Atkinson County, Georgia's 153rd county, covers an area of 338 square miles and was carved from portions of Clinch and Coffee counties by the state legislature in 1917. The south central Georgia county was named for William Y. Atkinson, speaker of the state House of Representatives and Georgia's governor in the late 1890s.
The region was originally inhabited by Creek Indians, who forged a trail through the southern part of the area that was later used by traders between the Flint River and the coastal town of St. Marys. This trail was known as the "Kinnaird Trail" for a trading post managed by Jack Kinnaird at its western limit. It was along the Kinnaird Trail that the first white settlers traveled from middle Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, arriving after the Revolutionary War (1775-83). The Brunswick and Albany Railroad laid its track along portions of the trail after the Civil War (1861-65), and the rail reached Pearson, the county seat, by the 1870s.
Early industry in Atkinson County depended on the pine forests covering much of the land. Logging operations used the Satilla River to float timber to the coast. Later, farming (tobacco, corn, and poultry) displaced logging as the central economic activity. Poultry continues to be an important industry, and the main agricultural crops are peanuts, cotton, corn, and tobacco.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, the county population is 8,375,
Among the points of interest are the Columbus Salt Road, the Kinnaird Trail, and the Minnie F. Corbitt Memorial Museum, established in 1955 and located in the first house in Pearson, built in 1873.
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).
Kenneth H. Thomas, McCranie's Turpentine Still, Atkinson County, Georgia: A Historical Analysis of the Site, with Some Information on the Naval Stores Industry in Georgia and Elsewhere (Athens: Institute of Community and Area Development, University of Georgia, 1976).
Elizabeth B. Cooksey, Savannah
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