Johnson County is a county located in Northeast Kansas. The county's population—the fastest growing in the state of Kansas—was estimated to be 516,731 in the year 2006, making it the largest in the state. Its official county code is JO. Its county seat is Olathe, and its most populous city is Overland Park.
Johnson County has the highest median income in the state and the nation's 43rd highest per-person income and 62nd highest median household income. Money is pretty much what counts in Johnson County. Most of the county is suburban, being a part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. In 2006 CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked 2 cities in Johnson County on its list of the 100 Best Cities to Live in the United States. Overland Park was ranked sixth best. Olathe was somehow ranked 13th.
The Early History of Johnson County
by William G. Cutler (1883)
Johnson County is located in the eastern part of the State. It is bounded on the north by Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties, on the east by Missouri, on the south by Miami, and on the west by Douglas County. It is twenty-one miles from north to south and twenty-four from east to west, containing 475 square miles, or 304,000 acres. At the first organization of the county, in 1855, the Kansas river constituted its entire northern boundary, but in 1859 the present boundary was established.
The surface of the county is generally undulating. About ten per cent is bottom land, ninety per cent, upland. The bottom lands are from one-half mile to two miles in width. The central and southwestern are the highest portions, the streams having their sources there and flowing thence toward the north, east and south. The soil is from one foot to six feet in depth, is very productive and adapted especially to winter wheat, corn, oats, potatoes and wild and tame grasses.
The timber belts along the streams average one-half mile in width, and comprise sixteen per cent. of the surface. The principal varieties that grow are ash, hackberry, hickory, oak, sycamore and walnut. The streams are not large, but sufficiently numerous. The Kansas river runs along the west two-thirds of the northern boundary, and receives as tributaries, Cedar, Clear, Captain's, Kill, Mill, and Turkey creeks. Blue and Indian creeks run eastward, and two forks of Bull Creek run south. There are numerous springs, and good well water is obtained at an average depth of twenty-five feet.
There is considerable limestone and some sandstone in the county, the former being extensively used in building, and a tough variety of the former is now being sawed into flagging stone, window sills, etc. There is also excellent brick clay.
The first white hunter to behold the soil of Kansas, is believed to have been Jacob Pursley, who in 1802 crossed the eastern part of the present State to New Mexico. Other adventurous spirits followed and soon quite a trade was established between Santa Fe, N. M., and Booneville, Mo., the latter place being then the frontier town of the West. In the course of time Independence, Mo., secured the trade, and became for a time the starting point for all westward bound expeditions of whatever kind. The trade grew to such an extent that about the year 1825 the Government employed Maj. Sibley to establish a wagon road from the Missouri line to Santa Fe. This road ran through Johnson County about four miles south of Olathe, and crossed the Missouri line near the present location of Little Santa Fe, Mo.
The Shawnee Indians
Previous to the advent of the Shawnee Indians in 1828, but little was known of what is now Johnson County, by white people. In common with the whole of the present State of Kansas, it was occupied, when occupied at all, by the Kaw or Kansas tribe of Indians. The whole territory abounded with game of every description. Along the streams, where they could find shelter in the timber, were to be found bears, beaver, mink, otter, wolves, etc., and on the open prairie, antelopes, deer and elk. Buffaloes ranged in immense numbers but seldom east of Morris and Chase counties. In 1825, the Shawnee reservation in Kansas was set apart for these Indians, in accordance with a treaty concluded with them that year.
In 1828, the Fish band, so named from their Chief, about one hundred in number, were removed here, from the vicinity of Cape Girardeau, Mo. In 1829, Rev. Thomas Johnson, a Methodist Episcopal missionary, came to the reservation under the auspices of the church and established a school for the education of the Indians. This school was located about six miles west of Westport, between the Kansas river and Turkey Creek. In 1830 some members of the tribe on their way from Ohio to this reservation, were exposed, in St. Louis, to the smallpox. Upon arriving at the village located near the site of the present Glenwood depot, they halted and infected the portion of the tribe living there. The disease broke out with great virulence, most of the Indians in the village died, the others fled to other localities.
In 1832, the remaining band of the Shawnee Indians were removed here from Auglaize and adjoining counties in Ohio. After all had been removed here they numbered about 1,000. For a number of years after their removal they continued their accustomed mode of dress, habitation and of making a living--living in wigwams and subsisting on the products of the chase; but as game grew scarcer, attention to the tilling of the soil was forced upon them, and they began to erect buildings more substantial than wigwams.
They also at length effected a change in their form of government. At the time of the removal of the Shawnees from Ohio, they were divided into three bands, each band being presided over by a Chief. The principal of these three chiefs was John Perry, who retained his position at the head of the tribe until his death in 1850. He was succeeded by John Francis, who reigned four years when he died. The young men of the tribe attempted, at the time of Perry's death, to introduce the principle of electing their chiefs, but the old men defeated them.
At the time of the death of Francis the young men made a second attempt to overthrow the hereditary principle of government, and were this time successful. Capt. Parks was elected Chief for two years, and remained in office eight years. Graham Rogers succeeded and served two years; Charles Bluejacket then served four years; Graham Rogers was then re-elected and served two terms, when he died, and Charles Tucker was then elected.
The boundaries of the original Shawnee Reservation in Kansas, as fixed November 7, 1825, and conveyed to them by deed, May 11, 1844, contained 1,600,000 acres. Almost precisely ten years afterwards, on May 10, 1854, they ceded to the United States all of this magnificent reservation but 200,000 acres, which they reserved for homes for themselves.
Under this treaty the "Black Bob band" of the Shawnees, a distinct organization within the tribe, received, as was their choice, and had "assigned and set apart in a compact body to be held in common" by them, such a portion of this 200,000 acres as was equivalent to 200 acres for each member of the band; or more accurately, according to the survey, 33,392.87 acres. Black Bob was their recognized Chief. Being of limited intelligence, they preferred to maintain their tribal organization and customs, and to hold their lands in common. An article however was incorporated into the treaty under which they might at any time "make separate selections from the tract assigned to them in common."
This privilege they did not avail themselves of until 1866, but continued to live as had been their wont, making but little progress, and spending most of their time in visiting other tribes and hunting, until the breaking out of the war, when on account of the losses and suffering to which they were subjected from bushwhackers on the one hand and Kansas thieves and jayhawkers on the other, they left their homes, went to the Indian Territory in a body, where they remained until peace was proclaimed, when about one hundred returned for the purpose of disposing of their lands.
