Irwin County, in central Georgia, is the state's forty-first county, created in 1818 from land acquired from Creek Indians in 1814 by the Treaty of Fort Jackson. The county, one of seven created by the state legislature in 1818, once encompassed much more territory. Counties carved from it were Lowndes and Thomas (1825), Worth (1853), Coffee (1854), Berrien (1856), Wilcox (1857), Tift and Turner (1905), and Ben Hill (1906). It was named for Jared Irwin, a governor of Georgia most famous for rescinding the fraudulent Yazoo Act.
The first county seat was developed on a location designated by the state legislature and named Irwinville. It was the seat of government from 1831 until 1907, when the county's voters elected to change the location to the bustling town of Ocilla, ten miles southeast of Irwinville. Ocilla, founded around 1880 and incorporated in 1897, nearly tripled in population soon after it was connected by railroad to Fitzgerald and incorporated in 1897. Today, Ocilla is the only incorporated city in Irwin County. (Irwinville was incorporated from 1857 to 1995.)
The county's most famous incident occurred during the Civil War (1861-65). Confederate president Jefferson Davis was captured a mile north of Irwinville, by Union forces, in 1865. The spot where he was surrounded is marked in the Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site, a thirteen-acre park that features a museum, hiking trail, and picnic facilities.
Irwin County also has an important place in the history of shape-note music. It is the site of the first
Other communities in the county are Abba, Holt, Lax, Mystic (incorporated from 1903 to 1995), Osierfield (incorporated from 1912 to 1995), and Wray.
Notable residents of Irwin County include writer Amy Blackmarr, a Georgia Author of the Year for 2004.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of Irwin County is 9,538, a decrease from the 2000 population of 9,931.
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).
J. B. Clements, History of Irwin County (Atlanta: Foote and Davies, 1932; reprint, Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company, 1978).
Elizabeth B. Cooksey, Savannah
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