Lowndes County
Lowndes County Courthouse in Valdosta
Lowndes County Courthouse in Valdosta
Map of Georgia highlighting Lowndes County
Location within the U.S. state of Georgia
Map of the United States highlighting Georgia
Georgia's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 30°50′N 83°16′W / 30.83°N 83.27°W / 30.83; -83.27
Country United States
State Georgia
FoundedDecember 23, 1825; 199 years ago (1825)
Named forWilliam Jones Lowndes
SeatValdosta
Largest cityValdosta
Area
 • Total511 sq mi (1,320 km2)
 • Land496 sq mi (1,280 km2)
 • Water15 sq mi (40 km2)  2.8%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2022)
120,055
 • Density220/sq mi (80/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts1st, 8th
Websitewww.lowndescounty.com

Lowndes County (/ˈlndz/) is a county located in the south-central portion of the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2020 census, the population was 118,251.[1] The county seat is Valdosta.[2] The county was created December 23, 1825.

Lowndes County is included in the Valdosta metropolitan statistical area. It is located along the border with Florida.

The county is a major commercial, educational, and manufacturing center of south Georgia with considerable forest products including pulpwood and naval stores, such as turpentine and rosin. Part of Grand Bay, a 13,000-acre (53 km2) swamp, is located in Lowndes County.

History

Native Americans and the Spanish

The land that became Lowndes County had historically been inhabited by the Timucua. During most of the age of European colonization, the area of modern Lowndes County was part of the colony of Spanish Florida. From approximately 1625 to 1657, the Spanish Empire maintained a Catholic mission to the Timucua, dubbed Mission Santa Cruz de Cachipile, in the southern portion of Lowndes County near present-day Lake Park. In the centuries that followed, Timucua civilization collapsed due to slave raiding and disease.

The Creek Nation peoples moved into the area and, by the early 19th century, they were well established here. On December 15, 1818, European Americans organized what they called Irwin County, which had been settled by pushing out the Creek people. In the 1830s Georgia and the federal government completed Indian Removal of most of the Native Americans from what became the state.

Early county history

Lowndes County was established by an act passed by the Georgia legislature on December 23, 1825. It was formed out of the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 15th, and 16th land districts of Irwin County, Georgia.[3] The county was named for William Jones Lowndes (1782–1822), a prominent South Carolina lawyer and Congressman. His father Rawlins Lowndes had been a Revolutionary War leader and was elected as South Carolina Governor.[4] The Coffee Road was an improved trail first cut by Georgia militia to supply federal troops in Florida during the Creek Wars. It was the first route through the area of Lowndes County and opened up the area to white settlers.

During the first few years after Lowndes County was organized, its courts met at the tavern owned by Sion Hall on the Coffee Road, near what is now Morven, Georgia in Brooks County, on the west side of the Little River. The first county seat was established at Franklinville (sometimes spelled Franklynville) by the Georgia General Assembly on December 16, 1828.[5] Franklinville was located about 5.6 miles to the east of Hahira in the eastern half of land lot 50 in the 11th land district; it was named after statesman and Founding Father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin.

At the time of the 1830 federal census, Lowndes County had 1,072 white males, 1,044 white females, 156 male slaves, 179 female slaves, and 4 free people of color, for a total population of 2,455. The introduction of steam-powered ships on the Withlacoochee and Little rivers led to a shift in the population toward the rivers. In December 1833 the state legislature passed a law establishing a new county seat at a place to be called Lowndesville. The law called for a courthouse, a jail, and a town to be laid out within land lot 109 in the 12th land district. This land lot is near the present Timber Ridge Road in Lowndes County.

It is uncertain why the plans for Lowndesville were abandoned, but in December 1834, the state legislature authorized commissioners to select a suitable site for a courthouse so that the county seat could be moved away from Franklinville. In October 1836, another group of commissioners was advertising for contracting proposals for the construction of a brick courthouse at Troupville. By Summer 1837, Troupville and Franklinville were both serving as courthouse sites. This continued until at least 1838. In December 1837 Troupville was incorporated. Rumors of the coming of the Brunswick and Chattahoochee Railroad, the opening up of Florida, and the prosperity of the surrounding farmland led to the growth of Troupville and Lowndes County in general. In 1845, the remaining county-owned land at Franklinville was sold at the courthouse in Troupville.

