The Early History of Olathe
by William G. Cutler (1883)
This city, the county-seat of Johnson County, is situated very nearly in the geographical center of the county. It is a thriving city of 3,000 inhabitants, and a railroad center. The city itself and its surroundings are very attractive. Art has added much to nature, and even before the growth or planting of trees, hedges and shrubbery, and before the building of houses and fences, and the embellishment of grounds, nature here, in her wild state, was such as to lead the beholder to exclaim, "O-la-the!" Shawnee for beautiful, hence the future name of the city.
This was in the spring of 1857, when Dr. Barton with a party came out to survey the town site of the future county-seat. With the party was a Shawnee Indian, named Dave Dougherty. The proposed location of the future city was pointed out by Dr. Barton to his companions, from the ridge east of town. After viewing it a few minutes, the Indian exclaimed, as above recited, "O-la-the!" (beautiful). Barton at once decided on Olathe for the name of the town.
The town site being selected, building upon it was at once commenced. Early in the same spring Dr. Barton and Charles A. Osgood built the first house in the town. It was of rough lumber, 12x14 feet, stood near the present site of the Olathe House, and served as a grocery, drug store, dry goods store, saloon, and hotel. The second house was built be Col. Clarkson and Jacob Thuma. It was a one-story frame building, 15x24, of cottonwood boards, and stood near the northeast corner of the public square. The third house was built by Gen. Dick Taylor, a son of Zachary Taylor, President of the United States. Soon after this, a number of other buildings were erected, and the town was thus fairly started. During the year 1857, the following persons came to Olathe and became citizens of the new town: Jonathan Milliken, J. B. Whittier, Charles A. Osgood, C. M. Ott, J. H. Blake, John P. Campbell, S. F. Hill, Charles Mayo, Beattie Meliaffie and Henderson Bogg.
Jonathan Milliken took a farm near the town, built the first substantial house, and the next year was married to Miss Emily L. Whittier, a second cousin to the poet Whittier, and the first white woman in Olathe. J. B. Whittier rented two small buildings near the southwest corner of the square, and opened the first hotel in the town, under the name of the Union House. In the management of this hotel, he was assisted by his sister, Miss Emily L. Whitier. Among the guests at the Union House during the summer of 1858, were Gen. James H. Lane, S. C. Pomeroy, afterwards United States Senator from Kansas, A. D. Richardson, Old John Brown, the martyr, and the mildest mannered Quantrill.
S. F. Hill opened a store on the west side of the square, and remained in business here until some time during the war, when he died. C. A. Osgood opened a farm adjoining the town on the south, the first one opened up in Johnson County. John P. Campbell, a cousin of James K. Polk, came here from Nashville, Tenn. He was looked upon as a brilliant and promising lawyer in the State, but he impaired his faculties by the use of alcoholic stimulants, and died of consumption in the early years of the war.
C. M. Ott opened a small bakery, upon a capital of fifteen dollars, and by tact, energy and fair dealing, became quite a wealthy and highly respected citizen. Henderson Boggs built the Olathe House, ran it as a hotel for some time, and sold it to Thuma & Scott, who in turn sold it to Benjamin Dare. Mr. Dare dared to extract a check from a letter directed to L. F. Crist. Being apprehended, he gave bonds, secured his bondsman, S. F. Hill, and left Olathe, never to return.
The first marriage in Olathe was that of D. W. Wallingford to Miss Elizabeth Swartz, early in 1857. The attraction between these two persons was sudden as well as mutual, they being married in four days after first meeting. The county records bear no evidence of this marriage having occurred. The first recorded marriage was that of Charles Osgood to Miss Caroline Roberts, June 15, 1857, which was solemnized by John P. Campbell, then Probate Judge.
The Southern Methodists commenced a church building this year, but did not complete it, for in about two months after commencing it, a storm leveled it to the ground, a discouraging event in the straightened condition of the society's finances.
