Chatham County is the northernmost of Georgia's six coastal counties. Named for William Pitt the Elder, earl of Chatham, it was formed out of Christ Church Parish and St. Phillip Parish in 1777. It is the fifth oldest county in Georgia and is the home of Savannah, which serves as the county seat. Other incorporated towns include Bloomingdale, Garden City, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Thunderbolt, Tybee Island, and Vernonburg.
Although Georgia was originally planned as a colony with no slaves, Savannah and Chatham County became a port for the importing of slaves after 1750. The port of Savannah was also used to ship cotton, naval stores, and other trade goods.
Chatham County was occupied by the British in 1778, during the American Revolution (1775-83). In October 1779 the British successfully defended Savannah from the colonial and French armies during the Siege of Savannah. After the war Chatham County grew in population along with Savannah, which became one of the South's most important ports.
Modern Chatham County is an important industrial and transportation center. Major companies like International Paper and Kerr-McGee have plants in the county. The Savannah–Hilton Head International Airport serves both coastal Georgia and South Carolina and is home to Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation.
In 1912 Juliette Gordon Low established the nation's first Girl Scout troop in Savannah.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of Chatham County is 265,128, an increase from the 2000 population of 232,048.
Thomas F. Coffey Jr., Only in Savannah: Stories and Insights on Georgia's Mother City (Savannah, Ga.: Frederic C. Beil, 1993).
Beth D'Alonzo, Streetcars of Chatham County (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia, 1999).
Margaret Wayt DeBolt, Savannah Spectres and Other Strange Tales (Norfolk, Va.: Donning, 1984).
Mary Granger, Georgia Writers' Project, Savannah River Plantations (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1947; reprint, Savannah, Ga.: Oglethorpe Press, 1997).
Mills B. Lane, Savannah Revisited: History and Architecture, 5th ed. (Savannah, Ga.: Beehive Press, 2001).
Elizabeth C. Piechocinski, Once upon an Island: The Barrier Islands of Chatham County, Georgia (Savannah, Ga.: Oglethorpe Press, 2002).
Derek Smith, Civil War Savannah (Savannah, Ga.: Frederic C. Beil, 1997).
Roulhac Toledano, National Trust Guide to Savannah (Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, 1997).
Walter A. Clayton, Live Oak Public Library, 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.