Douglas County, the state’s 133rd county, is located in the metropolitan Atlanta area west of Fulton County. Created on October 17, 1870, by an act of the state legislature, the county was named for Stephen A. Douglas, the Illinois Democrat who lost the 1860 U.S. presidential race to Abraham Lincoln. Carved out of Campbell (now defunct) and Carroll counties, Douglas encompasses 199 square miles and is one of the fifty fastest-growing counties in the United States.
Douglasville, named after the county, was established as the county seat on February 25, 1875, after a four-year dispute. Originally known as “Skinned” or “Skint” Chestnut in reference to a chestnut tree used as an Indian marker, Douglasville was originally chosen as the county seat by newly elected officials, although a majority of citizens had voted for a more centrally located site. The case went to the Supreme Court of Georgia, which ruled in favor of the citizens, but in a subsequent election the selection of Douglasville was upheld.
Mississippian Indian ceremonial mounds are located throughout Douglas County, and many Native American artifacts, including pottery, tools, and weapons, have been found there. For many years before it was settled by whites, the area was inhabited by Creek and Cherokee Indians. Owing to continuing hostilities, the government drew a boundary line, about one mile east of Douglasville, between the Indians, with the Cherokees confined to the north and the Creeks to the south. In 1830 the Indians were forced to cede all their lands east of the Mississippi River to the federal government, and by 1838 they had been expelled from the land and forced to march to present-day Oklahoma along what became known as the Trail of Tears.
In 1881 the Georgia Western Railroad, now the Pacific Railway Company, began construction on a railroad that would stretch from Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama. The construction had been delayed owing to the Civil War (1861-65) and the bankruptcy of the original owners. The railroad, which ran through Douglas County, was finally completed in 1883.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, therapeutic mineral waters in Lithia Springs attracted many wealthy people to the area until 1912, when the resort hotel there was destroyed by fire.
Douglas County boasts the beautiful Sweetwater Creek State Park, which was acquired for the state in the late 1960s by the Georgia Conservancy. The park offers fishing, boating, and hiking. Several Civil War battle sites are also located in the county. The ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company’s textile factory, destroyed by Union troops during Sherman’s march to the sea, remain along the banks of Sweetwater Creek. The entire town of New Manchester and the mills there were burned by Sherman’s troops on July 9, 1864.
As a result of its proximity to Atlanta, Douglas County has experienced phenomenal growth. Interstate 20 runs through the county, thus allowing a short commute to Atlanta for many residents who work in the city. According to the 2010 U.S. census, the county’s population is 132,403, a significant increase over the 2000 population of 92,174.
A satellite campus of West Georgia Technical College and a branch of Mercer University are located in Douglas County. MCI operates a major switching center there. Annual events include A Taste of Douglasville, Hunter Harvest Arts and Crafts Festival, Pioneer Days, Kris Kringle Market and Tour of Homes, and the New Manchester Days.