Wisconsin Counties
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Wisconsin Counties

There are seventy-two counties in the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin became part of the Territory of Michigan and divided into two counties: Brown County in the northeast along Lake Michigan and Crawford County in the southwest along the Mississippi River. The state of Wisconsin was created from Wisconsin Territory on May 29, 1848, with 28 counties.

Pierce County, Wisconsin

Pierce County Education, Geography, and History

Pierce County, Wisconsin Courthouse

Pierce County is a county located in the state of Wisconsin. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 41,019. Its county seat is Ellsworth.

Pierce County is part of the Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington, MN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Pierce County Name

Named in honor of President Franklin Pierce - Hist. No. Wis., p. 707.

[Source: Kellogg, Louise Phelps. "Derivation of County Names" in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for 1909, pages 219-231.]


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Pierce County History

The Pierce County area was explored during the 1670's by Father Louis Hennepin and French traders. The first settlement was made at Prescott, the junction of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers, in 1827. The County was created in 1853, and while not generally timbered, logging was carried on in the Rush, Eau Galle, and Kinnickinnic River valleys. By 1855, the county was settled for farming and dairy cattle were introduced. Rich fertile soils with a minimum amount of clearing required made the land ideal for rapid development. Wheat, corn, and oats became the principal field crops. Excellent river transportation provided ready means of moving farm products to market. Ellsworth was established as the county seat and became the initial population center of the county. The original courthouse was built in 1879, the present one in 1905.

Today, Pierce County is a nice place to visit and a good place to live. Its fine schools, highways, churches, nursing homes, and constantly expanding business and industry are only a few of the things which offer much in the way of permanent advantages.

Agriculture remains as a huge influence of the landscape. Dairy farming, livestock and a considerable cash grain industry contribute to a thriving agricultural industry welcoming new farmers.

Description from John W. Hunt's 1853 Wisconsin Gazetteer: "PIERCE, County, includes all that part of St. Croix county south of the north line of town 27, and was set off from St. Croix, March 16, 1853. It therefore is bounded on the west by St. Croix river, by which it is separated from the Territory of Minnesota. This county holds out very great inducements to immigrants, a large amount of the 500,000 acre grant, given by Congress to the State for schools, is in this county, and is sold at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, the settler being allowed thirty years pre-emption. The lands are about half prairie and half timber - the prairies a black loam, producing as great a yield of wheat, oats, corn, and other grain, as any other part of the West. The timber is of an excellent quality, oak, ash, butternut, black walnut, sugar maple, &c. Steam boats pass up, during the season of navigation, near to the homes of the inhabitants. It is to be fully organized at once, and is attached to the sixth judicial circuit, and to the same representative districts as St. Croix, Polk and La Pointe."

PIERCE.--Population 1,548.
From: Handbook of Wisconsin by S. Silas, 1855
pg. 93-94

A new County, lying on the Mississippi, at the mouth of the St. Croix. It has so far attracted but little attention. The country is represented to be good in some portions for agriculture. On the Eau Galle River, pine is cut, and a number of saw mills in operation. Pierce County is well watered, and has numerous mill sites yet unimproved. The land is mostly unsold. Some portions are not well watered. This County is in the Willow River land district, the office for which is not Hudson.

Prescott at the mouth of the St. Croix is a beautiful and thriving place, and we think will be the largest, not only in that County, but in the whole county between La Crosse and Lake Superior.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 592 square miles (1,532 km2), of which, 576 square miles (1,493 km2) of it is land and 15 square miles (39 km2) of it (2.55%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • St. Croix County - north
  • Dunn County - northeast
  • Pepin County - southeast
  • Goodhue County, Minnesota - south
    Dakota County, Minnesota - southwest, across the Mississippi River
  • Washington County, Minnesota - west


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