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Lee County

County Courthouse View large image

Source: David Seibert

Date Built1917-18
Architecture StyleNeoclassical Revival
DesignerJ.J. Baldwin
Seat InformationThe Dec. 14, 1826 act naming and organizing Lee County providing that on the first Monday in May 1827, voters of Lee County would assemble at "Pond Town, or Williams' Store" and elect county officials (Ga. Laws 1826, p. 57). The act also authorized the justices of the county's inferior court to select the location of the county seat and to erect public buildings. However, until a county seat was selected, Lee County inferior and superior courts were to meet at the same site where the first election was to be held (i.e., "Pond Town, or Williams' Store"). On Dec. 20, 1832, the legislature provided that Lee County's county seat be permanently located on lot land 241 in the 13th district (Ga. Laws 1832, p. 48). The act also directed that the county seat be named "Starksville" in honor of General John Starke. Starke (1728-1822) was a hero of the American Revolution. On Dec. 21, 1839, the legislature incorporated Starksville. Some Lee County residents objected to the location of their county seat, and on Nov. 25, 1847, the legislature authorized a referendum for the first Monday in February 1848 on removal of the county seat. The referendum, however, failed. On Dec. 26, 1851, the legislature once again designated Starkville [now spelled without the "s" in the original version of "Starksville"] as permanent county seat of Lee County (Ga. Laws 1851-52, p. 457). However, three years later, on Feb. 7, 1854, the legislature repealed Starkville's status as county seat (Ga. Laws 1853-54, p. 268). The act named James Rouse, Griffin Smith, Robert Reeves, William J. Parker, and Richard T. Bradley as commissioners to select a new county seat near the center of the county, to purchase land, and to have town lots laid out at the site. The same five men were also authorized to have a courthouse and jail constructed at the new county seat. To fund the costs associated with moving the county seat, the justices of the inferior court were allowed to levy a special tax in Lee County for 1854 and 1855. The legislature gave the commissioners until Oct. 15, 1854 to move the county seat to its new location, so at some point between Feb. 7 and Oct. 15, the commissioners designated the village of Webster as Lee County's new county seat. Webster only served as county seat for two years. On Feb. 16, 1856, the legislature created Terrell County from western Lee County and eastern Randolph County (Ga. Laws 1855-56, p. 117). The same act repealed the 1854 act that had directed the removal of the county seat from Starkville, further directing that Lee County business once again be performed at Starkville. The act further provided for payment to town lot owners in Webster because of losses sustained from removal of the county seat from Webster. On Aug. 20, 1872, the legislature directed that the county seat of Lee County be removed to Wooten Station (Ga. Laws 1872, p. 264), and three days later incorporated the community as the town of Wooten (Ga. Laws 1872, p. 281). Originally, Wooten Station was a stagecoach stop and post office known as Sneed's Store (later shortened to Sneed or Snead). In 1857, Henry Wooten was named postmaster of Sneed -- and apparently became a community leader. When the railroad later came to Sneed, a train station was built and designated as Wooten's Station. The Aug. 1872 act changing Lee's county seat designated Isaac P. Tison, Henry L. Long, Fred. H. West, William T. Sadler, and Virginius G. Hill as commissioners with responsibility . . . to select some eligible place, at or near Wooten Station, in said county, upon which shall be located the public buildings of said county in the event a sufficient quantity of land for a town can be procured at said point, by donation or purchase, without paying therefor more than one-half of the net proceeds of the sale of town lots when laid off and sold by said commissioners, not computing the value of grounds reserved for public use; and in case such land cannot be procured at or near said Wooten Station, said commissioners may select, for the purposes aforesaid, some eligible site at or near Adam Station, or any point on the Southwestern Railroad between said stations, to obtain lands upon such terms as they may deem proper. The commissioners were able to obtain sufficient land at Wooten for building a new courthouse and jail for Lee County. Even though the 1872 act had stipulated that Lee County's new seat of government be named Leesburg, it appears that the town remained known as Wooten. On Feb. 28, 1874, the legislature changed the name of the town of Wooten to Leesburg (Ga. Laws 1874, p. 201). The act also incorporated Leesburg and provided that the charter of Wooten enacted Aug. 23, 1872 serve as the charter of Leesburg.
Courthouse DetailsThe Dec. 14, 1826 act naming and organizing Lee County providing that on the first Monday in May 1827, voters of Lee County would assemble at "Pond Town, or Williams' Store" and elect county officials (Ga. Laws 1826, p. 57). The act also authorized the justices of the inferior court to select a county seat and build a courthouse and jail. An act of Dec. 22, 1828 that organized the county provided that initial county elections would be held in the home of Benjamin Matthews (Ga. Laws 1828, p. 63). That same act authorized the first justices of the county's inferior court to contract for erection of a courthouse and other county buildings. What served as courthouse for the next nine years is not known, but reportedly a courthouse was built in Starkville in 1837. In 1854, the General Assembly repealed Starkville's status as county seat and directed that a commission select a new county seat by Oct. 15, 1854. That commission selected a new site, which the county seat was moved to Webster, where a new courthouse was built. What happened next is not exactly clear. Lee County's courthouse is known to have burned -- though sources differ as to 1856 or 1858. In Feb.1856, the legislature designated Starkville again as county seat (Ga. Laws 1855-56, p. 117). The old 1837 courthouses was used until it was destroyed by fire in 1856 or 1858 (sources vary). On March 1, 1856, the legislature authorized Lee County to levy a special tax for construction of a new courthouse and jail (Ga. Laws 1855-56, p. 546). Construction of the new courthouse was completed in Feb. 1861. On Aug. 20, 1872, the General Assembly moved Lee's county seat from Starkville to Wooten Station on the Southwestern Railroad (Ga. Laws 1872, p. 264). That act named commissioners with responsibility for erecting a courthouse and jail at the new county seat. A building in Wooten used as a temporary courthouse burned in 1872. In 1873, the legislature authorized Lee County to borrow up to $10,000 to build a new courthouse and jail (Ga. Laws 1873, p. 229). Construction began on a courthouse but was halted in Nov. 1874 after a grand jury recommended that the unfinished building and all materials be sold. Subsequently, various buildings were rented until a new courthouse was completed in Dec. 1880. This courthouse served until the present courthouse was completed in 1918. A rear addition was built in 1975.
County Data
Population 200024,757
Population Growth14.3
County SeatLeesburg
County Area362.0 Square Miles
Location MapLee County Location Map

