Meriwether County, in west central Georgia, is the state's seventy-first county, created in 1827 from 503 square miles taken from Troup County. It is named for David Meriwether, a Revolutionary War (1775-83) general remembered for his accomplishments as an interpreter for Creek Indians, a state legislator, and a U.S. congressman.
The land in Meriwether County was originally held by the Creek Indians. Greenville, the county seat and the oldest town in the county, was laid out in 1828 on land owned by General Hugh W. Ector and first settled by Abraham B. Ragan, whose log cabin store stood on the site of the current courthouse square. Greenville, originally spelled "Greeneville," was named for Nathanael Greene and incorporated twice—in 1828 and again in 1852. The first courthouse, reportedly built in 1832, was damaged by a tornado in 1893, restored, and used until 1904, when a second courthouse
In addition to Greenville, incorporated towns in Meriwether County include Gay, Lone Oak, Luthersville, Manchester, Warm Springs, and Woodbury. Manchester, incorporated in 1909 and nicknamed "The Magic City," was created at the junction of three railroad lines. It was designated a "Better Hometown" in 1997 and has restored its downtown area to the look of the 1930s. Gay, settled by William Sasser, was first called Sasserville, but the name was changed when someone discovered that there was already a town named Sasser in Georgia. The new name honors William F. Gay, the first store owner in town and the first mayor under the town's incorporation in 1907.
John M. Slaton, governor of Georgia in 1911-12 and again in 1913-15, was born near Greenville. As governor, Slaton commuted the sentence of Leo Frank in 1915. Jasper Guy Woodroof, often called "the father of food science," was also born in Meriwether County.
The historic section of the village of Warm Springs was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The register lists twenty-two other sites in Meriwether County, among them the historic district of Greenville and many private homes, farms, and churches.
A satellite campus of West Georgia Technical College is located in Meriwether County.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of Meriwether County is 21,992, a decrease from the 2000 population of 22,534.
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).
William H. Davidson, Brooks of Honey and Butter: Plantations and People of Meriwether County, Georgia (Alexander City, Ala.: Outlook, 1971).
Regina P. Pinkston, Historical Account of Meriwether County, 1827-1974 (Greenville, Ga.: Gresham, 1974).
Elizabeth B. Cooksey, Savannah
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