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|Territory: Apr 20, 1836|
|Statehood: May 29, 1848|
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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 Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa , as well as parts of North Dakota and South Dakota.
Wisconsin county governments were generally established in three phases.
- The first phase, known as “establishment,” defined a specific area as a county.
- The second phase, known as “organization for county purposes,” created a land registry office, a fiscal structure, and a governing body.
- 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
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
- Marathon County (1,545 sq mi) is the largest county in Wisconsin.
- Pepin County (232 sq mi) is the smallest county in Wisconsin.
County Population Facts
- Menominee County (4,232) is the least populated county in Wisconsin.
- Milwaukee County (947,735) is the most populated county in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin City Facts
Wisconsin’s 10 largest cities (2010 est.) are:
- Milwaukee (594,833) is in Milwaukee County
- Madison (233,209) is in Dane County
- Green Bay (104,057) is in Brown County
- Kenosha (99,218) is in Kenosha County
- Racine (78,860) is in Racine County
- Appleton (72,623) is in Calumet County, Outagamie County and Winnebago County
- Waukesha (70,718) is in Waukesha County
- Oshkosh (66,083) is in Winnebago County
- Eau Claire (65,883) is in Chippewa County and Eau Claire County
- 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
|County||Created||Created From||Named For||County Seat||Notes|
|Adams County||11 Mar 1848||Portage County||John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), President of the United States (1825-29)||Friendship|
|Ashland County||27 Mar 1860||La Pointe County||Ashland, Henry Clay’s estate in Kentucky||Ashland|
|Barron County||04 Mar 1869||Polk County||Henry D. Barron, state senator and circuit court judge.||Barron|
|Bayfield County||12 Apr 1866||St. Croix County||Henry Bayfield, Royal naval officer and first to survey Great Lakes area||Washburn|
|Brown County||26 Oct 1818||unorganized territory||Major General Jacob Brown (1775-1828), commanding general of the United States Army during the War of 1812||Green Bay|
|Buffalo County||06 Jul 1853||Jackson County||The Buffalo River, which flows through the county.||Alma|
|Burnett County||31 Mar 1856||Polk and Douglas Counties||Thomas P. Burnett, state legislator||Siren|
|Calumet County||07 Dec 1836||Brown County||The French word for a Menominee Ceremonial pipe.||Chilton|
|Chippewa County||03 Feb 1853||Crawford County||Chippewa Indians||Chippewa Falls|
|Clark County||06 Jul 1853||Jackson County||George Rogers Clark (1752-1812), Revolutionary War general||Neillsville|
|Columbia County||03 Feb 1846||Portage County||Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), navigator and explorer||Portage|
|Crawford County||26 Oct 1818||unorganized territory||William Harris Crawford (1772-1834), United States Senator from Georgia (1807-13) and Secretary of the Treasury 1816-25||Prairie du Chien|
|Dane County||07 Dec 1836||Crawford, Iowa and Milwaukee Counties||Nathan Dane (1752-1835), delegate to the First Continental Congress (1785-88)||Madison|
|Dodge County||07 Dec 1836||Brown and Milwaukee Counties||Henry Dodge (1782-1867), Territorial Governor of Wisconsin (1845-48)||Juneau|
|Door County||11 Feb 1851||Brown County||A dangerous water passage near Door Peninsula known as Porte des Morts or “door of the dead” in French||Sturgeon Bay|
|Douglas County||09 Feb 1854||La Pointe County||Stephen Douglas (1813-61), United States Senator 1847-61||Superior|
|Dunn County||03 Feb 1854||Chippewa County||Charles Dunn, state senator and chief justice of Wisconsin Territory||Menomonie|
|Eau Claire County||06 Oct 1856||Chippewa County||City of Eau Claire French for “clear water”||Eau Claire|
|Fond du Lac County||18 Mar 1882||Marinette and Oconto Counties||Florence Julst, the first white woman to settle in the area||Florence|
|Florence County||07 Dec 1836||Brown County||French for “foot of the lake”||Fond du Lac|
|Forest County||11 Apr 1885||Langlade County||Forest which covered the area when it was settled||Crandon|
|Green Lake County||08 Dec 1836||Marquette County||Probably a trader named Grant who made contact with area natives in 1810 but about whom little else is known||Green Lake|
|Grant County||08 Dec 1836||Iowa County||Nathanael Greene (1742-86), quartermaster general during the American Revolutionary War||Lancaster|
|Green County||05 Mar 1858||Iowa County||Green Lake located within the county||Monroe|
|Iowa County||09 Oct 1829||Crawford County||Iowa tribe of Indians||Dodgeville|
|Iron County||01 Mar 1893||Ashland County||Local iron deposits||Hurley|
|Jackson County||11 Feb 1853||La Crosse County||Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), President of the United States 1829–37||Black River Falls|
|Jefferson County||07 Dec 1836||Milwaukee County||Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), President of the United States (1801-09)||Jefferson|
|Juneau County||13 Oct 1856||Adams County||Solomon Juneau (1793-1856), founder of what would become Milwaukee||Mauston|
|Kenosha County||30 Jan 1850||Racine County||Indian word meaning “place of the pike”||Kenosha|