The closest battle to Troupville between Native Americans and whites was at Brushy Creek on November 10, 1836, in modern Berrien County. Creek Nation people were passing through Lowndes County to join the Seminole in Florida. General Winfield Scott, commander of United States field forces in the area, intended to stop the Creek movement and did. Virtually no Native Americans were left in South Georgia.

In February 1850 Lowndes County lost land to the formation of Clinch County. At that time the eastern border of Lowndes County was defined as the Alapaha River.[6] By the time of the 1850 census, Lowndes County had a free white population of 5,339, a free colored population of 20, and a slave population of 2,355. Lowndes County lost additional territory with the establishment of Berrien and Colquitt counties on February 25, 1856.

Establishment of Valdosta

Many residents of Lowndes County were unhappy when the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad announced June 17, 1858 that they had selected a planned route that would bypass Troupville. On June 22 at 3:00 AM, the Lowndes County courthouse at Troupville was set aflame by William B. Crawford, who fled to South Carolina after being released on bond.

On August 9, a meeting convened in the academy building in Troupville at which it was decided to create from the area of Lowndes County to the west of the Withlacoochee River a new county to be called Brooks County.[7] Brooks was established on December 11. On December 13, 1858, the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill establishing Echols County, Georgia.

In December 1859, the Lowndes County board of commissioners were instructed by an act of the Georgia legislature to purchase land for a new county seat; it was to be along the line of the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad and as close to the center of the county as possible. As part of the same act the Brooks-Lowndes County border was adjusted so that the east bank of the Little River formed the border.[8]

Land belonging to William Wisenbaker was chosen as the site of the new county seat of Valdosta. The arrival of the railroad led to the downfall of Troupville and the rise of Valdosta as a center for the economy of south Georgia. The shifting county boundary lines led to population loss for Lowndes County. The 1860 census showed the county having 2,850 free whites, no free persons of color, and 2,399 slaves.

Civil War

No battles during the American Civil War were fought in Lowndes County. Several regular Confederate Army companies were raised from the population. Those included:

State Guard units included:

In addition, two Georgia Militia companies were partially raised from the population in early 1864 following the reorganization of the militia.[9] Those included:

Lowndes County also had a home guard unit, but it was only called into action once in the fall of 1863. In that instant some soldiers' wives in Thomasville, Georgia were threatening to break into a Confederate Government Commissary to feed their starving children. In April 1864 a group of women rioted at Stockton, Georgia after a local store owner refused to take Confederate money in exchange for yarn. They took all the yarn in his store. At the same time, armed women stole a wagon load of bacon from a government warehouse. A mob of women also went on a rampage for similar reasons in Naylor, Georgia at about the same time.[10]

In February 1864 members of Company I "Woodson Guards", 32nd Regiment Georgia Infantry camped overnight in Valdosta at an area south of the railroad while on their way to Battle of Olustee in northern Florida. It was to be the closest fighting came to Valdosta during the Civil War. Valdosta became a home for many refugees fleeing into south Georgia due to Sherman's March to the Sea. Among those refugees was the family of Doc Holliday. Other refugees came by the railroad from Savannah and the Sea Islands.[11]

Reconstruction

In the years right after the Civil War, members of Company "G", 103rd United States Colored Troops were stationed at Valdosta as part of the military occupation of the South during the Reconstruction era.

Several years after the Civil War, 112 African American men, women, and children moved from Lowndes County to Arthington, Liberia in 1871 and 1872. Some settled there permanently to make their home in a colony established for free American blacks; a small number returned to the United States. Their emigration was supported by the American Colonization Society, which had been working since the antebellum years to relocate free blacks to this new colony in West Africa.[12] African Americans dominated the new colony (and future country) both socially and politically well into the 20th century before indigenous peoples, the majority within the borders of the country, came to power.

