Today’s Wisconsin counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years. Wisconsin Counties were first formed while part of the Michigan Territory, and after that the Wisconsin Territory.

Wisconsin Territorial Counties

The Wisconsin Territory was created by an act of the United States Congress on April 20, 1836. The new territory initially included all of the present day states of WisconsinMinnesota, and Iowa , as well as parts of North Dakota and South Dakota.

Wisconsin county governments were generally established in three phases.

  1. The first phase, known as “establishment,” defined a specific area as a county.
  2. The second phase, known as “organization for county purposes,” created a land registry office, a fiscal structure, and a governing body.
  3. The third phase, known as “organization for judicial purposes,” created a system of law enforcement, including a county court.

In certain counties, all of those phases went into effect at the same time. However, the process took several years in other counties. 

The State of Wisconsin was created as the 30th state on May 29, 1848.

Wisconsin Counties Today

Today, Wisconsin is divided into 72 counties.  States bordering Wisconsin are MinnesotaMichiganIowa and Illinois.

Wisconsin has counties that no longer are in existence. A lot of these counties were established and disbanded within the 19th century; county borders have modified very little since 1900 in the vast most of states.

Fun Facts about Wisconsin Counties

Counties by Year

  • Brown and Crawford Counties was the original 2 counties created on October 26, 1818.
  • Menominee County was the last county created on May 1, 1961.

County Size Facts

County Population Facts

Wisconsin City Facts

Wisconsin’s 10  largest cities (2010 est.) are:

  1. Milwaukee (594,833) is in Milwaukee County
  2. Madison (233,209) is in Dane County
  3. Green Bay (104,057) is in Brown County
  4. Kenosha (99,218) is in Kenosha County
  5. Racine (78,860) is in Racine County
  6. Appleton (72,623) is in Calumet County, Outagamie County and Winnebago County
  7. Waukesha (70,718) is in Waukesha County
  8. Oshkosh (66,083) is in Winnebago County
  9. Eau Claire (65,883) is in Chippewa County and Eau Claire County
  10. Janesville (63,575) is in Rock County

Boundary Changes of Wisconsin Counties from 1790-1961

This Interactive Map of Wisconsin Counties show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from 1790 to 1961.

List of Wisconsin Counties

List of Old Former / Extinct Wisconsin Counties

At least 5 Wisconsin counties that were established no longer exist. These are important for genealogy research purposes.

The below counties formerly within the area of the State of Wisconsin no longer exist:

  • Bad Ax County: Formed on March 1, 1851. Renamed Vernon County in 1862
  • Dallas County: Formed in 1859. Renamed Barron County in 1874
  • Gates County: Formed in 1901 from Chippewa County. Renamed Rusk County in 1905
  • La Pointe County: Formed in 1845 from St. Croix County. Renamed Bayfield County in 1866
  • New County: Formed in 1879 from Oconto County. Renamed to Langlade County in 1881

COUNTY County, Wisconsin

Created on DATE from LAND. COUNTY County was renamed to COUNTY County on November 7, 1907.

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