Cook County, forty miles north of the Florida border in south central Georgia, is the state’s 155th county. The 229-square-mile county was created from Berrien County in 1918. One of only twenty-five Georgia counties that still have their original boundaries, it was named for Philip Cook, a general in the Seminole Wars and the Civil War (1861-65), a U.S. congressman from 1873 to 1882, and Georgia’s secretary of state from 1890 through 1894.

Adel, the county seat, was incorporated in 1889, and the county courthouse was built there in 1939. Located at a railroad junction, Adel was first called “Puddleville” for the effect rain had on its then-unpaved streets.  The name was changed in 1873. According to one story, local residents saw the name “Philadelphia” either in a gazetteer or on a crocus sack, and needing a unique name for their town, they chose the central portion of the word.

Cook County Courthouse
Cook County Courthouse

Courtesy of Don Bowman

The other incorporated cities in the county, Cecil, Lenox, and Sparks, were founded around the turn of the twentieth century as stops on the Georgia Southern railroad. Laconte, a community just south of Sparks on current maps, was established in 1853 but is not incorporated.

The Cook County Workforce Development Center, located between Adel and Sparks, is operated by Wiregrass Georgia Technical College and provides educational opportunities and employment training to area residents.

Sparks Depot
Sparks Depot

Courtesy of Georgia Archives.

Recreational facilities in the county include half of Reed Bingham State Park, a 1,613-acre park surrounding a 375-acre lake. (The other half is located in neighboring Colquitt County.) In addition to water sports and fishing, the park features nature trails and is home to a variety of wildlife, most notably thousands of black vultures and turkey vultures that spend the winter there. Volunteers assist park personnel with an active gopher tortoise preservation project. The South Georgia Motorsports Park, built in 2004 in Cecil, is a National Hot Rod Association–sanctioned arena with a half-mile oval track and motocross track.

Black Vultures
Black Vultures

Photograph by Susan Wing

According to the 2010 U.S. census, the county population is 17,212, an increase from the 2000 population of 15,771.

Gene Patterson, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and the former editor of the Atlanta Constitution, was born on a farm near Adel.

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Cook County Courthouse

Cook County Courthouse

The Cook County Courthouse was built in Adel in 1939. Designed in the stripped classical style, the courthouse is the county's first.

Courtesy of Don Bowman

Sparks Depot

Sparks Depot

A train stops at the depot in Sparks, circa 1907. Sparks, along with Cecil and Lenox, is an incorporated town originally established as a railroad stop in Cook County.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, #
cok003.

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Black Vultures

Black Vultures

Black vultures are a common sight at Reed Bingham State Park, which lies in both Cook and Colquitt counties. Thousands of black and turkey vultures winter in the park each year.

Photograph by Susan Wing