Formed from part of Baker County, Mitchell County was created on December 21, 1857, by an act of the Georgia legislature and is the state’s 123rd county. It was named either for Henry Mitchell, a general in the Revolutionary War (1775-83), or for David B. Mitchell, who served twice as Georgia’s governor in the early 1800s; historical sources differ. Camilla, the county seat, was incorporated on December 14, 1858.
Three other incorporated cities lie within Mitchell County’s 512 square miles: Baconton, Pelham, and Sale City. County government consists of a commission with an administrator. According to the 2010 U.S. census, the county had a population of 23,498, a slight decrease from the 2000 population of 29,932. Agricultural output consists primarily of cotton, peanuts, pecans, sweet corn, and soybeans. In addition to the 134-acre Camilla Industrial Park South, the county seat has a public airport with a 4,000-foot lighted asphalt runway, aircraft tie-down, and an airframe and power plant repair facility.
Southwest Georgia Technical College (later Southern Regional Technical College) maintains a satellite campus in Camilla.
Local attractions include the restored railroad depots in Camilla and Pelham and the Hand Trading Company building in Pelham. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places are the Bacon Family Homestead; the James Price McRee House, a Classical Revival–style house built at the turn of the twentieth century; and the Mount Enon Church and Cemetery, built in the mid-1800s and no longer in use. Other nationally recognized sites include historic districts in Baconton, Camilla, and Pelham, as well as the South Railroad and the Walton Street–Church Street historic districts, both in Baconton.
In addition to historic landmarks, Mitchell County was the site of the Camilla Massacre. On September 19, 1868, during Reconstruction, a Republican political rally brought a large group of African Americans to Camilla, where local whites opened fire on them, killing about a dozen men and wounding some thirty more.
Mitchell County hosts a Christmas parade, the Gnat Days Festival in May, and the Camilla Pro Invitational Tennis Tournament, which has attracted dozens of touring tennis professionals each June since 1970.