Fitzgerald, Georgia

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Fitzgerald, Georgia
Fitzgerald City Hall
Fitzgerald City Hall
Motto(s): "History, Harmony, Heritage"[1]
Location in Ben Hill County and the state of Georgia
Location in Ben Hill County and the state of Georgia
Coordinates: 31°42′56″N 83°15′23″W / 31.71556°N 83.25639°W / 31.71556; -83.25639Coordinates: 31°42′56″N 83°15′23″W / 31.71556°N 83.25639°W / 31.71556; -83.25639
Country United States
State Georgia
Counties Ben Hill, Irwin
 • Mayor Jim Puckett
 • Total 9.0 sq mi (23.3 km2)
 • Land 8.8 sq mi (22.9 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.4 km2)
Elevation 361 ft (110 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 9,053
 • Estimate (2016)[2] 8,927
 • Density 1,022/sq mi (394.6/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code 31750
Area code 229
FIPS code 13-29528[3]
GNIS feature ID 0355809[4]

The city of Fitzgerald is the county seat of Ben Hill County in the U.S. state of Georgia.[6] As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 9,053.[7] It is the principal city of the Fitzgerald Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Ben Hill and Irwin counties.


Fitzgerald was developed in 1895 by Philander H. Fitzgerald, an Indianapolis newspaper editor and a former drummer boy in the Union Army, who founded it as a community for Civil War veterans – both from the Union and from the Confederacy.[8] The majority of the first citizens (some 2700) were Union veterans.[9] It was incorporated on December 2, 1896.[10] The town is located less than 15 miles (24 km) from the site of the capture of Confederate president Jefferson Davis on May 10, 1865.

Fitzgerald is one of the few truly planned cities in the United States. The city was laid out as a square, with intersecting streets dividing it into four wards. Each of the wards was divided into four blocks and each block had sixteen squares.[11] The first two streets running North/South on the west side of the city are named after Confederate generals Lee and Johnston, whereas the first two on the east side were named after Union generals Grant and Sherman.[12]

After about a year, the citizens planned a Thanksgiving harvest parade. Separate Union and Confederate parades were planned. However, when the band struck up to play, the Confederates joined the Union veterans to march as one beneath the US flag.[13]

In recent years, the unofficial, and sometimes controversial, mascot of the city has become the red junglefowl, a wild chicken native to the Indian subcontinent. In the late 1960s, a small number were released into the woods surrounding the city and have thrived to this day.[14]

Historical sites[edit]

The Ben Hill County Courthouse and Ben Hill County Jail in Fitzgerald are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Fitzgerald Commercial Historic District was listed on the Register on April 28, 1992. It is generally bounded by Ocmulgee, Thomas, Magnolia and Lee Streets. The South Main-South Lee Streets Historic District was listed in April 13, 1989 and is generally bounded by Magnolia Street, S. Main Street, Roanoke Drive, and S. Lee Street. The Dorminy-Massee House at 516 W. Central Avenue, the Holtzendorf Apartments at 105 W. Pine Street, and the Miles V. Wilsey House at 137 Hudson Road are also listed on the register. The Blue and Gray Museum is located near downtown in the original AB&A railroad depot built in 1908.


Fitzgerald is located in south central Georgia at 31°42′56″N 83°15′23″W / 31.71556°N 83.25639°W / 31.71556; -83.25639 (31.715432, -83.256464).[15] U.S. Route 129 passes through the center of the city, leading north to Abbeville, Hawkinsville, and eventually Macon, and south to Ocilla, Nashville, and Lakeland. U.S. Route 319 also passes through Fitzgerald, leading northeast to McRae and Dublin and southwest to Tifton.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.0 square miles (23.3 km2), of which 8.8 square miles (22.9 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 1.64%, is water.[16]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20168,927[2]−1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[17]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 9,053 people residing in the city. 51.2% were African American, 42.1% White, 0.3% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from some other race and 1.1% from two or more races. 4.3% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 8,758 people, 3,448 households, and 2,210 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,208.8 people per square mile (466.4/km2). There were 3,968 housing units at an average density of 547.7 per square mile (211.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 49.27% African American, 47.27% White, 0.18% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 2.28% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.43% of the population.

There were 3,448 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.3% were married couples living together, 23.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.12.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 28.3% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 83.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $20,805, and the median income for a family was $26,577. Males had a median income of $26,674 versus $17,211 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,775. About 26.7% of families and 31.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 45.8% of those under age 18 and 22.1% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture[edit]

Fitzgerald is home to the Dorminy-Massee House, now a bed and breakfast. Built in 1915 by J. J. (Captain Jack) Dorminy for his family, this two-story, colonial-style home is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Blue and Gray Museum located in the town's AB&A railroad depot built in 1908 houses several artifacts that tell the story of the town's founding. The town also has a city owned art gallery located in the Carnegie library on the edge of downtown.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

Fitzgerald Post Office

The U.S. Postal Service operates the Fitzgerald Post Office.