|Kewaunee County||16 Apr 1852||Door County||Either a Potawatomi word meaning “river of the lost” or an Ojibwe word meaning “prairie hen” “wild duck” or “to go around”||Kewaunee|
|Lafayette County||01 Mar 1851||Iowa County||Indian game of lacrosse||Darlington|
|Langlade County||31 Jan 1846||Oconto County||Gilbert du Motier marquis de La Fayette (1757-1834), a French general in the American Revolutionary War||Antigo|
|La Crosse County||19 Feb 1880||Crawford County||Charles de Langlade (1729 – c.1800), American Revolutionary War veteran and United States Indian Agent in Green Bay||La Crosse|
|Lincoln County||04 Mar 1874||Marathon County||Abraham Lincoln (1809-65), President of the United States 1861-65||Merrill|
|Manitowoc County||07 Dec 1836||Brown County||Munedoo-owk, an Ojibwe word meaning “the place of the good spirit”||Manitowoc|
|Menominee County||09 Feb 1850||Portage County||Marathon, Greece||Wausau|
|Milwaukee County||27 Feb 1879||Oconto County||Marie Antoinette Chevalier, Indian wife of an early fur trapper||Marinette|
|Marinette County||07 Dec 1836||Brown County||Father Pere Jacques Marquette (1637-75), missionary and explorer||Montello|
|Monroe County||03 Jul 1959||Oconto and Shawano Counties||Menominee Indians||Keshena|
|Marquette County||06 Sep 1834||Brown amd Iowa Counties||Mahnawaukee-Seepe, an Indian word meaning “gathering place by the river”||Milwaukee|
|Marathon County||21 Mar 1854||La Crosse County||James Monroe (1758-1831), President of the United States (1817-25)||Sparta|
|Oconto County||06 Feb 1851||Brown County||An Indian settlement and the Oconto River, whose name means “plentiful with fish”||Oconto|
|Oneida County||11 Apr 1885||Lincoln County||Oneida Indians||Rhinelander|
|Outagamie County||17 Feb 1851||Brown and Winnebago Counties||Outagamie Indians||Appleton|
|Ozaukee County||07 Mar 1853||Washington County||The Ojibwe word for the Sauk nation||Port Washington|
|Pepin County||25 Feb 1858||Dunn County||Pierre and Jean Pepin du Chardonnets, explorers||Durand|
|Pierce County||14 Mar 1853||St. Croix County||Franklin Pierce (1804-69), President of the United States (1853-57)||Ellsworth|
|Polk County||14 Mar 1853||St. Croix County||James Polk (1795-1849), President of the United States (1845-49)||Balsam Lake|
|Portage County||07 Dec 1836||Brown, Crawford, Iowa and Milwaukee Counties||Passage between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers||Stevens Point|
|Price County||26 Feb 1879||Chippewa and Lincoln Counties||William T. Price (1824-86), United States Congressman (1883-86)||Phillips|
|Racine County||07 Dec 1836||Milwaukee County||Racine, the French word for “root”, after the Root River, which flows through the county||Racine|
|Richland County||18 Feb 1842||Crawford and Sauk Counties||The rich soil of the area||Richland Center|
|Rock County||07 Dec 1836||Milwaukee County||Rock River, which flows through the county||Janesville|
|Rusk County||19 Jun 1905||Chippewa County||Jeremiah McLain Rusk (1830-93), Governor of Wisconsin 1882-89||Ladysmith|
|Sauk County||11 Jan 1840||Crawford, Dane and Portage Counties||Sauk Indians||Baraboo|
|Sawyer County||10 Mar 1883||Ashland and Chippewa Counties||Philetus Sawyer (1816-1900), United States Representative (1865-75) and Senator (1881-93) from Wisconsin||Hayward|
|St. Croix County||16 Feb 1853||Oconto, Waupaca and Winnebago Counties||An Ojibwe word meaning “southern”||Shawano|
|Shawano County||07 Dec 1836||Brown County||Shawb-wa-way-kun, an Indian word meaning “great noise underground”||Sheboygan|
|Sheboygan County||09 Jan 1840||Crawford County and unorganized territory.||An early French explorer named St. Croix, about whom little is known||Hudson|
|Taylor County||04 Mar 1875||Chippewa, Clark, Lincoln and Marathon Counties||William Robert Taylor (1820-1909), Governor of Wisconsin 1874-76||Medford|
|Trempealeau County||27 Jan 1854||Buffalo, Chippewa, Jackson and La Crosse Counties||Trempealeau Mountain (from the French for “mountain with its foot in the water”), a bluff located in a bend of the Trempealeau River, which flows through the county||Whitehall|
|Vernon County||22 Mar 1862||Crawford County||Mount Vernon, home of George Washington||Viroqua|
|Vilas County||12 Apr 1893||Oneida County||William Vilas (1840-1908), officer in the Civil War United States Postmaster General (1885-88) United States Secretary of the Interior (1888-89) and Senator from Wisconsin (1891-97)||Eagle River|
|Walworth County||07 Dec 1836||Milwaukee County||Reuben Hyde Walworth (1788-1867), jurist from New York||Elkhorn|
|Washburn County||27 Mar 1883||Burnett County||Cadwallader Washburn (1818-82), Governor of Wisconsin (1872–74) and Representative from Wisconsin (1867–71)||Shell Lake|
|Winnebago County||07 Dec 1836||Brown and Milwaukee Counties||George Washington (1732-99), American Revolutionary War leader (1775–83) and first President of the United States (1789–97)||West Bend|
|Waukesha County||31 Jan 1846||Milwaukee County||Waugooshance, a Pottawatomi word meaning “little foxes”||Waukesha|
|Wood County||17 Feb 1851||Brown and Winnebago Counties||wau-pa-ka-ho-nak, a Menominee word meaning “white sand bottom” or “brave young hero”||Waupaca|
|Waupaca County||15 Feb 1851||Marquette County||An Indian word meaning “good earth”||Wautoma|
|Waushara County||06 Jan 1840||Brown, Calumet, Fond du Lac and Marquette Counties||Winnebago Indians||Oshkosh|
|Washington County||29 Mar 1856||Portage County||Joseph Wood (1809-90), state legislator (1856-58)||Wisconsin Rapids|
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.