Camden County, Georgia

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Camden County, Georgia
GA Woodbine new Courthouse01.jpg
Camden County Courthouse in Woodbine
Map of Georgia highlighting Camden County
Location in the state of Georgia
Map of the United States highlighting Georgia
Georgia's location in the U.S.
Founded 1777
Seat Woodbine
Largest city St. Marys
Area
 • Total 782 sq mi (2,025 km2)
 • Land 613 sq mi (1,588 km2)
 • Water 169 sq mi (438 km2), 21.6%
Population
 • (2010) 50,513
 • Density 82/sq mi (32/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.co.camden.ga.us

Camden County is a county in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 Census, the population was 50,513.[1] Its county seat is Woodbine,[2] and the largest city is St. Marys. It is one of the original counties of Georgia, created February 5, 1777.

Camden County comprises the St. Marys, GA Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Jacksonville-St. Marys-Palatka, FL-GA Combined Statistical Area.

History[edit]

The Colonial Period[edit]

The first recorded European to visit what is today Camden County was Captain Jean Ribault of France in 1562. Ribault was sent out by French Huguenots to find a suitable place for a settlement. Ribault named the rivers he saw the Seine and the Some, known today as the St. Marys and Satilla Rivers. Ribault described the area as, "Fairest, fruitfulest and pleasantest of all the world."[3]

In 1565, Spain became alarmed by the French settlements and sent out a large force to take over and settle the area. During that time, the Spaniards attempted to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism. At least two missions operated on Cumberland Island, ministering to the Timucuan people, who had resided on the island for at least four thousand years.

Competing British and Spanish claims to the territory between their respective colonies of South Carolina and Florida was a source of international tension, and the colony of Georgia was founded in 1733 in part to protect the British interests. The Spanish theoretically lost their claim to the territory in 1742 after the Battle of Bloody Marsh (off St. Simons Island). However, settlement south of the Altamaha River (what is now Glynn and Camden Counties) was discouraged by both the British and Spanish governments. One group of settlers led by Edmund Gray sparked Spanish military action after settling on the Satilla River in the 1750s near present-day Burnt Fort, and were subsequently disbanded by the Royal Governor John Reynolds.[4]

General Oglethorpe was at Cumberland Island when Tomochichi gave the barrier island its name. Later, he erected a hunting lodge on Cumberland named Dungeness, which was the predecessor of the famous Greene and Carnegie Dungeness Mansions. He also founded Fort St. Andrews on the north end of Cumberland Island as well as a strong battery, Fort Prince Williams, on the south end. Fort Prince Williams commanded the entrance to the St. Marys River, but had become a ruin by the Revolutionary War.

In 1763, Spain, under a treaty of peace with England, ceded Florida to Britain. After this, the boundaries of Georgia were extended from the Altamaha (now the southern boundary of McIntosh County) to the St. Marys River (the current southern boundary of Camden). In 1765, four parishes were laid out between the Altamaha and St. Marys Rivers. These were St. Davids, St. Patricks, St. James,and the parishes of St. Marys and St. Thomas.

The Early American Era[edit]

Largely due to security issues arising from proximity to powerful Indian groups and British Florida, Georgia was the last state to join in the War for Independence in 1775. In the Georgia Constitution of 1777 St. Thomas and St Marys Parishes were formed into Camden County, named for Charles Pratt, Earl of Camden in England, a supporter of American independence. Originally Camden County was larger and also included parts of present-day Ware, Brantley, and Charlton Counties, which were re-designated in the nineteenth century.

Also under the 1777 state constitution, Glynn County and Camden County had limited and restricted representation in the new patriotic Georgia government due to their extreme "state of alarm" throughout the war.[5] Between 1776 and 1778 Camden County saw the construction of numerous forts, three failed American campaigns against the British at St. Augustine, and numerous depredations by raiders of various allegiance. One of the most notorious of these raiders was Daniel McGirth.[6] A significant loyalist faction existed in Camden County, headed by the brothers of Royal Governor James Wright, Charles and German Wright. They built a fort on the St. Marys River in 1775 to protect their lands and chattel during the war after repeated attacks by patriot banditti. Wright's Fort became a rendezvous for a group of loyalists called the "Florida Rangers". Two skirmishes were fought by Loyalist and Continental forces over Wright's Fort, and both times American troops failed to rout the Loyalists from the area. Finally, retreating British soldiers burned it down in 1778. The Americans rebuilt it when they invaded East Florida, and then burned it down to prevent it falling into enemy hands. The archaeological site was rediscovered in 1975.[7]

The primary economic enterprise of the county was rice planting, particularly along the Satilla River. Sea Island cotton was grown on Cumberland Island, and short-staple cotton was grown on the mainland along with sugar cane. Various forest products including turpentine and timber were produced, mainly for consumption in the naval industry and the West Indies.[8] Camden County also served as a hub of backcountry trade with American settlers and various Indian groups, and as a shipyard and shipping center centered around the town of St. Marys. The land in Camden County was owned by fewer than 300 people throughout the colonial and antebellum eras. Most of the white population worked in trades or as tenant farmers, while nearly all black residents were slaves. Until the 1840s (and increasingly strict black codes), Camden County had a small population of free black workers, mainly involved in day labor or maritime industry.

