Sylvania. The home of Benjamin Lanier on the Ogeechee River served as Screven's first county seat. In 1797, the General Assembly designated the village of Jacksonborough as county seat. Jacksonboro [as it soon was spelled] was named for then-U.S. Sen. James Jackson. Located near the confluence of Beaverdam and Brier Creeks, it had been settled in 1794 as a coach stop on the road between Augusta and Savannah. Jacksonboro developed a bad reputation because of rowdiness and drinking, leading a Methodist minister to place a curse on the town (which some attribute as the reason it later burned and never was rebuilt). In any event, the General Assembly in 1847 moved the county seat from Jacksonboro six miles to the southwest to the village of Sylvania. The name, which is derived from the Latin word for forest, was suggested by Screven County poet Cuyler Young. Although the date of Sylvania's first settlement is not known, the village was incorporated as a town by the General Assembly on Feb. 20, 1854.
After Screven County's creation in Dec. 1793, court was held in the home of Benjamin Lanier in Rocky Ford on the Ogeechee River and in the home of Benjamin Warren near Beaverdam Creek. In 1797, the legislature designated Jacksonboro as county seat, and a small courthouse was built here (though no description of it remains). In 1832, a new courthouse was built in Jacksonboro. In 1847, the county seat was moved to Sylvania, where a new courthouse was built. This building was burned by Union forces in 1864. A new wooden courthouse was built in 1869 in the downtown square. Later, a one-story brick addition was built for housing the superior court clerk and county records. In 1896, a fire swept the city of Sylvania and destroyed the county courthouse (though the clerk's office and county records survived). In 1897, county officials contracted with Algernon Blair of Montgomery, Ala. to build a new 2-story brick courthouse for $15,000 over the site of the former courthouse. To stay within his budget, Blair dropped plans to have a clock on the courthouse tower (though a clock was added in later years). Instead, county officials used the tower as a jail. This courthouse continued in use until 1963, when county officials directed that it be torn down, to be replaced by a newer building west of downtown. [The clerk's office adjacent to the courthouse was spared and became the home of the Screven County Chamber of Commerce.] In 1964, the current courthouse was completed.
655.7 Square Miles
Screven County was created from Burke and Effingham counties on Dec. 14, 1793, by an act of the General Assembly (Ga. Laws 1793, p. 14). Portions of Screven County were used to create Bulloch County (1796) and Jenkins County (1905).
Georgia’s 14th county was named for American Revolutionary War Brig. Gen. James Screven, who was mortally wounded in battle at Sunbury in Liberty County on Nov. 22, 1778. After his death two days later, Screven was buried in Midway Cemetery.