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Douglas County, Kansas facts for kids

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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.
Country  United States
State  Kansas
Founded August 25, 1855
Named for Stephen Douglas
Seat Lawrence
Largest city Lawrence
 • Total 475 sq mi (1,230 km2)
 • Land 456 sq mi (1,180 km2)
 • Water 19 sq mi (50 km2)  4.0%%
 • Total 118,785
 • Density 260.5/sq mi (100.6/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Area code 785
Congressional district 2nd

Douglas County (county code DG) is located in the U.S. state of Kansas. As of the 2020 census, the county population was 118,785, making it the fifth-most populous county in Kansas. Its county seat and most populous city is Lawrence.


Early history

For many millennia, the Great Plains of North America was inhabited by nomadic Native Americans. 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 ceded New France to Spain, per the Treaty of Fontainebleau.

19th century

In 1802, Spain returned most of the land to France, but keeping title to about 7,500 square miles. In 1803, most of the land for modern day Kansas was acquired by the United States from France as part of the 828,000 square mile Louisiana Purchase for 2.83 cents per acre.

In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized, then in 1861 Kansas became the 34th U.S. state. In 1855, Douglas County was established. Douglas County was opened for settlement on May 15, 1854, and was named for Stephen A. Douglas, a senator from Illinois. 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 and leaders in Lawrence wanted Kansas to be a free state. Because of this, multiple events took place, including the drafting of the Lecompton Constitution admitting Kansas as a slave state, the sacking of Lawrence, and the Battle of Black Jack.

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


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 475 square miles (1,230 km2), of which 456 square miles (1,180 km2) is land and 19 square miles (49 km2) (4.0%) is water. It is the fifth-smallest county in Kansas by land area. Much of its northern boundary is defined by the Kansas River, which flows through Lawrence and provides hydropower at the Bowersock Dam.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 8,637
1870 20,592 138.4%
1880 21,700 5.4%
1890 23,961 10.4%
1900 25,096 4.7%
1910 24,724 −1.5%
1920 23,998 −2.9%
1930 25,143 4.8%
1940 25,171 0.1%
1950 34,086 35.4%
1960 43,720 28.3%
1970 57,932 32.5%
1980 67,640 16.8%
1990 81,798 20.9%
2000 99,962 22.2%
2010 110,826 10.9%
2020 118,785 7.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020

Douglas County comprises the Lawrence, KS Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Kansas City-Overland Park-Kansas City, MO-KS Combined Statistical Area.

As of the 2000 census, there were 99,962 people, 38,486 households, and 21,167 families residing in the county. The population density was 219 people per square mile (84/km2). There were 40,250 housing units at an average density of 88 per square mile (34/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 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. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.3% of the population.

There were 38,486 households, out of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.0% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 20.4% under the age of 18, 26.4% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 16.9% from 45 to 64, and 7.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females there were 98.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,547, and the median income for a family was $53,991. Males had a median income of $35,577 versus $27,225 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,952. About 6.2% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.0% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.


Major highways

  • 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

Douglas County also maintains an extensive network of county highways to serve the rural areas of the county. None of these county highways is in the Lawrence city limits.


Clinton Lake, completed in 1980, offers boating, fishing and other water sports and various parks surrounding the lake provides camping and trails for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.

Lone Star Lake is a small country lake to the southwest of Lawrence 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.


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


Incorporated cities

Unincorporated communities


Douglas County is divided into nine townships. The city of Lawrence is considered governmentally independent and is excluded from the census figures for the townships. In the following table, the population center is the largest city (or cities) of significant size included in that township's population total.

Township FIPS Population
Population Population
/km² (/sq mi)
Land area
km² (sq mi)
Water area
km² (sq mi)
Water % Geographic coordinates
Clinton 14325 531 7 (17) 80 (31) 26 (10) 24.41% 38°54′18″N 95°24′20″W / 38.90500°N 95.40556°W / 38.90500; -95.40556
Eudora 21700 Eudora 5,571 43 (113) 128 (49) 2 (1) 1.57% 38°55′42″N 95°6′15″W / 38.92833°N 95.10417°W / 38.92833; -95.10417
Grant 27650 442 10 (27) 43 (16) 0 (0) 0.74% 39°0′8″N 95°13′19″W / 39.00222°N 95.22194°W / 39.00222; -95.22194
Kanwaka 36075 1,317 12 (30) 114 (44) 8 (3) 6.69% 38°57′37″N 95°23′16″W / 38.96028°N 95.38778°W / 38.96028; -95.38778
Lecompton 39175 Lecompton 1,761 20 (51) 90 (35) 2 (1) 2.45% 39°2′31″N 95°24′27″W / 39.04194°N 95.40750°W / 39.04194; -95.40750
Marion 44700 836 5 (12) 185 (72) 1 (0) 0.52% 38°49′4″N 95°24′35″W / 38.81778°N 95.40972°W / 38.81778; -95.40972
Palmyra 54225 Baldwin City 5,760 27 (70) 212 (82) 2 (1) 0.79% 38°47′0″N 95°10′40″W / 38.78333°N 95.17778°W / 38.78333; -95.17778
Wakarusa 74400 2,237 19 (49) 119 (46) 2 (1) 1.81% 38°55′49″N 95°14′43″W / 38.93028°N 95.24528°W / 38.93028; -95.24528
Willow Springs 79500 1,409 10 (26) 141 (54) 1 (0) 0.54% 38°47′23″N 95°18′17″W / 38.78972°N 95.30472°W / 38.78972; -95.30472

Historic Townships

Douglas County 1889
Map of Douglas County, 1889. From History of Kansas.

The county originally had only four townships. Lecompton comprised the area of Lecompton, Kanwaka, and Clinton townships; Washington took the place of Marion and Willow Springs townships; Wakarusa comprised both Wakarusa and Eudora townships; and Calhoun was the original name of Palmyra township. Grant township was annexed from Jefferson County in 1874.


Douglas County Kansas USA
Scenic view of Rural Douglas County

Unified school districts

Douglas County is served by seven school districts.

  • Lawrence USD 497 serves Lawrence, the Clinton Lake area, and parts of rural Douglas County that surround Lawrence.
  • Eudora USD 491 serves Eudora and the northeast part of the county.
  • Shawnee Heights USD 450 services the extreme western part of the county including Big Springs.

Universities and colleges

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

Notable people

  • Isaac F. Hughes, Douglas County commissioner and City Council member in both Lawrence, Kansas, and Los Angeles, California.

Images for kids

See also

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