Camden County was the site of many trading posts with the Native Americans, who by the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries consisted mainly of people of the Creek Nation. From America's earliest years and even after Indian Removal in the 1830s, the county was a site of significant conflict between settlers and Indians, leading to a small series of local Indian wars, and displacement of both Indian and local American refugees. An important step towards establishing boundaries in the Early Federal period came with the Treaty of Colerain which was signed on June 29, 1796 on the St. Marys between United States agents and the Creeks.

On January 15, 1815, British troops led by Sir George Cockburn landed on Cumberland Island. Their goal was to attack the fort at Point Peter. They quickly overwhelmed the small American forced and took Ft. Point Peter easily. After the skirmish, British soldiers occupied the county through February. They raided the town of St. Marys, as well as many plantations and smaller settlements. Although New Orleans was the last major battle of the war, the skirmish at Point Peter happened even later, almost a month after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed. The British occupation of Camden County led to the liberation of an estimated 1,485 slaves from Georgia and Florida.[9]

Camden County was on an international border until the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819 between the United States and Spain, making the Florida provinces American territory.

The Civil War and Reconstruction[edit]

At the beginning of the Civil War, the population was 5,482 of which only 1,721 were white. Confederate Army. Many of the county's civilians moved farther inland, particularly to Centerville and Trader's Hill on the St. Marys River in Charlton County. The inhabitant's fears were realized when the town of St. Marys was attacked by United States Navy. At least one federal party to "carry off" slaves was met by armed resistance on White Oak Creek off the Satilla River.[10]

Camden County organized four volunteer companies: the Camden Chasseurs, St. Marys Volunteers Guard, Camden Rifles, and Camden County Guards. [11]

Camden County land fell under Sherman's Special Field Order No. 15. which dictated the distribution of parcels of land to freedmen. However, by 1868 Camden County's freedmen found themselves dispossessed of land they had lived and worked on since emancipation or earlier. Confiscated lands were returned to former landowners.[12] During the first years of reconstruction, Republican candidates and many local blacks were able to gain political victories. The first Democratic victory in the county after the war went to Ray Tompkins. This signaled a return to a white political majority and the end of the Reconstruction Era concurrent with the statewide Democratic victory in 1870.[13]

Modern[edit]

Earlier plans for railways in the area dated back to the 1830s, but construction was never begun. In 1893, Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad built a Savannah-Jacksonville line through Camden County. In 1923 the county seat of Camden County was moved from St. Marys to Woodbine, a reflection of the shift from the water transportation to railways. In 1927 U.S. Route 17 was constructed through Woodbine and Kingsland.[8]

From 1917 to 1937 a pogy plant producing oil for Procter & Gamble and fertilizer for the Southern Fertilizer and Chemical Company was one of the major economic activities of the area. The layoffs from the pogy plant found relief when the Gilman Paper Company came to the county in 1939. The company was sold to Durango Paper Co. in 1999, and went out of business in 2002, resulting in 900 workers losing their jobs.[14]

On February 3, 1971, a fire and explosion occurred at the Thiokol Chemical plant, located 12 miles southeast of Woodbine. The industrial accident killed 29 workers and seriously injured 50 others.[3]

During World War II, the Georgia State Guard and local Home Guard held bases on Cumberland Island.[8] The island and surrounding waters were also patrolled by the United States Coast Guard.[12] The U.S. Army began to acquire land south of Crooked River in 1954 to build a military ocean terminal to ship ammunition in case of a national emergency. In November 1976 the area of Kings Bay was selected for a submarine base. Soon afterward, the first Navy personnel arrived in the Kings Bay area and started preparations for the orderly transfer of property from the Army to the Navy. Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay not only occupies the former Army terminal land, but several thousand additional acres. Camden County's population grew enormously after the military took an interest in the area, and during the 1980s was the fourth fastest growing county in the United States.[8]

Cumberland Island National Seashore was established in 1970 to protect and preserve the natural and historic resources of the island. Crooked River State Park was established in 1985.

