Winnebago County Courthouse
Location within the U.S. state of Wisconsin
Wisconsin's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Winnebago people|
|o Total||579 sq mi (1,500 km2)|
|o Land||434 sq mi (1,120 km2)|
|o Water||144 sq mi (370 km2) 25%%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||290/sq mi (110/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|Congressional districts||6th, 8th|
Winnebago County is a county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 166,994. Its county seat is Oshkosh. It was named for the historic Winnebago people, a federally recognized Native American tribe now known as the Ho-Chunk Nation. Chief Oshkosh was a leader in the area. Winnebago County comprises the Oshkosh-Neenah, WI Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah, WI Combined Statistical Area.
The region was occupied by several Native American tribes in the period of European encounter, including the Sauk, Fox, Menominee, and Ojibwa (known as Chippewa in the US). French traders from what is now Canada had early interaction with them, as did French Jesuit missionaries, who sought to convert them to Catholicism. European and American settlement encroached on their traditional territories, and the United States negotiated treaties in the mid-19th century to keep pushing the Indians to the west.
Winnebago County was created in 1840 by European Americans and organized in 1848. The name Winnebago is of Algonquin origin, with variations used by the Fox and Potowatomi to refer to the Fox River below Lake Winnebago, which sometimes got muddy and full of fish. It means 'people dwelling by the fetid or ill-smelling water', which may also refer to a sulfur spring. The county seat, Oshkosh, was incorporated as a city in 1853, when it already had a population of nearly 2,800.
Chief Oshkosh was the namesake for the county seat. A leader of the Menominee in the region, he was successful in gaining authorization from the federal government for 2500 of his people to remain in Wisconsin, at a time when the government was pushing for their removal west of the Mississippi River.
Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) serves the county and surrounding communities.
Brennand Airport (79C) in the Town of Clayton is a major recreational aircraft hub year-round.
As of the census of 2000, there were 156,763 people, 61,157 households, and 39,568 families residing in the county. The population density was 357 per square mile (138/km2). There were 64,721 housing units at an average density of 148 per square mile (57/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 94.92% White, 1.12% Black or African American, 0.46% Native American, 1.84% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.72% from other races, and 0.92% from two or more races. 1.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 52.4% were of German, 6.2% Irish and 5.7% Polish ancestry. 94.6% spoke English, 2.5% Spanish and 1.0% Hmong as their first language.
There were 61,157 households, out of which 31.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.00% were married couples living together, 8.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.30% were non-families. 27.60% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.99.
By age, 23.80% of the population was under 18, 11.80% from 18 to 24, 30.40% from 25 to 44, 21.50% from 45 to 64, and 12.50% were 65 or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 99.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.80 males.
In 2017, there were 1,833 births, giving a general fertility rate of 56.5 births per 1000 women aged 15-44, the 15th lowest rate out of all 72 Wisconsin counties. Additionally, there were 123 reported induced abortions performed on women of Winnebago County residence in 2017.
Winnebago County is governed by the 36-member Winnebago County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors are elected to the board in a nonpartisan election held the first Tuesday of April in even numbered years and serve two-year terms. The board has several committees. It meets on the third Tuesday of each month at the Winnebago County Courthouse in Oshkosh.
Winnebago County has become a swing county in recent decades. It has voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1980, except in 1992 when it supported George Bush, and in 2020, when it supported Donald Trump.