Officially founded in 1875, Carterville was not actually incorporated as a city until 1882. It is situated just east of and adjoining Webb City and about midway between Joplin and Carthage. Land on which Carterville is built was originally owned by a Mr. James George Leroy Carter in the 1860’s. His farm about two miles northeast of the town in the Center Creek bottoms was for years, and as late as the 1960’s, known as “the old Carter place”. His father James Carter originally settled in Jasper County in 1841.
For several years Carterville was little more than a mining camp when lead ore was discovered, but began to grow and be recognized for considerable commercial importance and was once even larger than its sister city, Webb City. Once boasting a population of over 12,000 residents, the city began its decline in size after WWI when the mining industry began to dry up.