On Feb. 12, 1825, a group of Creek Indians led by William McIntosh signed the Treaty of Indian Springs, in which they ceded all of their remaining lands in present-day Georgia. Subsequently, in an act of June 9, 1825, the General Assembly provided that the land ceded by the treaty be divided into five sections, surveyed into districts and land lots, and distributed by land lottery (Ga. Laws 1825, p. 3). On Dec. 14, 1826, the legislature redesignated the five land sections as the counties of Lee, Muscogee, Troup, Coweta, and Carroll (Ga. Laws 1826, p. 57). As provided in that act:

  . . . all that part of the territory lately acquired from the Creek Indians, lying between the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers, immediately above the old lines of Early county, and known as the first section, shall form one county to be called Lee.

Despite the fact that the five counties were not named until Dec. 14, 1826, June 9, 1825 is generally accepted as the date of their creation, for that was the date of the act establishing their respective boundaries.

Later, Randolph County (1828) and Sumter County (1831) were created entirely from Lee County. Also, parts of Lee County were used to help form Marion County (1827) and Terrell County (1856).

According to most sources, Georgia’s 61st county was named for Virginia politician Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794), a leader in the American colonies’ independence movement. However, the legislation creating Lee County makes no mention of who was being honored, and it may have been noted Revolutionary War hero Col. Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee(1756-1818). While visiting at the home of Nathanael Green’s daughter on Georgia’s Cumberland Island, Col. Lee died and was buried on the island (though his remains were removed to Virginia in 1913). Eight years later, the General Assembly created a new county named Lee. Contemporary evidence as to which Lee the legislature was honoring has yet to be discovered. However, in his Historical Collections of Georgia published in the 1850s, George White credited the honoree as Richard Henry Lee.

Web SiteVisit Web Site
Legal OrganThe Lee County Ledger
Chamber of Commerce Web SiteVisit Web Site
Historical Population
2010 28,298
2000 24,757
1990 16,250
1980 11,684
1970 7,044
1960 6,204
1950 6,674
1940 7,837
1930 8,328
1920 10,904
1910 11,679
1900 10,344
1890 9,074
1880 10,577
1870 9,567
1860 7,196
1850 6,660
1840 4,520
1830 1,680