Waukesha County, Wisconsin

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Waukesha County, Wisconsin
Seal of Waukesha County, Wisconsin
Map of Wisconsin highlighting Waukesha County
Location in the state of Wisconsin
Map of the United States highlighting Wisconsin
Wisconsin's location in the U.S.
Founded 1846
Seat Waukesha
Largest city Waukesha
 • Total 581 sq mi (1,505 km2)
 • Land 550 sq mi (1,424 km2)
 • Water 31 sq mi (80 km2), 5.3%
 • (2010) 389,891
 • Density 709/sq mi (274/km²)
Congressional districts 1st, 5th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website waukeshacounty.gov
Waukesha County sign on WIS 59

Waukesha County is a county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 389,891,[1] making it the third-most populous county in Wisconsin. Its county seat is Waukesha.[2]

Waukesha County is included in the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The part of Wisconsin that Waukesha County now occupies was a part of Michigan when Milwaukee County was organized in September 1834.[3] On July 4, 1836, the Wisconsin Territory was formed, which included land currently in the state of Minnesota.[3] In January 1846, part of Milwaukee County was split off into Waukesha County.[4][5] Curtis Reed was the first county chairman.[4] When voting took place to decide the county seat, Waukesha beat out Pewaukee by two votes.[4] The name is derived from the Potawatomi word for 'fox' because the streams in the lower part of the county drain into the Fox River.[6]

Waukesha was a New England settlement. The original founders of Waukesha consisted entirely of settlers from New England, particularly Connecticut, rural Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, as well some from upstate New York who were born to parents who had migrated to that region from New England shortly after the American Revolution. These people were "Yankee's", that is to say they were descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. They were part of a wave of New England farmers who headed west into what was then the wilds of the Northwest Territory during the early 1800s. Most of them arrived as a result of the completion of the Erie Canal as well as the end of the Black Hawk War. When they arrived in what is now Waukesha County there was nothing but dense virgin forest and wild prairie, the New Englanders laid out farms, constructed roads, erected government buildings and established post routes. They brought with them many of their Yankee New England values, such as a passion for education, establishing many schools as well as staunch support for abolitionism. They were mostly members of the Congregationalist Church though some were Episcopalian. Due to the second Great Awakening some of them had converted to Methodism and some had become Baptists before moving to what is now Waukesha County. Waukesha, like much of Wisconsin, would be culturally very continuous with early New England culture for most of its early history.[7]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 581 square miles (1,500 km2), of which 550 square miles (1,400 km2) is land and 31 square miles (80 km2) (5.3%) is water.[8]

Lake country[edit]

Because of its large number of lakes, the northwestern corner of Waukesha County is referred to as "Lake Country" by local residents. It includes Pewaukee, Delafield, Hartland, Merton, Nashotah, Chenequa, Okauchee Lake, Oconomowoc, Summit, and Lac La Belle.

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]


2000 Census Age Pyramid for Waukesha County
Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 19,258
1860 26,831 39.3%
1870 28,274 5.4%
1880 28,957 2.4%
1890 44,270 52.9%
1900 35,229 −20.4%
1910 37,100 5.3%
1920 42,612 14.9%
1930 52,358 22.9%
1940 62,744 19.8%
1950 85,901 36.9%
1960 158,249 84.2%
1970 231,365 46.2%
1980 280,326 21.2%
1990 304,715 8.7%
2000 360,767 18.4%
2010 389,891 8.1%
Est. 2012 392,292 0.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1790-1960[10] 1900-1990[11]
1990-2000[12] 2010-2012[1]

As of the census[13] of 2000, there were 360,767 people, 135,229 households, and 100,475 families residing in the county. The population density was 649 people per square mile (251/km²). There were 140,309 housing units at an average density of 252 per square mile (98/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.77% White, 0.73% Black or African American, 0.22% Native American, 1.49% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.87% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races. 2.63% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 44.5% were of German, 9.2% Polish, Italian 7.5%, and 7.7% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 94.3% spoke English, 2.2% Spanish and 1.2% German as their first language.

There were 135,229 households out of which 35.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.80% were married couples living together, 6.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.70% were non-families. 20.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the county, the population was spread out with 26.30% under the age of 18, 6.80% from 18 to 24, 29.80% from 25 to 44, 25.10% from 45 to 64, and 12.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 96.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $62,839, and the median income for a family was $71,773 (these figures had risen to $71,907 and $85,116 respectively as of a 2007 estimate[14]). Males had a median income of $49,232 versus $31,643 for females. The per capita income for the county was $29,164. About 1.7% of families and 2.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.5% of those under age 18 and 4.0% of those age 65 or over.


Elected officials[edit]


There are 12 departments in Waukesha County, with most located in the Administration Center.

