Wayne County, Georgia

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Wayne County, Georgia
Map of Georgia highlighting Wayne County
Location in the state of Georgia
Map of the United States highlighting Georgia
Georgia's location in the U.S.
Founded December 7, 1803
Named for Anthony Wayne
Seat Jesup
Largest city Jesup
 • Total 649 sq mi (1,681 km2)
 • Land 642 sq mi (1,663 km2)
 • Water 7.0 sq mi (18 km2), 1.1%
 • (2010) 30,099
 • Density 47/sq mi (18/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.co.wayne.ga.us/home/

Wayne County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 30,099.[1] The county seat is Jesup.[2]

Wayne County comprises the Jesup, Georgia Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Seventy years after General James Oglethorpe settled the colony of Georgia and 27 years after that colony became one of the 13 original states, Wayne County came into being. It was created by an Act of the Legislature in 1803 after the Wilkinson Treaty was signed with the Creek Indians on January 16, 1802, which ceded part of the Tallassee Country and part of the lands within the forks of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers to the United States. As originally laid out, the new county – the 28th Georgia county – was a long narrow strip of land approximately 100 miles (160 km) in length but with varying measures of width along the way. It was six miles (10 km) as it stood just south of the Altamaha River, eight miles (13 km) wide near the Satilla and five miles (8 km) wide at a location about 27 miles (43 km) south of the Altamaha. All counties organized prior to 1802 were headright counties – no surveys were ever made of those counties. It was found that under the headright system more land was given away than actually existed and this was the case for Wayne County. Although created in 1803, no valid lottery was done for the county until the Land Lottery Act of 1805. The 1805 Act divided the half million acres (2,000 km²) of Wayne County, formed the Tallassee Strip, and set the stage for the land lottery that would result in more formal settlement of the area. It is the second date, December 7, 1805, that the county chose to observe as the creation date. The area was not a popular one for lottery draws as the straws were drawn sight unseen and the winner was as likely to draw swampland as he was prime agricultural lots. Being close to the coast and bordered by the Altamaha River, Wayne County's history includes occupation by Spanish missionaries at the time of the settlement of Saint Augustine as well as short lived French occupation. The flags of France, Spain, England, and the Confederate States of America all flew over Wayne with little success.

Wayne County courthouse in Jesup

The county was named for Mad Anthony Wayne whose military career had made him a well known hero. When he surprised the British garrison at Stony Point on July 15, 1779, he acquired the nickname “Mad” Anthony. From one siege to another, he was a vital member of General George Washington’s staff serving well under General Nathanael Greene and coming to Georgia in 1781 in his service during the American Revolution.

The county was slow in developing and those in the area were in no hurry to be concerned with matters governmental. It was not until 1829 that legislative action created a county seat. Wayne County’s first official county seat was Waynesville, then considered to be a central location in the long and narrow county for settlers to travel for court and other primary government functions. Waynesville was the site of Wayne County's first school, which was called Mineral Springs Academy. It was named for the famous mineral springs which were a short distance east of the residential section of the town. The county seat remained at Waynesville until 1873 when the Courthouse Committee reported the courthouse complete at Jesup.

The first post office in Wayne County was established at Tuckersville - sometime Tuckerville - January 29, 1814 and Tuckersville acted as the county seat until Waynesville was so designated. John Tucker was the first postmaster and his service was followed by William A. Knight and Robert Stafford, Jr. before the mail service was discontinued in 1827. Tuckersville disappears from maps by 1850 and its exact location remains a mystery although it is known it was north of Waynesville on the Post Road near the Buffalo Swamp.

Although there is some doubt about whom the City of Jesup is named for, there is no doubt it became Jesup on October 24, 1870. Ambling along as Station Number 6 on the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad, the town grew into a city primarily due to the efforts of its first mayor, Willis Clary. Clary had first moved to Wayne County in 1868 and was elected mayor shortly after moving into the town at a meeting held December 3, 1870. Clary is credited with convincing the Macon and Brunswick Railroad to locate its tracks so that they crossed the Atlantic and Gulf rails at Jesup. From its beginning, Jesup has been a railway town and as early as 1891, the town’s population was essentially connected to the railroads in some way.

