Douglas County, Kansas

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Douglas County
Douglas County Courthouse in Lawrence
Douglas County Courthouse in Lawrence
Map of Kansas highlighting Douglas County
Location within the U.S. state of Kansas
Map of the United States highlighting Kansas
Kansas's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: Coordinates: 38°52′N 95°14′W / 38.867°N 95.233°W / 38.867; -95.233
Country United States
State Kansas
FoundedAugust 25, 1855
Named forStephen Douglas
SeatLawrence
Largest cityLawrence
Area
 • Total475 sq mi (1,230 km2)
 • Land456 sq mi (1,180 km2)
 • Water19 sq mi (50 km2)  4.0%%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2016)
119,440
 • Density243/sq mi (94/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Area code785
Congressional district2nd
Websitedouglascountyks.org

Douglas County is a county in the U.S. state of Kansas. In 2010 census, there were 110,826 people living in the county.[1] That made it the fifth-most populous county in Kansas. The city with the most people is Lawrence.[2]

History[change | change source]

Early history[change | change source]

For many centuries, the Great Plains of North America was inhabited by nomadic Plains Indians. From the 16th century to 18th century, the Kingdom of France claimed ownership of large parts of North America. In 1762, after the French and Indian War, France secretly gave all the territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain, per the Treaty of Fontainebleau.[3]

19th century[change | change source]

In 1802, Spain returned most of the land to France. But it kept about 7,500 square miles. In 1803, most of the land including the modern-day state of Kansas was acquired by the United States from France as part of Louisiana Purchase.

In 1854, the Kansas–Nebraska Act created the territory of Kansas. In 1855, Douglas County was established. Douglas County was opened for settlement on May 15, 1854. It was named for Stephen A. Douglas.[4] The county was practically at the center of the Bleeding Kansas years as leaders in Lecompton, the territorial capital, wanted Kansas to be a slave state. Leaders in Lawrence wanted Kansas to be a free state. A number of events took place in Douglas County. These including the drafting of the controversial Lecompton Constitution (attempting to admit Kansas as a slave state),[5] the sacking of Lawrence,[6] and the Battle of Black Jack.[7]

The first railroad in Douglas County, the Union Pacific, was built through that territory in 1864.[8]

Geography[change | change source]

Lone Star Lake in southeastern Douglas County.

The U.S. Census Bureau says that the county has a total area of 475 square miles (1,230 km2). Of this, 456 square miles (1,180 km2) is land and 19 square miles (49 km2) (4.0%) is water.[9] It is the fifth-smallest county in Kansas by land area. Much of its northern border is defined by the Kansas River, which goes through Lawrence. The Bowersock Dam is one of the county's producers of hydropower.[10]

Lakes[change | change source]

People[change | change source]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18608,637
187020,592138.4%
188021,7005.4%
189023,96110.4%
190025,0964.7%
191024,724−1.5%
192023,998−2.9%
193025,1434.8%
194025,1710.1%
195034,08635.4%
196043,72028.3%
197057,93232.5%
198067,64016.8%
199081,79820.9%
200099,96222.2%
2010110,82610.9%
Est. 2017120,793[11]9.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790-1960[13] 1900-1990[14]
1990-2000[15] 2010-2016[1]

Douglas County includes the Lawrence, Kansas United States metropolitan area.

In 2000, there were 99,962 people, 38,486 households, and 21,167 families living in Douglas County.[16] The people were 86.1% White, 4.2% Black or African American, 2.6% Native American, 3.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.2% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. 3.3% of the people were Hispanic or Latino.

There were 38,486 households. 27.4% of them had children under 18 years old; 43.1% of them had married people; 8.5% had only a woman as the main person (with no man); 45% were not families. 28.5% were people living alone, and 5.8% were people over 65 years old living alone.

20.4% of the people were under 18 years old; 26.4% of the people were between 18 and 24 years old; 28.3% of the people were between 25 and 44 years old; 16.9% of the people were between 45 and 64 years old; 7.9% were 65 years old or older.

