Wilkes County, Georgia
|Wilkes County, Georgia|
Location in the state of Georgia
Georgia's location in the U.S.
|Founded||February 5, 1777|
|Named for||John Wilkes|
|• Total||474.00 sq mi (1,228 km2)|
|• Land||471.37 sq mi (1,221 km2)|
|• Water||2.62 sq mi (7 km2), 0.55%|
|• Density||23/sq mi (9/km²)|
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC-5/-4|
Wilkes County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,593.1 The county seat is the city of Washington.2 Referred to as "Washington-Wilkes", the county seat and county are commonly treated as a single entity by locals, including the area's historical society3 and the Chamber of Commerce.4 This is part of the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA).
Wilkes County, named for British politician and supporter of American independence, John Wilkes, is considered Georgia's first county, as it was the first of eight original counties created in the first state constitution on February 5, 1777. While the other seven counties were fashioned from existing colonial parishes, Wilkes was unique in that it was formed from land ceded in 1773 by the Creek and Cherokee Nations in their respective Treaties of Augusta.5 It is located in the Piedmont, above the fall line on the Savannah River.
Between 1790 and 1854, Wilkes County's land area grew smaller as parts of it were used to make new counties. The Georgia legislature formed the counties of Elbert, Oglethorpe, and Lincoln entirely from portions of Wilkes County. Wilkes also contributed part of the lands used in the creation of Madison, Warren and Taliaferro, Hart, McDuffie, and Greene counties.6
Wilkes County was the site of one of the most important battles of the American Revolutionary War to be fought in Georgia. During the Battle of Kettle Creek in 1779, the American Patriot forces were victorious over British Loyalists.7
During the eighteenth century, colonists used slaves to clear land and cultivate plantations in this area. In 1793, Mount Pleasant, a cotton plantation east of Washington, was the site where Eli Whitney first perfected his revolutionary invention, the cotton gin. This made possible the expansion of cultivation of short-staple cotton, which grew more successfully in such upland areas. It led to the expansion of cotton plantations throughout the Deep South, and their production soon superseded that of the long-staple cotton grown mostly on the Sea Islands and in the Low Country.8 Along with the expansion of cotton plantations was an increasing demand for slave labor. During the 1800s after the international trade was halted, there was a lucrative slave trade from the Upper South to the Deep South, where more than a million slaves were taken in forced migrations.
None of the battles of the American Civil War were fought in or near Wilkes County, but it was here, on the site of the present Wilkes County Courthouse in downtown Washington, where President Jefferson Davis met for the final time with the Confederate Cabinet They officially dissolved the government of the Confederate States of America.9 Wilkes County was the last known location of the gold reportedly lost from the Confederate Treasury.10 People continue to search for the gold, one of Georgia's most lingering and possibly lucrative mysteries.
According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 474.00 square miles (1,227.7 km2), of which 471.37 square miles (1,220.8 km2) (or 99.45%) is land and 2.62 square miles (6.8 km2) (or 0.55%) is water.11
- Elbert County (north)
- Lincoln County (east)
- McDuffie County (southeast)
- Warren County (south)
- Taliaferro County (southwest)
- Oglethorpe County (west)
As of the census14 of 2000, there were 10,687 people, 4,314 households, and 2,968 families residing in the county. The population density was 23 people per square mile (9/km²). There were 5,022 housing units at an average density of 11 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 55.12% White, 43.05% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 0.85% from two or more races. 1.98% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 4,314 households out of which 29.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.10% were married couples living together, 17.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.20% were non-families. 28.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the county the population was spread out with 24.00% under the age of 18, 8.00% from 18 to 24, 26.70% from 25 to 44, 24.10% from 45 to 64, and 17.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.00 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $27,644, and the median income for a family was $36,219. Males had a median income of $27,355 versus $21,298 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,020. About 13.00% of families and 17.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.20% of those under age 18 and 19.90% of those age 65 or over.
- Edward Porter Alexander
- Eliza Frances Andrews
- Selene Ayer Armstrong, editor and magazine writer
- John Clark (Georgia governor)
- Elijah Clarke
- Peter Early
- Frank Edwards (blues musician)
- Stephen Heard
- George Mathews, Continental Army officer, Governor of Georgia, and US Congressman. Member of the Mathews family
- Jesse Mercer
- Paul Jones Semmes
- Alexander H. Stephens
- Matthew Talbot
- Benjamin Taliaferro
- Robert Toombs
- George W. Towns
- Wilkes County Courthouse
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Wilkes County, Georgia
- Central Savannah River Area
- United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Washington Wilkes Historical Foundation
- Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce
- "Wilkes County Courthouse", GeorgiaInfo
- "A Brief History, 1790: A booming area of the state", Washington, Georgia Virtual Tourist, accessed January 13, 2010
- "A Brief History, 1779: The decisive Revolutionary War Battle of Kettle Creek", Washington, Georgia Virtual Tourist, accessed January 13, 2010
- Willingham, Robert. "AN OVERVIEW OF LOCAL HISTORY", Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce, accessed January 13, 2010
- "A Brief History, 1865: Last Meeting of the Confederate Cabinet", Washington, Georgia Virtual Tourist, accessed January 13, 2010
- "Legend of the Lost Gold of the Confederacy", Washington, Georgia Virtual Tourist, accessed January 13, 2010
- "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Census.gov. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wilkes County, Georgia.|
- Wilkes County, Georgia Genealogy and History
- Georgia Historical Markers in Wilkes County
- History of Wilkes County
- Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce Website
|Oglethorpe County||Lincoln County|
|Taliaferro County||Warren County||McDuffie County|