Main Births etc
Olathe, Kansas
—  City  —
Olathe City Hall
Motto: "Setting the Standard in Excellence for Public Service"
Location within Johnson County and Kansas
Coordinates: 38°52′51″N 94°48′11″W / 38.88083, -94.80306Coordinates: 38°52′51″N 94°48′11″W / 38.88083, -94.80306
Country United States
State Kansas
County Johnson
Founded 1857[1]
 • Type Mayor–Council
 • Mayor Michael Copeland
 • City 60.42 sq mi (156.49 km2)
 • Land 59.66 sq mi (154.52 km2)
 • Water 0.76 sq mi (1.97 km2)  0.55%
Elevation 1,050 ft (315 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • City 125,872
 • Estimate (2013)[4] 131,885
 • Rank US: 193rd
 • Density 2,109.8/sq mi (814.6/km2)
 • Metro 2,054,473 (US: 30th)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 66051,66061,66062,66063
Area code(s) 913
FIPS code 20-52575
GNIS feature ID 0479198[5]

Olathe ( /ˈlθə/ oh-LAY-thə) is a city in and is the county seat of Johnson County, Kansas, United States.[6] Located in northeastern Kansas, it is also the fourth most populous city in the state, with a population of 125,872 at the 2010 census.[7] Olathe is the fourth-largest city in the Kansas City metropolitan area. It is bordered by the cities of Lenexa to the north, Overland Park to the east, and Gardner to the southwest.


19th century[]

Olathe was founded by Dr. John T. Barton in the spring of 1857. He rode to the center of Johnson County, Kansas, and staked two quarter sections of land as the town site. He later described his ride to friends: "...the prairie was covered with verbena and other wild flowers. I kept thinking the land was beautiful and that I should name the town Beautiful." Purportedly, Barton asked a Shawnee interpreter how to say "Beautiful" in his native language. The interpreter responded, "Olathe."[8]

Olathe was incorporated as a city in 1857.[9]

While Olathe was not the first city established in Johnson County, it quickly became the largest and was named the county seat in October 1859.[8] The city's early days were filled with violence, as pro-slavery forces from nearby Missouri often clashed with local abolitionists. These conflicts were known on a large scale as Bleeding Kansas.

As the 1850s came to a close, and as Kansas entered the Union as a free state in 1861, the violence lessened. However, a year later Confederate guerrillas from Missouri led by William Quantrill surprised the residents and raided the city on September 7, 1862, killing a half dozen men, robbing numerous businesses and private homes, and destroying most of the city. Quantrill launched the raid because the people of Olathe were known for their abolitionism. Throughout the Civil War a military post operated in Olathe. The post probably was established in 1861 and was located on the public square on which the Johnson County Courthouse has sat since that time. In March 1862 one company of troops were known to have been stationed there. When Quantrill raided Olathe on September 6, 1862, more than 125 Union soldiers, almost all of them recruits, were there. These surrendered to Quantrill and were compelled by Quantrill to take an oath forbidding them from taking up arms against the Confederacy. It was decided in November the recruits and soldiers in Olathe could not be compelled to obey oaths extracted by guerrillas, as such forces were not recognized as legitimate enemy military units.[10][11][12]

Kansas militia occupied the Olathe military post through much of the Civil War and Army troops were there much of the time, as well. Twice more Olathe was threatened by Confederates. On August 20–21, 1863, Quantrill again passed through the area when he raided Lawrence, Kansas. (See Lawrence Massacre for more on this.) Many Union troops on those two days moved into and out of Olathe. The second time was on October 24-5, 1864, when Confederate Maj. Gen. Sterling Price and a force of 10,000 men passed the area on their retreat south. (See Price's Raid for more about this.)[13][14][15]

The military post existed beyond the end of the Civil War, being deactivated probably in August 1865.[16]

Olathe served as a stop on the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Santa Fe Trail. Catering to travelers was the main source of income for local stores and businesses. The Mahaffie House, a popular resupply point for wagons headed westward, is today a registered historical site maintained by the City of Olathe. The staff wears period costumes, and stagecoach rides and farm animals make the site a favorite among children. Visitors participate a Civil War re-enactment, Wild West Days, and other activities there.

After the construction of the transcontinental railroad, the trails to the west lost importance, and Olathe faded into obscurity and remained a small, sleepy prairie town.

20th century[]

In the 1950s, the construction of the Interstate Highway system and, more directly, I-35, linked Olathe directly to nearby Kansas City. The result was tremendous residential growth as Olathe became a part of the Kansas City metropolitan area. In the 1980s, Olathe experienced tremendous commercial growth, which also drew more residents. It is estimated that Olathe's population surpassed 100,000 in 2001, and current projections show Olathe's growth continuing as the city expands into the farm fields south, west and north of town.

