Irwinville was founded as Irwinsville in 1831 as seat for the newly formed Irwin County. The community was named for Georgia governor Jared Irwin. It was renamed to Irwinville (without the S) when it was incorporated as a town in 1857. In 1907, the seat of Irwin County was transferred from Irwinville to Ocilla.
It is best known as the site of Jefferson Davis's capture at the end of the Civil War. On May 9, 1865, Jefferson Davis and a small group of officials camped in this pine forest, not knowing that Union cavalry soldiers were in hot pursuit. At dawn they were surrounded by two independent groups of Union cavalry who were unaware of each other’s presence. Gunfire ensued until the federal forces realized they had been shooting at one another. Two Union cavalrymen died during the skirmish. Davis was then taken prisoner. The Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site is a Georgia State Park operated by Irwin County.
It was also a part of the Works Progress Administration projects in the thirties. A small water park originally called Crystal Lake (later changed to Crystal Beach) operated just outside of there from the middle of the twentieth century to 1998.
- Clements, J. B. History of Irwin County. Foote & Davies Co., 1932.
- Hellmann, Paul T. (May 13, 2013). Historical Gazetteer of the United States. Routledge. p. 233. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
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