  • Administration

The Department of Administration has five divisions that provide administrative services to the county: the finance division, the human resources division, the information technology division, the purchasing and risk management division, and the administrative services division.

  • Aging and Disability Resource Center

The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Waukesha County (ADRC) provides information, assistance, counseling and supportive services regarding adults age 60 and above, adults with physical or developmental disabilities; and adults with mental health or substance abuse concerns. It also provides publicly funded long-term care to county residents.[15]

  • Airport

The Waukesha County Airport serves commercial and private aircraft and is supervised by the Airport Commission.

  • Corporation Counsel
  • Emergency Preparedness

Waukesha County Federated Library System (WCFLS) works in partnership with 16 public libraries in Waukesha County to cooperatively provide library services. This includes the purchase of shared electronic databases, summer library programming, and circulation services. WCFLS also oversees Internet access for member libraries.

  • Health and Human Services
  • Medical Examiner

The Medical Examiner investigates suspicious or unexplained deaths or deaths that result from a homicide, suicide, or accident. The office also generates statistics for the county.

  • Parks and Land Use

The Department of Parks and Land Use (PLU), oversees six divisions that design and maintain county parks. The division also works with state and federal agencies. The planning division administers permits for construction and landscaping activities. The land conservation division works to educate on and regulate soil and water issues. Most programs look to control water runoff and soil erosion. The recycling and solid waste division oversees recycling and disposal programs. It also performs educational outreach on topics such as composting and waste reduction. The official mascot of the recycling division is Recycle Raccoon. The environmental health division oversees animal welfare issues, food safety, and air, water and sewage, and safety issues (such as radon testing, well testing, and septic system monitoring). The land information systems division coordinates databases of information relating to land use and development.

  • Public Works
  • Sheriff
  • University of Wisconsin Extension

Waukesha County UW-Extension provides outreach for resources of the University of Wisconsin System.

The UW-Extension office also houses 180° Juvenile Diversion, a non-profit organization that rehabilitates first-time young offenders in Waukesha County.

  • Veterans


Waukesha County has been one of the Republican Party's most solid suburban strongholds for many years. It has not supported a Democrat for president since 1964. While other non-Southern suburban counties have moved towards Democrats since the 1980s, Waukesha and other Milwaukee suburbs have continued to vote solidly Republican.[16] The county is split between 10 state assembly districts and six state senate districts, all held by Republicans.

In 2008, John McCain carried the county by a 25.7% margin over Barack Obama, when Obama won Wisconsin by 13.9% over McCain.[17]





Unincorporated communities[edit]

Ghost towns/Neighborhoods[edit]

Mythical place[edit]

Note- due to a zoning issue, a single acre of Waukesha County was annexed by the City of Milwaukee (which otherwise is fully within Milwaukee County) in 2003 to accommodate the Ambrosia Chocolate Factory.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ a b Barquist, Barbara; Barquist, David (1987). "The Beginning". In Haley, Leroy. The Summit of Oconomowoc: 150 Years of Summit Town. Summit History Group. p. 6. 
  4. ^ a b c Barquist, Barbara; Barquist, David (1987). "The Beginning". In Haley, Leroy. The Summit of Oconomowoc: 150 Years of Summit Town. Summit History Group. p. 7. 
  5. ^ Barquist, Barbara; Barquist, David (1987). "The Early Years". In Haley, Leroy. The Summit of Oconomowoc: 150 Years of Summit Town. Summit History Group. p. 37. 
  6. ^ "Winnebago Took Its Name from an Indian Tribe". The Post-Crescent. December 28, 1963. p. 14. Retrieved August 25, 2014 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  7. ^ The History of Waukesha County, Wisconsin: Containing an Account of Its Settlement, Growth, Development and Resources; an Extensive and Minute Sketch of Its Cities, Towns and Villages--their Improvements, Industries, Manufactories, Churches, Schools and Societies; Its War Record, Biographical Sketches, Portraits of Prominent Men and Early Settlers; the Whole Preceded by a History of Wisconsin, Statistics of the State, and an Abstract of Its Laws and Constitution and of the Constitution of the United States Western Historical Company, 1880 pages 173, 232, 233
  8. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  13. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  14. ^ "Waukesha County, Wisconsin - Fact Sheet - American FactFinder". Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  15. ^ Mission Statement from http://www.waukeshacounty.gov/page.aspx?SetupMetaId=336&id=94
  16. ^ Cohn, Nate (6 May 2014). "The Curious Case of Milwaukee’s Suburban Voters". New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  17. ^ 2008 U.S. Presidential Election Results
  18. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°01′N 88°19′W / 43.02°N 88.31°W / 43.02; -88.31