Ware County, in extreme southeast Georgia, was formed when Appling County was divided by the state legislature on December 15, 1824. It was named for a man who never visited the area, Nicholas Ware, an active politician known for his flamboyant lifestyle. The lower portion of the county forms a major part of the Okefenokee Swamp. Waycross, the county seat, is about 100 miles northwest of Jacksonville, Florida.
The defining of county lines did not stop conflict with the Native Americans, who resented the crossing of old borders, regardless of any treaties. The Wildes Massacre, the last slaughter by the Indians in Georgia, occurred in Ware County in 1838, during the Second Seminole War. Nine people were killed by a group of Creek warriors, who escaped into the vast Okefenokee Swamp.
longleaf pine to sawmills on the coast. The Okefenokee Swamp offered cypress trees, and the famed Hebardville Cypress Mill, considered the largest such operation in the world at its peak period, also underscored this area as a timber cutter's paradise. Unique here at the turn of the century was the narrow-gauge railroad that snaked its way from Ware County's Hebardville to Billys Island in the Okefenokee, transporting cut cypress to the mill.
Ware County was known as a place where trails and roads met, the reason for Waycross's name.
Contributing to the county's educational growth are Waycross College and Okefenokee Technical College, which offer, besides their regular curricula, various programs beneficial to everyone in the community. Southern Forest World, the Okefenokee Heritage Center, the Okefenokee Swamp Park, and Obediah's Okefenok also offer both educational programs and entertainment for the public and tourists.
The Downtown Waycross Development Authority has successfully encouraged new businesses to come into the once flourishing downtown.
According to the U.S. census the county population in 2010 was 36,312, an increase from the 2000 population of 35,483. The county encompasses 903 square miles.
Media Gallery: Ware County