Randolph County, in southwest Georgia, was created from Lee County by an act of the state legislature on December 20, 1828. Georgia's seventy-fifth county was named for Virginia congressman John Randolph (1773-1833) of Roanoke, one of the more controversial statesmen of the early federal period. The land lottery of 1827 had opened the southwest Georgia lands to settlers, who continued to have troubles with the Native Americans until the Creek Indian War of 1836, part of which was fought on Randolph County soil.
Agriculture became the mainstay of the region. By 1850 the population of Randolph County totaled 12,868. During this decade two colleges, Baptist Female College (1852) and the United Methodist–affiliated Andrew Female College (1854), later as Andrew College, were established. By 1859 the railroad had come to Randolph County, opening the doors for better transportation and quicker trade.
Some minor skirmishes occurred in Randolph County during the Civil War (1861-65), but the region was spared much military action. Many refugees came to the area for protection. Both of the colleges were used as hospitals during the war years.
Henderson's son, bandleader Fletcher Henderson, was one of Cuthbert's most famous citizens. He received his education at Howard Normal School and eventually went to New York, where he signed with W. C. Handy's music firm. The band Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra served as the principal model for the Big Band style. The Fletcher Henderson Jazz Festival, held every spring in Cuthbert, celebrates this innovative band leader and his legacy.
In the twentieth century Randolph County has been the home of two Georgia Supreme Court justices,
U.S. Highways 82 and 27 traverse Cuthbert, which is one of the few municipalities in the country with a water tower in the middle of a federal highway (U.S. 82). The Cuthbert Historic District boasts architectural styles spanning most of the county's history.
Randolph County, encompassing 429 square miles, has seen a decline in population since 1980, with 7,791 people, according to the 2000 U.S. census. By 2010 the population had decreased slightly to 7,719. Randolph is a rural county and was the number-one wheat and sorghum grower in the state, according to the 2003 Farm Gate Value report. Peanuts, cotton, soybeans, and corn are also important crops for Randolph.
Iva P. Goolsby et al., comp., Randolph County Georgia: A Compilation of Facts, Recollections, and Family Histories ([Cuthbert, Ga.]: Randolph Historical Society, 1977).
Randolph County, Georgia, vol. 2 (Cuthbert, Ga.: Randolph Historical Society, 1997).
Annette McDonald Suarez, A Source Book on the Early History of Cuthbert and Randolph County, Georgia (Atlanta: Cherokee, 1982).
Karan B. Pittman, Andrew College
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