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Neosho is populated by about 11,000 people. The name, Ne-o-zho or Ne-u-zhu, is of Indian derivation meaning "clear to abundant water."
The area was first settled in the early 17th century and Neosho has been the county seat of Newton County since 1839.
The area was deeply involved in the Civil War, although no major battles were fought there. Much of the downtown was burned in 1863.
A combination of geography and opportunity drew the earliest settlers to Neosho area. Prior to the Civil War, the economy revolved around agriculture, retail trade, and eventually mining. After the war, economic growth and settlement revolved around agriculture.
One of the area's most famous citizens emerged from this agricultural boom. George Washington Carver, born a slave near Diamond and first educated in Neosho, became a nationally eminent agronomist, botanist, educator, and artist. Neosho, nationally known as the Flower Box City, received a grant in 1955 to launch an experiment in city beautification. Flower boxes are now in front of business establishments, churches, schools, and residential homes. Many new residences and businesses have flower boxes incorporated as part of their landscaping plans.