top 10 teams at the track and field state championships. In the fall of 2009, the Sikeston Bulldog football team shattered records during a 13-1 season. Points scored, offensive yardage, and wins in a season were among the records broken. Sikeston ended its season, losing in the state semifinals to Jefferson City Helias, one step short of the Class 4 State Championship game. In the 2010 football season, Sikeston put together its second straight undefeated regular season and reached the Class 4 semifinals before losing to Warrenton. The team finished 13-1 for the second straight year, shattering even more state records in the process. The 2010–2011 boys basketball team finished their season as the Class 4 State Champions with a perfect 30-0 record, defeating the St. Francis Borgia Knights in the final game of the season. It was the first state title for Sikeston in boys basketball, as well as the first undefeated season in school history. The team finished ranked in the top 30 in the nation by some publications after the record breaking season.

Main article: Sikeston High School

Private schools[edit]

Sikeston has three private schools that serve both the educational and religious needs of students and their families.

In 1892, a local high school known as the "Methodist College" was established by the Sikeston Methodist Episcopal Church. The school was disbanded after the public high school was established.

Higher education and technical schools[edit]

Historic Area Public schools[edit]




As measured in 2008, the cost of living index in Sikeston is low (80.4) compared to the U.S. average of 100. The unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in Sikeston.

Sister cities[edit]

Sikeston's sister cities are Yeosu, South Korea and Buffalo, New York.

Notable people[edit]

Politicians and attorneys[edit]

Military leaders[edit]

Business and community leaders[edit]

Sports figures[edit]

Television and movie personalities and entertainers[edit]




Notable figures gallery[edit]

In fiction[edit]

Adjacent areas[edit]


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External links[edit]