Government[change | change source]

County[change | change source]

The Democratic Party has been dominant in Douglas County. Democrats control all County-wide offices in the County, except for the Sheriff. Douglas County is currently served by county commissioners Mike Gaughan, Nancy Thellman, and Michelle Derusseau. Gaughan and Thellman are Democrats, while Derusseau is the lone Republican on the commission.

State[change | change source]

Democratic state representatives representing portions of the county include John Wilson (10th District), Barbara Ballard (44th District), and Dennis Highberger (46th District), Mike Amyx (45th District); Republican state representatives include Jim Karleskint (42nd District) and Ken Corbet (54th District). The three state senators representing the county, Marci Francisco (2nd District), Tom Holland (3rd District), and Anthony Hensley (19th District), are all Democrats.[17]

Presidential elections[change | change source]

Presidential election results
Presidential election results[18]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2016 29.3% 14,688 62.3% 31,195 8.4% 4,204
2012 35.9% 17,401 60.4% 29,267 3.7% 1,796
2008 33.4% 17,929 64.1% 34,398 2.5% 1,314
2004 41.0% 20,544 57.1% 28,634 1.9% 933
2000 42.8% 17,062 45.8% 18,249 11.4% 4,527
1996 42.6% 16,116 47.9% 18,116 9.4% 3,568
1992 30.6% 12,949 46.0% 19,439 23.4% 9,877
1988 49.9% 16,149 48.7% 15,752 1.4% 460
1984 58.9% 18,975 40.0% 12,880 1.2% 378
1980 49.0% 14,106 32.5% 9,360 18.5% 5,318
1976 51.3% 14,277 42.8% 11,922 5.9% 1,643
1972 55.6% 15,316 42.3% 11,646 2.1% 565
1968 53.8% 10,533 35.4% 6,936 10.8% 2,114
1964 45.1% 7,825 54.3% 9,416 0.7% 112
1960 66.4% 11,337 33.3% 5,690 0.2% 38
1956 71.9% 11,029 27.9% 4,283 0.3% 39
1952 74.3% 11,095 25.2% 3,765 0.4% 64
1948 64.3% 9,287 33.1% 4,778 2.7% 389
1944 67.5% 8,224 31.9% 3,886 0.7% 79
1940 70.3% 9,146 28.6% 3,727 1.1% 141
1936 62.2% 8,324 37.1% 4,961 0.7% 96
1932 58.7% 7,346 38.6% 4,833 2.7% 342
1928 78.7% 8,887 20.3% 2,297 1.0% 108
1924 75.3% 8,052 18.0% 1,922 6.8% 726
1920 73.2% 6,266 25.7% 2,197 1.1% 94
1916 53.9% 4,975 41.5% 3,834 4.6% 426
1912 21.8% 1,133 36.3% 1,888 41.9% 2,182
1908 60.6% 3,279 37.2% 2,010 2.2% 119
1904 74.3% 3,574 20.6% 989 5.2% 249
1900 58.6% 3,453 39.6% 2,333 1.9% 111
1896 57.4% 3,582 41.2% 2,573 1.4% 85
1892 57.3% 3,114 42.7% 2,320
1888 60.0% 3,189 31.4% 1,669 8.6% 455

Douglas County has a political history similar to that of the Yankee Northeast than of the Great Plains. This can can be seen from its voting history. It has the exact same voting history as that of Vermont or Cheshire County, New Hampshire (except the 1912 presidential election). This is due to the county's strong New England heritage. Douglas County voted for the Republican candidate in every Presidential election between 1864 and 1960, except in 1912 when it voted for Progressive Theodore Roosevelt. The Republican presidential nominee got over sixty percent of Douglas County's vote in every election between 1920 and 1960 (except 1932 when Herbert Hoover received 58.7 percent). To show how deeply the county's Republican roots ran, even when Kansas voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936, Republican candidates won the county easily.

