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 History of Jenkins County

Jenkins County, the 138th county formed in Georgia, is located in east central Georgia.  It is strategically located to the mountains and the shore.

Native Americans first occupied the area now known as Jenkins County.  It is believed that the Southern Algonquin or the Shawnee were the first tribes to inhabit the area.  Prior to the arrival of the English in 1733, the Uchee or Yuchi, one of the tribes of the Creek Nation, occupied the territory that would become Jenkins County.  This territory was part of the first tract of land ceded to General James Oglethorpe by treaty with the Creeks in 1733.  By 1750 the Yuchi had left the area, and white settlement began.

The early history of the county dates to the colonial period when much of its lands were part of St. George Parish which became Burke county in 1777.  By the turn of the 19th century, several residents of the town of Millen became concerned because the community was not growing in keeping with similar communities in the area.  The Screven-Burke line ran through the heart of the town, creating a lot of inconvenience, and it was necessary for Millen residents to travel to Sylvania or Waynesboro to conduct a variety of business such as attending court and recording papers.  This discontent brought about the organization of The Millen News Publishing Company in July 1903 for the purpose of providing a "mouthpiece" through which to express these concerns and a desire for a new county.

The 1877 Constitution of the State of Georgia stipulated that there should be no more than 137 counties in the state.  However, in 1903, John A. Cromartie of Appling County introduced a bill proposing an amendment to the constitution allowing the creation of three new counties.  Thus, the movement for a new county, with Millen as the county seat, climaxed through a series of public meetings held in 1905.

While the Georgia Legislature was in session, several citizens of Millen traveled to Atlanta to request that a new county be formed, with Millen as the county seat, from portions of Burke, Screven, Emanuel, and Bulloch counties.  This delegation consisted of J. P. Applewhite, W. W. Palmer, W. M. Brinson, and Electra Tyler DeLoach.  An act to create eight new counties was passed by the lower house and the Senate in August 1905 and soon was signed by Governor Terrell.  Jenkins County, named for former Governor Charles J. Jenkins, was one of the eight counties created.

Millen, the county seat and only municipality, is located 52 miles south of Augusta.  It began about 1835 at the Inn of Robert Hendricks Gray.  The City of Millen was originally called Seventy-Nine or Old 79 because of its distance from Savannah.  In 1851 the Waynesboro and Augusta Railroad was extended to meet the line laid through Millen in 1839 by the Central Railroad and Banking Company making Millen an important junction on one of the earliest railroad systems in the United States.  Millen was named for McPherson B. Millen, railroad superintendent of Savannah.  Much of the city=s heritage evolved from the railroad, and Millen is still an important railroad junction in Georgia.  On December 3, 1864, the old inn, the railroad buildings and the confederate army warehouse were burned by the armies of General Sherman.  After the war the town was rebuilt and in 1881 was incorporated.

Many old communities still exist in Jenkins County including Birdsville, Butts, Emma Lane, Four Points, Herndon, Perkins, Scarboro, and Thrift.  Each community has its own unique history and landmarks, dating back to the colonial and antebellum periods.

There are several historical landmarks and points of interest in Jenkins County. Magnolia Springs State park, the 948 acre park named for the crystal clear springs is located four miles outside Millen.   Camp Lawton, site of a Civil War prison is located on the grounds of Magnolia Springs State Park.  It was built to relieve the crowded conditions at Andersonville Prison.  The Millen-Jenkins County Museum is housed in the "Depot" on Cotton Avenue, a 1920's Central of Georgia Railroad freight depot.  Big Buckhead Church, organized in 1774, is the third oldest Baptist church in the state of Georgia.  The Georgia Baptist Convention met there in 1831 and adopted a resolution to establish Mercer University.  Carswell Grove Baptist Church near Big Buckhead was organized in 1867 is on the National Register .  The Jenkins County Courthouse, Post Office, and the majority of buildings on Cotton Avenue are also on the National Register.  The Ogeechee River runs through Jenkins County and is one of the county's major tourist attractions.  The Ogeechee is the largest continuous flowing river east of the Mississippi River.

Jenkins County is a small county with a small population.  In 1910 the population of Jenkins County was listed at 11, 520, five years after its formation.  In 1940, the population of the county was 11, 843.  By 1960, the county's population had declined to 9,148, and the 2000 U. S. Census listed Jenkins County's population at 8, 575.


Historic Churches of the Community

Big Buckhead Baptist Church - 1787
Little Buckhead Baptist Church - 1828
Habersham Methodist Church - 1840
Elam Baptist Church - 1842
Fairhaven Methodist Church - 1846

Green Fork Baptist Church - 1848
Scarboro Baptist Church - 1854
Millen Methodist Church - 1882
Millen Baptist Church - 1889


 

Millen/Jenkins County Chamber of Commerce

548 Cotton Avenue - Millen, GA 30442

Phone: (478) 982-5595 - Fax: (478) 982-5512