Clarke County, Georgia

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1700's Cherokee and Creek Indians lived in Clarke County, in northeast Georgia, (26th County).[1]
1783 after the American Revolution, white settlers settled here.[1]
January 1785 - The University of Georgia (UGA) was established in Athens. The town had become a commercial and educational center. [1]
1790's Georgia state offered 1,000 acres/family for a reasonable charge to encourage settlers. The encouraged emigrants of Scots-Irish descent from North Carolina and South Carolina to emigrate here.[1]
1800's- - Clarke county depended on agriculture as the economy. Cotton was the major crop.[1]
Dec 5,1801 The Georgia General Assembly created Clarke County with a legislative act from Jackson County.. It was named for Revolutionary War hero Elijah Clarke that was formerly part of Jackson County. Colonel Clarke played a leading role the 1779 victory at the Battle of Kettle Creek in Wilkes County. The Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter erected a statue to honor Elijah Clarke on Broad Street in Athens.[2]
1801 the Clarke County Commission was charged with selecting Watkinsville as county seat. This county seat later became part of Oconee County. [2]
1807 Clarke county gained additional land when Greene County was formed.[1]
1811, 1813 Georgia legislature created Madison County and Oglethorpe County in 1813 boundaries have changed several times over the years. [1]
1830 Whitehall House, added to the register in 1979, is located in the southeastern part of the county and was the home of Clarke's first large water mill. It began in 1830. 1837, John White bought the mill to process cotton from Clarke county, Georgia plantations. [1]
Whitehall House
1800s-1840s Population grew, plantations began growing cotton. The cotton harvests were sent to Clarka County to be processed.. Soon other manufacturing and textiles began.[2]
1840's Henry W Grady House
1841 -- Railway reached Athens. Athens and Clarke County were 2nd to Savannah and Chatham County in investments for manufacturing.[2]
1864 Civil War Two skirmishes were fought in Clarke County. One near Barber's Creek, and 2nd was near Mitchell's Road. [2][1]
May 29, 1864 The Union army occupied Athens when a provost marshal governed. Formal military occupation ended by December.[2]
Stoneman's Historical Marker
July 2-3, 1864 Maj. Gen. W..T. Sherman moved forces against Atlanta. He sent Maj. Gen. George Stoneman and cavalry to destroy the Macon railway, thus removing supplies for the Atlanta defenders. The Battle of Sunshine Church was 19 miles NE of Macon. Stoneman surrendered 600 men to Brig. Gen. Alfred Iverson, Jr. Georgia home guard units with artillery stopped a retreat. Stoneman and units resorted to roads through Jug Tavern to the north to reach Union lines. Capron and forces rested at King's Tanyard near Winder, and was surprised on July 3, by William's Kentucky brigade. The Kentucky brigade captured 430 men. Carport escaped through the woods. All prisoners were brought to Athens by Col. W.C.P. Breckinridge, 9th Kentucky cavalry and were held guard until they were shipped to the prison at Andersonville.[3]
1865-1866 - Union troops stayed in the county into the early months of 1866.[2]
post 1867 Clarke County's five rail lines provided transportation after the Civil war and the rapid rivers and creeks powered mills and industrial plants. [1]
Nov 24, 1871 The new county seat for Clarke county was selected as Athens. At this time the county offices, with the courts and jail, moved to Athens. They used the old Athens town hall for the first county meetings took place in the old Athens town hall. [2]
