Oconee County Courthouse in Watkinsville, Georgia
|• Total||3.2 sq mi (8.3 km2)|
|• Land||3.2 sq mi (8.3 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Elevation||719 ft (219 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||654/sq mi (252.7/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0333373|
Watkinsville is the largest city and seat of Oconee County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town had a total population of 2,832. It served as the seat of Clarke County until 1872 when the county seat of that county was moved to Athens, a move which ultimately led to the creation of Oconee County in 1875. It is included in the Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Watkinsville is located at (33.862818, -83.408094).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2), of which 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2) is land and 0.31% is water.
Pedestrians and cycling
The city has limited walkability options available. However, since 2017 plans are being discussed to develop a multi-use trail network. A new sidewalk on VFW Drive and a planned sidewalk along Harden Hill Road have changed that perception greatly.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,097 people, 827 households, and 578 families residing in the town. The population density was 650.6 people per square mile (251.4/km²). There were 862 housing units at an average density of 267.4 per square mile (103.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 89.08% White, 7.34% African American, 0.05% Native American, 1.62% Asian, 0.48% Pacific Islander, 0.86% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.96% of the population.
There were 827 households out of which 36.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.1% were non-families. 24.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the town, the population was spread out with 26.8% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 33.0% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $45,729, and the median income for a family was $55,170. Males had a median income of $32,295 versus $26,168 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,968. About 3.8% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.9% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.
In 1802, Watkinsville, originally known as the "Big Springs" community, was named after Colonel Robert Watkins of Augusta, a lawyer and early compiler of A Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia through 1799. Watkinsville was a village located on the dangerous western frontier of the new United States between Creek and Cherokee territories. Eagle Tavern, believed to stand on the site of the old Fort Edward, opened in 1801 and today serves as a museum commemorating the era of wagon and stage travel. Watkinsville first appeared in Clarke County records in 1791; only fifty-eight years after James Edward Oglethorpe founded the colony of Georgia. In 1802, John Cobb gave up eight lots of his plantation to create the city. And on November 24, 1806 the City became the Incorporated Town of Watkinsville. It then became the seat for Clarke County and remained so until 1872, when Athens took over that role. Angry locals voted to create a new county, named after the Oconee River on its eastern border, and Watkinsville became its seat on February 25, 1875.
The Elder Mill Covered Bridge[better source needed], one of Georgia's 13 covered bridges still used for traffic[better source needed], once connected Watkinsville and Athens above Calls Creek. The bridge was designed by Nathaniel Richardson in 1897 and uses the traditional Town's Lattice truss form. In 1924, the bridge made its move to a permanent home over Rose Creek. David Elder, born in Brunswick County, Virginia, arrived in Oconee County after his military service during the Revolutionary War granted him land in Oconee County. Descendants of the family have lived in Oconee County for more than 200 years, long after his death in 1853. After the bridge’s move from Calls Creek, the bridge provided access to the family’s mill— Elder Mill (hence the name of the bridge and road the bridge sits on). David Elder’s memorial stone can also be found along Highway 15 in the Elder Cemetery, approximately 2 miles from the covered bridge.
Watkinsville is governed by a five-person elected city council, which is led by a separately elected mayor. The current mayor is David Shearon, and the current city council members are Brian Brodrick, Connie Massey, Marcia Campbell, Christine Tucker, and Dan Matthews (former journalist/radio host/Remember the Titans extra Daniel J. Matthews, Jr). Matthews was elected in 2016 by a two-vote margin over Mark Melvin. All three incumbents won re-election in 2018 (Post 3's Campbell, Post 4's Tucker, and Post 5's Matthews) The current acting police chief is William Horton, replacing the recently terminated Lee O'Dillon. The city clerk is Julie Sanders. The recently hired City Manager is Sharyn Dickerson, formerly an Athens-Clarke Commissioner. The Code Enforcement officer is Steve Davis, hired from the City of Clarkston, Georgia in 2018.
The Oconee County School District provides primary and secondary public education services for all residents of Watkinsville. The only public school within the Watkinsville city limits is Colham Ferry Elementary School.
List of Mayors
- David Shearon current mayor
- Charles Ivie, former mayor
- Joseph Walter, former Mayor and police officer Athens-Clarke County
- James "Jim" T. Luken, Jr., former Mayor and member of the United States Marine Corps who saw duty in Vietnam.
- Sammy Sanders, former Mayor
Arts and culture
Watkinsville has the unofficial motto "The Artland of Georgia" on the wall of the Community Center, as designed by the late artist Jim Shearon. The Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation or OCAF is located in Watkinsville in the old high school as part of the 1902 OCAF Center and Gallery near the Board of Education. The Iron Horse sculpture stands in a field approximately twelve miles south of Watkinsville (barely in Greene County).
- Nathan Crawford Barnett, member of the Georgia House of Representatives and Georgia Secretary of State for more than 30 years.
- Alan Busenitz, baseball player
- Ed Crowley, baseball player
- Hank Huckaby, chancellor of University System of Georgia
- Zach Mettenberger, NFL quarterback for Tennessee Titans
- Tony Taylor, pro football player
- Buck Thrasher, baseball player
- John Wes Townley, retired NASCAR driver, notable for driving Zaxby's car
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
- "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.
- 2010 Census Population Map
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Plans for Oconee County taking shape". Gate House Media LLC. 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Elder's Mill Covered Bridge and Elder Mill
- List of covered bridges in Georgia (U.S. state)
- Georgia Board of Education, Retrieved June 24, 2010.
- Matthews Jr., Daniel J (April 28, 2004). "City residents voice concerns over streets | Online Athens". onlineathens.com. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Shearer, Lee (3 June 2015). "Iconic Iron Horse's hooves eaten by rust, but will be repaired". Retrieved 25 June 2016.