Kansas History and Heritage Project-Johnson County History

Johnson County History
"A New Centennial History of Kansas," Charles Tuttle, 1876

Johnson County was organized in 1855, and named in honor of a Methodist missionary among the Shawnees from 1829 until the territory was settled. The area is 480 square miles, and the population in 1875 was 14,580. Males preponderate to the number of 564. Farming engages the attention of seventy-two per cent, of the population, and eight per cent, are employed in mines and manufactures. The county seat is at Olathe, 48 miles east from Topeka. Bottom lands make up ten per cent, of the surface, and there is about sixteen per cent, of forest. The streams are Indian, Blue, Turkey, Mill, Cedar, Clear, Captain's, Bull and Kill creeks. The creeks run from near the center of the county. Springs are numerous, and well water is found at from ten to forty feet deep. Coal has been found at several places, but the vein is only seven inches thick. It is claimed that a seam of bituminous coal three feet six inches thick can be obtained by sinking 530 feet. Building stone is plentiful, and it is said that hydraulic cement, red ochre, fire and pottery clay are also to be had in considerable quantities. The county has excellent railroad facilities, as the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston; the Missouri River, Fort Scott and Gulf; the St, Louis, Lawrence and Denver, via Pleasant Hill; and the Kansas Midland railroads, are competitors for the favors of the public. There are no water powers worth naming in the county, and but few manufactures. Among the principal may be mentioned a steam grist mill at Spring Hill, and similar works at Olathe, De Soto and McCamish townships; at Shawnee there is a saw and grist mill, as also at Monticello, and Olathe has besides a steam factory for making spring beds, and a cigar factory; cheese factories have been established in some few places on a small scale only.

There are three banks in the county, one being located at Olathe, the county seat, where also there are two weekly papers published. There are 90 districts, and 80 school houses valued at $65,851, The Catholics have three parochial schools, at Shawnee, Edgerton and at Aubrey. There are 20 church edifices in the county, valued at $44,700. Books, mostly in private collections, are reported to the extent of about 6,000 volumes. There are unsold lands in Johnson county. This county was self supporting at the time of the locust plague, because there was no opening for new settlers unless they could buy out their predecessors.

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This website created Jan. 5, 2013 by Sheryl McClure.
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