The first child born in Olathe was a daughter to a slave woman, which, however, did not live. The first white child born was Julia Osgood, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Osgood, the birth occurring March 20, 1858. The first death was that of a carpenter, C. R. Jenkinson, who died in 1857, from the effects of cutting his knee with an adze.
Early in the history of Olathe, Dr. Barton and Ed. Nash opened an office for the sale of real estate. Owing to their having purchased the field notes of the survey by Coffman, as previously related, they really had a monopoly of the claim business and realized very handsome returns. Dr. Barton was, during his residence in the county, its leading Democratic politician and leading physician. He remained in Olathe until 1859 or 1860, when he left town from motives which though highly honorable, were, to nearly all, very mysterious.
Two days previous to the time of his appointed marriage to Miss Josephine Wilkenson, he conveyed to her by deed all his real estate in the county and suddenly departed, leaving his marriage contract unfulfilled. During the war he was medical purveyor for the western department of the Confederate Army, receiving his pay in confederate scrip, which upon the termination of the war was worthless. After the war he went to Texas, where he made considerable money speculating in cotton, traveled extensively in Europe, and finally settled in Kansas City, Mo., where he now resides.
Incorporation, Schools, Etc.
Olathe was incorporated in 1857, but as this was by the "Bogus Legislature," doubts existed in the minds of the town company as to the legality of the incorporation. It was therefore re-incorporated in 1858, and on September 14, 1859, its first board of trustees were elected as follows: J. T. Barton, A. J. Clemmans, Jonathan Milliken, L. S. Cornwell, and S. F. Hill.
During the war the city government was in a very chaotic condition; very little effort was made to keep records intact or in good shape, but after the war was over Olathe was incorporated as a city of the third class, with the following board of trustees: R. E. Stevenson, chairman; Charles Sennet, G. F. Hendrickson, William Vickers, and B. F. Pancoast.
In 1870, the town was organized as a city of the second class, having at the time 2,045 inhabitants. The election was held in April, at which time a mayor, marshall, police justice and four councilmen were elected. The first mayor was William Pellet. He was succeeded by W. H. M. Fishback, who was elected successively in 1871, '72 and '73; J. H. Dow was elected in 1874 and '75; J. L. Price, in 1876 and '77; S. R. Burch, in 1878 and '79. At this time the term of office was changed to two years. Mayor Burch resigned in December, 1879, E. J. Mariner being elected to fill the vacancy. I. O. Pickering, present Mayor, was elected in 1881.
The first school in Olathe was taught by E. M. Annette, in the little frame building erected by Dick Taylor. The stone schoolhouse on Lulu street was erected in 1868, at a cost of $10,000. The city having outgrown its school accommodations, on December 7, 1881, an election was held, at which $15,000 in bonds was voted for the purpose of building a new schoolhouse, by a vote of 89 for the bonds to 69 against them. On the 25th of May, 1882, another election was held, at which $5,000 was voted for the purchase of a site for the proposed new schoolhouse.
The Olathe College was established in 1873 by Prof. F. R. Poole, at the solicitation of F. R. Ogg and W. H. M. Fishback. Prof. Poole had previously presided over a similar institution at Macon, Mo. At the outset the Olathe College was a success, and it continued to prosper for some years, and graduated large numbers of both sexes. In addition to the commercial branches, common and higher English, and the classical studies were taught. Gradually the professor, on account of an unfortunate habit of the use of alcoholic stimulants, lost his popularity, and sold his college in 1877, to McKeever and Shepherd, who in turn sold to McFarland & Hammond in the fall of 1878, they selling in the spring of 1880 to Prof. Keane, under whom the college failed. Prof. Poole's successors were all worthy gentlemen, but their experience demonstrates that besides goodness, something else is required to successfully manage a Commercial College.
