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Baker County



Courthouse
County Courthouse View large image

Source: David Seibert

LocationNewton
Date BuiltUnknown
Architecture Style
DesignerUnknown
Seat InformationThe Dec. 12, 1825 act creating Baker County made no provision for location of a county seat. However, an act of Dec. 24, 1825 named five commissioners with responsibility for selecting a county seat and building a courthouse and jail. Until this was done, the legislation directed that court sessions and county business be conducted at the house of William Howards. It is believed that the commissioners selected the settlement of Byron near the northern border of Baker County as the county seat. First settled in the mid-1820s, Byron was a stage coach stop on one of the major roads crossing southwest Georgia. The origin of the name is uncertain, but it may have been named for English author Lord Bryon (who died in 1824). On Dec. 16, 1828, the Georgia legislature passed an act designating Byron as county seat of Baker County. However, county residents soon began to complain because of Byron's location only one mile south of the Lee County border (see map). Consequently, on Dec. 26, 1831, the legislature directed that Baker's county seat be moved to lot 172 in the 8th District. The act also named commissioners with authority to select a site in lot 172 for the courthouse, to lay out town lots, and to have a courthouse built. For whatever reason, the commissioners failed to carry out their responsibility, for the legislature enacted legislation on Dec. 25, 1837 naming eight new commissioners and entrusting them with the same responsibilities as the previous commission. Subsequently, a town was laid out in land lot 172 on the west bank of the Flint River. The new town was named Newton in honor of Sgt. John Newton, a South Carolina hero who was imprisoned and died after the British captured Charleston in 1780. Perhaps because of the frequent flooding of the Flint River, some Baker County residents were unhappy with Newton as county seat. In Dec. 1858, the General Assembly authorized a referendum the next month on moving the county seat. That referendum failed, as did another on removal held in July 1877.
Courthouse DetailsBaker County was created on Dec. 12, 1825. Twelve days later, the legislature passed an act organizing the county and providing that the house of William Howards serve as the site for holding court and handling other county business until a courthouse could be built. On Dec. 16, 1828, the legislature designated the town of Byron as county seat. Shortly afterwards, a courthouse was built in Byron, though details about the structure are missing. In 1831, the legislature moved the county seat to a land lot more centrally located and named commissioners with responsibility for having a courthouse and jail built. Apparently, nothing was done for the following six years, as the legislature in 1837 appointed a new group of commissioners to oversee building of a county courthouse. At some point, a courthouse was built in the new town of Newton. In 1874, the legislature authorized Baker County to borrow up to $5,000 to build a new courthouse. At some point thereafter, county officials built a courthouse but it exceeded the $5,000 authorized by the legislature. In 1881, the legislature passed an act allowing Baker County to levy a special tax for 1881 and 1882 to pay off the debt for building the court house and repairing public bridges. This building was replaced with a new courthouse in 1900. Renovations to the 1900 courthouse were required because of major flooding of the Flint River in 1925, 1929, and 1994. The devastating flood of 1994 brought waters from the Flint River almost to the second floor of the courthouse. As a result, Baker County officials moved to a vacant school building several blocks away. This building served as temporary courthouse for six years. In 2000, the county remodeled a vacant school building adjacent to the temporary courthouse and made it new courthouse.
County Data
Population3451
Population 20004074
Population Growth-15.3
County SeatNewton
County Area249.2 Square Miles
Location MapBaker County Location Map
History

Baker County was created on Dec. 12, 1825 by an act of the General Assembly (Ga. Laws 1825, p. 65). Georgia’s 66th county was formed entirely from the eastern portion of Early County. According to the legislation: 

>  That from and immediately after the passage of this act, the county of Early shall be divided as hereafter pointed out, to-wit, beginning at the corners of the twelfth and thirteenth districts of said county, on the Decatur line, thence north on the district line between said districts and districts six and seven until said district line shall strike the Pechitler creek, thence up the main prong of said creek to the county line between the county of Early and the territory lately acquired of the Creek nation of Indians. 

However, early maps of Georgia do not show a Pechitler Creek, and the boundary between Early and Baker counties is shown as a straight line falling between land lots 3 and 4, 6 and 7, and 12 and 13

Two counties were created entirely from Baker County: Dougherty (1853) and Mitchell (1857). Additionally, portions of Baker County were used to help create two other counties: Calhoun (1854) and Miller (1856). 

Baker County was named for Col. John Baker, who was a member of Georgia’s 1775 Provincial Congress and later served in the American Revolution.

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Legal OrganThe Camilla Enterprise
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Historical Population
YearPopulation
2010 3,451
2000 4,074
1990 3,615
1980 3,808
1970 3,875
1960 4,543
1950 5,952
1940 7,344
1930 7,818
1920 8,298
1910 7,973
1900 6,704
1890 6,144
1880 7,307
1870 6,843
1860 4,985
1850 8,120
1840 4,226
1830 1,253