Although not formally incorporated until 1907, the cities of Screven and Odum are also historic railroad towns. Screven ranks as the oldest established town being formally established in 1854 when the town became a terminus on the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad. The rail line connected Screven and Thomasville which at the time was a resort city popular with Europeans and wealthy Armenians. It is not known exactly when Station Number 7 became known as Screven but the town bears the name of the family of Dr. James Proctor Screven and his son, John Bryan Screven of Savannah who were operating the railroad at the time of its inception. Screven’s first businessman and landowner, C. C. Grace helped to build the community. Likewise, Godfrey Odum used real estate to build his fortune and to improve the community into a town. Odum became a stop on the Macon and Brunswick Railroad and later became a part of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia. Odum was known as Satilla on an 1870 timetable from the Macon and Brunswick and before that it was known as Haslum. Rail access made it easier for Odum’s turpentine and sawmills products to be shipped to larger markets.

Henry W. Grady once said South Georgia was only suited for pine trees and cows and it is the pine that has made Wayne County the pine tree infested place it is. Others have said "You can always tell someone from Wayne County, but not much." Through the years, turpentine and naval stores made communities, schools and churches spring up along the paths of the railroads and the streams and creeks. Places like Mount Pleasant, Gardi, McKinnon, Doctortown, Manningtown, Brentwood, Ritch, O’Quinn, Madray Springs and Piney Grove were centers of family life. The pine tree so despised by Henry Grady carried the economy through the turpentine and sawmill era back into the pulp and paper industry of the 20th century.

Wayne County is also home of one of the United States few still operational Drive-In Movie Theaters, The Jesup Drive In, built in 1948 by Ward P. Riggins Sr. as Family Drive-In Theater, located on U.S. Highway 301 North in Wayne County.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 649 square miles (1,680 km2), of which 642 square miles (1,660 km2) is land and 7.0 square miles (18 km2) (1.1%) is water.[3]

The northern and eastern two-thirds of Wayne County, from north of Odum to south and east of Screven, is located in the Altamaha River sub-basin of the basin by the same name. The entire western edge of the county is located in the Little Satilla River sub-basin of the St. Marys River-Satilla River basin. A small southern portion of Wayne County, north and east of Hortense, is located in the Satilla River sub-basin of the St. Marys River-Satilla River basin, with the adjacent southeastern portion of the county located in the Cumberland-St. Simons sub-basin of the same St. Marys River-Satilla River basin.[4]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 676
1820 1,010 49.4%
1830 963 −4.7%
1840 1,258 30.6%
1850 1,499 19.2%
1860 2,268 51.3%
1870 2,177 −4.0%
1880 5,980 174.7%
1890 7,485 25.2%
1900 9,449 26.2%
1910 13,069 38.3%
1920 14,381 10.0%
1930 12,647 −12.1%
1940 13,122 3.8%
1950 14,248 8.6%
1960 17,921 25.8%
1970 17,858 −0.4%
1980 20,750 16.2%
1990 22,356 7.7%
2000 26,565 18.8%
2010 30,099 13.3%
Est. 2014 29,949 [5] −0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 26,565 people, 9,324 households, and 6,937 families residing in the county. The population density was 41 people per square mile (16/km²). There were 10,827 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 76.7% White, 20.3% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.4% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.3% from other races, and 1.0% from two or more races. 3.8% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 9,324 households out of which 35.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.6% were non-families. 22.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 23.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 108.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.8 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $32,766, and the median income for a family was $39,442. Males had a median income of $31,977 versus $19,551 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,628. About 13.4% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.7% of those under age 18 and 14.4% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates the Federal Correctional Institution, Jesup in Jesup, Wayne County.[11]




Unincorporated communities[edit]

Former communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Jordan, Margaret Coleman. Wayne miscellany. [s.l.] : Jordan, c1976. viii, 253 p. : ill. ; 29 cm. Cover title: Misogyny of Wayne County.
  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  4. ^ "Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission Interactive Mapping Experience". Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  11. ^ "Contact." Federal Correctional Institution, Jesup. Retrieved on April 26, 2011. "FCI JESUP FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION 2600 HIGHWAY 301 SOUTH JESUP, GA 31599"

Coordinates: 31°33′N 81°55′W / 31.55°N 81.91°W / 31.55; -81.91