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Oconee County

Date Built1939
Architecture StyleStripped Classical
DesignerWilliam J.J. Chase
Seat InformationThe legislation creating Oconee County designated Watkinsville as county seat (Ga. Laws 1875, p. 109). Settled around 1800, Watkinsville was named for Augusta lawyer Robert Watkins, who compiled Georgia's first collection of statutory laws. It was designated county seat of Clarke County in 1802 (Ga. Laws 1802, p. 57). An act of Nov. 24, 1806 provided for three town commissioners with governmental powers (Ga. Laws 1806, p. 5). Though making no specific reference to incorporation, this act was the first to provide for a Watkinsville town government -- and for reasons cited below probably should be considered as the basis for de facto incorporation. Acts of 1815 and 1816 (Ga. Laws 1815, p. 76 and 1816, p. 52) extended the authority of town commissioners, but again made no reference to the corporate status of Watkinsville. On Dec. 6, 1822, the legislature passed an act "to extend the corporate limits of the Town of Watkinsville to one half mile in every direction from the court-house" and to extend the powers of the town commissioners (Ga. Laws 1822, p. 129). This would suggest that Watkinsville was considered incorporated (even though no prior legislation had ever defined the town limits or boundaries). Further evidence of Watkinsville's corporate status can be seen in legislation approved on Dec. 18, 1884, entitled "An Act to consolidate, amend and supersede the Acts incorporating the town of Watkinsville" (Ga. Laws 1884-85, p. 308). Additionally, an Aug. 29, 1891 act to "reincorporate" Watkinsville specifically cited previous acts back to the act of Nov. 24, 1806 (Ga. Laws 1890-91, Vol. II, p. 720). Watkinsville had served as county seat of Clarke County since 1802, but an act of Nov. 24, 1871 made Athens county seat effective Jan. 1, 1872 (Ga. Laws 1871-72, p. 244). Afterwards, residents of western Clarke County pushed for the General Assembly to divide Clarke into two counties. When Oconee County was created in 1875, Watkinsville was designated county seat.
Courthouse DetailsThere were two courthouses in Watkinsville, built in 1806 and 1849, when it served as seat of government for Clarke County. When Oconee County was created in 1875, Watkinsville was designated county seat. A new courthouse was built that same year The current brick courthouse, built by the Project Works Administration, was completed in 1939 and has undergone several renovations since, the latest being in 1998, when a courthouse addition also was constructed at the rear of the 1939 structure Also in the 1990s, a county government annex was built on Ga. 15 just south of Watkinsville.
County Data
Population 200026,225
Population Growth25.1
County SeatWatkinsville
County Area186.2 Square Miles
Location MapOconee County Location Map

Oconee County was created from Clarke County on Feb. 25, 1875 by an act of the General Assembly (Ga. Laws 1875, p. 109). In that legislation, the county’s boundaries were specified as:

  Beginning at a point immediately opposite the mills of James H. Thompson, on the Jackson line, and leaving said mills in said new county, thence a straight line to the old saw mill site of Nathaniel L. Barnard, on McNutt’s Creek, thence down said McNutts’ Creek to its junction with Barber’s Creek, thence down said Barber’s Creek to its junction with the Oconee River, commonly called Middle River, thence down said river to the junction of the two Oconee rivers, thence down the Oconee River to Barnett’s or Neal’s Bridge, on said river, thence with the public road to Big Creek Church to the Oglethorpe county line, thence with the lines of the counties of Oglethorpe, Greene, Morgan, Walton and Jackson to the starting point . . . .

Created entirely from Clarke County, Georgia’s 137th county was named for the Oconee River, which forms part of the county’s eastern boundary with Clarke County. The new county was created in response to petitions from residents of the western half of Clarke County after the legislature moved the county seat of Clarke County from Watkinsville to Athens in 1871.

Web SiteVisit Web Site
Legal OrganThe Oconee Enterprise
Chamber of Commerce Web SiteVisit Web Site
Historical Population
2010 32,808
2000 26,225
1990 17,618
1980 12,427
1970 7,915
1960 6,304
1950 7,009
1940 7,576
1930 8,082
1920 11,067
1910 11,104
1900 8,602
1890 7,713
1880 6,351