Emerging from its agricultural past, Putnam County has become an important center of industry and recreation in Georgia. Once the land of cotton, large plantations, and great wealth, a different look is now taking hold in the county with the establishment of golf resorts, gated communities, and new businesses. Putnam County is located seventy-five miles southeast of Atlanta and covers 345 square miles. According to the 2010 U.S. census, Putnam County's population was 21,218, an increase from the 2000 population of 18,812.
Putnam County was created in 1807 after being sectioned off from neighboring Baldwin County. Its name
Education proved important to residents of Putnam County during the antebellum period. The Union Academy, later renamed the Eatonton Academy, was founded in 1809, followed ten years later by the Union School. William H. Seward, the future secretary of state under U.S. president Abraham Lincoln, was the school's first rector. In 1828 Adiel Sherwood established on his plantation the Manual Labor Training School, which was founded to teach new planting techniques to local farmers and plantation owners.
Civil War and Reconstruction
The Civil War (1861-65) visited Putnam County in 1864, when Union general William T. Sherman and his army passed through the area on their March to the Sea. Putnam County had voted against secession in 1861, but this fact did not prevent the burning and destruction of cotton gins, railroads, and bridges. (The writer and Putnam County resident Joel Chandler Harris recounts these events in his 1892 book, On the Plantation.)
Putnam County experienced difficulty recovering from the war. The wealth of the great plantations had disappeared,
Recreation and Tourism
The creation of Lake Sinclair in 1953 and Lake Oconee in 1979 helped give birth to the tourism and recreation industry in Putnam County. The lakes provide opportunities to fish, hike, camp, or simply relax on the beach. Several golf courses have been created in the area, including the Jack Nicklaus–designed Great Waters Course at Reynolds Plantation. Putnam County also possesses several other points of interest. Two sites unique to the county are Rock Eagle Effigy Mound and Rock Hawk Effigy Mound, which were built by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago and are the only two effigy mounds in the United States.
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).
Windee Allienor Little, Reminiscent: A Pictorial History of Eatonton/Putnam County, Georgia (Virginia Beach, Va.: Donning Company, 1999).
Katherine Bowman Walters, Oconee River: Tales to Tell (Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company, 1995).
Lynda R. Ramage, Eatonton
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