The other community of Shawnees remained on the reservation as they were until the survey of their lands into head rights of their own selection was completed, as contemplated and provided for by the treaty of May 10, 1854. By this treaty they each received 200 acres in severalty in any part of the reservation they might choose, surrendering all claim to the rest, which was thus thrown open to settlement by white people. The Indians very naturally made their selections where there was timber, along the creeks, and when their selections had all been made there was but little land left for the white man but open prairie. As a consequence of this state of affairs numerous conflicts arose between the two races over the timber question; and as so often before and since, the civilized man conquered, and it was not long before he was allowed to help himself to the Indian's timber unmolested.
As soon as it was known that a large portion of the reservation was thrown open for settlement large numbers rushed in to secure claims. Many claims were thus taken, "improved," and sold at the first favorable opportunity, so that but few of the earliest settlers remained in the county. Those who came to buy, usually came to stay.
A. Coffman secured the contract for surveying the Shawnee lands as selected by the "head right" community, and was sworn to secrecy in relation thereto. Instead of living up to his oath he permitted a young man in the employ of Dr. John T. Barton and Ed. Nash to accompany him, and each evening to make a copy of the day's field notes, and received $1,000 for the privilege. It was thus easy for the Dr. and his partner to dispose of the choicest lands not taken by the Indians at a considerable profit to themselves, and the settler was certain that no Shawnee could dispute his claim.
Among those who settled in the county during this year (1857) were the following persons, on the Free-state side: Thomas E. Milhoan, William Williams, Rynear Morgan, William Holmes, Dr. Irving Jaynes, J. D. Allen, J. C. Forrest, and L. F. Bancroft; and on the Pro-slavery side, Dr. J. B. Morgan, Col. J. T. Quarles, T. H. Ellis, A. Slaughter, James H. Nounan, C. C. Catron, W. S. Gregory, Johnathan Gore, A. J. Turpin, Dr. Shuck and M. T. Wells. There was a considerable number of others in different parts of the county, as may be seen by referring to our sketches of the separate towns.
During the time of the occupancy of the entire county by the Shawnee Indians, but few white men became residents of it, and they only in some connection with the Indians. The earliest were the Choteau brothers, Frenchmen who built trading houses among the Shawnees and Delawares in 1828 and 1829.
Rev. Thomas Johnson and family came in 1829. His son Alexander S. Johnson was born in Mission, July 11, 1832, and was thus the first white child born in the county. Other children of Rev. Mr. Johnson born at the Mission were Eliza S., A. M., W. M., Laura L., Cora and Edna, seven in all with Alexander S.
Samuel Cornatzer came to the Mission in 1844. Mr. Crockett, nephew of Davy Crockett, January 24, 1847; and at different times, Perk Randall, John Bowles, Isaac Parish, Samuel Garrett, John Owens, John Boyle and Calvin Cornatzer.
The "Black Bob" Reservation
This reservation is situated in the southeastern part of the county, at the sources of the Blue and Tomahawk creeks, consisting of 33,392.87 acres, lying in Oxford, Aubry, Spring Hill and Olathe townships. The Indians to whom the reservation belonged abandoned it near the beginning of the war. As it was most excellent land--fertile soil, well watered and timbered--settlers rushed in at the close of the war and soon every quarter-section of it was occupied by a claimant. This was in the years of 1865 and 1866.
About the same time, certain other parties, not actual settlers on the lands, among whom were Gen. James G. Blunt, J. C. Irvin and Judge Pendery, conceived the design of buying up a portion of this land for the purposes of speculation. This was in October, 1867. An examination was made of the treaty of 1825, by which the Shawnees were granted the reservation including Johnson and a portion of Douglas and Miami counties, which was deeded to them May 11, 1844; and also of the treaty of May 10, 1854, by which the whole tract was re-ceded to the Government, and then 200,000 acres retroceded to the Shawnees.
At this time the Shawnees divided into two bands--the severalty, or "head right" community, who selected their lands in severalty, and the "Black Bob" band, who chose to hold their lands in common, under the treaty which also gave them the right to select 200 acres each as a head-right at any future time. Messrs. Blunt, Irvin & Co. became satisfied that the title to the lands vested in the Indians, and hence that having selected his head-right under the treaty, any Indian could sell it and convey a valid title to any person by complying with the rules and regulations of the Interior Department of the Government for the sale of Indian lands.
These rules were: That the consideration mentioned in the deed was a fair one, that the amount so mentioned had been paid to the grantor by the grantee, and that the transaction was free from fraud. The Indian Agent was under obligation to attach his certificate that these rules had been complied with, in the execution of the deed.
Certain of the Indians, having applied therefor in the year 1867, received patents for their share of the land in severalty, and sold them to different parties for various prices.
The first sale was made October 28, 1867, to J. C. Irvin, who purchased in the aggregate 3,600 acres. The next sales were made November 7, 1867, to two of the settlers, Wm. II Nichols and John Wordens; and subsequently, but prior to January 11, 1869, a number of sales were made to other settlers, among whom were William Thomas, J. Nichols, Edward P. Robinson, Wm. S. Duffield and William T. Quarles. Sales were made also to other speculators, until in the aggregate the land covered by sixty-nine patents had been sold, the price received by the Indians being on the average $4.80 per acre.
Two protests against the further issue of patents to the Indians, setting forth that gross frauds were being perpetrated, and that the Indians were being swindled out of their lands by the speculators, having been received by the Government, Acting Commissioner Mix, on the 13th of December, 1867, telegraphed Agent Taylor to suspend delivery of the patents to the Indians. This was done and the sale of the lands arrested in consequence. Notwithstanding a few of the settlers had purchased their selections from Indians who had received their patents, the great majority refused to do so, believing their title should come from the Government, and not from the Indians. In the meantime the settlers kept on improving their claims, and have now converted the reservation into one of the fairest and most productive portions of the county.
Both settlers and speculators kept an agent in Washington for some years looking after their respective interests; the one party attempting to obtain from Congress confirmation of the validity of the Indian patents, the other attempting to have them set aside and the title declared to vest in the Government. Neither party has thus far been successful. Congress, however, did in 1879, pass a resolution instructing the Attorney General of the United States "to cause a suit in equity to be brought in the name of the United States in the Circuit Court for the District of Kansas to quiet and finally settle the titles to lands claimed by or under the Black Bob band of Shawnee Indians in Kansas, or adversely thereto." In accordance with this resolution, suit in equity was brought in said court in 1880, and is still pending.
