Archives of Putnam County

Archives of Putnam County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Created: December 10, 1807
Created From: Baldwin County
Counties taken from:None
Name derivation:Israel Putnam, hero of the battle of Breed's (Bunker) Hill.
LocationPutnam County is south of I-20 west of Lake Oconee.
History:Putnam County was first inhabited some 5,000 years ago by Archaic Indians. Later, a distinct culture of Woodland Indians inhabited the same site and built an effigy mound in the shape of an eagle. This mound, known as Rock Eagle, and a similar one also in Putnam County known as Rock Hawk, are the only known remains of a Moundbuilder tribe that may possibly pre-date the Adena culture, earliest of the known effigy moundbuilders. The Oconee River (now Lake Oconee), which forms the eastern border of this county, was an early boundary between the settlers and the Creek Indians that inhabited inland Georgia. By the time the land west of the Oconee was ceded to the state, it had been heavily settled.

In 1848 Joel Chandler Harris was born in Eatonton and eventually came to work on a plantation in the county. It was here that he became acquanted with the concept of slavery that would flavor so many of his later stories. J. A. Turner, planter and publisher of a local paper, had young Joel help him in both endeavors.

In 1854 the world, in the form of a railroad, came to Eatonton. Track was laid to extend the route to Milledgeville, then the state capitol of Georgia, deeper into the highly profitable cotton producing belt. For about 10 years the county realized unprecidented growth. Then the Yankees came.

William T. Sherman and his army bypassed Eatonton on the March to the Sea, heading for Milledgeville, a few miles to the south. After the destruction of Georgia, Harris left for Atlanta, which is where he wrote his most famous works.

In 1868 came a major blow to the county. The Yankees ordered the state capital moved to Atlanta, a move resisted at first by a majority of Georgians. By the time a vote came up in 1877 on the issue of moving the capital, Georgians had become accustomed to the idea and voted to move the captial to Atlanta.

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