21st century[]

In 2008, the US Census Bureau ranked Olathe the 24th fastest-growing city in the nation.[17][18] The same year, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Olathe #11 on its list of the "100 Best Cities to Live in the United States."[19]


Olathe is located at 38°52′51″N 94°48′11″W / 38.88083, -94.80306.[20] 2003 Orthophoto Aerial According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 60.42 square miles (156.49 km2), of which, 59.66 square miles (154.52 km2) is land and 0.76 square miles (1.97 km2) is water.[2] Olathe has two public lakes: Lake Olathe with 172 acres (0.696 km2) of water surface and Cedar Lake with 45 acres (0.182 km2).

Olathe's Black Bob Park is named after Hathawekela Shawnee Chief Black Bob.[21]


Olathe has a humid-continental climate, with cold to mild winters and hot summers. Temperatures range from an average high of 39 °F (4 °C) and low 20 °F (−7 °C) in January to an average high of nearly 90 °F (32 °C) in July. The temperature reaches 90 °F (32 °C) an average of 36 days per year and 100 °F (38 °C) an average of 3 days per year. The minimum temperature falls below freezing (32 °F) an average of 102 days per year, but rarely drops below 10 °F (−12 °C). Typically the first frost occurs between mid-October and the first week of November, and the last frost occurs between the end of March and the second week of April.

The area receives about 40 inches (1,000 mm) of precipitation during an average year with the largest share being received in May and June—the April–June period averages 30 days of measurable precipitation. During a typical year the total amount of precipitation may be anywhere from 28 to almost 53 inches. There are on average 95 days of measurable precipitation per year. Winter snowfall averages about 19 inches, but the median is 13 inches (330 mm). Measurable snowfall occurs an average of 9 days per year with at least an inch of snow being received on seven of those days. Snow depth of at least an inch occurs an average of 25 days per year.

Source: Monthly Station Climate Summaries, 1971–2000, U.S. National Climatic Data Center
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Temperatures (°F)
Mean high 39.3 43.8 55.1 65.7 74.6 84.3 89.4 87.8 79.1 68.3 53.8 42.0 65.7
Mean low 19.9 24.3 33.7 43.8 54.9 63.8 68.6 66.6 58.3 47.3 33.8 23.2 45.3
Highest recorded 74
Lowest recorded −18
Precipitation (inches)
Median 1.20 1.15 2.12 3.52 4.97 4.96 3.42 3.07 3.76 3.59 2.77 1.45 35.98
Mean number of days 6.0 5.7 8.6 9.8 11.4 9.2 8.2 8.4 7.7 7.7 7.2 6.5 96.4
Highest monthly 3.31
Snowfall (inches)
Median 5.5 4.5 2.8 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.6 4.3 19.2
Mean number of days 3.0 2.4 1.4 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.8 2.1 10.0
Highest monthly 20.5
0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 4.5
Notes: Temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit. Precipitation includes rain and melted snow or sleet in inches; median values are provided for precipitation and snowfall because mean averages may be misleading. Mean and median values are for the 30-year period 1971–2000; temperature extremes are for the station's period of record (1939–2001). The station is located three miles (5 km) east of Olathe at 38°53′N 94°46′W, elevation 1,055 feet (322 m).
Climate data for Olathe, Kansas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 39.3
Average low °F (°C) 19.9


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1870 1,817
1880 2,285 25.8%
1890 3,294 44.2%
1900 3,451 4.8%
1910 3,272 −5.2%
1920 3,268 −0.1%
1930 3,656 11.9%
1940 3,979 8.8%
1950 5,593 40.6%
1960 10,987 96.4%
1970 17,921 63.1%
1980 37,258 107.9%
1990 63,440 70.3%
2000 92,962 46.5%
2010 125,872 35.4%
Est. 2013 131,885 [4] 41.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[22]

The median income for a household was $61,111, and the median income for a family was $68,498 (these figures had risen to $72,634 and $82,747 respectively as of a 2007 estimate. Males had a median income of $45,699 versus $30,217 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,498. About 2.4% of families and 4.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.1% of those under age 18 and 4.1% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census[]

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 125,872 people, 44,507 households, and 33,274 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,109.8 inhabitants per square mile (814.6 /km2). There were 46,851 housing units at an average density of 785.3 per square mile (303.2 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 83.1% White, 5.3% African American, 0.4% Native American, 4.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 4.1% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.2% of the population.

There were 44,507 households of which 44.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.9% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 25.2% were non-families. 20.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.24.

The median age in the city was 32.9 years. 30% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 32.1% were from 25 to 44; 23.1% were from 45 to 64; and 7.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.5% male and 50.5% female.

2000 census[]

As of the census of 2000,[23] there were 92,962 people, 32,314 households, and 24,623 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,716.4 people per square mile (662.7/km²). There were 33,343 housing units at an average density of 615.6 per square mile (237.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.63% White, 3.70% African American, 0.43% Native American, 2.74% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 2.64% from other races, and 1.80% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.44% of the population. 26.1% were of German, 11.0% Irish, 10.7% English and 9.6% American ancestry.