Kansas Institute for the Deaf and Dumb..--The first efforts in behalf of the deaf in Kansas were made by Prof. P. A. Emery, of the Indiana Institution. This was in 1862. On March 5, of that year, the Legislature made an appropriation for the school which was located at Baldwin, Douglas County. Appropriations were likewise made in 1863 and 1864. During the early part of this latter year he removed the school to Topeka, and in the fall turned it over to B. R. Nordyke a mute, who continued it through the first months of the winter of 1864-5.
On February 10, 1865, the Legislature made a small appropriation to assist Prof. Joseph Mount a mute, to re-open the school at Baldwin. On February 15, 1866, the Legislature organized the "Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb," by appointing a Board of Trustees, located it at Olathe, and made an appropriation for its support. The first or Charter Board of Trustees were, as near as can now be ascertained, as follows: Warner Craig, of Baldwin, president; Frank E. Henderson, of Olathe, secretary; J. K. Goodin, of Baldwin, auditor; A. S. Johnson, and George H. Lawrence, both of Johnson County. The board held their first meeting at Olathe, November, 1866, in the new stone building, then recently completed for the institution by Col. J. E. Hayes.
The State purchased the building and grounds (twelve and a half acres) of Col. Hayes, for $15,500, and subsequently of other parties, 160 acres of land for a farm for the benefit of the institution, two and a half miles from Olathe. Prof. Thomas Burnside took charge of the institution April 18, 1867, and resigning in November was succeeded by Louis H. Jenkins, who held the position until the spring of 1876, at which time Major T. C. Bowles was elected, and remained in office until his death in April, 1879. J. W. Parker, of the Michigan Institute was then elected, who in one year resigned, and was succeeded by W. H. De Mott, LL. D., the present incumbent.
In 1873 the Legislature made an appropriation of $20,000 for the erection of the east wing of a new building, which was erected in 1874. In 1880 the west wing was completed, the Legislature having made an appropriation for the purpose of $19,000. Both wings are of brick, three stories high above a stone basement. On March 11, 1877, the name was changed by the Legislature to the "Kansas Institution for the Deaf and Dumb."
Previous to 1876 there had been admitted to this institution 156 pupils; in 1876, there were admitted 17; in 1877, 18; in 1878, 28; in 1879, 27; in 1880, 33; in 1881, 37. Total number admitted up to 1882, 316. There are now 170 on the rolls, 140 of whom are in attendance, 10 waiting to be placed on the rolls, and 40 awaiting admission.
Churches and Societies
The Church of Christ was organized at Olathe April 16, 1860, by G. W. Hutchinson and Pardee Butler, Evangelists, with about twenty-five members. Most of the time up to 1878, Elder William Gans conducted religious services. The church has experienced several revivals, at one of which twenty-five members were added to their number. In 1872 there were forty-five members. A very neat church building was erected on Park street in 1869, at a cost of about $3,500; but in 1881, on account of the building of the Olathe & Kansas City Railroad close to the church, it was removed to the corner of Chestnut and Lulu streets.
In 1874, Elder J. H. Painter was engaged, who served half time to 1875. Then followed Elders J. A. Elliott, one-fourth time, to April, 1876; William Gans, one-half time to April, 1877; A. C. McKeever, one-half time to June, 1879; J. W. Monser, one-fourth time from January 1, 1880, to October, 1880; and Henry Coggswell, whole time, from April, 1881, to April 1, 1882. The present membership is eighty, and the church with reason looks forward to the accomplishment of a grander work in the future than in the past.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Olathe was organized with sixty members in 1865, the organization was perfected in 1868. In 1869 a church building, 36X60 feet, was erected at a cost of $5,000. The lot is 38X143 feet, the building in excellent repair, and the church organization in sound financial condition. The ministers of this church have been as follows: Revs. C. E. Lewis, beginning in 1868; J. T. Nesley, 1870; J. T. Hanna, in 1872; H. D. Fisher, in 1874; J. Biddison, in 1876; Dr. T. H. Phillips, in 1878; A. E. Higgins, in 1880; and Mr. Hill, in 1881. The church is in a healthy and growing condition, with 180 members on the roll.
