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Wayne County

County Courthouse View large image

Source: David Seibert

Date Built1902-3
Architecture StyleRomanesque Revival
DesignerS.A. Baker
Seat InformationA good deal of uncertainty clouds the story of Wayne County's seat of government for the first 50 years of the county's existence. Tuckersville reportedly served as the first county seat, and several different maps from the 1820s show Tuckersville as the most prominent town in Wayne County. One 1835 map of Georgia shows a new town -- Waynesville -- as the county seat. However, as late as 1838, most maps of Georgia showed Tuckersville as county seat. An 1851 map shows Waynesville as county seat, with Tuckersville omitted from the map. However, a map the following year included Waynesville but still showed Tuckersville as county seat. Maps of 1861 and 1862 clearly show Waynesville as county seat and as a depot on the Brunswick & Pensacola Railroad. A Georgia map of 1871 shows a new county seat -- Jesup -- located at the intersection of the Macon & Brunswick Railroad and the Savannah, Florida & Western Railroad. Turning from maps to the legal story, in 1806, three years after Wayne County was created, the legislature passed an act naming commissioners to select a county seat. Apparently, the commissioners had difficulty living up to their responsibility, for in 1808, the legislature passed an act naming a new group of commissioners and directing that county courts and elections be held at the house of Capt. William Clements until a county seat was selected. In 1823, legislators named a new group of commissioners to select a county seat, which "shall be as near the centre of said county as convenience will permit, on the north side of the river Great Satilla. . . ." The next year, however, the legislature enacted new legislation directing that court sessions and elections for Wayne County be held "at the house of Wiley Robertson in the county of Wayne until suitable buildings are erected at the county site." In 1825, the legislature acted again, this time directing that the Wayne County courthouse "shall be located where the court-house stood near the Buffalo. . . " [This may be a reference to the Little Buffalo Swamp, which today is situated on the Wayne-Brantley boundary about 12 miles north of Waynesville; Buffalo Swamp in western Glynn County near the Wayne County line; or Buffalo Creek in southern Brantley County.] Apparently, the commissioners named by the legislature in 1823 had decided to build the courthouse at a site near Wiley Robertson's home. For whatever reason, the legislature stepped in Dec. 1826 and passed an act directing the commissioners "to sell and dispose of the lumber and site which were got for the new courthouse at Wiley Robson's. . . ." In Dec. 1829, the legislature provided that as of the first Monday in January 1830, "the site for the court house and public buildings for the county of Wayne, shall be established and made permanent on a four acre lot of land, given to the said county by William Clemants, Esq. for the purpose of establishing said court house and public buildings thereon, on the south side of said Clemants' mill branch, near where the court house road crosses the said branch about one mile from the Village of Waynesville, and about four miles from Ammons' ferry on Great Satilla River." In 1832, Wayne County residents upset over the location of the county seat petitioned the legislature to take action. This time, lawmakers passed legislation directing Wayne County voters to elect commissioners for choosing a county seat. If it was possible to move the county seat, the commissioners were directed to determine where the center of the Wayne County was. Finally in 1843, the General Assembly designated Waynesville as county seat. However, many Wayne County residents felt Waynesville was too far south, so they continued to call for a more centrally located location. In 1847, the legislature provided for election of commissioners to select a new county seat. The election was to take place in May 1848, with voting in the 134th district to take place "at the old court-house near the residence of James Rawlinson." The newly elected commissioners were to meet "at the residence of William Flowers, near the old ford of the Buffalo, and proceed to select and fix upon a place in the vicinity of the residence of the said Wm. Flowers as near the centre of the county as the public convenience will admit." Apparently, this election of commissioners was never held, for in Feb. 1854 the General Assembly provided for the election of two commissioners from each militia district in Wayne County in April 1854. These commissioners were directed to select a site for erection of a courthouse. Then, on the first Saturday in May 1854, the commissioners would to meet at the house of "James Raulerson" and put construction of the courthouse out for bid. In March 1856, the legislature passed an act that gave residents of Wayne County a voice in determining their county seat. A county-wide election would take place in April 1856. Voters would be given a ballot that indicated "Removal" or "No Removal." If they wanted Waynesville to continue as county seat they would vote against removal. However, if they wanted the county seat moved, they would vote for removal and then indicate what place they wanted it moved to. According to the legislation calling for the referendum, Wayne County inferior court judges were directed to immediately take steps to purchase land and erect a courthouse and other public buildings. However, lack of funding caused a delay. So, in 1857, the General Assembly authorized Wayne County's inferior court to levy a special tax for two years to fund construction of the new courthouse. According to Jordan and Poster, a courthouse was finally built in the woods miles miles northwest of Waynesville in 1860. After the Civil War, t. The new Macon & Brunswick Railroad crossed the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad at a point in the northern section of Wayne County. Here a train station serving two different railroads was built. A town quickly sprung up around the station and was named Jesup, in honor of U.S. Army Gen. Thomas Jesup (1788-1860), who gained fame during the Creek Indian War of 1836. By 1870, the legislature had incorporated the new town. Jesup's growth led to a renewed call for designation of a new county seat. In Feb. 1873, the General Assembly called for a new election to determine the issue in March 1873. From the language of the Sec. II of the act, it appears that neither Jesup nor Waynesville were then serving as county seat: Sec. II. That the voters voting at said election shall vote "no removal," or if in favor of removal shall designate by their ballots in the manner following, to-wit: "Removal, Jesup," "Removal. Waynesville," "Removal, Screven," their choice of the location of the new county site. In the election, voters finally solved the long controversy by choosing Jesup as the permanent county seat for Wayne County.
Courthouse DetailsAlthough Wayne County was created in 1803, it was not until 1829 that a site was selected for the county seat. Where superior and inferior courts met for the county's first 26 years of existence is not known. In fact, it appears that Wayne County did not have a permanent courthouse until one was built in 1860. According to Jordan and Puster, the county's first courthouse was a small wooden structure built in the woods nine miles northwest of Waynesville.
County Data
Population 200026,565
Population Growth13.3
County SeatJesup
County Area648.9 Square Miles
Location MapWayne County Location Map

Wayne County was created on May 11, 1803, by an act of the General Assembly (Ga. Laws 1803, Extra. Session, p. 3). Formed from land ceded to Georgia the previous year by the Creek Indians in the Treaty of Fort Wilkinson. Georgia’s 27th county was named for American Revolutionary War hero General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. The new county was located in a region of the state known as the Pine Barrens (so-called because the land was barren of most large plants except pine trees), and the lack of fertile soil attracted few settlers. Wayne County was not organized until two years after its creation, and settlement of the county proceeded slowly. For example, an 1822 map of Georgia showed only two named settlements in the county—Tuckersville and an abandoned Fort James on the Altamaha River.

In 1920, part of Wayne County was used to create Brantley County.

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Legal OrganThe Press-Sentinel
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Historical Population
2010 30,099
2000 26,565
1990 22,356
1980 20,750
1970 17,858
1960 17,921
1950 14,248
1940 13,122
1930 12,647
1920 14,381
1910 13,069
1900 9,449
1890 7,485
1880 5,980
1870 2,177
1860 2,268
1850 1,499
1840 1,258
1830 963
1820 1,010
1810 676