Fitzgerald, Georgia
Fitzgerald City Hall
Fitzgerald City Hall
Flag of Fitzgerald, Georgia
Official seal of Fitzgerald, Georgia
Motto(s): 
"History, Harmony, Heritage"[1]
Location in Ben Hill County and the state of Georgia
Location in Ben Hill County and the state of Georgia
Coordinates: 31°42′56″N 83°15′23″W / 31.71556°N 83.25639°W / 31.71556; -83.25639
CountryUnited States
StateGeorgia
CountyBen Hill
Government
 • MayorJason Holt
Area
 • Total9.13 sq mi (23.64 km2)
 • Land8.98 sq mi (23.25 km2)
 • Water0.15 sq mi (0.39 km2)
Elevation
361 ft (110 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total9,006
 • Density1,003.23/sq mi (387.34/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
31750
Area code229
FIPS code13-29528[3]
GNIS feature ID0355809[4]
Websitewww.fitzgeraldga.org

Fitzgerald is a city in and the county seat of Ben Hill County in the south central portion of the U.S. state of Georgia.[6] As of 2020, its population was 9,006.[7] It is the principal city of the Fitzgerald micropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Ben Hill and Irwin counties.

History

Fitzgerald was developed in 1895 by Philander H. Fitzgerald, an Indianapolis newspaper editor. A former drummer boy in the Union Army during the Civil War, he founded it as a community for war veterans–both from the Union and from the Confederacy.[8] The majority of the first citizens (some 2700) were Union veterans.[9] It was incorporated on December 2, 1896.[10] The town is located less than 15 miles (24 km) from the site where Confederate president Jefferson Davis was captured on May 10, 1865.

Fitzgerald was an early planned city. It was laid out as a square, with intersecting streets dividing it into four wards. Each ward was divided into four blocks and each block had sixteen squares.[11] The first two streets running north–south on the west side of the city were named after Confederate generals Lee and Johnston, whereas the first two on the east side were named after Union generals Grant and Sherman.[12]

After about a year, the residents planned a Thanksgiving harvest parade. Separate Union and Confederate parades were planned. But when the band struck up to play, the Confederates joined the Union veterans to march as one under the US flag.[13] At the time there was increasing reconciliation nationwide between white soldiers of the North and South; historian David Blight notes that outstanding issues of race were pushed aside. In this era southern states had already begun to pass new constitutions that raised barriers to voter registration, following Mississippi's in 1890, and essentially disenfranchised most freedmen and many poor whites. By 1900, Fitzgerald was a sundown town, prohibiting African Americans from living there.[14]

In recent years the unofficial, and sometimes controversial, mascot of the city has become the red junglefowl, a wild chicken native to the Indian subcontinent. In the late 1960s, a small number were released into the woods surrounding the city and they thrive to this day.[15] In 2019, work began on a 62-foot (19 m) tall topiary statue of a chicken.

Geography

Fitzgerald is located in Southeast Georgia at 31°42′56″N 83°15′23″W / 31.71556°N 83.25639°W / 31.71556; -83.25639 (31.715432, -83.256464).[16] U.S. Route 129 passes through the center of the city, leading north to Abbeville, Hawkinsville, and eventually Macon, and south to Ocilla, Nashville, and Lakeland. U.S. Route 319 also passes through Fitzgerald, leading northeast to McRae and Dublin and southwest to Tifton.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.0 square miles (23.3 km2), of which 8.8 square miles (22.9 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 1.64%, is water.[17]

Climate

Climate data for Fitzgerald, Georgia, 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1898–2006
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 84
(29)
89
(32)
95
(35)
95
(35)
102
(39)
104
(40)
106
(41)
104
(40)
102
(39)
97
(36)
92
(33)
85
(29)
106
(41)
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 60.1
(15.6)
64.1
(17.8)
70.6
(21.4)
78.0
(25.6)
84.8
(29.3)
89.4
(31.9)
92.4
(33.6)
90.8
(32.7)
86.8
(30.4)
79.5
(26.4)
69.3
(20.7)
62.5
(16.9)
77.4
(25.2)
Daily mean °F (°C) 49.3
(9.6)
52.7
(11.5)
58.9
(14.9)
65.6
(18.7)
73.5
(23.1)
79.6
(26.4)
82.5
(28.1)
81.1
(27.3)
76.3
(24.6)
67.5
(19.7)
57.4
(14.1)
51.5
(10.8)
66.3
(19.1)
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 38.6
(3.7)
41.4
(5.2)
47.3
(8.5)
53.3
(11.8)
62.3
(16.8)
69.8
(21.0)
72.5
(22.5)
71.3
(21.8)
65.9
(18.8)
55.6
(13.1)
45.5
(7.5)
40.5
(4.7)
55.3
(12.9)
Record low °F (°C) 4
(−16)
−1
(−18)
17
(−8)
32
(0)
42
(6)
50
(10)
59
(15)
55
(13)
41
(5)
29
(−2)
18
(−8)
7
(−14)
−1
(−18)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.08
(104)
3.77
(96)
4.61
(117)
3.76
(96)
2.62
(67)
4.64
(118)
4.38
(111)
5.63
(143)
3.42
(87)
2.98
(76)
2.83
(72)
4.92
(125)
47.64
(1,212)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 8.5 7.3 8.4 5.9 5.8 11.6 9.6 10.2 6.8 5.7 6.6 6.5 92.9
Source 1: NOAA[18]
Source 2: XMACIS2[19]

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
19001,817
19105,795218.9%
19206,87018.6%
19306,412−6.7%
19407,38815.2%
19508,13010.0%
19608,7818.0%
19708,187−6.8%
198010,18724.4%
19908,612−15.5%
20008,7581.7%
20109,0533.4%
20209,006−0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[20]
Fitzgerald racial composition as of 2020[21]
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 3,392 37.66%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 4,804 53.34%
Native American 38 0.42%
Asian 74 0.82%
Other/Mixed 295 3.28%
Hispanic or Latino 403 4.47%

At the 2020 United States census, there were 9,006 people, 3,346 households, and 1,932 families residing in the city.

