Olathe ( /oʊleɪθə/ oh-lay-thə) is a city in and the county seat of Johnson County, Kansas, United States. Located in northeastern Kansas, it is also the fifth most populous city in the state, with a population of 125,872 at the 2010 census. As a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, Olathe is the fourth-largest city in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. It is bordered by the cities of Lenexa to the north, Overland Park to the east, and Gardner to the southwest. In 2008, the US Census Bureau ranked Olathe the 24th fastest-growing city in the nation. The same year, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Olathe #11 on its list of the "100 Best Cities to Live in the United States."
Olathe was founded by Dr. John T. Barton in the spring of 1857. He rode to the center of Johnson County, Kansas, and staked two quarter sections of land as the town site. He later described his ride to friends: "...the prairie was covered with verbena and other wild flowers. I kept thinking the land was beautiful and that I should name the town Beautiful." Purportedly, Barton asked a Shawnee interpreter how to say "Beautiful" in his native language. The interpreter responded, "Olathe."
Olathe was not the first city established in Johnson County, but it quickly became the largest and was named the county seat in October 1859 . The city's early days were filled with violence, as pro-slavery forces from nearby Missouri often clashed with local abolitionists. These conflicts were known on a large scale as Bleeding Kansas.