Houston County is a county located in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2010 census, the population was 19,027.[3] Its county seat is Caledonia.[2]

Houston County is included in the La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History

Four years before Minnesota was admitted to the Union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858, Houston County was chartered after its division from the eastern half of Fillmore County on April 4, 1854. The county seat was the village of Houston for a few years, but the county board moved the official records to Caledonia for safe storage in the cabin of Commissioner Samuel McPhail. The first court hearings were held in that cabin, and a one-story courthouse and jail was built in Caledonia in 1857. Turmoil over the county seat continued, a two-story building was built in Caledonia in 1867, and several referenda allowed Caledonia to prevail as the county seat by 1874.[5] From that point on, Caledonia prospered, and Houston slowly diminished. The only other area of prominence was La Crescent, which benefited from its connection to La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The county name was chosen to honor Sam Houston, who was president of Texas before its annexation by the United States and afterward was a senator from that state.[4] In the years 1854-56, when antagonism between the North and South on slavery questions would lead eventually to the Civil War, Houston aspired to nomination as the Democratic candidate for the national presidency. In October 1854, the general Democratic committee of New Hampshire recommended him as "the people's candidate" for the campaign in 1856. His popularity in Minnesota at that time recommended the name of this county, and, likewise, counties in Tennessee and Texas and cities and villages in Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, and other states bear his name.[7]

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 569 square miles (1,470 km2), of which 552 square miles (1,430 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (2.9%) is water.[6]

Among other parts of southeastern Minnesota, the county is in the Driftless Zone, marked by the absence of glacial drift and presence of bedrock cut by streams into steep hills. The plateau that surrounds Caledonia, the county seat, includes flat, fertile farm land and hilly, verdant pasture land.

Lakes

The following lakes are located within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

  • Blue Lake
  • Hayshore Lake
  • Lawrence Lake
  • Target Lake

Adjacent counties

National protected area

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.
18606,645
187014,936124.8%
188016,3329.3%
189014,653−10.3%
190015,4005.1%
191014,297−7.2%
192014,013−2.0%
193013,845−1.2%
194014,7356.4%
195014,435−2.0%
196016,58814.9%
197017,5565.8%
198018,3824.7%
199018,4970.6%
200019,7186.6%
201019,027−3.5%
Est. 201618,814[24]−1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[2]
1790-1960[2] 1900-1990[2]
1990-2000[2] 2010-2016[3]
Image
Soils of Beaver Creek Valley State Park neighborhood

As of the 2000 census, there were 19,718 people, 7,633 households, and 5,411 families residing in the county. The population density was 35 people per square mile (14/km²). There were 8,168 housing units at an average density of 15 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.47% White, 0.31% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.37% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.14% from other races, and 0.51% from two or more races. 0.61% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 43.1% were of German, 29.6% Norwegian and 7.5% Irish ancestry.

There were 7,633 households out of which 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.0% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.1% were non-families. 25.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the county, the population was spread out with 27.2% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 97.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.1 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,680, and the median income for a family was $49,196. Males had a median income of $32,557 versus $22,158 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,826. About 4.2% of families and 6.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.4% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

Major highways

Image
Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 U.S. census data

Airport

Communities

Cities

Townships

Unincorporated communities

Politics

Presidential Elections Results[2]
YearRepublicanDemocraticThird Parties
201653.0% 5,61639.1% 4,1458.0% 843
201247.4% 4,95150.6% 5,2812.1% 214
200843.6% 4,74354.3% 5,9062.2% 234
200450.8% 5,63147.6% 5,2761.6% 175
200049.9% 5,07744.3% 4,5025.8% 588
199638.9% 3,67444.0% 4,15317.2% 1,623
199236.9% 3,85335.8% 3,74427.3% 2,854
198854.1% 4,77744.6% 3,9361.3% 112
198461.1% 5,64538.0% 3,5121.0% 88
198058.9% 5,58233.9% 3,2187.2% 681
197654.4% 4,85343.3% 3,8612.4% 212
197266.6% 5,18631.7% 2,4671.8% 137
196857.9% 4,45035.2% 2,7036.9% 528
196446.9% 3,43353.0% 3,8850.1% 8
196060.9% 4,80739.0% 3,0800.0% 3
195667.9% 4,53831.9% 2,1330.1% 9
195274.3% 5,36525.3% 1,8300.4% 28
194856.8% 3,54042.1% 2,6231.1% 68
194468.3% 4,03631.3% 1,8470.4% 25
194069.5% 4,82530.0% 2,0820.5% 37
193644.3% 2,70151.7% 3,1564.0% 243
193242.6% 2,33555.7% 3,0521.7% 91
192864.9% 3,61534.8% 1,9370.4% 21
192453.6% 2,7827.7% 40238.7% 2,008
192085.7% 4,10112.5% 5981.8% 88
191669.1% 1,78328.8% 7442.1% 54
191223.8% 65927.5% 76248.8% 1,354
190867.4% 1,70029.5% 7453.1% 79
190476.1% 1,54621.4% 4342.5% 51
190064.6% 1,76532.4% 8843.1% 84
189665.9% 2,08731.3% 9912.8% 88
189250.1% 1,50941.3% 1,2438.6% 258

See also