Note: This is the first in a series of columns about the origin of the counties that surround Bulloch County.
Emanuel County was created as Georgia’s 39th county on Dec. 10, 1812 from land that was originally part of Bulloch and Montgomery counties. Emanuel County actually used to be much larger, but portions of Emanuel's original borders were later cut off to form the following counties: Johnson (1858), Jenkins (1905), Toombs (1905), Candler (1914) and Treutlen (1918).
At least one town was disconnected from Bulloch County and made part of the new county. This was the town of Canoe, which became Canoe Station.
Emanuel County has a total area of 690 square miles, of which 686 are land and 4 are covered by water. It is the seventh largest county in Georgia in terms of area.
The county is named in honor of former Georgia Gov. David Emanuel, a veteran of the Revolutionary War (1775–83) who served in 1801. The 1812 legislative act creating Emanuel named Edward Lane, Francis Pugh, Needham Cox, Eli Whitdon and Uriah Anderson as commissioners to select a county seat. With no seat named one year later, residents Jesse Mezzle and Archibald Culberth were added as commissioners to break the deadlock.
Losing patience, the Legislature then named Joshua Wood, Travis Thigpen, Jesse Price, John Wolf and Gideon Hose as new commissioners, with instructions to go ahead and purchase a suitable site of up to 100 acres "as near the centre of said county as practicable."
Emanuel’s Inferior Court Justices were directed to name one person to determine the center of the county. Finally, in 1814, the commissioners selected the location of the county seat. In 1822, the Legislature named it Swainsborough, honoring state Senator Stephen Swain, who introduced the bill for the county's creation.
The town's name was changed to Paris when it was formally incorporated on Feb. 18, 1854. Three years later, the name was changed again, this time to its current name, Swainsboro. The town has been called the "Crossroads of the South" because it is located at the junction of U.S. Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 80.
The Emanuel County Courthouse was the scene of major fires in 1841, 1855, 1857, 1919 and 1938. Because of a family feud, the town of Adrian was divided between Johnson and Emanuel counties.
Stillmore, originally named Kea's Mill, got its name from a U.S. Post Office memo that listed possible names for the town, adding that if the townspeople did not like any of the names on the list, "still more" could be sent.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.