Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 38
By H.M. Cauley
What's in a
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ith 159, Georgia is noted for having an inordinatespelled Casimir) Pulaski; and Baron Johann de Kalb of Germany.
ly high number of counties, second only to Texas'
The state's original settlers-the Cherokee, Muscogee,
254. That list includes some curious names: How
Coweta and Seminole tribes-are remembered in those
did the residents of Taliaferro or Effingham come up with those
counties. The Chattahoochee, Chattooga and Oconee rivers also
titles? Is Peach County really peachy? Is Rockdale really rocky?
lend their names to Georgia counties.
The answer to those last two queries is simply "yes." RockOutstanding Georgians aren't forgotten, either. That list
dale gave a nod to the granite that runs below the soil; Peach
includes poet Sidney Lanier, speaker and newspaper editor
County is a reference to the central region and the Fort Valley
Henry Grady, University of Georgia Chancellor David Barrow,
area, where the fuzzy fruit long has been a primary crop.
anesthetics pioneer Dr. Crawford Long and George Whitefield, a
But Crisp, Bacon and Coffee counties were named for
pastor who founded an orphanage near Savannah. (The county
people (U.S. Rep. Charles Frederick Crisp, U.S. Sen. Augustus
varied the spelling to Whitfield.) In Liberty County, the name
Octavius Bacon and Gen. John E. Coffee, War
reflects the locals themselves, who
of 1812 hero), not breakfast foods.
demonstrated unwavering support for the
To learn what inspired these county
names requires a deep dive into American
In 1853, the residents of Hart County
history. Most take their titles from men who
took their title from the only woman on the
made notable contributions to the country,
list. Tales of Nancy Hart's one-woman
state or area in the earliest days of the new
campaign against the British, though possination. The patriotic list includes Washingbly exaggerated, earned her a reputation as a
ton, for George Washington, the first U.S.
feisty supporter of the Revolutionary cause.
president; Jefferson, for Thomas Jefferson,
One man whose exploits are documentthe third president; Henry, for Revolutionary
ed in that war is Col. Benjamin Taliaferro,
War hero Patrick Henry; and Madison, for
who also served in the U.S. Congress and
James Madison, author of the Constitution.
whose unusual last name is now part of the
A lengthy list honors men who served in
the Revolution and the War of 1812 as well as
But why are there so many counties?
those who distinguished themselves as govStan Denton, a senior historian with the
ernment leaders in Georgia and Washington,
Savannah-based Georgia Historical Society,
D.C. Hall, Carroll, Baldwin, Walton, Hansays it was all about political clout.
cock and Gwinnett remember Lyman Hall,
"Having more counties prevented bigTop: Polish Count Kazimierz
Pulaski, the namesake of Pulaski
Charles Carroll, Abraham Baldwin, George
ger ones from having all the political power,"
County as well as Fort Pulaski in
Walton, John Hancock and Button Gwinnett,
he says. "At some point, the thought was we
Savannah, was mortally wounded
signers of the Declaration of Independence.
needed to create these counties to give more
while leading a charge against the
In the cases of Effingham, Richmond,
rural and less populous counties representaBritish during the American RevoluFayette, Chatham, Pulaski and DeKalb, the
tion in the state legislature. But it is odd betion. A U.S. postage stamp in his
nods went to European nobles who supcause we don't have 159 electoral districts."
honor was issued in 1931.
ported the colonists' cause: Thomas Howard,
More information about county
Above: Also honored with a U.S.
the earl of Effingham; Charles Lennox, the
and histories is online at georgia
postage stamp (in 1972) was Sidney
third duke of Richmond; Gilbert du Motier,
Lanier, a Macon-born poet, author
the marquis de Lafayette; William Pitt, earl
H.M. Cauley is an Atlanta-based
and musician for whom Lanier
of Chatham; Polish Count Kazimierz (also
County is named.
Georgia Magazine - July 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - July 2019
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 4
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 5
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 6
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 7
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 8
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 9
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 10
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 11
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 12
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 13
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 14
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 15
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 16
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 17
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 18
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 19
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 20
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 21
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 22
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 23
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 24
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 25
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 26
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 27
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 28
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 29
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 30
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 31
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 32
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 33
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 34
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 35
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 36
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 37
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 38
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 39
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 40
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Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 43
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Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover4