Wheeler County

Georgia's
148th county, Wheeler County, located in the central part of the state, was created from Montgomery County in 1912. The 298-square-mile county is named after Joseph Wheeler, a general who served in the Confederate cavalry during the Civil War (1861-65) and later in the Spanish-American War (1898). The area's first inhabitants were Indians of the Lower Creek Nation. Most of the first white settlers to the region came shortly after the end of the American Revolution (1775-83); many were from North Carolina. Wheeler County is located in the "three rivers" area, framed on the west by the Little Ocmulgee River, on the east by the Oconee River, and on the south by the Ocmulgee River.
The county seat is Alamo, which established its post office in 1890. It was incorporated in 1909. The name, honoring the Alamo mission in Texas, was suggested by Christina McCrae Brightto, daughter of Judge John McCrae, a prominent local landowner and future state senator. (Originally "McCrae" had been suggested as an appropriate name for the new town, but it was found to be in use elsewhere.) Alamo is Spanish for cottonwood or poplar. The first mayor of Alamo was J. M. Fordham.
The first location for Wheeler County's court sessions is unknown. The first official courthouse was built in 1914. It burned down in 1916 and was replaced a year later by the current courthouse, which was completely restored in 1961. The only other incorporated town in the county is Glenwood, incorporated in 1908.
Railroad service came to the area in 1890, when the Savannah, Americus, and Montgomery Railroad (later the Seaboard Air Line Railway) extended its line from Abbeville to Lyons, traversing what became Wheeler County. Alamo developed around a railroad depot on this line, and the growth of both Alamo and Glenwood led inhabitants to petition for the division from Montgomery County, which led to the new county.
From its earliest days, sawmilling and the production of naval stores were principal economic mainstays in Wheeler County, which remains covered with forest. In 2005 nearly 60 percent of the county's employed residents worked outside the county. Those who work in the county are chiefly employed in the educational, health, and social services sector. According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of Wheeler County was 7,421, an increase from the 2000 population of 6,179.
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Further Reading
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).

Nellie E. Johnson and Anne Johnson Burns, comps., Early Facts about Montgomery and Wheeler Counties (Mount Vernon, Ga.: n.p., [1979]).
Cite This Article
Cooksey, Elizabeth B. "Wheeler County." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 05 March 2013. Web. 02 September 2014.
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