Ellaville, located fifteen miles north of Americus and fifty miles east of Columbus, is the county seat and the only incorporated town of Schley County. Ellaville was established along the south end of the community on what is now U.S. Highway 19. The town’s original name of Pondtown was changed to Ellaville in honor of Ella Burton, the daughter of the family on whose land the town was established.
During its early years, the town, in addition to serving as the site of government for the county, supported the immediate commercial needs of the surrounding agricultural region. There were cotton gins, groceries, drugstores, dry goods establishments, Baptist and Methodist churches, a school, and a segregated African American area known as “the Bottom” (so called because it lies at the base of a steep hill), which in turn hosted a parallel community of religious, educational, social, and commercial life.
The first courthouse, built in the late 1850s, was replaced by a second structure in 1899. The new building, designed by J. W. Golucke and G. W. Stewart, the architects for several Georgia courthouses of the period, is a Romanesque-inspired plan with a tall capped clock tower over the entrance.
Railroad transportation came to Ellaville in 1884. The “Buena Vista and Ellaville” line limped along with little success until it was taken over by the Central of Georgia Railway and connected to points along the larger system. After World War II (1941-45) Ellaville enjoyed a significant volume of travelers, and gasoline stations and motels enjoyed moderate success. By the early 1970s, however, this traffic was diverted to the newly completed Interstate 75, and Ellaville’s economic emphasis shifted from commercial to light industrial activities.
Since 2000 Ellaville has enjoyed a modest revival in population growth. According to the 2010 U.S. census the population of Ellaville was 1,812, an increase from the 2000 population of 1,609. Annual homecoming weekends, sports activities, good schools, a mild climate, and attractive neighborhoods enhance Ellaville’s appeal, and the number of retirees moving to the area has increased.
Ellaville has also experienced a revival of economic stability. Small-town commercial activity together with agriculture and light manufacturing in the county are the chief economic features. The Andersonville National Historic Site is about a dozen miles to the southeast, and Plains, the hometown of U.S. president Jimmy Carter, lies about fifteen miles to the southwest. A welcoming community, Ellaville encourages quiet growth in combination with an ongoing improvement in services to its citizens.