Such of the Black Bob band as were enabled to find purchasers for their lands before the sale of the same was suspended, in December, 1867, removed to the Indian Territory and united themselves with the Cherokees, in accordance with an agreement made between the tribes and approved by the President of the United States, while the greater portion of them who had returned to Kansas in order to sell their lands, were by the suspension of the sale prevented from doing so, and were "forced to remain in Kansas without a home, their lands being occupied by trespassers by virtue of the suspension referred to" (E. S. Parker, Commissioner).
We quote as follows from the Annual Report of Indian Affairs of Superintendent Hoag, for 1870:
"Anticipating the fulfillment of their arrangements with the Cherokees for future homes, many of the Shawnees have already removed thither, and most of those yet remaining will remove very soon, even though they may not be able to dispose of their estates in Kansas advantageously, being obstructed as they are by prolonged and unjust legislation. As guardians of these Indians, the Government has permitted her citizens so far to violate her just statutes as to enter upon, occupy and improve, in undisturbed possession, their fairest lands, thus adding to the wealth and comfort of the citizen outlaws, to the discomfort and pinching poverty of her suffering wards, some of whom have been driven from their humble but loved homes, and compelled if permit a resting place on soil of their own, to occupy such portion thereof as the coveting and unwelcome intruder did not desire for himself. These lawless occupants of the soil of others, have for years, from the proceeds thereof, retained counsel at the seat of Government for the security of these lands to themselves, in co-operation with their members of Congress; and in a recent bill, in reference thereto, provision is made for retaining said lands on the payment of $2.50 per acre, when if they were removed therefrom or compelled to pay outraged owners a price which a fair competition would secure to them, as justice should secure it, these Indians would at once remove to the Cherokee country with means sufficient to enable them to open and improve homes and surround themselves with the necessary comforts of life, for lack of which many of these poor Shawnees have gone to premature graves. This lingering injustice has continued the Shawnee agency two years longer than its natural life, at an unnecessary expense to the Government, and while this class of intruders are enjoying their ill-gotten incomes, the Black Bob Shawnees are appealing to their guardian, the Government, for aid to keep them from starvation, for which purpose some five hundred dollars has been expended the past year.
"The settlers and speculators have all through freely indulged in the application to each other of exceedingly uncomplimentary epithets; politicians have found the question of the title to the Black Bob lands a fruitful source of personal controversy and warfare, and as a result of the manner of the management of the whole matter, the Indian has certainly suffered most cruel wrongs, no matter in whom the title to the lands may ultimately be decided to in here."
Early Political Troubles
The first election held in the Territory was in the fall of 1853, before the organization of the Territory. At this election, Rev. Thomas Johnson, of the Methodist Church, South, then in charge of the Shawnee Mission, and one of those who had introduced and then held slaves in the Territory, was elected delegate to Congress, for the purpose of urging upon that body the organization of the Territory; but having been elected without authority of law, he was not admitted to a seat as such delegate. He, however, remained in Washington during the session and until after the Kansas-Nebraska bill had become a law, the latter part of May, 1854.
At this first election, Indians as well as whites, voted, notwithstanding the fact that they were not citizens of the United States, and consequently had no right to vote--an unpropitious beginning for the future Territory and State of Kansas. But when the question of Territorial organization was yet unsettled, almost everyone about the Indian missions and elsewhere, government agents and employees, missionaries and teachers, were all but universally Democratic and Pro-slavery, and the Indians imbibed and carried into practice the political views of their teachers--religious and secular. The principal exception to this rule was the case of the Friends, or Quakers, who were always and consistently anti-slavery, to their honor be the fact recorded and perpetuated.
At the election of March 30, 1855, for members of First Territorial Legislature, Rev. Thomas Johnson was elected from Johnson County to the Council (now called Senate) and his son, Alexander S. Johnson, to the Legislature. The Legislature was convened at Pawnee, near Fort Riley in Davis County, and organized by electing Rev. Thomas Johnson, President of the Council, and Dr. J. H. Stringfellow, Speaker of the House. Almost immediately after the organization, an act was passed locating the capital of the Territory at the Shawnee Mission, and the Legislature adjourned to this, the first capital, on the 16th of July. One of its first acts was the organization of the settled portions of the Territories into counties.
Johnson County was named in honor of Rev. Thomas Johnson, President of the Council. Bills were passed for laying out towns and villages in various counties, but none in Johnson County, as it was entirely covered by the Shawnee reservation. Isaac Parish was appointed Sheriff of the County, and William Fisher, Jr., Probate Judge. The County was thus organized and officered nearly two years before any of its lands came into the market, and before any white people except those connected with the Indians, were allowed to reside in it. At this session of the Legislature the road leading from Kansas City, Mo., to Santa Fe, N. M., passing through the center of the county, was declared a Territorial road; a road was located through the northern part of the county to Lawrence, LeCompton and Fort Riley, and another along the eastern line of the county from Westport, Mo., to Fort Scott.
On the 23rd of October, 1855, the Free-state Constitutional Convention assembled at Topeka. Johnson County was not represented in this convention, its people being too intensely Pro-slavery. A constitution was adopted by the convention, the most important feature of which was a clause prohibiting slavery in the State. On the 15th of December, the Topeka Constitution was submitted to the people and received a large popular vote outside of Johnson county. Almost the only anti-slavery people in this county at the time were the Hadleys--Jeremiah and his three sons, Samuel, T. J., and J. Milton Hadley--a family belonging to the Society of Friends.
The head of the family, Jeremiah Hadley, came out in August to assume the duties of superintendent of the Shawnee Quaker Mission. The Hadley family were fearless advocates of the Free-state cause. A young man by the name of John Lockhart, of some ability, and good education, residing at the Mission with the Hadleys, was elected to represent Johnson County in the Legislature, under the Topeka Constitution. This legislature was summoned to meet at Topeka, July 4, 1856. The members assembled in accordance with the summons, but were not permitted to organize, being dispersed by Col. (since Major General) Edwin V. Sumner, acting under orders from President Pierce.
These were troublous times in eastern Kansas generally. Johnson County escaped at this period in a remarkable manner, although suffering considerably at a later period. This escape was owing, doubtless, to the facts that the county was not open to settlement, and that the most of the few settlers here belonged to one political party. Still there were a few incidents which should be recorded as tending to illustrate the character of the times.
In August, a party of border ruffians went to the Quaker Mission, and after threatening to kill the superintendent, Jeremiah Hadley, stole six horses and a mule belonging to the Mission, and a carriage owned by Levi Woodard, and went away.
On May 14, 1858, Montgomery, and a band of his followers, surrounded the house of John Evans, a farmer now residing in the county, and who at the time was a Pro-slavery man, living three miles northeast of Olathe. Forcing an entrance into the house they warned Evans to leave the Territory within ten days, Evans replied that he should not go, and in fact did not go. Montgomery took about $800 in gold, besides other property belonging to Evans, and a gold watch and some money belonging to Patrick Cosgrove, who was Sheriff at the time, and departed.