Arts and culture

The Dorminy-Massee House is now operated as a bed and breakfast. J. J. (Captain Jack) Dorminy built it in 1915 for his family; the two-story, colonial-style home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[22]

The Blue and Gray Museum, located in the town's AB&A 1908 railroad depot, houses several artifacts that tell the story of the town's founding.[23] The town also has a city government owned art gallery located in the Carnegie library on the edge of downtown.

Government and infrastructure

Fitzgerald Post Office
Ben Hill County Courthouse

The U.S. Postal Service operates the Fitzgerald Post Office. The city is the county seat, hosting the Ben Hill County Courthouse.

Education

Ben Hill County School District headquarters
Fitzgerald High School

The Ben Hill County School District conducts pre-school to grade twelve, and consists of one pre-school, one primary school, an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school.[24] The district has 217 full-time teachers and over 3,395 students.[25]

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College – Ben Hill-Irwin Campus is located on the southern end of the county.

Media

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Minor league baseball teams

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Fitzgerald was home to a minor league baseball team in the Georgia State League from 1948, the league's first season of operation, through 1952. The team was called the Fitzgerald Pioneers. The club had no affiliation with any major league club during the five seasons of operation in the Georgia State League. After the 1952 season, the Fitzgerald Pioneers relocated to Sandersville and became the Sandersville Wacos, which were affiliated with the Milwaukee Braves for the 1953 season. The team ended their last season in 1956, under different affiliation.

Fitzgerald got a replacement team for the Pioneers in 1953 when the Moultrie Giants of the Georgia–Florida League moved to town. The Moultrie club was a charter member of the Georgia–Florida League when it began operations in 1946. After relocating to Fitzgerald and becoming an affiliate of the Cincinnati Redlegs, the new edition of the Fitzgerald Pioneers lasted one season (1954) saw the team name changed to the Fitzgerald Redlegs. After two years in Fitzgerald, the club returned to Moultrie. It ceased operating in 1958 under the name Brunswick Phillies.

After the Fitzgerald Redlegs left, the city was without a team for the 1955 season. The next year the Cordele club relocated to Fitzgerald after ten seasons in Cordele. They changed affiliation back to what were now called the Kansas City A's, and the Fitzgerald A's played for the 1956 season. In 1957, the club again changed its affiliation, to the Baltimore Orioles; the club was known as the Fitzgerald Orioles for the 1957 season. The Fitzgerald team relocated to Dublin, Georgia after the 1957 season and remained a Baltimore Orioles farm team; they played as the Dublin Orioles for the Georgia–Florida League's last year of operation. Fitzgerald has not had a minor league team in the 63 years since.

Notable people

References

  1. ^ "City of Fitzgerald Georgia Official Website". City of Fitzgerald Georgia Official Website. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 18, 2021.
  3. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ "Fitzgerald". Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  7. ^ "Fitzgerald (City) QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Archived from the original on May 5, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  8. ^ "website". Fitzgeraldga.org. Archived from the original on September 8, 2017. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  9. ^ "Fitzgerald history". Fitzgeraldga.org. Archived from the original on September 9, 2017. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  10. ^ "Fitzgerald". GeorgiaGov. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  11. ^ "City facts". Fitzgeraldga.org. Archived from the original on September 8, 2017. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  12. ^ "Fitzgerald streets". Fitzgeraldga.org. Archived from the original on September 9, 2017. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  13. ^ "History". Fitzgeraldga.org. Archived from the original on September 9, 2017. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  14. ^ [In the colony of Fitzgerald, in Georgia, there are very few negroes, and not one allowed to live in the city of Fitzgerald. The founders of this colony and the builders of this city are all Western people, and many of them old Union soldiers. But they met and solved the race problem by keeping the races separate and drawing, not only the color line, but the land line on the negro. "How Northern Settlers Solve the Negro Problem"]. The Lexington Gazette. Lexington, Virginia. March 28, 1900. p. 1 – via Chronicling America. ((cite news)): Check |url= value (help)
  15. ^ Minor, Elliott (June 14, 1998). "Town's wild jungle birds: blessing or curse?". Augusta Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  16. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  17. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Fitzgerald city, Georgia". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  18. ^ "U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access – Station: Fitzgerald, GA". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  19. ^ "xmACIS2". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  20. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  21. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 18, 2021.
  22. ^ "Fitzgerald, Georgia - Dorminy-Massee House Bed & Breakfast". dorminymasseehouse.com. Retrieved December 28, 2023.
  23. ^ "Blue and Gray Museum". FITZGERALD, GA. Retrieved December 28, 2023.
  24. ^ Georgia Board of Education[permanent dead link], Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  25. ^ School Stats, Retrieved May 30, 2010.

Further reading