The First Congregational Church of Olathe was organized October 24,1865, with six members, by Rev. Lewis Bodwell. A church building was erected on Chestnut street, between Park and Lulu, in 1870, costing $4,000. The first regular minister was Rev. Lincoln Harlow, who commenced his labors with this church December 1, 1865. He has been succeeded by the following: Revs. G. A. Beckwith, commencing October, 1867; F. T. Ingles, October, 1870; F. W. Adams, January 1873; E. N. Bartlett, October, 1873, Leavitt Bartlett, October, 1874; H. P. Case, September 15, 1878, and P. F. Werl, September 25, 1881. The church is in excellent condition for future work, with eighty-six members on the roll.
The Old School Presbyterian Church was organized October 1, 1865, with eighteen members, by Rev. William Wilson; though as early as 1859 the Presbyterians had commenced their labors in Olathe, Revs. J. C. Beach, William Smith and A. T. Rankin having acted as missionaries and prepared the way for the organization of the church. In 1867 a frame church building, 34X55 feet in size, was erected at a cost of about $2,500. Succeeding Rev. Mr. Wilson was Rev. John McKean, commencing his pastorate January 7, 1868; then followed Revs. N. A. Rankin, April, 1869; J. H. Miller, January, 1872; J. H. Clark, January, 1873; W. R. L. Carrett, October, 1876; W. E. Williamson, February, 1880. The church is a flourishing condition, with 100 members.
The United Presbyterian Church of Olathe was organized November 10, 1866, with fourteen members, by Rev. D. T. McAuley. Their pastors have been Revs. Andrew Renwick, from 1869 to 1874; J. W. McClenahan, from 1877 to 1879; and their present pastor, commencing July 1, 1880. Membership May 31, 1882, 100. The present church edifice was erected in 1870, at a cost of about $1,500. A new one is in contemplation, to cost about $5,000.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized with about twelve members in 1868 by Rev. B. F. Bates. From the time of the organization to 1879, the colored Baptists worshipped with their Methodist brethren, but in that year a separation became desirable, and was effected. The Methodist Episcopal Church erected a house of worship costing nearly $1,000. Since 1877 their ministers have been as follows: Rev. D. Carter, commencing his pastorate in 1877; Rev. E. Ferguson, in 1879; Rev. Daniel Coles, in 1880; Rev. Spottswood Alexander, in 1881. The membership is now thirty-two. A Sunday school was organized in connection with the church, in 1869, which has been continued ever since.
The Reformed Presbyterian, or Covenanter Church, was organized in Olathe with forty-nine members in September, 1865, being the first church of this denomination organized in Kansas. Rev. W. W. McMillan was settled as its pastor in April, 1866, and has been the only and is still its present pastor in Olathe. Its membership is now seventy-nine. Its contributions for all religious purposes for 1881, were $1,127.
In November, 1871, the Pleasant Ridge portion of this congregation effected a separate organization, with twenty-nine members, there being no pastoral change until in the spring of 1873. In May, 1874, Rev. M. Wilkins was settled as pastor and served until his death, July 12, 1880. Its present pastor took charge in October, 1881; its place of worship is five miles east of Olathe, and its membership fifty-two.
This denomination wherever founded is radical in its character, forward in reform movements, and never received into, nor tolerated slaveholders in its communion. While its members have borne arms in every national conflict for right and liberty, yet they refrain from the exercise of the elective franchise--believing the National constitution to be, though in many respects most excellent, yet in some things infidel and immoral.
The Roman Catholic Church was organized in Olathe with about twelve members, in 1864, by Rev. Father Myers. He was succeeded by Revs. Father Dustermann, in 1866; Father Pichler, in 1868; Father Cerius, in 1871; Father Pichler, in 1874; Father Casey, in 1875, who still remains. In 1880 the church commenced the erection of a large brick building at the corner of Chestnut and Santa Fe avenue, which when completed will have cost about $12,000.
