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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Georgia forms as a state, Bulloch as a county
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Roger Allen

Note: The following is the conclusion of a series of columns looking at how Georgia and Bulloch County evolved from wilderness into a state and a county.

In April 1741, the trustees divided the province of Georgia into two counties: Savannah and Frederica. Savannah County contained "all settlements on the Savannah River and upon both banks of the Great Ogeechee River."

The second, Frederica County, included "the settlements of Darien and Frederica and the entire area south of the Alatamaha ... southeast of Little River between the Savannah and Great Ogeechee Rivers to the Colony of Georgia."

The Georgia General Assembly then passed the Act of Mar. 15, 1758, "an Act for constituting and dividing the several Districts and Divisions of this Province into Parishes." It established as an official entity the "Church of England" and empowered "Church Wardens and Vestrymen of the Respective Parishes" with the ability to collect funds "for the Repair of Churches."

The colony of Georgia now consisted of eight parishes: Christ Church, Saint Matthews, Saint George, Saint Paul, Saint Philip, Saint John, Saint Andrew, and Saint James. Additional parishes added later included Saint David, Saint Patrick, Saint Thomas and Saint Mary.

Georgia's Constitutional Convention held in Savannah in 1777 re-established the county style of government. Saint Paul became Richmond County, Saint George became Burke, Saint Matthew became Effingham and Christ Church became Chatham.

In addition, Saint John, Saint Andrew and Saint James became Liberty, Saint Patrick became Glynn and Saint Thomas and Saint Mary became Camden. Saint Philip was split between Effingham and Chatham.

After the American Revolution, Augusta was the southwestern frontier of the new United States. From 1786 through 1795, Augusta was also the capital of the state of Georgia.

When a copy of the final version of the new Constitution arrived in Augusta, a state convention was held, and on Jan. 4, 1788, Georgia became the fourth state to ratify it and join the Union.

The Gazette of the State of Georgia reported on the resulting celebrations, including "the huzzas of the citizens ... (and) a salute of thirteen discharges from two field pieces (of) Colonel Armstrong's regiment."

Then, they adopted Georgia's new state constitution of 1789, based on the new Federal Constitution. Gov. George Walton then offered a toast to Georgia's prosperity.

Bulloch County comes to life

The citizens of both Scriven (now spelled Screven) and Bryan counties petitioned the governor in 1795 for the "inconveniency the Citizens of Scriven County labour under, when of necessity they are obliged to attend on public requisitions, having Ogeechee river to cross, generally full of water and badly accommodated with flats canoes."

The governor was informed by the residents of the area that it was their wish "that the county of Bryan extend no farther up Ogeechee river than Bryan's Cowpen fence ... (and) that part of Scriven County lying on the south side of Great Ogeechee river as high up said river as Skulls Creek (become) a separate and distant county."

When Bulloch County was first established in 1796, it was bounded on the north by Screven, on the east by the Ogeechee River, on the south by Bryan and on the west by Tattnall. 

The new county was 40 miles long and 30 miles wide and encompassed some 1,200 square miles. The first atlas to show Bulloch County was written by the minister of Charleston's Congregational Church, Jedidiah Morse, who published the "American Universal Geography" in 1812. 

In it, Jedidiah Morse declared that the population of Bulloch County in 1810 was "2,305 people, of whom 1,879 were free and 426 were slaves." Jedidiah was the father of Samuel Morse, who invented the Morse code.

The next atlas to include Bulloch County was published by Bishop Davenport in his "A New Gazetteer or Geographical Dictionary of North America," published in 1833.

Davenport listed "Bullock" County as being "approximately 45 miles long and 12 miles wide and ... (with an area of) 540 square miles" and stated "the population ... included 1,933 whites and 653 colored, for a total population of 2,586."

The overall population in Georgia increased dramatically between 1790 and 1800. Whereas in 1790 there were 82,548 people living in the state, that number nearly doubled in 1800 to 162,686. 

The number of residents in Georgia kept increasing: in 1810, to 252,433; in 1820, to 344,773; and in 1830, to 516,823. In 1840, 691,392 people called Georgia home.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

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