Bacon County, in southeast Georgia, was named for U.S. senator Augustus Octavius Bacon, who served four terms and was president pro tempore of the Senate in 1912. The 285-square-mile county was created from portions of Appling, Pierce, and Ware counties in 1914. Because Bacon was the 151st county, an amendment was needed to override a previous limit of 145 counties set by Georgia voters in 1904.

The area, part of the wiregrass region, was first settled by Creek Indians and then by pioneer families from the Carolinas who sought more affordable land. Naval stores and turpentine were the key industries. The county seat, Alma, was incorporated in 1906. The courthouse, built in 1919, still serves residents and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Two stories exist about the origin of Alma’s name. One, put forth in 1966 by Bernice McCullar in her book This Is Your Georgia and frequently repeated by local residents, is that each letter represents the first letter of four of Georgia’s early state capitals, Augusta, Louisville, Milledgeville, and Atlanta. However, another story, recorded by Kenneth Krakow in Georgia Place-Names (1975), is that a Macon salesman, traveling through the unnamed town, offered his wife’s name, Alma Sheridan. There are no other incorporated towns in the county, but other communities are Rockingham and Sessoms. The community of Rockingham was named for Rockingham, North Carolina, by settlers who hailed from there.

Turpentine Still
Turpentine Still

Courtesy of Georgia Archives.

The county supports a large blueberry industry. A satellite campus of Okefenokee Technical College opened in Alma in 1998.

In addition to the courthouse, two other Bacon County buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the Alma Depot and the Rabinowitz Building on West 11th Street. The depot, added to the register in 1983, is privately owned and used as a warehouse. Other buildings  and places of interest include the Old Dixon Hotel and the Camp Ground Methodist Church, dating from the early 1800s.

Bacon County Courthouse
Bacon County Courthouse

Courtesy of Dan Bowman

Two wildlife management areas, the Bacon Area and Whitehead Creek Area, allow hunting and, with Bacon County’s parks, provide visitors and residents ample opportunity for recreation. Annual events include the Day of the Child in April, the Georgia Blueberry Festival in June, the Guysie Mule Roundup in October, the Big Buck Contest in October, and the Christmas Parade in December.

According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of Bacon County is 11,096, an increase from the 2000 population of 10,103. Novelist Harry Crews, born in the county in 1935, recorded his childhood memories of the area in his acclaimed memoir, A Childhood: The Biography of a Place (1978).

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Turpentine Still

Turpentine Still

Workers stand outside of a turpentine still in Bacon County around 1900. The still was owned by American Tie and Timber Company.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, # gly002.

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Bacon County Courthouse

Bacon County Courthouse

The Bacon County Courthouse, built in Alma in 1919, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Completed five years after the county's creation, the original courthouse is still in use today.

Courtesy of Dan Bowman