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The county seat of Dunklin County, the city of Kennett is in southeastern Missouri, four miles east of the Arkansas line and twenty miles from the Mississippi River. The community was settled at the site of a Lenape Indian village, and initially named Chilletecaux, after a Lenape tribal chief who was living there at the time. When Dunklin County was organized in 1845, Chilletecaux was chosen as its seat of government. Later, the town’s name was changed to Butler, then renamed Kennett in 1851, for St. Louis Mayor L.M. Kennett. In 1862, Dunklin County adopted a resolution to secede from the Union, becoming the Independent State of Dunklin, with Kennett as its capital city. Union troops occupied the city in 1863, and guerilla raiders often struck the area. By the end of the Civil War, Kennett was in poor shape, with businesses destroyed, operations suspended, and homes burned. The town had to almost entirely rebuilt. The construction of the Little River Valley/Arkansas Railroad in 1892 stirred economic recovery in the area. In 1893, the state organized drainage districts and levees on the St. Francis River, clearing bottomland forests and forming north-south canals from swampland, helping to turn the area’s swamps into fertile farm land. Kennett is west of Bakerville, south of White Oak and Frisbee, and north of Scobeville. The Holly Island Community in Arkansas is west of Kennett.


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