Benton County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. The county was named after Thomas Hart Benton, a U.S. senator who advocated U.S. control over the Oregon Country. In 2000, the county's population was 78,153. It is coextensive with the Corvallis Metropolitan Statistical Area. Its county seat is Corvallis.
Along with Oregon State University
, wood products
, and some printing technology research and development form the economic base of the county. A substantial portion of the nation's research in forestry
, agriculture, engineering
and the sciences
takes place at OSU.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau
, the county has a total area of 679 square miles
), of which, 676 square miles (1,752 km²) of it is land and 3 square miles (6 km²) of it (0.37%) is water.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 78,153 people, 30,145 households, and 18,237 families residing in the county. The population density
was 116 people per square mile (45/km²). There were 31,980 housing units at an average density of 47 per square mile (18/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 89.16% White
, 0.84% Black
or African American
, 0.79% Native American
, 4.49% Asian
, 0.24% Pacific Islander
, 1.92% from other races
, and 2.56% from two or more races. 4.66% of the population were Hispanic
of any race. 18.2% were of German
, 11.6% English
, 8.9% Irish
and 7.0% American
ancestry. 91.1% spoke English
, 4.1% Spanish
and 1.0% Chinese
as their first language.
There were 30,145 households out of which 28.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.40% were married couples living together, 7.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.50% were non-families. 26.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.70% 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 2.95.
In the county, the population was spread out with 21.30% under the age of 18, 20.20% from 18 to 24, 26.70% from 25 to 44, 21.40% from 45 to 64, and 10.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.80 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $41,897, and the median income for a family was $56,319. Males had a median income of $42,018 versus $29,795 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,868. About 6.80% of families and 14.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.60% of those under age 18 and 4.90% of those age 65 or over.
Benton County has the lowest church attendance per capita of any county in the nation (25% attendance).
Benton County was created from Polk County
by an act of the Provisional Government of Oregon in 1847. The county was created out of an area originally inhabited by the Klickitat
, who rented it from the Kalapuyas
for use as hunting grounds. All Indian claims to land within Benton County were ceded in the Treaty of Dayton
At that time, the boundaries began at the intersection of Polk County and the Willamette River, extended south as far as the California border and as far west as the Pacific Ocean. Later, portions of Benton County were taken to form Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane and Lincoln Counties, leaving Benton County in its present form.
The city of Marysville, later renamed Corvallis, was made the county seat in 1851. In 1862 Corvallis became the site of the Oregon State Agricultural College, known today as Oregon State University.
21st century same-sex marriage controversy
Following their decision that the Oregon Constitution
required them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples
, a decision Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers
opposed in a letter to them, the Benton County Commissioners voted to stop issuing marriage licenses a week later on March 22
. Although the County Court in Multnomah County, Oregon
ruled on the matter April 20
, the county did not resume issuing marriage licenses. A Monroe
couple sued the county June 23
to force it to resume issuing marriage licenses; the hearing was scheduled for July 12
The current Benton County Sheriff is Diana Simpson. She was elected on November 7 2006
as the first woman sheriff of Benton County and the first elected female sheriff in Oregon.