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The largest city and county seat is Salem. The county was officially organized on February 10, 1851 by Dustin Counts & Nicholas Berardy, and is named af ter state representative Lewis Dent, a pioneer settler who arrived in Missouri from Virginia in 1835.
Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was one of the earliest visitors to Dent County, which was then unmapped and unknown. In 1818, Schoolcraft and Levi Pettibone left Potosi, Missouri on an adventure that often left them hungry, lost, lonely and in danger. They started headed west from Potosi on a trail that is now followed by Highway 8, then turned south through southern Dent and Shannon counties, where Schoolcraft found the Current River.