Jeff Davis County, in central Georgia, is the state’s 142d county, created in 1905 from parts of Appling and Coffee counties and named after Confederate president Jefferson Davis. The Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers merge on the northeast border of the county to create the Altamaha River.
The county seat, Hazlehurst, was named after George H. Hazlehurst, the civil engineer who surveyed the Macon and Brunswick Railroad. In 1870 his teams simultaneously built railroad lines southward from Macon and northward from Brunswick, meeting approximately halfway between the two communities. They set up camp at this meeting place, later establishing the Hazlehurst Depot there. The depot eventually developed into a community, which was incorporated in 1891.
When the new county was created in 1905, Hazlehurst was the natural choice for the seat of government. Its courthouse, built in 1907 and renovated twice (in 1975 and 1994-95), was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The Hazlehurst Depot is still in use by railroad crews of the Norfolk Southern Railroad. Hazlehurst is a participant in the Better Hometown Program. Other communities are Denton (incorporated in 1911), Roper, and Snipesville.
Tobacco was once the primary crop grown in Jeff Davis County. Although some tobacco is still grown, cotton and peanuts have supplanted it. Timber is also a major factor in the economy. Additionally, residents have encouraged the growth of tourism by promoting the attractions of their area.
The county has a variety of outdoor recreational gathering places. The Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area, managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, includes nearly 14,000 acres of forested river flood plain and swamplands, shared with Appling and Montgomery counties. Outdoor sports and camping are offered there. The county fairgrounds include an amphitheater, a lake, a livestock arena, a walking track, an environmental park, and an 1890 homestead. Banquets and performances are held at the fairgrounds throughout the year, and the annual county fair takes place every October. There is a public recreational complex, called the Outback Range and Recreation Center, and several public parks: Mary McClean, Buddy Spann, Three Rivers, and Weatherly.
The Hazlehurst Jeff Davis Museum is housed in the Pace House, a gabled ell cottage–type house built in 1900 by one of the town’s seven original aldermen. The house was acquired by the Hazlehurst–Jeff Davis County Historical Museum Society in 1996 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
Altamaha Technical College operates a satellite campus in Hazlehurst.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of Jeff Davis County is 15,068, an increase from the 2000 population of 12,684.