On another occasion while John Lockhart, mentioned above as having been elected to the Free-state Legislature, and Calvin Cornatzer were on their way to Chillicothe, about three miles west of Shawnee, some armed Missourians overtook them, threatening to arrest them as being in sympathy with Jim Lane. But by adroit explanations by Cronatzer himself and by Dr. Barton, who was then living at Chillicothe, both Lockhart and Cornatzer were allowed to go free. These explanations did not remain satisfactory, however, very long.
For in a few weeks thereafter a squad of Missourians sought Lockhart at the Mission, and searched the building thoroughly for him. He saved himself this time by dexterously slipping from one room into another that had been searched. And the same summer Cornatzer was arrested at the instance of two of his Pro-slavery neighbors, who accused him of being a Jim Lane man. He was taken to Tecumseh, lodged in jail, but released next day; the charge not being sustained.
In addition to these comparatively mild experiences there have been some flagrant outrages committed within the limits of Johnson County. One of these was the case of a young Missourian, named Cantral. A few days previous to his "trial" and murder, he had participated in the "battle of Black Jack" on the Free-state side, under old John Brown. He was taken prisoner by a party of Missourians under Gen. Whitfield, who were passing through Johnson County on their way to Westport, Mo. They camped for the night about two miles west of Olathe, and during the evening tried Cantral for "treason to the State of Missouri"! He was, of course, convicted, and shot for his crime.
One of the most cold-blooded murders committed on the border was the shooting of Major Gay, U. S. Agent for the Shawnees. He was so shocked at the barbarities committed by members of his party that he expressed his sympathy for the Free-state men, with the result above indicated; being shot while riding with his son near the Methodist Mission.
A remarkable battle was fought in the western part of Johnson County, this same year. Being fought on Bull Creek, and the rout of one of the armies being complete, it is spoken of now by some Kansans as "the first battle of Bull Run." Gen. Lane met the Pro-slavery forces under Gen. Reid where the village of Lanesfield was located. Lane's forces numbered about four hundred, while Reid's were about fifteen hundred. After a few shots had been exchanged by skirmishers on either side, Reid ordered his men to fall back. This order was obeyed with alacrity, the men, panic-stricken, falling clear back to Westport, Mo., a distance of thirty miles, without stopping to rest their jaded steeds. After the fight, Gen. Lane's men burned the residence of Richard McCamish, as a retaliation of his having taken part in the fight under Reid, as was reported. Other Johnson County participants in the bloodless battle of Lanesville, under Gen. Reid, were Samuel Garrett, P. Cosgrove, S. B. Myrick and Jerry Williams. There were none under Gen. Lane.
During the summer an attempt was made by Joel Grover to organize a company within the county to act with the Free-state men, but owing to the limited number in the county who sympathized with the cause, the attempt was abandoned. In the fall of 1856, Perk Randall was elected a member of the Legislature, Rev. Thomas Johnson holding over as a member of the Council.
Perhaps nothing more clearly shows the purpose of the Slavery Propagandists, and their utter and wanton disregard of the principles of right and liberty, than the records of early elections in a small precinct named Oxford, in Johnson County, near the Missouri line, containing eleven houses. October 5, 1857, an election was held for Councilmen, Senators and Representative in the Legislature. On the 19th of the month, Governor Robert J. Walker issued a proclamation rejecting the whole return from Oxford precinct. This return was a manuscript fifty feet long, containing 1,628 names, mostly of imaginary voters. On the 20th a Democratic meeting was held at LeCompton, of which Major G. D. Hand, of Johnson County, was secretary.
The meeting passed a long series of resolutions severely condemning the Governor for his actions in this matter. Had the return been admitted it would have changed the party character of the Legislature, transferring from the Free-state to the Pro-slavery side three Councilmen and eight Representatives. On the 21st of December, 1857, an election was held on the LeCompton Constitution. Oxford precinct again distinguished itself by casting 1,214 illegal votes. Shawnee at this election cast 729 illegal votes. At this election, W. J. Sheraff, A. A. Cox, H. W. Jones and J. B. Wiley were chosen Representatives in the Legislature from Johnson County.
On January 4, 1858, an election was held for the election of officers under the LeCompton Constitution. Oxford precinct now showed a marked improvement over both of its other attempts, casting only 696 illegal votes. On the 29th of the same month in which this last election was held, a census of Oxford was taken in accordance with an act of the Legislature, which census showed that the precinct contained but forty-two voters. At the three elections, above mentioned, the total vote cast in the precinct was: October 5th and 6th, 1,628 votes; December 21st, 1,266 votes; January 4, 1858, 738 votes. We may certainly say with truth that in each and all of these efforts a zeal worthy of a better cause was shown.
In April, 1859, a proposition to hold a Constitutional Convention was submitted to the people of the Territory. The proposition was sustained, and the convention assembled at Wyandotte on the first Tuesday in March, 1859. Johnson County was represented in this convention by John T. Barton (Dem.) and John T. Burris, (Rep.), Col. Burris has the honor of being the first out-spoken Republican in this then Democratic stronghold, and the first Republican elected at a general election. On the first Tuesday in October, following, the constitution framed by the Wyandotte Convention, was adopted by the people by a majority of nearly 4,000--10,241 for; 5,530 against it.
During the summer the Republicans, for the first time in the history of the county, organized and put in nomination candidates for the various county offices and two candidates for Representatives in the Legislature--J. E. Hayes, of Olathe, and Dr. Scott, of Shawnee. For Representatives the Democrats nominated L. S. Cornwell, of Olathe, and Charles Simms, of Spring Hill. They were elected over their Republican competitors by majorities of 88 and 126 respectively.
The first Legislature of the State of Kansas met at Topeka, March 26, 1861, Johnson County being represented therein by John Lockhart in the Senate, and by J. E. Corliss, J. F. Legate and J. E. Hayes in the House. In the following fall the Republicans won their first general victory in the County, electing J. F. Legate to the Senate, and W. H. M. Fishback, W. M. Sheen, and Eli McKee to the House, by respectable majorities, and all the county officers as related below:
In 1862, they elected W. H. M. Fishback to the Senate by a majority of 136; Charles H. Stratton to the Legislature by a majority of 119, and William Williams by a majority of 29, the Democrats electing D. G. Campbell by a majority of 28. Since that time, Johnson County has been honored in the Senate by the following gentlemen:
James B. Abbott, elected in 1866; A. Arrasmith, in 1868; G. M. Bowers, in 1870; John P. St. John, in 1872, W. W. Maltby, in 1874; J. M. Hadley, elected in 1876 for four years; L. W. Breyfogle, in 1880, present member.
