Shawnee is a rapidly growing community located in northwest Johnson County, Kansas and is a western suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. The population was 47,996 at the 2000 census. Shawnee's fur trading and pioneering heritage once blended histories of these Kansas Territory townships: Monticello and Shawnee.


The Early History of Shawnee
by William G. Cutler (1883)
Shawnee (formerly Gum Springs) is situated in the northern part of the county, one mile from the railroad station at Merriam, on undulating prairie adjoining timber. It was named after the Shawnee Indians. The first settlement here was made by J. D. Allen, August 10, 1857. Other early settlers were William Holmes, Richard Williams, J. T. Rowland, W. B. Maupin and A. W. Wear.

The first marriage that was solemnized here was between Timothy Keeser and Martha Patton, September 9, 1857; the first birth that of Robert P. Keeser, June 10, 1858; and the first death that of Mrs. W. B. Maupin, in July, 1858.

The first school was taught in the spring of 1858, in an old Indian Meeting-house. The first schoolhouse was built in 1866, near the southwest corner of the public square. In September, 1857, Rev. William Holmes preached the first sermon in the town. A church was built many years previous to the location of the town, called the Shawnee Indian Methodist Episcopal Church (South).

The postoffice was established in July, 1858, M. P. Randall first Postmaster. In 1858, W. B. Maupin built a steam saw and grist mill about 400 yards west of the public square. F. Conant opened a store on the south side of the public square. F. Conant opened a store on the south side of the public square August 10, 1857.

At Shawnee (or Gum Springs, as it was then called) was held the first District Court in the fall of 1857, where resided all the county officers, J. D. Allen was appointed Justice of the Peace by the County Commissioners, in September, 1857, and has held the office ever since.

At the present time Shawnee contains two dry goods stores, one grocery, one blacksmith, one harness shop, one hotel, other places of business and about 400 inhabitants. The town was twice pillaged and burned by Quantrell, the first time in 1862, and again in 1864, burning thirteen houses at each time and murdering four or five of the people.

Shawnee Methodist Mission was located two and a half miles southwest of Westport, Mo. At the present time there remain the following buildings, which were for many years the scene of the labors of Rev. Thomas Johnson and others for the advancement of the Indians:

The former residence of Rev. Mr. Johnson, a two-story brick, the main part being 24X52, and the wing 24X42, costing when built about $20,000. In 1880 it was purchased by Robert Plunkett, of Kansas City, and by him put in thorough repair, and occupied as a hotel. This building was used by the bogus Legislature in 1855, as the place of holding its first sessions. Besides this hotel there are two other large brick buildings, one of them, during the days of the Mission, used as sleeping apartments by the students in attendance upon the mission school, which is a two-story brick, 100X30; and the other also a two-story brick building, 110X30 feet, which was used for the mission school. Both these buildings are occupied by tenant families, and are gradually going to decay. There is also a district schoolhouse, built in 1873, and a store, blacksmith shop and postoffice. Here is a mineral spring, said to possess great healing powers, which was called by the Indians "medicine water." About a mile southwest of the mission is a famous spring, which has long been known by the name of "Cottonwood Spring." It is at this place that Fremont pitched his first camp after leaving Independence, Mo., on his tour across the plains, and hence the spring is sometimes called Fremont's Spring. A stream of excellent water, one and a half inches in diameter, constantly flows from it with considerable force, the temperature of the water being 54 (degrees).

Shawnee is located at 39°0'46N, 94°45'57W (39.012767, -94.765818). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 110.2 km² (42.5 mi²). 108.1 km² (41.7 mi²) of it is land and 2.1 km² (0.8 mi²) of it (1.88%) is water.

As of the census of 2000, there were 47,996 people, 18,522 households, and 13,243 families residing in the city. The population density was 444.0/km² (1,149.7/mi²). There were 19,086 housing units at an average density of 176.5/km² (457.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.35% White, 2.96% African American, 0.31% Native American, 2.65% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.87% from other races, and 1.83% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.36% of the population.

There were 18,522 households out of which 36.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.3% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% were non-families. 22.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.8% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 34.2% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $59,626, and the median income for a family was $70,288. Males had a median income of $45,777 versus $31,428 for females. The per capita income for the city was $28,142. About 2.2% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.9% of those under age 18 and 4.0% of those age 65 or over.

The award-winning Johnson County Library provides access to ideas, information, experiences and materials that support and enrich people's lives. The Library includes 13 locations throughout Johnson County, including the Shawnee Library.

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