Note: This is the fourth and final column in a series about the origin of the counties that surround Bulloch County.
Jenkins County, Georgia’s 138th county, was created on Aug. 17, 1905, by taking land from Bulloch, Burke, Emanuel and Screven counties. Jenkins has a total area of 352 square miles, of which 350 square miles are land and 3 square miles are covered by water.
Millen, the county seat, actually is the reason Jenkins County exists. Residents of this small town quickly grew tired of being located in both Burke and Screven counties. Millen’s residents sent a delegation up to Atlanta to speak with the Georgia Legislature about creating a new county. The original name proposed for the new county was Dixie, but it was ultimately decided to name the county in honor of Reconstruction-era Gov. Charles Jones Jenkins (1865–1868).
Millen was first called “Old Seventy-Nine” because that’s how far it was from Savannah. The only other town of any size in the county is Perkins.
The Jones House was built outside of Millen as a stagecoach stop in 1762. During the Civil War, Gen. Sherman’s troops looted and set it afire, only to extinguish the flames when the mistress of the house refused to leave her bed.
Millen’s Big Buckhead Church is one of the oldest structures in Georgia. Named for the stream that flows nearby, it was organized in 1787. Four different structures have housed the church, and the building existing today was constructed in 1830.
Magnolia Springs State Park also is located in Jenkins County. The 1,071-acre park is named for the spring that puts out 9 million gallons of crystal-clear, cold (64 degree) spring water every day.
The park is the site of the Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium. During the Civil War, Fort Lawton, a 42-acre stockade, was built on the site. This was the largest camp ever built by the Confederacy to receive prisoners-of-war.
The tiny community of Birdsville is the site of an antebellum manor known as the Birdsville Plantation, which in turn is part of the 500-acre land grant given to Francis Jones by the governor and council of Georgia before the American Revolution.
Jones’ grandson Phillip started construction of the house. Curiously, while still standing, the house bears the scars of bullet holes fired by Union troops as Gen. Sherman’s forces passed by.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at email@example.com.