Bleckley County, in central Georgia, was named for state chief justice Logan Bleckley. The 219-square-mile county was carved from Pulaski County by constitutional amendment in October 1912, when it became Georgia’s 147th county. The area was originally inhabited by the Creek Indians.

The seat of Bleckley County, Cochran, originally known as Dykesboro, was incorporated in 1869 and named for Judge Arthur E. Cochran, president of the Macon and Brunswick (later Southern) Railroad.  The current courthouse was built in 1914 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Among the town’s most memorable events are several tornadoes, the two most devastating occurring in 1929 and 1958. Six people were killed in the earlier storm, and sixteen people were injured in the latter. Newspaper reports of the 1958 tornado describe the funnel cloud picking up a church building and depositing it onto a city street.

Bleckley County Courthouse
Bleckley County Courthouse

Courtesy of Don Bowman

Other towns in the county are Allentown and Empire. Allentown existed first as Cross Roads, then as Cool Spring, and later as Allen’s Crossroads, named for one of the first postmasters, John Allen. The current name was taken in 1891, when the Macon, Dublin, and Savannah Railroad began running through the town. Empire has existed since 1886, when sawmill owners John Anderson and John W. Hightower named it. Like many other small towns of the era, Empire was located at the junction of two rail lines, the Macon and Brunswick division of the Southern Railroad and the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad. The county also includes the community of Cary.

Southern Railroad
Southern Railroad

Courtesy of Georgia Archives.

Descriptions of the county from its earliest days emphasize the amount of acreage devoted to pine forest. Where the forest was cleared, rich soil promoted an active agricultural economy with an emphasis on row crops (especially cotton, soybeans, and peanuts), fruit orchards (primarily peaches, apples, and pecans), and livestock.

Middle Georgia College
Middle Georgia College

Courtesy of Ellis-Harper Advertising

Bleckley is home to Middle Georgia College, a two-year residential college in the University System of Georgia.

Points of interest in the county include the Ocmulgee River and Game Preserve, and Hillcrest (also known as Cedar Hall), an early-twentieth-century home in Cochran built in the Classical Revival style and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of the county is 13,063, an increase from the 2000 population of 11,666.

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Bleckley County Courthouse

Bleckley County Courthouse

The Bleckley County Courthouse, located in Cochran, was built in 1914 in a neoclassical revival style. Renovations and several additions have been made to the building since its original construction, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Courtesy of Don Bowman

Southern Railroad

Southern Railroad

In February 1901 more than six inches of snow fell on the Southern Railroad tracks through Cochran, the seat of Bleckley County.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, #
ble004.

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Middle Georgia College

Middle Georgia College

Students gather outside of Walker Hall on the campus of Middle Georgia College, a two-year residential college located in Cochran.

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Before: Bleckley County African American School

Before: Bleckley County African American School

Bleckley County African American school before the Works Progress Administration Program started in 1936.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Works Progress Administration in Georgia, 1936.

After: Bleckley County African American School

After: Bleckley County African American School

Bleckley County African American school after it was completed in 1936 as a part of the Works Progress Administration Program, under the New Deal in Georgia.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Works Progress Administration in Georgia, 1936.