In the House of Representatives, the following gentlemen have been elected from Johnson County at the dates appended to their names:
John T. Burris, A. S. Johnson and Gerrit C. Rue, in 1865; M. B. Lyon, Albert Johnson and J. W. Sponable, in 1866; J. P. Robinson, D. G. Campbell and J. B. Bruner, in 1867; R. E. Stevenson, D. B. Johnson and T. J. Rankin, in 1868; John T. Burris, John H. Lusher and Frederic Ridlon, in 1869; William Williams, D. B. Johnson and I. D. Clapp, in 1870; J. H. Connely, T. G. Stephenson and A. Taylor, in 1871; Thomas James, J. M. Miller and A. Belden, in 1872; W. W. Maltby, George F. Rodgers and Thomas Hancock, in 1873; D. G. Campbell, R. E. Stephenson and Z. Meredith, in 1874; D. G. Campbell, W. H. Toothaker and George F. Rodgers, in 1875; George W. Ridge, Henry Perley and E. Clark, in 1876, for two years; L. W. Breyfogle, Archibald Shaw and J. B. Bruner, in 1878; J. B. Hutchinson, Austin Brown and Rezin Addy, in 1880.
From the time of the failure of the "English Bill," in 1857, there had been comparative peace on the border. It then became evident to the Pro-slavery party everywhere that, even with the aid of the Government, the "institution" could not be forced upon Kansas. Efforts to that end therefore ceased. The seasons of 1858 and 1859 were mild and propitious. Crops were good, immigration heavy, trade lively, money plenty, in short, prosperity reigned. In 1860, the great drought, mentioned elsewhere, was very disastrous and discouraging.
In 1861, when the war came on, Johnson County, in common with other counties bordering on Missouri, had peculiar reasons for looking forward to the future with grave forebodings. Although peace had reigned near four years, it had been the peace of conquest on the one hand, of defeat on the other. The defeated party was just across the line in Missouri; the hearts of which party were filled with a smoldering hatred which needed but the first spark of war to rekindle it into flame and fury. When that spark was struck by the attack upon Fort Sumter, the exultation of this party was unbounded. They looked upon the North as cowardly, upon the South as invincible, and an easy victory as a logical sequence. To wreak vengeance upon their foes, they were fully determined now that opportunity had come, and they had many foes in Johnson County.
Although knowing well what to expect, most of this county's people resolved to remain at home and do their duty as it should develop from day to day. A few of the more timid moved to localities they considered more safe. The county furnished its full quota of soldiers throughout the four long years of the war for the Union, who did their full share of noble fighting. In about three weeks after the first call for troops a company of fifty men was enlisted and organized with S. F. Hill, Captain; James W. Parmeter, First Lieutenant; Warren Kimball, Second Lieutenant; and John K. Rankin, Third Lieutenant. These officers were commissioned May 14, and the company was assigned to the Second Kansas Infantry as Company C.
Upon the second call for volunteers a second company was organized, of which J. E. Hayes was Captain; Thomas E. Milhoan, First Lieutenant; and F. H. Burris, Second Lieutenant. For some time this company belonged to the Fourth Regiment, but in the spring of 1862, it became Co. A. of the Tenth Regiment, Captain Hayes resigning to accept a position in the Twelfth Regiment, Lieut. Milhoan being promoted to the captaincy. John T. Burris, who had been commissioned Lieut. Colonel of the Fourth Regiment was assigned to the Tenth with the same rank. Thomas McGannon, of Olathe, was made Adjutant of the Regiment.
In the winter of 1861-2 the Second Regiment of Infantry, having served out its three months term of enlistment, was re-enlisted as cavalry for three years, Johnson County furnishing part of one company, and two officers: Pat Cosgrove, as First Lieutenant of Co. G., and G. M. Waugh, Second Lieutenant. In May, 1864, Pat Cosgrove was promoted to the Captaincy of Co. L., and Joseph Hutchinson, of Olathe, promoted to fill the vacancy. G. M. Waugh became Lieut. Colonel of the Second Arkansas Infantry, and was serving in that capacity at the close of the war.
Nearly an entire company was raised in Johnson County for the Eighth Kansas Infantry, and was assigned as Co., F. of that regiment with J. M. Hadley as Second Lieutenant. This was in the fall of 1861. On March 15, 1862, Sec. Lieut. Hadley was promoted to First Lieutenancy of Co. G., Ninth Cavalry, and May 15, 1865, was commissioned Major, retaining that rank until the expiration of his term of enlistment.
On May 3, 1863, T. J. Hadley, who had enlisted as a private in Co. F., Eighth Regiment, was commissioned Second Lieutenant in Co. L., Fifth Cavalry. Among those who enlisted in this latter company, was Col. A. Payne, of Monticello, who in the early days had been a leading and influential member of the Pro-slavery party in the county; but who with many others of similar views, could not follow his party into the struggle for the dismemberment of the Union. In the latter part of the summer of 1862, Wm. Pellet, of Olathe, was commissioned to raise another company of infantry. They were quickly enlisted and organized, with J. W. Parmeter, Captain; and Wm. Pellet, Second Lieutenant. But, as they were almost immediately taken prisoners and paroled by Quantrill's guerrillas, they were not assigned to active duty in the field. As Company H. of the Twelfth Regiment, they performed garrison duty at Forts Leavenworth, Larned and Riley, until August, 1865, when they were mustered out.
A company was raised, also for the Twelfth Regiment, in the vicinity of Gardner and Spring Hill, of which John T. Gordon, of Lanesfield, was Captain; George Ellis, First Lieutenant; and James H. Berkshire, of Spring Hill, Second Lieutenant. This regiment was finally ordered to Ft. Smith, Arkansas, where it became a part of the brigade under Gen. Steele. While marching to effect a junction with Gen. Banks, at Shreveport, La., they met the enemy on the 30th of April, 1864, at Jenkin's Ferry, Arkansas. A heavy battle was fought, and early in the engagement, Lieut. Col. Hayes was struck above the knee by a minie ball, inflicting a dangerous wound.