Prior to 1872, the southern border of Lowndes County and of Georgia was slightly farther south. The border when Lowndes County was created was along what was called McNeil's Line. A dispute over the border between the states of Florida and Georgia later developed (see Florida v. Georgia). In 1857, the governors of the two states appointed surveyors for a joint survey of the border. This led to the creation of the Orr and Whitney Line, which was agreed to by the United States Congress on April 9, 1872.

20th century to present

In 1899 the cotton mill town of Remerton was established, and by 1920, Lowndes County lost some territory when Lanier County was established.

Lynching of Mary Turner and killing of her unborn child

In 1918, a white planter was murdered in Brooks County. He was known to have mistreated his black workers. Sidney Johnson, one of his workers, was suspected in his death. Mobs of whites hunted in Brooks and Lowndes counties for Johnson, rounding up and killing at least 11 other black men and one black woman and her unborn baby in what historian Meyers called "a lynching rampage." One man was killed in Lowndes County and the others in Brooks. Mary Turner, the married mother of two young children and eight months pregnant, was brutally murdered in Lowndes County, near Folsom Bridge on the Little River. The unborn child was then cut from her womb and its head crushed by a booted foot of one of the participants in the lynching. Her husband had been lynched the day before although neither had anything to do with the white planter's death.[13] None of the lynching participants were prosecuted.

On 15 May 2010, a historical marker memorializing "Mary Turner and the Lynching Rampage" was placed near the lynching site in Lowndes County and dedicated.[14] The plaque includes a description of the associated murders of black people by white mobs in 1918, especially the lynchings of the Turners.[15][16][failed verification] In July 2013, the plaque was found to have five bullet holes shot by an unknown vandal.[17] Since 2013, the plaque now has as many as 27 bullet holes and more recently, was struck multiple times by “some kind of off-road vehicle,” Mark Patrick George, coordinator for the Mary Turner Project, announced in October 2020. The historical marker has been since removed. Project officials said the historical marker will be stored until re-installment plans are made. It is unclear if authorities are investigating the latest vandalism incident.[18]

World War II

On September 15, 1941, Moody Air Force Base opened. it was part of the federal government's investment in military facilities in the South. The region received considerable Federal monies during World War II.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 511 square miles (1,320 km2), of which 496 square miles (1,280 km2) is land and 15 square miles (39 km2) (2.8%) is water.[19]

The north-central (east of Hahira), west-central (bordered by a north–south line that bisects Valdosta), and southwestern portions (west of Dasher) of Lowndes County are located in the Withlacoochee River sub-basin of the Suwannee River basin. The northwestern corner of the county is located in the Little River sub-basin of the same Suwannee River basin. The eastern portion of Lowndes County is located in the Alapaha River sub-basin of the larger Suwannee River basin.[20]

Adjacent counties

Major waterways

Communities

Cities

Town

Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
18302,453
18405,574127.2%
18507,71438.4%
18605,249−32.0%
18708,32158.5%
188011,04932.8%
189015,10236.7%
190020,03632.7%
191024,43622.0%
192026,5218.5%
193029,99413.1%
194031,8606.2%
195035,21110.5%
196049,27039.9%
197055,11211.9%
198067,97223.3%
199075,98111.8%
200092,11521.2%
2010109,23318.6%
2020118,2518.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[21]
1790-1880[22] 1890-1910[23]
1920-1930[24] 1930-1940[25]
1940-1950[26] 1960-1980[27]
1980-2000[28] 2010[29]
Lowndes County racial composition as of the 2020 census[30]
Race Num. Perc.
White 59,306 50.15%
Black or African American 43,946 37.16%
Native American 312 0.26%
Asian 1,908 1.61%
Pacific Islander 100 0.08%
Other/Mixed 4,807 4.07%
Hispanic or Latino 7,872 6.66%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 118,251 people, 42,639 households, and 26,536 families residing in the county.[30]

Courthouses

The Old Lowndes County Courthouse as it appeared around the early 1900s.