As of 2012, the Camden County Joint Development Authority is considering developing a spaceport for both horizontal and vertical spacecraft operations. Options include moving the St. Marys' airport to the Atlantic coastal site.[15] In 2013, the authority contracted for an Environmental Impact Statement to be completed on 200 acres (81 ha) of authority-owned land, part of a larger 4,200 acres (1,700 ha) site, in order to build a commercial launch site.[16]

Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 782 square miles (2,030 km2), of which 613 square miles (1,590 km2) is land and 169 square miles (440 km2) (21.6%) is water.[17]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 305
1800 1,681 451.1%
1810 3,941 134.4%
1820 4,342 10.2%
1830 4,578 5.4%
1840 6,075 32.7%
1850 6,319 4.0%
1860 5,420 −14.2%
1870 4,615 −14.9%
1880 6,183 34.0%
1890 6,178 −0.1%
1900 7,669 24.1%
1910 7,690 0.3%
1920 6,969 −9.4%
1930 6,338 −9.1%
1940 5,910 −6.8%
1950 7,322 23.9%
1960 9,975 36.2%
1970 11,334 13.6%
1980 13,371 18.0%
1990 30,167 125.6%
2000 43,664 44.7%
2010 50,513 15.7%
Est. 2013 51,476 1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]
1790-1960[19] 1900-1990[20]
1990-2000[21] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[22] of 2000, there were 43,664 people, 14,705 households, and 11,381 families residing in the county. The population density was 69 people per square mile (27/km²). There were 16,958 housing units at an average density of 27 per square mile (10/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 75.04% White, 20.11% Black or African American, 0.49% Native American, 1.01% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.37% from other races, and 1.88% from two or more races. 3.63% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 14,705 households out of which 46.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.20% were married couples living together, 11.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.60% were non-families. 17.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.84 and the average family size was 3.22.

According to the 2000 Census the largest reported European ancestry groups in Camden County were: English (15.1%), German (12.7%) and Irish (10.4%).

In the county the population was spread out with 31.70% under the age of 18, 12.90% from 18 to 24, 33.90% from 25 to 44, 16.30% from 45 to 64, and 5.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 107.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 108.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $41,056, and the median income for a family was $45,005. Males had a median income of $31,582 versus $22,104 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,445. About 8.40% of families and 10.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.30% of those under age 18 and 15.70% of those age 65 or over.

Education[edit]

Camden is home to one comprehensive high school (with a separate center for ninth graders), two middle schools, nine elementary schools and an alternative school. The system serves approximately 9,600 students. The school board is run by the following members:

  • Superintendent of Schools - Dr. Will Hardin
  • Assistant Superintendent - Arthur VanBlarcum

Camden County High School is the single public high school in Camden County, offering a comprehensive curriculum (9–12) with a variety of classes for both College Preparatory and Career Technology Preparatory. The high school campus is one of the largest in the state of Georgia. It consists of a main building (10-12 building) as well as a ninth grade center that holds two additional hallways, one gymnasium, one cafeteria, and one media center. The school has also recently constructed an additional building consisting of classrooms, conference rooms, and a large weight room. The school offers AP classes and joint-enrollment with College of Coastal Georgia and the Valdosta State University Kings Bay Campus. The school is part of the Georgia 6A Class. In 2003, the Wildcats won the Georgia 5A Football State Championship by defeating Valdosta High School. In 2008, the Wildcats won their second 5A State Football Championship by defeating Peachtree Ridge High School. In 2009, the Wildcats won their third 5A State Football Championship by defeating Northside (Warner Robins).

Communities[edit]

Historic communities[edit]

Historic towns which were formerly inhabited but are currently abandoned.

Notable People[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ a b " C amden County History" Our Georgia History
  4. ^ Hamer, Marguerite Bartlett. "Edmund Gray and His Settlement at New Hanover." The Georgia Historical Quarterly, ISSN 0016-8297, 03/1929, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp. 1 - 12
  5. ^ Revolutionary Records of Georgia. Volume 1. page 285.
  6. ^ Martha Condray Searcy. The Georgia-Florida Contest in the American Revolution. University of Alabama Press, 1985. See also, Wilbur H. Siebert, "Privateering in Florida Waters and Northwards in the American Revolution". Florida Historical Quarterly XXII. 1943. 62-73.
  7. ^ http://shapiro.anthro.uga.edu/Lamar/images/PDFs/publication_62.pdf
  8. ^ a b c d Reddick, Margurite. Camden's Challenge. WH Wolfe Associates, Alpharetta, Georgia, 1994.
  9. ^ http://www.forgotteninvasion.com/index.html
  10. ^ James Vocelle. History of Camden County. 97.
  11. ^ The Southern Recorder. April 31, 1861. Milledgeville Historic Newspapers Archive: Georgia Historic Newspapershttp://milledgeville.galileo.usg.edu/milledgeville/view?docId=news/srw1861/srw1861-0065.xml&query=Camden&brand=milledgeville-brand
  12. ^ a b Bullard. Cumberland Island: A History. University of Georgia Press 2001.
  13. ^ Vocelle, James. History of Camden County Georgia.
  14. ^ http://onlineathens.com/stories/091402/bus_20020914026.shtml
  15. ^ Rush, Johna Strickland (2012-11-15). "Spaceport could land in Camden". Tribune & Georgian. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  16. ^ Perez-Trevino, Emma (2014-01-06). "Brownsville, SpaceX await FAA ruling". Brownsville Herald. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  17. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  18. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  22. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  23. ^ Charles Floyd. New Georgia Encyclopedia.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°55′N 81°38′W / 30.92°N 81.64°W / 30.92; -81.64