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Potosi is the county seat of Washington County, Missouri. The community was founded as early as 1760 or as late as 1780, as a lead mining town, originally known as Mine au Breton by Francis Azor of France. Moses Austin came to the town in 1798 along with his family, including his son, Stephen F. Austin, who later became known as the Father of Texas, and for whom the Texas capital city of Austin was named. Moses Austin acquired a Spanish grant, founding the town to support the mining operations. Another noted mining entrepreneur who came to the area around that time were James Bryan, and Firmin Rene Desloge established a mercantile distillery, fur trading post, and lead smelting business there. Potosi was named the seat of government for the county in 1814. A few of Civil War skirmishes were fought in Potosi during the first year of the war. On May 17 of 1861, the Confederates were defeated, as they were again during a second contact on August 9, but on October 15, Union troops were defeated in Potosi. The Potosi Correctional Center went into operation there in 1989 and, until 2003, the state’s executions were performed there. Missouri Routes 21 and 185 meet Missouri Highway 8 at Potosi. The town of Mineral Point is adjacent to Potosi on the east. Cadet, Happy Hollow and Tiff are northeast of Potosi, and portions of the Mark Twain National Forest are south, west, and southwest of the city.


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