There were 32,314 households out of which 45.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.8% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.8% were non-families. 18.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.24.

In the city the population was spread out with 30.8% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 36.7% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 5.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 99.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.1 males.


Olathe's commercial and industrial parks are home to many companies, including Honeywell, Husqvarna, ALDI, Garmin, Grundfos, and Farmers Insurance Group. Although Farmers Insurance is based in Los Angeles California, Olathe has more Farmers employees than any other city in the United States.

The Federal Aviation Administration, a child agency of the United States Department of Transportation, administers and maintains an Air Route Traffic Control Center in Olathe, designated Kansas City Center or ZKC. Kansas City Center is one of 20 regional Air Route Traffic Control Centers that cover United States airspace. Johnson County maintains an airport in Olathe, Johnson County Executive Airport, which is located on about 500 acres (2.0 km2) of land with a 4,100-ft (1250-m) runway, parallel taxiways, and a Federal contract air traffic control tower. The airport is the second-busiest in the state.[24]


The city of Olathe is served by the De Soto School District, the Olathe School District and the Blue Valley School District. As of 2008, there are 26,894 students enrolled in the Olathe School District.[25] The Olathe School District has 35 elementary schools, 9 middle schools, and 4 high schools: Olathe North, Olathe South, Olathe East, and Olathe Northwest. A fifth high school, Olathe West, is under construction and will open in 2017.[26]

Olathe is the home of MidAmerica Nazarene University and the Kansas State School For the Deaf (established in 1866).


File:Kojc ground.jpg

Johnson County Executive Airport (KOJC) Tower (2004)

  • Johnson County Transit operates a bus system throughout the county, including Olathe.

Notable people[]

Willie Aames (born Albert William Upton) is an American actor, film and television director, television producer, and screenwriter. Aames is well known for playing Tommy Bradford on the 1970s television series Eight Is Enough, Buddy Lembeck on the 1980s series Charles in Charge and Bibleman.[27]

John Anderson, Jr. was the 36th Governor of Kansas from 1961 until 1965. He was born near Olathe.[28]

Earl Browder, a prominent leader in the American Communist movement. He served as Chairman of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA from 1934-1945. He was also the Communist Party USA's candidate for President in the 1936 presidential election and 1940 presidential election.

Jonathan Quinn is the current head football coach for the MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers football team. Quinn also played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, and for the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe.

Darren Sproles is an American football running back of the NFL who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played college football at Kansas State.

Sister cities[]

2005 KDOT Map of Johnson County (map legend)

Friendship cities[]


  1. ^ “Olathe was incorporated in 1857 under a charter from the ‘Bogus Legislature.’ ... Some doubts existed as to the legality of the incorporation and it was re-incorporated in 1868 as a city of the third class....” —Blackmar, Frank W., ed. “Olathe”. Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... Vol. II. Standard Pub. Co. (Chicago: 1912) pp. 386–387.
  2. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  4. ^ a b "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ "2010 City Population and Housing Occupancy Status". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "Evolution of Olathe". City of Olathe. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. 
  9. ^ Blackmar, Frank Wilson (1912). Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Volume 2. Standard Publishing Company. pp. 386. 
  10. ^ William E. Connelley, Quantrill and the Border Wars (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press, 1909), pp. 234, 271. This book may also be found on the Internet Archive website, at .
  11. ^ Capt. James Christian, report, The War of the Rebellion (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899), Series II, Vol. IV, p. 721.
  12. ^ John W. Noble, letter, The War of the Rebellion, Series II, Vol. IV, pp. 721-2.
  13. ^ Connelley, pp. 397-8.
  14. ^ First Lieut. Cyrus Leland, report, The War of the Rebellion (1883), Series I, Vol. XXII, Part I, pp. 591-2.
  15. ^ Brig. Gen. W. H. M. Fishback, report, The War of the Rebellion (1893), Series I, Vol. XLI, Part I, p. 619.
  16. ^ Maj. Gen. John Pope, report, The War of the Rebellion (1896), Series I, Vol. XLVIII, Part I, p. 351.
  17. ^ Olathe cracks top 25 in fastest-growing U.S. cities
  18. ^ Roberts, Sam (June 28, 2007). "Biggest Urban Growth Is in South and West". The New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Best places to live 2008". CNN. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  20. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  21. ^ "Black Bob Park". Olathe Parks and Recreation, Olathe Kansas. Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  22. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved November 28, 2014. 
  23. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  24. ^ "Johnson County Airports Among Busiest in Kansas". The Olathe News via 12 January 2011.$5689. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  25. ^ "District History - Enrollment Growth". Olathe School District. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  26. ^
  27. ^,3974382&dq=willie+aames&hl=en
  28. ^

Further reading[]

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