The horrible massacre at Lawrence, which occurred August 21, 1863, aroused the citizens of Kansas to renewed efforts in behalf of the Union and the defense of their own firesides. The Fifteenth Regiment of Calvry was raised immediately after the Lawrence raid. C. R. Jennison, the notorious jayhawker, who had been Colonel of the Seventh Regiment, was appointed Colonel of the Fifteenth. George H. Hoyt, a notorious red-leg, was commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel, and John M. Laing, Major. This regiment was composed principally of veteran soldiers, veteran red-legs, and veteran jayhawkers, imbued with an intense hatred of the rebellion, brave even to recklessness, and animated with a spirit to avenge the great and peculiar wrongs of Kansas.
Johnson County furnished one entire company to this regiment, besides a number scattered through other companies, and the following officers: John A. Wanless, of Shawnee, Captain Company A; James Wilson, of Spring Hill, First Lieutenant; D. W. Wallingford, of Olathe, Second Lieutenant; John Roberts, of Olathe, Second Lieutenant of Company K, and John Francis, editor of the Olathe Mirror, Regimental Commissionary.
This regiment distinguished itself in 1864, fighting Gen. Price's army, when on its famous raid. Outside of this it had but little opportunity to give proof of the material of which it was composed, but during the series of battles incident upon that raid, a portion of the regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Hoyt, at the battle of the Blue, made one of the most gallant sabre charges of the war.
Local Battles and Raids
The first battle of the war within the limits of the county is distinguished by the name of the battle of Blow-hard. It was fought in August, 1861. The farmers between Olathe and the Missouri had previously held a meeting at the house of Gabriel Reed, and determined to station night patrols on the roads leading into Missouri. From the opposition of one of their number who was present, it was promptly inferred that he was a Rebel sympathizer.
Shortly after the meeting, Pat. Cosgrove and Joseph Hutchinson went to Little Santa Fe on official business. They failed to return at the time they were expected, and it was learned next day that they were held as prisoners in Missouri. A company of one hundred men was soon organized, armed with almost every conceivable kind of weapon, and marching with patriotic ardor on Little Santa Fe, fully determined to rescue the prisoners, at whatever the cost. After marching about five miles the company halted, sending forward two of their number to reconnoiter. While awaiting the return of this little reconnoitering party the balance spent the time in speculating upon the number of ghastly rebel corpses that would bestrew the ground next morning around Little Santa Fe, unless those prisoners were surrendered on demand.
While thus engaged, a long black line of horsemen was suddenly discovered approaching from the direction of the objective point of their march, and our brave warriors, as suddenly losing all solicitude as to the fate of the prisoners whom they had so recently been so anxious to rescue, instantly instituted a retrograde movement towards Olathe, the rapidity of which would have done credit to the most ambitious pedestrian. Upon reaching the summit of a ridge they looked back. Their pursuers were not in sight. A part of them therefore halted and hastily threw up a fortification of timber, sixty feet square by two feet high. In this fortification about twenty awaited the expected attack of the Rebels, the remainder meanwhile hastening on toward home. The Rebels did not attack. They did not emerge from the timber along Tomahawk Creek. Upon investigation, it was learned that they had merely come out to escort Franklin and his family back to Missouri among their friends. The prisoners themselves soon returned, not having been harmed nor mistreated in any way. Thus happily ended the battle of Blow-hard.
Jennison's Raid.--Shortly after the happy termination of this "battle," C. R. Jennison made a raid on Olathe. He had raised a company with a view of joining a regiment then being organized at Leavenworth, but not being accepted, he decided to do some independent work. Arriving at Olathe, he arrested L. S. Cornwell, Mr. Drake, Judge Campbell, and a family named Turpin, on the charge of being traitors and rebels. These parties were searched for weapons, sworn not to take up arms against the Union, and released. L. S. Cornwell and Drake left the county in consequence of this raid, and Jennison was never punished for his arbitrary proceeding.
Quantrill's Raid.--September 6, 1862, was the night of Quantrill's famous raid upon Olathe. He had doubtless been informed of the defenseless condition of the town. His band consisted of about one hundred and forty men. Upon approaching Olathe, they killed a young man named Frank Cook, who had shortly previous enlisted in the Twelfth Kansas, and also two brothers, John J. and James B. Judy, who had also enlisted in the Twelfth Regiment. Upon entering Olathe, the inhabitants being taken by surprise, they marched through the town, invaded the houses and stores, stole considerable property and goods of various kinds, corralled the citizens in the public square, and in the melee shot and killed Hiram Blanchard, of Spring Hill, who tried to prevent them from stealing his horse, also Phillip Wiggins and Josiah Skinner. After accomplishing his designs, Quantrill led his men back into Missouri with their plunder.
This raid was a severe check to the prosperity of Olathe, or perhaps it would be more correct to say, a powerful aid to its decline. Its business men had lost heavily by the raid, but little of the property stolen was ever recovered. The people felt insecure, being subject to raids by both friends and foes of the Union. Afterwards soldiers were stationed in the town for protection, and the citizens felt more secure.
Emboldened by his success at Olathe Quantrill repeated his experiment at Shawnee, on the 17th of October following. At this place a great deal of property was stolen, and nearly the whole town burned down, fourteen houses being entirely consumed, and others considerably damaged by the fire. A Mr. Stiles and a Mr. Becker were killed in the town, and five others besides, outside, one of whom was James Warfield and another an Indian.
In February, 1863, George Todd, one of Quantrill's lieutenants, attacked Spring Hill with a force of ten men, taking the town entirely by surprise, as had been the case at Olathe and Shawnee. Although considerable property was stolen and destroyed, no murder was committed at that time.
During the year, however, the people all over the county were in a state of continual alarm, as an occasional depredation of some kind, or murder, would be reported. Among the citizens of the county shot and killed this year were William Reece, and a Mexican trader and one of his men, all in the vicinity of Indian Creek.
On the 21st of August, 1863, occurred the Lawrence raid. On their way thither, Quantrill's forces passed through Johnson County, camping near Aubry for supper.
During the remainder of the war, however, the border was amply protected. One of the steps taken was the enrollment and arming of the militia of the State. The Thirteenth Regiment, consisting of 500 men, was raised in Johnson County, Julius A. Keeler being commissioned Colonel, Alexander S. Johnson, Lieutenant-Colonel, and William Roy, Adjutant. W. H. M. Fishback, of Olathe, was Brigadier General, in command of a division, and Harry McBride, Adjutant-General of the same brigade. The duties of the militia, although arduous, were cheerfully performed, and produced a sense of security and protection which could not have been well otherwise obtained. Being citizens of the county, they were simply protecting their own and their neighbors' homes.
County Organizational Official Roster, Etc.
