Candler County and Evans County may not be identical twins, but they have more in common than many siblings, and they remain joined at the hip. Created by acts of the Georgia Legislature in the summer of 1914 with ratification by voters that fall, both are now celebrating their 100th birthdays.
A century ago, these new counties were formed at the request of leaders in the growing young towns of Metter and Claxton by trimming pieces from older counties — Candler from Bulloch, Emanuel, and Tattnall; Evans from Bulloch and Tattnall.
Area-wise, both rank among the smallest fourth of Georgia’s 159 counties; Candler County with 247 square miles, Evans County with 185 square miles. Evans has four incorporated municipalities — Claxton, Hagan, Bellville and Daisy; Candler only two — Metter and Pulaski. Metter, the Candler County seat, has the Interstate 16 interchange, which has boomed commercially in recent years, while Claxton, the Evans County seat, experienced an earlier growth spurt around the intersection of U.S. Highways 301 and 280.
Yet the counties’ populations, after a century, are remarkably similar. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 estimate for Evans County was 10,833; the estimate for Candler County, 10,937. That’s a difference of less than 1 percent.
The men for whom they were named, Confederate Gen. Clement A. Evans (1833–1911) and Georgia Gov. Allen D. Candler (1834–1910), were coauthors of the three-volume Cyclopedia of Georgia, published in 1906.
More information about these men and the counties named for them can be found online in the New Georgia Encyclopedia, www.georgiaencyclopedia.org, and in print in “The History of Metter and Candler County, Georgia,” published by the Candler County Historical Society in 1994, and “A History of Evans County, Georgia,” published by the Evans County Historical Society in 1999.
Candler County to celebrate July 12
The Metter-Candler Chamber of Commerce and Candler County Historical Society are inviting all of their county’s friends over for the Happy Birthday Candler County Celebration, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Metter’s downtown parks. Incidentally, the county marks its birth from the Georgia General Assembly’s passage of the enabling act on July 17, 1914.
Saturday’s event takes place in the same spot as Metter’s annual spring Another Bloomin’ Festival but will offer more of a summer flavor, with watermelons and barbecue. It will include local arts and crafts vendors, food vendors and music performed live by local talent throughout the day.
“We just welcome everyone to come down, spend the day with us and help celebrate our heritage and look forward to the future,” said Courtney Hadden, welcome center coordinator with the chamber.
The Another Bloomin’ BBQ Cookoff will pit cooking teams against each other in pulled pork, ribs and miscellaneous categories. With samples available, a People’s Choice Award also will be presented.
With each team paying a $50 fee to compete, the $500 total prize purse may be subject to increase, Hadden said. A prize package, including aprons, barbecue tools, chairs and a Braswell’s sauce pack, is being assembled for the People’s Choice winner. Rules and applications are available at the Metter-Candler Chamber of Commerce.
State Sen. Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, and Rep. Butch Parrish, R-Swainsboro, are featured guests for the Inaugural Watermelon Cutting.
A dedication ceremony will be held for bronze plaques attached to six benches and 14 decorative lampposts as part of Metter’s recent streetscaping work. Local people made donations to dedicate the items in honor of friends and relatives.
Musical performers scheduled include Sam’s Drive-in Band, the Chris Mitchell Band, Emma Bacon, Ben Powell, Taylor Riner, Micahlan Boney and Rigoberto Bautista.
Kiddie rides and a Classic Car Cruise-in also are planned, and Candler County Centennial T-shirts will be available for purchase.
Book offers historic Evans County photos
While awaiting Evans County’s main centennial event on Aug. 10 and the parade that will follow on Aug. 16, you can peruse a copy of the pictorial history “Evans County,” released June 23 in the “Images of America” series by Mount Pleasant, South Carolina-based Arcadia Publishing.
Dr. Curtis G. Hames Jr. and Pharris Johnson, members of the Evans County Centennial steering committee, are the book’s authors. They coordinated efforts to collect the more than 200 pictures from current and former Evans County residents and wrote the captions.
Except for a one-page introduction, table of contents and a map of the county in 1914, the book, with 128 pages like all others in the “Images” series, consists entirely of historic photos with descriptions.
“All of our books are very image-dense,” said Arcadia Publishing Editor Maria Greco.
Arcadia, now in its 20th year, has published more than 9,000 titles, many of them local histories created by volunteers from across America.
A 1925 photo of the Tos Bakery and the theater next door opened by Italian immigrant S.G. Tos in downtown Claxton fills the cover of the paperback book. Tos’ bakery launched the baking tradition that made Claxton the “Fruitcake Capital of the World.”
The first image inside is of the Evans County Courthouse not long after it was built in 1922–23. The last is a portrait of Clement Evans.
Between those, the book is a scrapbook of notable Evans County citizens, such as ranking FBI man and J. Edgar Hoover deputy Cartha “Deke” DeLoach; Georgia’s first female sheriff, Mae Rogers; longtime state Sen. Joseph E. Kennedy; and physician Dr. Curtis Hames Sr., influential for his heart-health research. Other photos show churches, schools, modes of transportation and workplaces, ranging from tobacco fields, cotton gins and livestock pens to stores and railroad depots.
The book is available for $21.99 at area bookstores, various businesses in Evans County, Walgreens, including the one in Statesboro, online or from Arcadia Publishing at (888) 313-2665.
Evans County marks its creation from the passage of legislation on Aug. 11, 1914.
A “Tribute to Evans County’s First 100 Years” is scheduled to begin at
2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10, in the Joyce NeSmith Auditorium at the historic school on Claxton’s Main Street, followed by music, cake and punch on the courthouse lawn. The Centennial Parade will roll through Claxton at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16.
Meanwhile, a drive-by tour of historic homes and landmarks is available from July 20 through Aug. 2, with information available at the Claxton-Evans County Chamber of Commerce.