The History of Irwin County, Georgia

Irwin County, the 41st Georgia County, one of seven counties created on Dec. 15, 1818, by an act of the General Assembly [1]Ga. Laws 1818, p. 27. The county is named for former Governor of Georgia, , Jared Irwin. The county was later cut out into portions to create Lowndes and Thomas in 1825, Worth in 1853, Coffee in 1854, Berrien in 1856, Wilcox in 1857, Tift and Turner in 1905 and lastly Ben Hill County in 1906.; Present day Irwin County encompasses a total area of 356.8 square miles.

County Government Established

Dec. 21, 1819 Georgia Legislature passed an act which authorized the five justices of the county’s first inferior court to select the location of the county’s seat of government [2]Ga. Laws 1819, p. 65. They selected the community of Crisp which was the most populated area in the county at that time. The community was near; Bowens Mill and Crisp Cemetery which are located in present day Ben Hill County. On Dec. 24, 1825, the legislature authorized the County commissioners to select a site for an official; county seat [3]Ga. Laws 1825, p. 55. The Commissioners could not reach an agreement on a site so December 19, 1827 the state legislature appointed new Irwin county commissioners and directed them to select a site for the county seat.

Irwinsville Is Renamed Irwinville

It was not until Dec. 22, 1831, that site was chosen for the official irwin County Seat. The new community of Irwinsville ,named for Jared Irwin became the official site of the county seat. Irwinsville was located in the third district of the county. The name of the community; was later changed from Irwinsville to Irwinville. During the American Civil War, Jefferson Davis was captured in irwinville, Georgia and a museum now sits near the spot where he was captured. .


On April 29, 1907, a petition to once again change the county seat, this time from Irwinville to Ocilla was signed by two-fifths of the qualified voters of Irwin County and was submitted to the county ordinary; who in response set up an election be held on June 12, 1907. The Petition was passed by over two-thirds of the vote which supported removal of the county seat;, so on Aug. 19, 1907, the legislature designated Ocilla as the new county seat of Irwin County [4]Ga. Laws 1907, p. 307. Previously, the legislature had incorporated Ocilla on Nov. 24, 1897 [5]Ga. Laws 1897, p. 282. Early pioneers named the town of Ocilla for the Indian name of a local River…Ochile, now known as the Okmulgee. Other communities; in the area are, Mystic Irwinville, Pinetta, Waterloo, Osierfield, Holt, Lax, and Wray.


1Ga. Laws 1818, p. 27
2Ga. Laws 1819, p. 65
3Ga. Laws 1825, p. 55
4Ga. Laws 1907, p. 307
5Ga. Laws 1897, p. 282

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