McRae-Helena City Hall
|• Total||4.4 sq mi (11.4 km2)|
|• Land||4.3 sq mi (11.2 km2)|
|• Water||0.08 sq mi (0.2 km2)|
|Elevation||246 ft (75 m)|
|• Density||1,322/sq mi (510.4/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0317973|
McRae was a city in and the county seat of Telfair County, Georgia, United States. It was designated as the seat in 1871, after being established the previous year as a station on the Macon and Brunswick Railroad. Upon the city's merger with adjacent Helena in 2015, the new county seat is the combined city of McRae-Helena.
As of the 2010 census, McRae had a population of 5,740, up from 2,682 at the 2000 census, due largely to expansion of the city limits to incorporate the area and prison population of the McRae Correctional Institution, a privately owned and operated prison under contract to the federal government. The prison is a low-security facility holding adult males; it is owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
McRae was founded in 1870 as station number eleven on the Macon and Brunswick Railroad. In 1871, the seat of Telfair County was transferred to McRae from Jacksonville. McRae was incorporated on March 3, 1874, and was named for a pioneering Scottish family. The community was named after Daniel M. McRae, the original owner of the town site. During the antebellum years and after the Civil War, the county had an economy largely based on cotton plantations, and McRae was a trading center. McRae was incorporated as a city in 1902. During the racial violence of the Red Summer of 1919 one Berry Washington, an elderly black man, was arrested and put in the McRae jail after defending two girls from assault. On May 25th a large mob led by a Baptist minister  conspired with a McRae deputy to seize Berry Washington from jail and lynch him over in Milan.
McRae and Telfair County approved construction of a private prison in the early 21st century to hold federal prisoners, in the belief that it would provide jobs to local residents. McRae Correctional Facility, a low-security prison for adult males, has been owned and operated by CCA, the largest prison company in the United States in 2015, since it opened in 2003.
Several U.S. highways pass through McRae. U.S. Routes 23 and 341 pass through the city as Oak Street, leading northwest 20 miles (32 km) to Eastman and southeast 24 miles (39 km) to Hazlehurst, while U.S. Routes 280, 319, and 441 pass through as Third Avenue, crossing US 23/341 in the center of town. US 280 leads northeast 33 miles (53 km) to Vidalia and west 55 miles (89 km) to Cordele, while US 319/441 leads south 19 miles (31 km) to the small town of Jacksonville and north 35 miles (56 km) to Dublin.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11.4 km2), of which 4.3 square miles (11.2 km2) is land and 0.077 square miles (0.2 km2), or 1.77%, is water. The Little Ocmulgee River flows just northeast of the city limits.
Sites of interest
Located in downtown McRae is Liberty Square, home of a Statue of Liberty replica that is one-twelfth the size of the original. It has a replica of the Liberty Bell and a marble memorial to Telfair County residents who died in military service.
On the outskirts of McRae is the Talmadge Home. This historic home was occupied by two former Georgia governors, Eugene Talmadge and Herman Eugene Talmadge. McRae was also the birthplace of Marion B. Folsom (1893–1976), a longtime executive of the Eastman Kodak Company who served as the United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare during the Eisenhower administration.
Famous railfan photographer William B. Folsom is buried in McRae.
Telfair County School District
The Telfair County School District holds pre-school to grade twelve, and consists of one elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. The district has 112 full-time teachers and over 1,648 students.
- Telfair County Elementary School
- Telfair County Middle School
- Telfair County High School
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,682 people, 1,057 households, and 714 families residing in the city. The population density was 796.7 people per square mile (307.3/km²). There were 1,310 housing units at an average density of 389.1 per square mile (150.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 55.48% White, 42.69% African American, 0.30% Asian, 1.12% from other races, and 0.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.57% of the population.
There were 1,057 households out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 19.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.4% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the city, the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 20.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 81.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $27,236, and the median income for a family was $37,250. Males had a median income of $29,055 versus $20,321 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,911. About 16.4% of families and 19.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.4% of those under age 18 and 25.2% of those age 65 or over.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): McRae city, Georgia". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
- Krakow, Kenneth K. (1975). Georgia Place-Names: Their History and Origins (PDF). Macon, GA: Winship Press. p. 142. ISBN 0-915430-00-2.
- Hellmann, Paul T. (May 13, 2013). Historical Gazetteer of the United States. Routledge. p. 239. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- Cayton's Weekly 1919, p. 3.
- Phoenix Tribune 1919, p. 1.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Georgia Board of Education[permanent dead link], Retrieved June 27, 2010.
- School Stats, Retrieved June 27, 2010.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved September 14, 2019.
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Cayton's Weekly (September 20, 1919). "Georgia's Shame". Cayton's Weekly. Seattle, Washington: Horace R. Cayton Sr. pp. 1–4. ISSN 2158-4699. OCLC 17248379. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
- Phoenix Tribune (August 2, 1919). "Baptist Minister Leads Georgia Mob In Recent Outrage". Phoenix Tribune. Phoenix, Arizonz: Arthur Randolph Smith. pp. 1–4. OCLC 35642959. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to McRae, Georgia.|
- City of McRae-Helena official website
- Telfair County Chamber of Commerce
- Telfair Enterprise newspaper
- Christiane Badgly, A Prison for McRae (50:29 minutes), 2003, made for Arte France; not yet aired in the US