February 12, 1875 Due to complaints over moving the county seat to Athens, the Georgia legislature solved this by splitting (3/5) of Clarke land from the southwest part of Clarke County to become Oconee County. Although not moving physically Watkinsville then became the county seat of Oconee County. Thus simply by complaining, Clarke County lost 3//5 of its land as well as lost 1/3 of its population to to Oconee County. [2]Clarke was left the smallest county of Georgia.[1]
post 1875 food crops became the dominant agricultural product. [1]
Newton House.
1876 A new courthouse was built. The present courthouse was built in 1914. [2]
The town of Watkinsville grew slowly. Nearby Athens, Georgia, had a railway terminal, and grew more quickly. [1]
1880-1890 Winterville railroad depot was built in Clarke County. At this time the town was named "Six-Mile Station"- This was the distance from Athens, Georgia. This Depot is currently the Winterville Visitor's Center. [1]
1891 - a town of Whitehall grew up around the Whitehall mill, and was was incorporated.
1897 - John R White Jr. built a hydroelectric plant to serve the water mill, founded in 1830 to process cotton from area plantations. [1]
Georgia also formed a "commissioner of roads and revenue" called county commissioners today. Being an part of the state the county would sharing the expenses of its welfare and health programs, hold courts for lawsuits or arrests, and maintain the county roads. [2]
1914 The Clarke County Courthouse, 1914 was built in Athens. The architect was A. Ten Eyck Brown for the Italian Renaissance revival, neoclassical revival and Beaux-Arts style.[1]
Puryear's Mill
pre 1918 Puryear's Mill - is located on Cedar Creek operating as a cotton gin and a corn mill. The mill ceased operation 1945. [1]
1930- The Whites' property was sold at auction to Oconee Textile Company after financial difficulties. [1]
post 1945 - plants were built to process poultry and timber. UGA, Athens Regional Medical Center, and St. Mary's Hospital are major employers in the area.[1]
Morton Theater
The historic Morton Theater was renovated by J.W. Robinson and Lana Greene and is 1 of 4 African American vaudeville theaters remaining..
1946 Thomas Textile Company which made children's clothing bought the buildings, and clothing was made there.[1]
1958 Athens Technical college was built in Athens.[1]
1960's The expansion of the urban areas and urban renewal added labor as well as consumers.. University of Georgia attracts new residents, students and teachers to Athens, added to the area's pool of labor and consumers.[1]
Univ of Georgia old North Campus.
University of Georgia (UGA)has played a major role in attracting new residents to Athens. The economy focus has shifted to educational, health, social services and industry.[1]
March 29, 1973, the Georgia legislature added a county administrator and 2 more commissioners. [2]
1979 - Whitehall House,listed on the register is in Southeastern part of the county as the county's first water mill. [1]
1988 Currently the old mill has been converted into loft condominiums (many old buildings even in Texas have been converted to condominiums, such as Dallas West Side, a section in san Francisco, ALAMO Quarry Market was the quarry, now a shopping center.
Whitehall House
The former mill owners' mansion and many mill homes are still standing today. However, Whitehall is no longer an incorporated community.[1]
1990 Clarke County voters approved to have Athens city and Clarke County share a government entitled the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County. Most of the county's residents live in Athens.[1][2]

