Shawnee County (county code SN) is a county located in northeast Kansas, in the central United States of America. As of the 2010 census, the population was 177,934 making it the third-most populous county in Kansas. Its most populous city, Topeka, is the state capital and county seat. The county was one of the original 33 counties created by the first territorial legislature in 1855, and it was named for the Shawnee tribe of Native Americans.
In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized, then in 1861 Kansas became the 34th U.S. state. In 1855, Shawnee County was established.
Before the treaty of 1854, the area now known as Shawnee County was inhabited by Shawnee, Kansas, and Pottowatomie Indian tribes. Westward expansion brought the country its first white settler in 1830 when Frederick Choteau opened a trading post on American Chief (now Mission) Creek. In 1855, Shawnee became one of the first counties established by the Kansas territorial legislature with a population of 250. General H. J. Strickler, of Tecumseh, who was a member of the council in 1855, and also of the joint committee on Counties, claimed Shawnee for the name of his county. At that time, Shawnee County borders were entirely south of the Kansas River and extended south to include Osage City and Carbondale. The legislature later desired to make Topeka the county seat and moved the borders of the county to their present locations to make Topeka centrally located in the county.
As of the 2000 census, there were 169,871 people, 68,920 households, and 44,660 families residing in the county. The population density was 309 people per square mile (119/km²). There were 73,768 housing units at an average density of 134 per square mile (52/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 82.89% White, 9.03% Black or African American, 1.17% Native American, 0.95% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.20% from other races, and 2.72% from two or more races. 7.26% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 68,920 households out of which 30.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.60% were married couples living together, 11.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.20% were non-families. 29.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.98.
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