The First Baptist Church at Olathe, was organized March 27, 1870, with fourteen members. Their house of worship was built in 1873 at a cost of $2,200, since which time improvements have been made at an expense of $800. The pastors of this church have been as follows: Rev. R. P. Evans, from June, 1872 to August, 1876; Rev. F. S. Witter, from March, 1877, to July, same year; Rev. N. Hines, from September, 1878, to July 1880; Rev. A. L. Vail, commencing March, 1882. There have been two hundred and fifty-nine members received into the church, and there are now one hundred and thirty-eight. A Sunday school was organized in May, 1872, which has now one hundred scholars on the rolls.
Olathe Lodge, No. 19, A. F. & A. M., was chartered October 18, 1859, having then twelve members. Its first charter officers were John P. Campbell, W. M.; John T. Burris, S. W.; John T. Barton, J. W. The body has at present eighty members.
Olathe Royal Arch Chapter, No. 10, was chartered October 18, 1867, with thirteen members. Its first officers were Vict. Rees, high priest; A. J. Clemmans, king; Peter Julien, scribe. It now has forty members enrolled.
Olathe Star Chapter, No. 3, of the Order of the Eastern Star, was chartered in 1869, with thirteen members. Its first officers were Prof. Louis H. Jenkins, W. P.; Mrs. Jenkins, W. M.; Mrs. A. J. Clemmans, A. M. The membership is now fifty-five, forty of them being ladies.
Olathe Lodge, No. 59, I. O. O. F., was instituted July 7, 1870, with six charter members. The first officers installed were W. A. Offenbacher, N. G.; R. E. Stevenson, V. G.; B. Amos, secretary, and J. P. Ralston, treasurer. The present membership is forty-three.
Harmony Lodge, No. 84, I. O. O. F., was instituted December 29, 1871, with sixteen charter members. The officers first installed were W. Williams, N. G.; S. R. Burch, V. G.; J. R. Brown, secretary, and S. S. Blitz, treasurer. The present membership is seventy-two.
The Olathe Rifles were organized in December, 1880, under the statutes for the organization of the militia. The officers of the company at its organization were the following: Captain, S. R. Brown; First Lieutenant, H. S. Miller; Second Lieutenant, Thomas McGannon. The company is one of the largest in the State; has a very fine band connected with it, and is in excellent discipline.
Newspapers and Business Interests
The Olathe Herald was the first paper published in Johnson County. The first issue appeared August 29, 1859. In politics it was Democratic; it was ably edited and did good work in aiding the settlement and growth of the then new county. It acquired a circulation of twenty-five hundred. Quantrill paid the office a visit September 6, 1862, after which John M. Giffin, its editor and proprietor, gathered up its debris and sold it for $306; original cost having been $3,500. In addition to his newspaper office, Mr. Giffen also lost through Quantrill's efforts, accounts and notes to the amount of $13,000, and the manuscript of an algebra, for which he had been offered $5,000, and fifteen cents royalty on each book sold.
The Olathe Mirror was established in 1861 by John Francis, at present associate editor of the Chicago Religio-Philosophical Journal, which position he assumed in 1868. S. E. McKee bought the Mirror and published it until his death. It was then purchased by T. J. Hadley, who changed it from a Republican to a Liberal Republican paper, and through its columns supported Horace Greeley for the presidency in 1872. The Mirror passed into the hands of Pollock & Aikman, who sold it to Pollock & Ogg, and they in turn to McCandless. In 1873, the Mirror and News Letter were consolidated, and the new journal was conducted by M. V. B. Barker until it was sold to J. A. & H. F. Ganult. In the early part of 1882, it was purchased by Hutchinson Bros., live newspaper men, lately from Ohio.
