About Oglethorpe County
Oglethorpe County was
created on December 19, 1793 entirely out of Wilkes County. It was named for General
James Edward Oglethorpe, who founded the colony of Georgia, at Savannah, in 1733. A
soldier and philanthropist, Oglethorpe created the colony as an asylum for British
debtors. He remained in Georgia for nine years and drove the invading Spanish troops
back into Florida. He returned to England in 1742 and died there in 1785.
James Edward Oglethorpe
|The area that
encompasses Oglethorpe County was originally inhabited primarily by the Creek and Cherokee
tribes. It was opened to settlement by a treaty with the tribes in 1771. These
"Ceded Lands", as the area was called, became Wilkes County in 1777. In
1793, a northwestern portion of Wilkes County was cut aside to form the new county of
Several border adjustments were made in the following years. In 1794, a
portion of Greene County was added to Oglethorpe, and the Oglethorpe/Greene county border
shifted several times in 1799. In 1811, Madison County was created, taking land from
Oglethorpe. In 1813, Oglethorpe acquired land from Clarke County. Taliaferro
County took land from Oglethorpe in 1831, and Oglethorpe received land from Madison County
The first permanent settlements in what is now Oglethorpe County were along the Broad
River ~ settled by a group of Virginia planters in the 1780s ~ and along Long Creek
near the town of Lexington. Lexington was incorporated in 1806 as the county seat.
Settlers grew mainly tobacco and cotton, and found deposits of granite, gold, iron,
copper and other minerals.