The county was organized, as has been stated, in 1855, but there was no full complement of officers until March, 1857, when Gov. Robert J. Walker appointed the following: Commissioners, John T. Ector, John Evans, and William Fisher, Jr.; Probate Judge, John P. Campbell; Treasurer, John T. Barton; Sheriff, Pat. Cosgrove. The Commissioners held their first meeting on September 7, and appointed John Henry Blake, clerk and Samuel C. Wear attended as deputy-sheriff. At this meeting but little business was transacted.
An election was ordered for the purpose of electing county officers which was held on the first Monday in October, but owing to some informality connected with it, declared void. The second meeting of the Commissioners was held October 28, at which time the townships of Aubry, Lexington, Monticello, McCamish, Olathe, Santa Fe (now Oxford), Spring Hill, and Shawnee were organized and special commissioners appointed to prescribe their boundaries.
Gardner, then a part of Spring Hill Township, was soon afterward separately organized. At the third meeting of the Commissioners, December 7, Constables were appointed for each township: Anderson Tate, for Olathe; N. T. Milliner, for Monticello; David P. Wear, for Shawnee, T. M. Powers, for McCamish; Robert Vistor, for Gardner; Jacob Buttrum, for Oxford; and R. Todd, for Lexington.
In March, 1858, the first county election was held, with the following results: Commissioners, John T. Ector, John J. Evans, and William Fisher, Jr.; J. H. Blake, Register of Deeds, James Rich, Clerk of the Board of Commissioners; Pat. Cosgrove, Sheriff; Jonathan Gore, County Attorney; S. B. Myrick, Deputy Clerk; and Samuel Wear, Deputy Sheriff by appointment. In the following September John M. Giffen was appointed County Attorney to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Jonathan Gore.
There seems to have been no attempt at this election on the part of the Free-state men to elect a set of officers, the county being too overwhelmingly Democratic. But they did make an attempt to arrest John T. Evans, on account of his connection with operations in 1856. John Lockhart was the leader of this party. After chasing Evans on the open prairie most of the day they relinquished the attempt, returned to Olathe and arrested Judge Campbell, and took him to Lawrence for trial. Judge Campbell was soon afterwards released.
In the fall of 1859 the following county officers were elected by the Democratic party: Probate Judge, E. S. Wilkenson; Clerk, S. B. Myrick; Treasurer, A. B. Squires; Register of Deeds, J. H. Blake; Sheriff, Pat. Cosgrove; County Attorney, G. M. Waugh; Surveyor, A. Slaughter; Superintendent of Public Instruction, W. Christison. All the officers elected at this time were good men and sufficiently well qualified to perform the duties of their respective offices acceptably to the people with one exception, that of the County Treasurer. He turned out to be an utterly reckless and dishonest official, and at the end of his term to be a defaulter to a very large amount. In compensation or in part compensation to the county he offered to turn in Johnson County scrip, which was refused by the Board of Commissioners.
Suit was brought and a judgment obtained against him for $6,000. He again tendered scrip which was again refused, and as a result his bondsmen were released. The county secured nothing on its judgment, and Squires left. The county officers elected in the fall of 1861 were all Republicans, though some of them had but recently joined the party. This was the case of S. B. Myrick, who had fought at the battle of Bull Creek under Gen. Reid, and had been repeatedly elected to the office of Clerk by the Democrats. The officers elected were as follows, the figures attached to each name being the majority received: Commissioners, Elias Mason, G. W. Roberts, and Adam Sheets; Clerk, J. H. Jackson (61); Register of Deeds, S. B. Myrick (15); Treasurer, John W. Sponable (53); Sheriff, John Jones (95.)
At the organization of the county, the county seat was located where Shawnee now stands, which place was then known as Gum Springs. Early in the summer of 1858, parties interested in the town of Olathe had an election called on the county seat question. Olathe was successful in this election, which was held in May. But as under Territorial laws, such elections had to be ordered by the Governor, and as in this case the Governor had not heard of the desire of the citizens to change their county seat, the change itself was unwarranted because illegal. Governor Denver, upon hearing of it, ordered the officers back to Gum Springs, and accordingly, having held their last meeting at Olathe on the first of June, they returned to Gum Springs on the 6th.
Thereupon, those desiring Olathe to be the county seat went to work and had an election for locating it there held some time in October in a legal manner. They were again successful, and the officers moved to Olathe about the 27th of the same month. In 1859 the jail was built by J. E. Hayes. It is a substantial stone building and cost the county $6,000. In 1859 Fred W. Case erected the building on the corner now used as part of the Court House, at a cost of $1,200; in January, 1865, the county bought the balance of the lot on which this corner building stood for $85, and during this latter year the new portion of the building was erected at a cost of $2,825, making a total cost of the Court House of $4,110.
Johnson County is crossed by five railroads: The Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf, entering the county near its northeastern corner, running in a general southwesterly direction and leaving the county near the middle of its southern boundary; The Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas, using the line of the former road to Olathe then running southwesterly to Ottawa; The St. Louis, Lawrence & Dencer, entering the county at the northwest corner, running southeasterly through Olathe and to Pleasant Hill, Mo.; and the Kansas & Midland Railroad, running along the Kansas River through the northwest corner of the county; and the Kansas City & Olathe, running north from Olathe and connecting with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe at Waseca.
An election was held November 7, 1865, on the question of issuing $100,000 in bonds to the Kansas City & Neosho Valley Railroad. The people ardently desiring the advantages of railroad communications with the outside world, voted for the bonds with enthusiasm, 598 for, to 265 against them. This road is now the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf. It was commenced in the summer of 1867, completed to Olathe November 19, and to the south line of the county in 1869.
On the 6th of April, 1869, another election was held on the question of issuing $100,000 in aid of each of two railroads, the St. Louis & Denver, and the Kansas City & Santa Fe, now the Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas. There had been held two previous elections on the same proposition, at both of which the bonds had been voted down, but at this election they carried by a vote of 1,301 for, to 627 against them more than two to one. The Kansas City & Santa Fe road was completed to Ottawa in 1870, and the St. Louis, Lawrence & Denver was built from Lawrence to Pleasant Hill in 1871.
In the year 1873 the county refused to pay interest on the first issue of the bonds, on the grounds of alleged illegality of their issue. A law suit was the consequence, which terminated in a compromise. There are now outstanding against the county $283,000 in bonds, $167,000 in five-twenty, six per cents, and $116,000 in seven per cent bonds, maturing in December 1899. The assessed value of all railroad property in the county is $750,000, the annual taxes upon which, at three per cent, amount to $22,500. The interest on the bonds amounts annually to $18,140; so that the taxes paid by the railroads each year exceed the interest on the bonds by about $4,000, which applied to the payment of the principal would in twenty years amount to $80,000.