This changed in 1964, with the anti-Yankee feeling and Southern leanings of Barry Goldwater. This led to Douglas County voting for Lyndon B. Johnson, making Johnson the first Democrat ever to win the county. With more moderate GOP candidates, the GOP carried the county in every election between 1968 and 1988. However, the growing transformation of Lawrence into a liberal academic town pulled the county into the Democratic column from 1992 onwards. This was similar to many counties around the United States with college towns. Since the 2004 election, Douglas County has been one of the strongest Democratic places in Kansas, second only to Wyandotte County. Often, Douglas and Wyandotte are the only two counties in the state to vote for Democratic presidential candidates.

Education[change | change source]

Scenic view of Rural Douglas County

Unified school districts[change | change source]

Douglas County is served by seven school districts.

Universities and colleges[change | change source]

The University of Kansas's main campus is in Lawrence. Haskell Indian Nations University is also in Lawrence. Baker University, the state's oldest university, is in Baldwin City, Kansas.

Parks[change | change source]

Clinton Lake, completed in 1980, offers boating, fishing and other water sports. Various parks around the lake have camping and trails for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.[19]

Lone Star Lake is a small lake to the southwest of Lawrence. It offers fishing, boating and camping. Just northwest of Baldwin City is Douglas State Fishing Lake which provides hunting, fishing and limited camping. Other parks around the county include Black Jack Park, which includes the Ivan Boyd Prairie Preserve and Robert Hall Pearson Memorial Park, Broken Arrow Park in Lawrence, and Wells Overlook Park just south of Lawrence.[20]

Events[change | change source]

Big events in the county include the Maple Leaf Festival in Baldwin City every third full weekend in October.[21] Lecompton's Territorial Days take place every year in June.[22] Lawrence has many parades throughout the year including Christmas and St. Patrick's Day.[23][24]

Transportation[change | change source]

Major highways[change | change source]

  • I-70 / Kansas Turnpike, runs east to west just north of Lawrence.
  • US-59 runs north to south through the middle of the county and the middle of Lawrence.
  • US-40 virtually follows the Oregon Trail heading west out of Lawrence.
  • US-56 runs east to west in the southern half of the county, going through Baldwin City and skirts the Santa Fe Trail.
  • K-10 runs from the I-70 Lecompton Exchange along the south and west border of Lawrence to US-59 then north until 23rd Street where it heads east out of town into Johnson County.

Other major highways include:

  • US-24 which is in Grant township leading from Leavenworth to Jefferson County.
  • K-32 starts just outside Lawrence and leads into Leavenworth County.
  • K-33 is in extreme southeast Douglas County and leads into Franklin County.

County Highways[change | change source]

Douglas County also maintains an extensive network of county highways to serve the rural areas of the county. None of these county highways go into Lawrence.

Communities[change | change source]

2005 KDOT Map of Douglas County (map legend)

Incorporated cities[change | change source]

Unincorporated communities[change | change source]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  3. "Paris, Treaty of (1763)". U.S. History in Context. Gale, Cengage Learning. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  4. Henry Gannett (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 108.
  5. "Discover Lecompton, KS". Douglas County Senior Services. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  6. "The Sack of Lawrence, Kansas, 1856". Eye Witness to History. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  7. "Black Jack Battleground in Douglas County, Kansas". Civil War on the Western Border. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  8. Frank Wilson Blackmar (1912). Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Persons, Etc. Standard Publishing Company. p. 539.
  9. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  10. "Bowersock Mills & Power Company". Kansas Travel, Tourism & Restaurants. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  11. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  12. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  14. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  15. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  16. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  17. Douglas County - State Officials Archived August 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  18. http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-02-11. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. http://douglas-county.org/depts/pw/pw_countyparks.aspx?category_id=[permanent dead link]
  21. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-27. Retrieved 2012-02-11. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. http://www.lecomptonterritorialdays.com/
  23. http://lawrencestpatricksdayparade.com/
  24. http://www.lawrencechristmasparade.org/

More reading[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

County
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