Watkinsville, Georgia
Oconee County Courthouse in Watkinsville, Georgia
Oconee County Courthouse in Watkinsville, Georgia
Location in Oconee County and the state of Georgia
Location in Oconee County and the state of Georgia
Coordinates: 33°51′46″N 83°24′29″W / 33.86278°N 83.40806°W / 33.86278; -83.40806
CountryUnited States
StateGeorgia
CountyOconee
Area
 • Total3.31 sq mi (8.58 km2)
 • Land3.28 sq mi (8.48 km2)
 • Water0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)
Elevation735 ft (224 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total2,896
 • Density884.00/sq mi (341.36/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
30677
Area code706
FIPS code13-80788[3]
GNIS feature ID2405687[2]
Websitehttp://cityofwatkinsville.com/

Watkinsville is the largest town and county seat of Oconee County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2020 census, the town had a total population of 2,896. It served as the seat of Clarke County until 1872 when the county seat of that county was moved to Athens, a move which ultimately led to the creation of Oconee County in 1875. It is included in the Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Geography

Watkinsville is located at 33°51′46″N 83°24′29″W / 33.86278°N 83.40806°W / 33.86278; -83.40806 (33.862818, -83.408094).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2), of which 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2) is land and 0.31% is water. Watkinsville is located near the University of Georgia.

History

Named after colonel Robert Watkins, Watkinsville was first named in records in 1791. It was located on the dangerous western frontier of the new United States. The Methodist Church played a prominent role in the city’s early history.[5] The Georgia General Assembly incorporated Watkinsville in 1815.

Watkinsville had previously been in Clarke County. Oconee County was created from the southwestern part of Clarke County in 1875 by the Georgia General Assembly.

1905 lynching

Main article: Watkinsville lynching

On June 30, 1905, Watkinsville saw one of the worst outbreaks of racial violence ever in Georgia. In one instance, eight men (seven of whom were black) were pulled from a local jail and lynched. The lynching occurred due to two events. One of which was accusations that Sandy Price, one of the black males, assaulted a white woman named Weldon Dooley at her home in Watkinsville. Secondly, unsupported rumors spread that black males had killed a white couple known as the Holbrooks. This provoked the town people further. Price tried to flee from a crowd of angry locals, who chased and fired at him. He escaped the crowd of people, but was captured by the law and placed in jail. News of Price’s jailing reached the people and they began planning his killing. People from the surrounding areas gathered together and forcefully retrieved the key to the jail cells from L. H. Alken, the marshal of the local jail. According to two eyewitnesses, the mob tied the African Americans and one white man to posts outside the jail after retrieving them, then shot them multiple times with pistols, rifles, and shotguns. The only survivor of the killings was Joe Patterson, who was shot in the head and torso, but found still breathing by the crowd. One black male inside the jail, Ed Thrasher, was spared from the lynching. Another incident occurred on 1917 that could have been racially motivated.[6][7]

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
1810224
1870643
1880350−45.6%
1890314−10.3%
190035111.8%
191048337.6%
1920465−3.7%
1930425−8.6%
194055831.3%
195066218.6%
196075814.5%
197098630.1%
19801,24025.8%
19901,60029.0%
20002,09731.1%
20102,83235.1%
20202,8962.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
Watkinsville racial composition as of 2020[9]
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 2,344 80.94%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 158 5.46%
Native American 5 0.17%
Asian 82 2.83%
Other/Mixed 146 5.04%
Hispanic or Latino 161 5.56%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 2,896 people, 1,042 households, and 741 families residing in the city.

Government

Watkinsville is governed by a five-person elected city council, which is led by a separately elected mayor. The current mayor is Brian Brodrick, and the current city council members are Chuck Garrett, Connie Massey, Brett Thomas, Christine Tucker, and Jeff Campbell. The city clerk is Julie Klein. The City Manager is Sharyn Dickerson, formerly an Athens-Clarke Commissioner.[10]

Education

Main article: Oconee County, Georgia § Education

The Oconee County School District provides primary and secondary public education services for all residents of Watkinsville.[11] The only public school within the Watkinsville city limits is Colham Ferry Elementary School. Watkinsville has one of the best education systems in Georgia as ranked by the Georgia Department of Education.[12] There are also several private schools such as Westminster Christian Academy, Athens Academy, and Prince Avenue Christian School nearby.

Arts and culture

Iron Horse in Watkinsville, Georgia

Watkinsville adopted a tagline in 2021 of "Come. Connect. Create." highlighting its desire to become a destination, its goal of better connecting its citizens and its embrace of creators of the arts and entrepreneurs. Its unofficial motto "The Artland of Georgia" is on the wall at City Hall, and was designed by the late artist Jim Shearon.[13] The Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation or OCAF is located in Watkinsville in the old high school as part of the 1902 OCAF Center and Gallery near the Board of Education. OCAF also has recently restored "Rocket Hall," a WPA project in the 1930s. Rocket Hall, long used for school and youth basketball, is now used for exhibitions and community gatherings. Just outside Rocket Hall is the recently restored Rocket Field, an historic ball field and play area for community youth that also includes a new play structure and stage for concerts and performances. The city recently finished a $1 million renovation of the park with support from Value Added Concepts. The Iron Horse sculpture stands in a field approximately twelve miles south of Watkinsville (barely in Greene County).[14]

The city has a thriving Main Street and recently established a downtown development authority to help guide future growth and planning for downtown. It is also home to Wire Park, a hub for business, entertainment, and dining created from a former wire factory on the eastern side of town. The city also has a full industrial park and a thriving base of small businesses on its southern side, including LAD Truck Lines, IMI, Taylor's Iron, Tifosi Optics and Core Blend Fitness.

The Playground of Possibilities in Watkinsville, Georgia

Transportation

Major roads

Pedestrians and cycling

The city has an increasing amount of walkability options available. The city adopted a new transportation plan to guide future bike and pedestrian investments. A sidewalk on VFW Drive (and a few surrounding streets) and a new sidewalk and pedestrian bridge along Harden Hill Road have enabled more citizens to safely walk downtown, and the city is currently working on plans for a sidewalk on Simonton Bridge Road and to connect to the new Thomas Farm Preserve, a 100-acre greenspace that will have more than three miles of walking trails.

Notable people

References

  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 18, 2021.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Watkinsville, Georgia
  3. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  5. ^ Luckett, Robert (February 2006). "Watkinsville". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  6. ^ Thompson, Adam (November 22, 2007). "Group to look for lost graves from notorious 1905 lynching". Savannah Morning News. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  7. ^ "The Lynching Project: Oconee County · the Lynching Project: Murder and Memory in Georgia · African American Experience in Athens". Archived from the original on June 22, 2020. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  8. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  9. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  10. ^ "Personnel Directory : Committees : City of Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia". cityofwatkinsville.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014.
  11. ^ Georgia Board of Education, Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  12. ^ "2019 Milestones, End of Grade, and End of Course Assessment Data". oconeeschools.org.
  13. ^ Matthews Jr., Daniel J (April 28, 2004). "City residents voice concerns over streets | Online Athens". onlineathens.com. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  14. ^ Shearer, Lee (June 3, 2015). "Iconic Iron Horse's hooves eaten by rust, but will be repaired". Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  15. ^ "Representative Marcus Wiedower". legis.ga.gov. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  16. ^ "Marcus Wiedower's Biography". Vote Smart. Retrieved April 21, 2021.