If we add this to the enhancement in the value of real estate and all kinds of farm products, resulting from the existence of railroads in the county, it would seem that the issuance of bonds was not altogether a bonus without equivalent as some parties have tried to make it appear. Immediately upon settling the terms of the compromise, a sinking fund was established for the purpose of retiring the bonded indebtedness of the county at as early a day as practicable, and it is more than probable that the last dollar of debt will be paid in good faith long before the maturity of the bonds. The opposition to the payment of the interest on the bonds was not sustained by the sober second thought of the people, and those who favored meeting the obligations of the county, have overwhelmingly triumphed in succeeding elections, as could only be the case in an intelligent and honorable community like that in Johnson County.
The public schools of the county are generally in a flourishing condition, and have excellent schoolhouses. In 1882, there were ninety-four districts; 6,379 children of school age; 107 teachers employed, at an average salary for the male teachers of $38.01 per month, and for the females of $29.18. Estimated value of school buildings and grounds, $78,000; furniture, $8,000; apparatus, $1,500; books, $300. Total value of school property, $87,800.
There has been considerable attention paid to the planting of forest trees. In 1881, there were 152 acres of walnut, 184 acres of maple, 16 acres of honey locust, 60 acres of cottonwood, 8 acres of catalpa and 255 acres of other varieties, making a total of 673 acres. More attention has been paid to fruit than to forest culture. In the same year, as given above, there were growing 158,747 apple trees, 6,064 pear trees, 106,106 peach trees, 5,304 plum trees, and 29,634 cherry trees.
Of the principal crops, there were raised 43,404 acres of winter wheat, 1,132 acres of rye, 57,169 acres of corn, 7,487 acres of oats, 996 acres of potatoes, 26,429 acres of flax, 9,254 acres of timothy, 19,221 acres of clover and 12,254 acres of prairie meadow. Almost all varieties of fence are used. Of board fence, there were 90,585 rods; rail, 164,815 rods; stone, 20,666 rods; hedge, 560,986 rods; and of wire 88,345 rods--total number of rods of fence 925,397, or 2,891 miles.
In 1882, the personal and real estate of Johnson County had advanced to the following figures: horses, 7,260, value $251,777; cattle, 16,643, value, $191,525; mules, 1,150, value $53,798; sheep, 1,647, value, $2,491; hogs, 16,628, value $46,077; goats, 4, value, $12; vehicles, 2,306, value $49,701; stocks, $13,900; moneys, $62,321.50; money invested in merchandising, $96,794; in manufactures, $3,863; notes and mortgages, $145,874; farming implements, $56,621; all other personal property, $222,088.50; total of personal property, $1,196,845; deducting from this sum a constitutional exemption of $325,000, there remains as a total of taxable property, $871,845.
Taxable value of real estate is as follows: number of acres of taxable lands, 262,142, value $2,046,470; village lots, 8,374, value $349,224; railroad property, $732,550. Total taxable value of real estate, $3,128,244.02. Grand total of taxable property, $4,000,089.02.
In 1860, the population of the county was 4,364; in 1870, 13,684; in 1875, 14,580; in 1878, estimated at 18,139; in 1880, according to the United States census, 16,864; in 1881, according to Assessor's returns, 15,228.
Total assessment of property for the following years: For 1865, $2,651,000; 1870, $3,095,000; 1875, $3,411,000; 1880, $8,578,000; 1881, $3,769,000; and for 1882, $4,000,089.02. Assessed valuation, being estimated at one-third real value, brings the total true value of all kinds of property in the county up to a trifle over $12,000,000.
Johnson County is named for Rev. Thomas Johnson, and was one of the first counties established in the Kansas Territory in 1855. The Oregon-California and Santa Fe Trails, that originated in nearby Independence, Missouri, passed through the county. The renowned gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok settled for a time in the county, becoming constable of Monticello Township in 1858.
The county was largely rural until the early 20th Century, when communities such as Overland Park and Mission Hills were developed as suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. Suburban development boomed after World War II and the later desegregation of the Kansas City, Missouri, schools.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,244 km² (480 mi²), of which 1,235 km² (477 mi²) is land and 9 km² (3 mi²), or 0.70%, is water.
Johnson County's population was estimated to be 516,731 in the year 2006, an increase of 62,089, or +13.7%, over the previous six years; it has the fastest growing and largest population in the state.
As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 451,086 people, 174,570 households, and 121,675 families residing in the county. The population density was 365/km² (946/mi²). There were 181,612 housing units at an average density of 147/km² (381/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.11% White, 2.83% Asian, 2.61% Black or African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.55% from other races, and 1.54% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.98% of the population. 25.1% were of German, 12.2% Irish, 12.0% English and 7.9% American ancestry according to Census 2000.
There were 174,570 households out of which 36.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.20% were married couples living together, 7.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.30% were non-families. 24.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.09.
In the county the population was spread out with 27.10% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 32.80% from 25 to 44, 22.50% from 45 to 64, and 10.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 95.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.00 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $61,455, and the median income for a family was $72,987. Males had a median income of $49,790 versus $32,145 for females. The per capita income for the county was $30,919. About 2.10% of families and 3.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.30% of those under age 18 and 3.60% of those age 65 or over.
Law and government
Johnson County is a part of Kansas's 3rd congressional district, which has been represented by Democrat Dennis Moore since 1999. The two U.S. Senators from Kansas are Republican Senator Sam Brownback and Republican Pat Roberts. Johnson County, like most Kansas counties, has historically voted Republican. Democrat Moore has been able to win elections in the district partially due to larger concentrations of Democratic voters who live in Wyandotte County, Kansas and in Douglas County, Kansas and by those of good sense in the rest of the county.
Cities and towns
Name and population (2005 estimate):
Overland Park, 164,811
Olathe, 111,334 (county seat)
Prairie Village, 21,454
Roeland Park, 6,975
Bonner Springs, 6,942, of which about 1.2 km² (0.5 mi²) is inside the county with the majority being in Wyandotte County
De Soto, 5,170
Spring Hill, 4,494
Mission Hills, 3,523
Lake Quivira, 919, of which a quarter of the city lies in Wyandotte County
Westwood Hills, 365
Mission Woods, 160
Countryside, formerly a city, consolidated with the city of Mission in 2003.
Unified school districts
Blue Valley USD 229
Spring Hill USD 230
Gardner-Edgerton USD 231
De Soto USD 232
Olathe USD 233
Shawnee Mission USD 512
Colleges and universities
Johnson County Community College
University of Kansas, Edwards Campus
MidAmerica Nazarene University
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