The Western Progress was started by W. H. McGown, in August, 1872. In December following it was purchased by James Wilson. While under his management it was devoted to the cause of the people, and was the determined foe of corruptionists and rings. It took the position at that time that the missions of both the Democratic and Republican parties were at an end, and that some new party must rise from out of their ruins. Subsequent events have proved that editors are not always prophets. A. S. McCulloh was proprietor of the paper until 1879, when it passed into the hands of George Higgins, and in 1880, the Gazette purchased its subscription lists and good will.
The News Letter was started in February, 1870, by J. A. & H. F. Canutt, as the fourth newspaper enterprise in Johnson County. It was consolidated with the Mirror in 1873, as above narrated.
The Olathe Gazette was established July 24, 1879, by John Hindman, as a five-column folio, all print. Subsequently it was changed to a seven-column folio, half print. While under Mr. Hindman's supervision it was independent in politics. In 1881, it was purchased by W. S. White, its present editor, who changed its politics to Republican, and returned to the all print programme. The paper is devoted mainly to county and local news, and though Republican is not slavishly so. In May, 1882, it again passed into the hands of John Hindman.
The Monthly Visitor, a catholic paper, was established in April, 1882, by the Catholic Mutual Benevolent Publishing Co., at Olathe. It is the only paper that gives the Leavenworth diocesan news.
The Johnson County Democrat was started May 18, 1882, by W. C. Paul. Typographically it is one of the neatest papers published in the State. Politically it is devoted to the interests of the Democratic party, and is a newspaper principally devoted to local news. It is the first Democratic paper published in the county since the suppression of the Herald by Quantrill.
Col. J. E. Hayes, commenced business in Olathe, as a banker and dealer in exchange, in 1869. In 1871, the bank was organized as the First National Bank of Olathe, Col. J. E. Hayes, president; Charles L. Hayes, cashier. In 1874, the bonds were surrendered and private banking resumed, under the title of the "Hayes Bank." This bank was closed in 1878, and immediately re-organized as the Johnson County Bank, by George B. Lord & Co., and was operated by George B. Lord, until August 1880, at which time R. M. Atchison took charge of it, and still continues as general manager and cashier.
C. E. Waldron & Co., commenced the business of banking in Olathe, in 1870, putting up a two story brick building on the southeast corner of Park and Cherry streets, at a cost of $10,000. In 1876, they were succeeded by the People's Savings Bank. Dr. S. A. Christy, president, which in its turn was succeeded by Price, Ott & Miller, bankers, January 1, 1879. In September, 1879, the bank was purchased by John Harris & Co., who still conduct the business with W. H. Smith, cashier.
The Olathe Mills--These mills are situated on Cedar street at the crossing of Mill Creek. They were erected in 1869 by C. M. Ott, their present owner. The main building is 44X72, two and a half stories high, principally stone, and with the machinery and engine, which is of forty-horse power, cost $18,000. It has three run of buhrs, and a capacity of 300 bushels of wheat in twenty-four hours.
In 1882, the building was raised a story and a half, and roller mills put in as an experiment, with a view of substituting them for the buhrs in use up to that time. The total expense occasioned by the change will be about $15,000, and the result will be that the capacity will be increased 100 per cent, and the flour produced will be much cleaner, much whiter and more nutritious than that produced by the ordinary buhr mills.
The Pearl Mills were built in 1880 by Reed and Jones, at the corner of Santa Fe and Cherry streets. The building is 40X65 feet, of brick, three stories high, and cost $12,000. In this mill are three run of stones and a pony, and its capacity is 300 bushels per twenty-four hours. The engine is forty-five horse power, boiler fifty. During the first four months of 1882, the mills sold a quantity of flour equivalent to 1,810 barrels.
Olathe contains at the present time three general stores, five drug stores, six groceries, four hardware stores, six agricultural implement dealers, four grain dealers, three livery stables, three furniture stores, two jewelry stores, four bakery and confectionery stores, five hotels, three lumber yards, one broom manufactory, four blacksmiths, one brick yard, three harness shops, and 2,850 inhabitants.