Minor league baseball teams[edit]

Fitzgerald was home to a minor league baseball team in the Georgia State League from 1948, the league's first season of operation, through 1952. The team was called the Fitzgerald Pioneers, and the club had no affiliation with any major league club during the five seasons of operation in the Georgia State League. After the 1952 season the Fitzgerald Pioneers relocated to Sandersville and became the Sandersville Wacos, which were affiliated with the Milwaukee Braves for the 1953 season. After a season with no affiliation in 1954 the Sandersville Wacos became affiliated with the New York Giants and became known as the Sandersville Giants for their final two seasons of operations 1955–56.

Fitzgerald got a replacement team for the Pioneers in 1953 when the Moultrie Giants of the Georgia–Florida League moved to town. The Moultrie club was a charter member of the Georgia–Florida League when it began operations in 1946. The club began operations as an independent club with no affiliation with any major league baseball club and was known as the Moultrie Packers for the first two seasons of operations 1946-47. After the 1947 season the Moultrie club became an affiliate of the Philadelphia A's and became known as the Moultrie A's for the 1948 and 1949 seasons. After a season as a Chicago Cubs affiliate in 1950 the Moultrie Cubs became an independent club again and was known as the Moultrie To-Baks for the 1951 season before becoming affiliated with the New York Giants and becoming the Moultrie Giants for the 1952 season. After relocating to Fitzgerald and becoming an affiliate of the Cincinnati Redlegs, the new edition of the Fitzgerald Pioneers lasted one season (1954) saw the team name changed to the Fitzgerald Redlegs. After two years in Fitzgerald the club relocated back to Moultrie and remained a Cincinnati Reds minor league team known as the Moultrie Reds for the next two years, 1955 through 1956. Moultrie became a Phillies minor league team in 1957, but the club relocated during the season to Brunswick, Georgia. The Brunswick Phillies were members of the Georgia–Florida League during its final year of operations in 1958.

After the Fitzgerald Redlegs left town, the city was without a team for the 1955 season, but the next year another longtime member of the Georgia–Florida League relocated to Fitzgerald. The Cordele club relocated to Fitzgerald after ten seasons in Cordele. During the club's years in Cordele the team was affiliated with four different major league baseball clubs, first with the Chicago White Sox (the Cordele White Sox in 1946), then came three years as a Cleveland Indians minor league club (the Cordele Indians 1947-49), then four years as a Philadelphia A's minor league club (the Cordele A's 1950–1953) and finally two seasons as a Baltimore Orioles minor league club (the Americus-Cordele Orioles in 1954 and Cordele Orioles in 1955). After the Cordele club came to town they changed affiliation back to the now Kansas City A's, and the Fitzgerald A's played for the 1956 season. The next year the club changed affiliation again, this time back to the Baltimore Orioles, and the club was known as the Fitzgerald Orioles for the 1957 season. The Fitzgerald club relocated to Dublin following the 1957 season and remained a Baltimore Orioles farm team, becoming the Dublin Orioles for the Georgia–Florida League's last year of operation. Fitzgerald has not had a minor league in the 52 years since. Earl Weaver, later the manager for the Baltimore Orioles, was a manager for the Fitzgerald Orioles in 1957 and remained with them after they became the Dublin Orioles in 1958.


The Ben Hill County School District holds pre-school to grade twelve, and consists of one pre-school, one primary school, an elementary school, a middle school and a high school.[18] The district has 217 full-time teachers and over 3,395 students.[19]

  • Ben Hill County PreK
  • Ben Hill County Primary School
  • Ben Hill County Elementary School
  • Ben Hill County Even Start
  • Ben Hill County Middle School
  • Fitzgerald High School

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College – Ben Hill-Irwin Campus is located on the southern end of the county.


  • WRDO Real Radio 96.9
  • Herald Leader Newspaper (Fitzgerald)
  • WOKA Dixie Country 106.7
  • WOBB B-100
  • WSIZ Radio MyFM 102.3 (Fitzgerald) @ 99.9 (Douglas)

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "City of Fitzgerald Georgia Official Website". City of Fitzgerald Georgia Official Website. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "Fitzgerald". Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-05. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  8. ^ "website". Archived from the original on 2017-09-08. Retrieved 11 July 2018. 
  9. ^ "Fitzgerald history". Archived from the original on 2017-09-09. Retrieved 11 July 2018. 
  10. ^ "Fitzgerald". GeorgiaGov. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 
  11. ^ "City facts". Archived from the original on 2017-09-08. Retrieved 11 July 2018. 
  12. ^ "Fitzgerald streets". Archived from the original on 2017-09-09. Retrieved 11 July 2018. 
  13. ^ "History". Archived from the original on 2017-09-09. Retrieved 11 July 2018. 
  14. ^ Minor, Elliott (14 June 1998). "Town's wild jungle birds: blessing or curse?". Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  15. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  16. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Fitzgerald city, Georgia". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved November 1, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  18. ^ Georgia Board of Education[permanent dead link], Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  19. ^ School Stats, Retrieved May 30, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • Around Fitzgerald, Georgia, in Vintage Picture Postcards, by Milton N. Hopkins, Jr., Arcadia Publishing
  • Confederates in the Attic, by Tony Horwitz, Pantheon Books
  • Fitzgerald: The Early Days, by Beth Davis, privately published

External links[edit]