Dooly County, in central Georgia, is one of the state's original counties, created in 1821 by the Georgia Land Lottery Act. It was named for John Dooly, a regimental commander in the American Revolution (1775-83) who was killed by loyalists to the British crown in his own home, following the restoration of the Colonial Assembly and the enforcement of the Disqualifying Act, which imposed penalties and restrictions on American patriot leaders.
The original inhabitants of the area were Creek Indians, who lost their land in 1821 in the first Treaty of Indian Springs. The first white settlers came from neighboring counties and states. The county, today 393 square miles, lost some of its original territory to Crisp, Macon, Pulaski, Turner, Wilcox, and Worth counties.
Two rail lines built tracks through Dooly County, leading to the formation of many of the county's towns, each of which lies along one of the lines. The Atlanta, Birmingham, and Atlantic Railroad (eventually part of CSX Transportation) ran from the southern border through Vienna and on to Dooling and points north, and the Georgia Southern and Florida Railway Line (later a subsidiary of Norfolk Southern), ran from Richwood to Unadilla. Vienna is strategically located on the CSX line but is also close to the Norfolk Southern line.
Dooly County's major economic focus has been agriculture; it currently claims to be the largest cotton producer in Georgia, as well as a leader in peanut production. A nursery operated by the Georgia Forestry Commission in the county produces about 80 million seedlings annually on 832 acres.
The Crisp Dooly Enterprise Center in Vienna is a business incubator intended to encourage both workforce training and new business development. This is one barbecue cooking championship aimed at a national audience, as well as a number of museums and historic home tours.
Notable Dooly County residents include former governor George Busbee; former U.S. senator Walter F. George; Jody Powell, press secretary and aide to Jimmy Carter during his governorship and U.S. presidency; and Roger Kingdom, an Olympic gold medalist in track and field.
Among the county's places of interest are the Lilly Historic District, which includes the historic Lilly School, home of the Dooly County Arts Council; and the William H. Byrom House, built by the founder of Byromville in 1859 with slave labor.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, the county's population is 14,918, an increase from the 2000 population of 11,525.