Government Offices

1st County Seat, 1801 - Watkinsville was selected by the Clarke County Commission This county seat later became part of Oconee County. This was county seat until 1871

2nd County Seat, Nov 24, 1871 - Athens was selected as new county seat as it had grown rapidly. when Watkinsville became part of Oconee countys. County offices, with the courts and jail, moved to Athens and used the old Athens town hall. Watkinsville, located on land that eventually went to Oconee County, served as the county seat until 1871

Old Clarke County Jail.

Nov 24, 1871 Due to citizens complaints after Athens was made county seat, the legislature split Clarke and formed Oconee County. (Watkinsville became the county seat for Oconee County.

2nd County Courthouse, 1876 was built.

New Clarke County Courthouse, 1924.

3rd Courthouse, 1914 - present courthouse was built.


Location -- northeastern part of the state of Georgia.
County Seat - Athens, which it is a consolidated city-county.
Size - 250 square miles (647.5 km2)
Clarke County is included in the Athens-Clarke County, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Atlanta-Athens-Clarke County-Sandy Springs, GA Combined Statistical Area.
121 square miles, the geographically smallest of Georgia's counties.

Adjacent counties

  • Madison County, Georgia - northeast
Clarke County and Georgia.
  • Oglethorpe County, Georgia - southeast
  • Oconee County, Georgia - southwest
  • Barrow County, Georgia - west
  • Jackson County, Georgia - northwest

Protected areas

  • Whitehall House


In 2000 101,489 people were living in the county with a population density of 840 people/sq. mi. Racial makeup of the county was 64.89% White, 27.25% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 3.13% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.08% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. 6.34% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. In 2010 there were 116,714 people in the county with a population density of 979.1 people/sq. mi. The median income for a household in the county was $34,253 and the median income for a family was $51,687. The per capita income for the county was $19,839. About 16.6% of families and 33.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.2% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.[4]


U.S. Route 29U.S. Route 78U.S. Route 78 BusinessU.S. Route 129
U.S. Route 441Georgia State Route 8Georgia State Route 10Georgia State Route 10 LoopGeorgia State Route 15
Georgia State Route 15 AlternateGeorgia State Route 72Georgia State Route 422 ( State Route 10 Loop)

Clarke County School District supports grades pre-school to 12. The district has 14 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 3 high schools (one non-traditional). This has 791 full-time teachers,for the 11,357 students.


  • University of Georgia (UGA), public research university, founded 1785 as the oldest, largest institution of higher learning in Georgia.
  • Athens Technical College of Georgia -public college. It offers certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees in business, health, technical, and manufacturing-related fields.
  • Augusta University (AU) through its Medical College of Georgia has a Medical Partnership with University of Georgia (Health Science Campus), and the AU College of Nursing has had a campus in Athens since 1974.
  • Piedmont College 1995 established. established a campus in Athens in 1995


  • Athens-Ben Epps Airport (FAA code AHN) -1917 began, located east of downtown Georgia State Route 10 Loop and north of US Route 78. Qualifies for service under Essential Air Service. SeaPort Airlines, Georgia Skies and Wings Air, US Airways provided service to Charlotte. *Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) is the primary point of departure and arrival for Athenians due to the relative lack of air service to AHN.
  • UGA, Athens Regional Medical Center, and St. Mary's Hospital are major employers in the area.



County Resources

  • Lucy Cobb Institute
  • Morton Theatre.
  • State Botanical Garden of Georgia
  • Georgia Museum of Art, the official state art museum.
  • Whitehall House, added to the register in 1979


  • Coleman Barks – poet, interpreter of the 13th-century Sufi poet Rumi
  • Kevin Barnes – founding member of the band of Montreal
  • Kim Basinger – film actress
  • Janie Porter Barrett, social welfare activist, founder of the Virginia State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs
  • Howell Cobb and Thomas R. R. Cobb, politician
  • Ben Epps aviator
  • William Few Jr., signer of the U.S. Constitution
  • Henry W. Grady, editor of the Atlanta Constitution and exponent of the "New South"
  • Hall Johnson, African American composer
  • Crawford Long, the discoverer of anesthesia
  • William Anderson Pledger, civil rights activist and publisher of the Athens Blade
  • Harriet Powers - quilter
  • Dean Rusk, U.S. secretary of state
  • Mildred Lewis Rutherford- Lost Cause advocate
Michael Thurmond, Georgia commissioner of labor
  • Byron Bowers – Stand Up Comedian
  • Titus Burgess - actor and singer
  • Phil Campbell - farmer and politician
  • Henry Hull Carlton - member of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Bob Cole – composer
  • Jeff Daniels – actor, born in Athens
  • Leila Denmark – pediatrician and supercentenarian
  • Ben T. Epps – aviation pioneer
  • Marianne Gordon – actress
  • Henry W. Grady – journalist and orator; helped reintegrate the former Confederate States;
  • Forrest Griffin – MMA fighter
  • Young Harris – judge, philanthropist, and namesake of Young Harris College
  • Henry R. Jackson – Major General in the Georgia militia during the Civil War
  • Wadsworth Jarrell – artist
  • Todd Kimsey – actor (Seinfeld)
  • Leo Kottke – acoustic guitarist
  • Eaddy Mays – television and film actress
  • Lou McGarity – jazz trombonist
  • Fred Mills – classical music professor and Grammy nominee
  • Mike Mills – founding member of R.E.M.

Quentin Moses – football linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, born in Athens Madeleine Peyroux – jazz singer, songwriter, and guitarist, born in Athens

  • Mildred Seydell – one of the first female newspaper journalists in Georgia
  • Lucy May Stanton – artist known for portrait miniatures[76]
  • Michael Stipe and Bill Berry – founding member of R.E.M.
  • Keith Strickland, Cindy and Ricky Wilson – founding member of The B-52s
  • Fran Tarkenton – Hall of Fame quarterback
  • Laura Slade Wiggins – actress and musician



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