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Shawano County, Wisconsin facts for kids

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Shawano County
Shawano County Courthouse, built mid-1950s
Shawano County Courthouse, built mid-1950s
Map of Wisconsin highlighting Shawano County
Location within the U.S. state of Wisconsin
Map of the United States highlighting Wisconsin
Wisconsin's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Wisconsin
Founded February 16, 1853
Seat Shawano
Largest city Shawano
 • Total 909 sq mi (2,350 km2)
 • Land 893 sq mi (2,310 km2)
 • Water 16 sq mi (40 km2)  1.8%%
 • Total 41,949
 • Estimate 
 • Density 46.149/sq mi (17.818/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 8th

Shawano County (pronounced SHAW-no) (originally Shawanaw County) is a county located in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 41,949. Its county seat is Shawano.

Shawano County is included in the Shawano, WI Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Green Bay-Shawano, WI Combined Statistical Area.


Its name is from a modified Ojibwa term meaning 'southern'; it was the southern boundary of the Ojibwa nation. A Menominee chief named Sawanoh led a band that lived in the area. Many citizens of Shawano believe the lake, county, and city (Town of Shawanaw founded 1853 and changed to Shawano in 1856), were named after Chief Sawanoh. A historical marker placed in 1958 near the lake along Highway 22 states the lake was named as the southern boundary of Chippewa (Ojibwe) territory.

Various historical recordings of the spelling of Shawano include: Sawanoh, Shawanaw, Sharuno, Shabin, Savannah, Savanah... which show the influence of French, German, and English translation (v's, w's, and b's, sounding very similar and thus being recorded incorrectly at times). Similar differences in spelling have been seen in the following versions: Mahican/Mahikan/Maikens tribe or Mohecan/Morhican/Mohican tribe, all referring to the same Algonquian-speaking people.

The federally recognized Stockbridge-Munsee Community (made up of Algonquian-speaking Mahican and Lenape), whose ancestors traditionally lived in the East along the Hudson River Valley, is located in Shawano County. Their reservation encompasses the towns of Bartelme, and Red Springs.

The county was created as a separate county in 1853 under the name Shawanaw County. In 1861 it achieved full organization. The county, unlike the city, retained the old spelling until 1864.

From the mid-nineteenth century on, the county was settled by European Americans, including many German, and later, Polish immigrants. They developed the county for agriculture. Before that, French-Canadian and British fur traders traveled widely through the area, trading with the Chippewa and other Native American peoples of the region.


Shawano County Wisconsin Fairgrounds April 2012
Shawano County Fairgrounds

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 909 square miles (2,350 km2), of which 893 square miles (2,310 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (1.8%) is water.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • US 45.svg U.S. Highway 45
  • WIS 22.svg Highway 22 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 29.svg Highway 29 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 32.svg Highway 32 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 47.svg Highway 47 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 52.svg Highway 52 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 55.svg Highway 55 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 110.svg Highway 110 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 117.svg Highway 117 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 153.svg Highway 153 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 156.svg Highway 156 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 160.svg Highway 160 (Wisconsin)
  • WIS 187.svg Highway 187 (Wisconsin)


The city and county jointly operate the Shawano Municipal Airport (KEZS) which is located on Shawano Lake.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 829
1870 3,166 281.9%
1880 10,371 227.6%
1890 19,236 85.5%
1900 27,475 42.8%
1910 31,884 16.0%
1920 33,975 6.6%
1930 33,516 −1.4%
1940 35,378 5.6%
1950 35,249 −0.4%
1960 34,351 −2.5%
1970 32,650 −5.0%
1980 35,928 10.0%
1990 37,157 3.4%
2000 40,664 9.4%
2010 41,949 3.2%
2020 (est.) 40,786 −2.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2020
USA Shawano County, Wisconsin age pyramid
2000 Census Age Pyramid for Shawano County

As of the census of 2000, there were 40,664 people, 15,815 households, and 11,149 families residing in the county. The population density was 46 people per square mile (18/km2). There were 18,317 housing units at an average density of 20 per square mile (8/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 91.61% White, 0.22% Black or African American, 6.26% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.31% from other races, and 1.22% from two or more races. 1.00% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 54.9% were of German and 8.1% Polish ancestry.

There were 15,815 households, out of which 31.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.30% were married couples living together, 8.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.50% were non-families. 24.90% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.70% under the age of 18, 6.90% from 18 to 24, 27.50% from 25 to 44, 23.10% from 45 to 64, and 16.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 99.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.60 males.


Image of Shawano Lake, taken from the east shore in Cecil looking west.
A farm in rural Shawano County
Fairgrounds sign
Shawano County Sign on County D traveling south
Sign for Shawano County on CTH D




Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

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