Internationally known for its firebrick industry and famed for its saddle horses, this county seat was laid out by Robert C. Mansfield and James H. Smith not long before Audrain County was organized, 1836. Named for legislator James H. Audrain and settled mainly by Southerners, the county lies in the Little Dixie Region of Missouri.
Rex McDonald, one of the world's greatest saddle horses, whose blood line has played an important part in the development of the easy-gaited, graceful American Saddle Horse, was foaled at nearby Auxvasse, 1890. He is buried at the fairgrounds in Mexico. Here lived famed Negro trainer Tom Bass and here he trained Belle Beach, champion high schooled mare. Mexico claims the first $1,500 saddle horse show ring and the first $1,000 trotting and pacing stakes. It was early a harness racing center.
Fireclay deposits mined here are among the largest and purest known, and Mexico is one of the leading firebrick producing centers in the world. Refactories are also at Vandalia and Farber. Located here is a huge soybean storage and processing plant.
(See other side)
(Continued from other side)
A commercial and industrial hub, served by 3 railroads, Mexico lies in the glacial plains region of Missouri, a highly fertile area of rich grain and livestock farms. The first permanent settlement was made, 1816. Settlers were sometimes called "Salt River Tigers," from the main body of water in the county, South Fork of Salt River. Pioneers, searching for horses stolen by a band of Potawatomies, were assailed at nearby Skull Lick, 1810. One of those killed was William T. Cole, whose wife, Hannah, later was the first settler at Boonville, Cooper County.
In the Civil War, Mexico, mainly Southern in sympathy, was early occupied by Union troops. U.S. Grant, while stationed here, July 1861, learned of his commission as a general.
Hardin College for women, 1873-1932, was established by Charles H. Hardin, governor, 1874-1876. The college traces back to an 1858 female academy. Today's noted Missouri Military Academy was founded, 1889, under Hardin's leadership.
The Audrain County Historical Society maintains a museum. Local historical sites of interest are marked.