Oglethorpe County, established in 1793, is one of the oldest established areas in NE Georgia. It was named for General James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of the colony 60 years earlier. Kennedy, a trapper, was the first known to settle here. Farmers soon had good tobacco crops. Tobacco was replaced by cotton, which remained the dominant crop until drought, the boll weevil, and the Great Depression spelled its downfall.
For almost a half century after its establishment, Oglethorpe County was a leader in the political, social and economic life of Georgia. Because its history includes so many important institutions and prominent figures in the state and the nation, it has been called and truly was the “Mother of Statesmen”.
Oglethorpe County Historic Resources
Oglethorpe is a rural county settled by emigrants from Virginia and the Carolinas in the mid 1700’s. It has retained most of its original character and charm. There are three National Register Historic Districts, several individual National Historic properties, a significant number of historic buildings, two unique covered bridges and sites in the county representing architecture and history from the late 18th through 20th centuries.
The Lexington National Register Historic District encompasses virtually the entire city of Lexington. In history, architecture and surrounding, it is one of the finest surviving examples of a typical 19th century county seat and town in Georgia.
The Philomath National Register Historic District represents a small rural 19th century academic community. The Great Buffalo Lick described in William Bartram’s journal, “Travels” (pub 1791) and a portion of the historic Bartram’s Trail are located in Philomath in the southeast corner of the county.
The Smithonia National Register District includes a portion of the James Monroe Smith plantation known as “Smithonia.” It was an empire that covered over 20,000 acres with more than 3,000 workers. It had two railroads, hotel, mills, factories, streetlights and stores.
The Watson Mill Covered Bridge (longest covered bridge in Georgia, ca. 1857) and the Howard’s or Cloud’s Creek Covered Bridge (longest single span, ca. 1904) are two of only a dozen such bridges in Georgia. They and the granite Old Crawford Depot (ca. 1848) represent historic resources that are fast disappearing in this country.County description courtesy of onlineoglethorpe.com