Shawnee County (county code SN) is a county located in northeast Kansas, in the central United States of America. Its most populous city, Topeka, is the state capital and county seat. The county's population was 169,871 at the 2000 census, and it was estimated to be 172,693 in the year 2006. The county along with Jackson, Jefferson, Osage, and Wabaunsee counties is included in the Topeka Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated population of 228,894 in 2006.
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.
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.
1855 also saw the first ever meeting of the Shawnee County Board of Commissioners. Tecumseh was the first county seat, and the first county courthouse was opened there in 1856. The building was 40x50 feet but was never finished. Topeka was made the county seat by popular vote in 1858, and a new courthouse was built at 4th Street and Kansas Avenue in 1867. In 1896, a new larger courthouse was constructed at 5th and Van Buren, with more than 50,000 residents then living in the county. That building remained in use until the current courthouse at 7th and Quincy opened in 1965.
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