Located in the Lower Coastal Plain of southeast Georgia, Tattnall County is the state's twenty-fifth county and comprises 484 square miles. It was created in 1801 from Montgomery County and named for Governor Josiah Tattnall, a Savannah native who had once served as brigadier general in the state militia. In later years other counties were formed from parts of Tattnall County: Toombs County (1905), Candler County (July 1914), and Evans County (August 1914).
According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of Tattnall County was 25,520, an increase from the 2000 population of 22,305.
The land in Tattnall County was originally held by Creek Indians. A large percentage of the earliest white settlers came from North Carolina and Virginia; many were recent veterans of the Revolutionary War (1775-83). Land was parceled out via the headright system, giving each family up to 1,000 acres of farmland. The region is covered with timber and wiregrass, unattractive to many farmers but suitable for raising cattle.
By 1849 there were a number of flour, grist, and sawmills in the county. Other feed crops, cotton, and livestock also made up substantial parts of the agricultural economy. Slave labor was important to the success of many farms. Despite this, the people of Tattnall County were squarely against
Agriculture, especially forestry, is a major economic force in Tattnall County, where a majority of the land is forested. The county produces more than 41 million broilers per year, making it one of the largest poultry producers in south Georgia. Another major agricultural product is the famous Vidalia onion, and Tattnall holds an annual onion festival each May. The state prison in Reidsville, which houses many of the maximum-security inmates in Georgia, is also a major economic influence.
Recently, Tattnall County has been working in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology's Economic Development Institute to develop the county's economy through the use of technology-driven solutions to its businesses and communities.
Recreation and Education
Brewton-Parker College operates a satellite campus in Glennville for traditional and nontraditional students, offering associates' degrees and some upper-division courses.
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).
J. T. Grice, Sketches of By-gone Days [Historical Facts of Tattnall County and Its People] (Glennville, Ga.: n.p., 1958).
Elizabeth B. Cooksey, Savannah
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.