The first frame building upon the town site was occupied for a short time as a store by Zera Nichols. During this same year, 1857, Stratton & Williams built a saw-mill on the river bank, employing D. Rolfe to construct the mill and run the engine one year. Mr. Rolfe arrived July 12, 1857, and was so well pleased with the country that he sent for his wife and family, who arrived April 3, 1858. During the year, two or three buildings were erected in De Soto. In 1858, Perry Teters, erected a double dwelling in which his family and that of Jacob Van Rankin lived for some time. In August of this year the De Soto hotel was completed, and Mr. Rolfe moved into it, thus being the first hotel keeper in the town. John Van Rankin started the first regular store, in 1859. The postoffice was established in 1860, with James Smith first Postmaster.
The Methodist Church was organized in 1858. Elder Beach being the first minister. Services were conducted for some years in private houses, and in the hotel, until in 1870, a stone church was built at a cost of about $2,500. The Presbyterian Church was also organized in 1858. They built a stone church in 1879, costing $2,000. Rev. William H. Smith became Pastor in 1860, and still remains in charge.
The first birth in De Soto, was that of a child of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Gentry, the death of which child was the first death. The first marriage was a double one - Truesdale Barclay to Miss Melissa Gentry, and Robert Todd to Miss Mary Gentry, the ceremony occurring in 1859.
De Soto now contains two general stores, two drug stores, one hotel, one notion store, two blacksmith, one wagonmaker, and about seventy-five inhabitants. In 1879, a brick flouring mill was erected near the railroad depot, by Skinner & Barrett. It is two stories high and contains two run of buhrs. The mill is now owned by J. M. Hadley.
De Soto is located at 38°57'54N, 94°57'44W (38.965081, -94.962285). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.3 km² (11.3 mi²), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,561 people, 1,642 households, and 1,246 families residing in the city. The population density was 155.6/km² (403.0/mi²). There were 1,730 housing units at an average density of 59.0/km² (152.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.80% White, 0.20% African American, 0.94% Native American, 0.37% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 1.69% from other races, and 1.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.86% of the population. 22.2% were of German, 14.3% American, 13.0% English and 10.7% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.
There were 1,642 households out of which 41.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.1% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.1% were non-families. 21.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.23.
In the city the population was spread out with 30.5% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 8.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 103.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,426, and the median income for a family was $53,219. Males had a median income of $36,203 versus $31,682 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,141. About 3.2% of families and 5.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.1% of those under age 18 and 13.1% of those age 65 or over.