|Seat Information||The 1812 act creating Emanuel County named Edward Lane, Francis Pugh, Needham Cox, Eli Whitdon, and Uriah Anderson as commissioners to select a county seat, which the law directed "be as near the centre of said county as convenience will admit" (Ga. Laws 1812, p. 82).A year later, Emanuel County did not have a county seat, so on Nov. 18, 1814, the legislature added Jesse Mezzle and Archibald Culberth as commissioners and directed that the county seat be within one mile of the place identified by Jesse Mezzle as the center of the county. When the expanded commission was unable to select a site for the county seat, the legislature on Dec. 6, 1813 named Joshua Wood, Travis Thigpen, Jesse Price, John Wolf, and Gideon Hose as new commissioners and directed them to purchase 50-100 acres "which shall be as near the centre of said county as practicable" (Ga. Laws 1813, p. 32). If the commissioners could not agree on a site, the justices of the county's inferior court were directed to appoint a fit and proper person to determine the center of Emanuel County.At some point in 1814, the commissioners selected the site that would later become Swainsboro as the location of the county seat.
In an act of Dec. 6, 1822, the legislature confirmed the commissioners' choice for Emanuel County's seat of government and directed that the site be named "Swainsborough" (Ga. Laws 1822, p. 126). Soon shortened to "Swainsboro," the town's name honored Col. Stephen Swain, Emanuel County's first state senator. Swain represented Montgomery County in the Georgia House of Representatives (1809-1810) and the Georgia Senate (1812), where he introduced the bill to create Emanuel County. Swain subsequently represented Emanuel County in the Georgia Senate for consecutive terms from 1813 to 1831 and 1833-1836. On Feb. 18, 1854, the legislature changed the name of Swainsboro to Paris (apparently after the French capital), confirmed Paris as county seat, and incorporated it as a town (Ga. Laws 1853-54, p. 269). Apparently, the new name did not catch on, for on Dec. 22, 1857, the legislature reincorporated the town as Swainsboro (Ga. Laws 1857, p. 192).|
|Courthouse Details||The 1812 act creating Emanuel County named five commissioners with authority to select a county seat and contract to have a courthouse and jail built (Ga. Laws 1812, p. 82). The law further provided that until a courthouse was built, Emanuel County courts and elections were to be held at the house of Stephen Rich. An act of Dec. 6, 1813 named new commissioners and continued the provision that Stephen Rich's house serve as temporary courthouse (Ga. Laws 1813, p. 32). In 1814, the commissioners chose the site that would become Swainsboro as the county seat and had a courthouse erected.After this courthouse burned in 1841, the Emanuel County inferior court purchased land in Swainsboro for a new courthouse. In an act of Dec. 10, 1841, the legislature directed that a new courthouse be built on this lot (Ga. Laws 1841, p. 70) -- but for unexplained reasons, the legislature repealed the law the following year (Ga. Laws 1842, p. 177). On Feb. 18, 1854, the legislature authorized Emanuel County to levy a special tax to build a new courthouse.In a string of bad luck, the new courthouse burned in 1855 and was replaced by another courthouse, which burned in 1857. Emanuel County's fourth courthouse burned in 1919 and was replaced by a three-story brick structure. Characteristically, this courthouse burned in 1938 and was replaced with a two-story marble courthouse in 1940. This new structure turned out to be the first courthouse in Emanuel County history not to burn. It served until the late 1990s, when county offices moved out to vacant office space in buildings around the courthouse square. The deteriorated courthouse was closed and finally torn down in 2000, leaving only the sheriff's office on the vacant courthouse square. In 2002, the old courthouse square was excavated for construction of a new city park.
Emanuel County's next courthouse was originally built as a U.S. post office in 1936. Later, it became a U.S. courthouse and served this function until a new U.S. courthouse was built. In the late 1990s, Emanuel County purchased the building and made it home of the Emanuel County superior court--making it the county's sixth courthouse. In 2000, the county purchased land adjacent to the old U.S. courthouse and began construction of a new county courthouse that would incorporate the old U.S. courthouse. Construction of the new courthouse was completed in 2002.|