McDuffie County is located on the geological fall line in east central Georgia along the Savannah River basin, thirty-five miles west of Augusta. The county, carved from Warren and Columbia counties in late 1870 by an act of the Georgia General Assembly, was named for George McDuffie, a native Georgian and distinguished lawyer, statesman, governor, and U.S. senator of South Carolina. Although relatively small (260 square miles) and postbellum in its formation, McDuffie County boasts a sizeable colonial and political heritage that predates the county's official inception by at least a century.
Economy and Natural Resources
While agrarian culture has changed radically since 1950, historical and natural resources continue to define twenty-first-century McDuffie County. Recreation and tourism are prominent factors in the contemporary economic and cultural life of the county, as are the kaolin and timber industries. One of the largest employers in the county is Shaw Industries.
People and Places
Heritage tourism is fueled by the county's abundant historical sites, which include Hickory Hill (Watson's home in Thomson), the Wrightsboro Historic District, Wrightsboro Church, and the Rock House. Wrightsboro Church, dating to 1810, stands on the site of the old Quaker meetinghouse. Near the Wrightsboro community is the Rock House, a stone farmhouse built in 1785. The Rock House is thought to be the oldest dwelling in Georgia with its original architecture intact.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, McDuffie County's population is 21,875, a slight increase from the 2000 population of 21,231. There are two incorporated cities in the county, Thomson and Dearing. Thomson, with a population of 6,778, was incorporated in 1854 and established
Fans of blues music make annual pilgrimages to the Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival, which honors the Thomson native "Blind Willie" McTell. Outdoor sports, including hunting and fishing, attract professional competition and revolve around nearby Clarks Hill Lake and its bordering wildlife management areas. Two local equestrian events, the Belle Meade Hunt and the Pine Top Horse Trials, bring to the county international exposure.
Augusta Technical College operates a satellite campus in Thomson.
Pearl Baker, A Handbook of History: McDuffie County, Georgia, 1870-1970 (n.p.: Progress-News Publishing Co., [1971?]).
Pearl Baker, The Story of Wrightsboro, 1768-1964 (Thomson, Ga.: Wrightsboro Restoration Foundation, 1965).
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).
Mrs. W. C. McCommons and Miss Clara Stovall, comp., History of McDuffie County, Georgia (Tignall, Ga.: Boyd Publishing, 1988).
Tad Brown, Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc.
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.