The county's former courthouse was built circa 1905 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it was the county's seventh courthouse. The first courthouse was built in 1828 at Franklinville, the original county seat. In 1834 another courthouse was built at the new county seat of Troupville. It was replaced by a new courthouse in 1842. The 1842 structure was destroyed by a fire set by William B. Crawford in June 1858.

The first courthouse at Valdosta was built in 1860 and was a wooden structure that was sold for the funding of a new courthouse by 1869. The wooden building used for the courts of ordinary burned down in 1869. Lowndes County was without an official courthouse for a number of years. A two-story brick building was completed in 1874. In 1900, county commissioners decided that a larger structure was needed. In March 1904 the old courthouse was demolished and in 1905, the seventh courthouse was completed. This is the structure that is locally referred to in the 21st century as 'the old courthouse.' In August and September 2010, the county government moved to a new judicial complex.[31]

The 1905 Lowndes County Courthouse is widely acknowledged as one of the most beautiful county courthouses in Georgia. It is used for meetings, public display, and other community attractions. Today it is used for many events, meetings, and political purposes.[32][33]

Politics

United States presidential election results for Lowndes County, Georgia[34]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 25,692 55.40% 20,116 43.38% 567 1.22%
2016 21,635 56.84% 15,064 39.58% 1,364 3.58%
2012 21,327 54.38% 17,470 44.54% 424 1.08%
2008 21,269 54.19% 17,597 44.83% 384 0.98%
2004 18,981 59.91% 12,516 39.50% 187 0.59%
2000 14,462 56.87% 10,616 41.74% 354 1.39%
1996 10,578 48.92% 9,470 43.79% 1,576 7.29%
1992 10,276 46.30% 9,019 40.64% 2,897 13.05%
1988 10,855 62.63% 6,427 37.08% 51 0.29%
1984 10,437 62.86% 6,167 37.14% 0 0.00%
1980 6,622 51.29% 5,989 46.38% 301 2.33%
1976 4,512 33.82% 8,830 66.18% 0 0.00%
1972 7,812 79.50% 2,015 20.50% 0 0.00%
1968 3,073 27.55% 2,402 21.53% 5,679 50.91%
1964 6,811 60.95% 4,363 39.04% 1 0.01%
1960 2,908 44.65% 3,605 55.35% 0 0.00%
1956 2,135 35.17% 3,936 64.83% 0 0.00%
1952 2,079 39.05% 3,245 60.95% 0 0.00%
1948 634 16.02% 1,867 47.17% 1,457 36.81%
1944 401 16.09% 2,092 83.91% 0 0.00%
1940 260 9.21% 2,551 90.40% 11 0.39%
1936 130 3.98% 3,099 94.89% 37 1.13%
1932 97 4.99% 1,840 94.65% 7 0.36%
1928 596 29.67% 1,413 70.33% 0 0.00%
1924 57 4.71% 1,095 90.42% 59 4.87%
1920 220 14.40% 1,308 85.60% 0 0.00%
1916 88 4.36% 1,870 92.67% 60 2.97%
1912 35 3.86% 847 93.49% 24 2.65%
1908 154 16.61% 681 73.46% 92 9.92%
1904 289 23.73% 888 72.91% 41 3.37%
1900 277 37.48% 444 60.08% 18 2.44%
1896 536 45.62% 586 49.87% 53 4.51%
1892 509 29.05% 988 56.39% 255 14.55%
1888 643 45.06% 767 53.75% 17 1.19%
1884 598 47.99% 648 52.01% 0 0.00%
1880 660 46.94% 746 53.06% 0 0.00%

Up until 1960, Lowndes County voted with the Democrats, as with most of the Solid South. It flipped in 1964 when it voted for Republican Barry Goldwater and has remained reliably Republican since then. The last Democrat to carry the county was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Transportation

Major highways

Pedestrians and cycling

Railroads

Previous[edit]

Current[edit]

