De Soto is a city in Johnson and Leavenworth counties in the U.S. state of Kansas, and part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. The vast majority of the city, 11.13 sq. mi., lies within Johnson County. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 5,720.
De Soto began in the spring of 1857, named for sixteenth-century Spanish explorer, Hernando De Soto. In 1858, John Possum, a Shawnee Indian, and Hattie Possum sold 80 acres to John F. Legate, S. Todd and Stratton and Williams for $1,200. The next sale was 80 acres to the De Soto Town Company in July 1861 for $1,176. Major James B. Abbott is remembered as one of the town’s pioneer landowners and the builder of Abbot Hall. Today, Abbot Hall is one of two town museums.With the construction of the 9,080 acre Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant south of De Soto, De Soto's population boomed in the early 1940s during WWII. In May 1943, The Kansas City Star article reported"a town rapidly growing, with a population increase from 400 to 1,000 persons in under a year". This sudden overflow in population put a great strain on housing and other resources in the city; however, many original residents prospered during this time, buying property and starting new businesses. Production flowed steadily at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant until the plant went on standby in March 1948, with small scale production following shortly after until it's closure in 1993.