Olathe is located at 38°52'51N, 94°48'11. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 141.1 km² (54.5 mi²), of which 140.3 km² (54.2 mi²) is land and 0.8 km² (0.3 mi²), or 0.55%, is water. Olathe has two public lakes: Lake Olathe with 172 acres (0.7 km²) of water surface and Cedar Lake with 45 acres (0.2 km²).
Over the course of a year, temperatures range from an average low below 20°F in January to an average high of nearly 90°F in July. The maximum temperature reaches 90°F an average of 36 days per year and reaches 100°F an average of 3 days per year. The minimum temperature falls below the freezing point (32°F) an average of 102 days per year. Typically the first fall freeze occurs between mid-October and the first week of November, and the last spring freeze occurs between the end of March and the third week of April.
The area receives over 40 inches of precipitation during an average year with the largest share being received in May and June—the April–June period averages 30 days of measurable precipitation. During a typical year the total amount of precipitation may be anywhere from 28½ to almost 53 inches. There are on average 96 days of measurable precipitation per year. Winter snowfall averages about 17 inches, but the median is 11 inches. Measurable snowfall occurs an average of 10 days per year with at least an inch of snow being received on seven of those days. Snow depth of at least an inch occurs an average of 25 days per year.
As of 2005, the city of Olathe has an estimated population of 111,334, which is an increase of 18,285, or 19.7%, since the year 2000. This is also an increase of 2,894, or 2.7%, from the prior year.
Census of 2000
As of the census of 2000, there were 92,962 people, 32,314 households, and 24,623 families residing in the city. The population density was 662.7/km² (1,716.4/mi²). There were 33,343 housing units at an average density of 237.7/km² (615.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.63% White, 3.70% African American, 0.43% Native American, 2.74% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 2.64% from other races, and 1.80% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.44% of the population. 26.1% were of German, 11.0% Irish, 10.7% English and 9.6% American ancestry according to Census 2000.
There were 32,314 households out of which 45.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.8% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.8% were non-families. 18.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.24.
In the city the population was spread out with 30.8% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 36.7% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 5.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 99.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $61,111, and the median income for a family was $68,498. Males had a median income of $45,699 versus $30,217 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,498. About 2.4% of families and 4.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.1% of those under age 18 and 4.1% of those age 65 or over.
Many well-known companies such as United Office Products, Honeywell and ALDI are located in Olathe's numerous commercial and industrial parks. The GPS manufacturer Garmin is headquartered in this city. The United States Department of Transportation administers and maintains an Air Route Traffic Control Center in Olathe, designated ZKC. Johnson County maintains an airport in Olathe, Johnson County Executive Airport, which is located on approximately 500 acres (2 km²) of land with a 4,100 ft (1250 m) single runway, parallel taxiways, and a Federal contract air traffic control tower. The airport is the second busiest in the state of Kansas.
Olathe is the home of MidAmerica Nazarene University and the Kansas State School For the Deaf (established in 1866). Since 2001, it is also home to the national headquarters of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and hosts several of the NAIA national championships.
The city of Olathe is served by the Olathe School District and Blue Valley School District. There are currently 22,183 students enrolled as of a 2002 statistic. The Olathe School District has 31 elementary schools, 8 junior high schools, and 4 high schools, Olathe North High School, Olathe South High School, Olathe East High School, Olathe Northwest High School. The Olathe School District created 21st Century high school transfer programs to offer students new opportunities and balance student populations across the city. At Olathe Northwest the programs include Aerospace Engineering and E-Communications. At Olathe North programs offered include Geosciences, Sports Medicine and Athletic Training, Biotechnology / Life Sciences, and E-Communications. At Olathe North they also host the distinguished scholars program which allows students to take specialty classes in several different key areas.