All of the railroads serving Lowndes County today are freight-only; the closest Amtrak passenger stops are at Folkston and Jesup, both about 100 miles away.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Explore Census Data - Decennial Census P1 RACE 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171)". data.census.gov. United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on November 2, 2022. Retrieved November 4, 2022.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, Passed Milledgeville, at an Annual Session November and December. 1825.". Article To form two new counties from the counties of Irwin and Decatur, Act No. 54 of 23 December 1825.
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 191.
  5. ^ "Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, Passed in Milledgeville at an Annual Session in November and December, 1828". Article AN ACT to make permanent the site of the public buildings in the county of Lowndes, and to name the same., Act No. 136 of 16 December 1828.
  6. ^ "Acts of the State of Georgia, 1849-50.". Article AN ACT to lay out and form a new county from the counties of Ware and Lowndes, and to provide for the organization of the same., Act No. 145 of 14 February 1850.
  7. ^ Shelton, Jane (2001). Pines and Pioneers: A History of Lowndes County, Georgia 1825-1900. Lowndes County Historical Society. ISBN 9780877970347.
  8. ^ "Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, Passed in Milledgville, at an Annual Session in November and December, 1859.". Article An Act to remove the county site of Lowndes county, to change the line between said county and the county of Brooks, and for other purposes., Act No. 370 of 21 November 1859.
  9. ^ Scaife, William R.; Bragg, William Harris (2004). Joe Brown's Pets: The Georgia Militia 1861-1865. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press. pp. 304, 310. ISBN 978-0865548831.
  10. ^ Williams, David; Williams, Teresa Crisp; Carlson, David (2002). Plain Folk in a Rich Man's War: Class and Dissent in Confederate Georgia. Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida Press. pp. 85–87. ISBN 978-0813028361.
  11. ^ Shelton, Janes (2001). Pines and Pioneers: A History of Lowndes County, Georgia 1825-1900. Valdosta, GA: Lowndes County Historical Society. pp. 142–149. ISBN 9780877970347.
  12. ^ "Lowndes County Emigrants". Valdosta.edu Regional History. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  13. ^ Meyers, Christopher C (2006). "" Killing Them by the Wholesale": A Lynching Rampage in South Georgia". The Georgia Historical Quarterly. JSTOR. 90 (2): 214–235. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  14. ^ "Mary Turner and the Lynching Rampage of 1918 - Georgia Historical Society". June 16, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2023.
  15. ^ Ramos, Kara (May 15, 2010). "Remembering a dark page of history". Valdosta Daily Times. Valdosta, GA. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  16. ^ Georgia Historical Society (2010). "Mary Turner and the Lynching Rampage of 1918". Historical Marker Index. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  17. ^ WALB (2013). "Reward offered after historic marker shot with bullets". Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  18. ^ Kenney, Tanasia. "Historical marker at site of pregnant woman's lynching is removed, GA officials say". Miami Herald. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  19. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  20. ^ "Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission Interactive Mapping Experience". Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Retrieved November 27, 2015.
  21. ^ "Decennial Census of Population and Housing by Decades". United States Census Bureau.
  22. ^ "1880 Census Population by Counties 1790-1800" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. 1880.
  23. ^ "1910 Census of Population - Georgia" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. 1910.
  24. ^ "1930 Census of Population - Georgia" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. 1930.
  25. ^ "1940 Census of Population - Georgia" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. 1940.
  26. ^ "1950 Census of Population - Georgia -" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. 1950.
  27. ^ "1980 Census of Population - Number of Inhabitants - Georgia" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. 1980.
  28. ^ "2000 Census of Population - Population and Housing Unit Counts - Georgia" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. 2000.
  29. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 3, 2011. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  30. ^ a b "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  31. ^ VDT Editors (August 11, 2010). "What We Think: Goodbye, Courthouse >> What We Think >> Valdosta Daily Times". Valdosta Daily Times. Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. Retrieved September 19, 2010. ((cite web)): |author= has generic name (help)
  32. ^ ""Lowndes county courthouse" December 5, 2010". Georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  33. ^ "Lowndes County Courthouse | Lowndes County Historical Society Museum". Valdostamuseum.com. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  34. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 21, 2018.

30°50′N 83°16′W / 30.83°N 83.27°W / 30.83; -83.27