Clarke County


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Clarke County was created on Dec. 5, 1801 by an act of the General Assembly (Ga. Laws 1801, p. 90). Fashioned entirely from Jackson County, Georgia's 26th county was named for Gen. Elijah Clarke, who is best remembered for his victory over the British at the Battle of Kettle Creek in Wilkes County, Ga.

In 1811, portions of Clarke County were used to create Madison County. After the legislature moved the county seat from Watksinsville to Athens in 1871, angry residents of western Clarke County pressured the General Assembly to create a separate county. On Feb. 25, 1875, the legislature created Oconee County from the western half of Clarke County (Ga. Laws 1875, p. 109). This left Clarke County as the smallest county in Georgia in terms of area.

Because most residents of Clarke County also lived within the city limits of Athens, efforts to consolidate the two governments began in the late 1960s. Referendums in 1969, 1972, and 1982 were approved in Athens but lost in the county-wide vote. Another consolidation effort began in 1988. Two years later, the General Assembly provided for a referendum on the unification of Clarke County and Athens into a single entity known as the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County (Ga. Laws 1990, p. 3560). [The town of Winterville, located on the eastern border of Clarke County, chose not to be part of the unified government and thus was allowed to retain its charter as a separate municipality.] In separate referendums held in Athens and in Clarke County in August 1990, voters approved the merger, which became effective Jan. 1, 1991.

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GeorgiaInfo Clarke County Page