History of Burke County Georgia

Burke County, Georgia was created in 1777.  Burke County was organized from St George Parish.

U.S. Census reports are available for this county from 1820 to 1920.  The county seat is Waynesboro. The Burke County, Georgia Courthouse was burned twice, once in 1825 and secondly in 1856.  Deed records begin in 1843 and probate, court and marriage records begin in 1856.

Burke is rich in history. A few white settlers began to move into this area as early as the 1740's. In 1763 there was the Cession by the Indians of more territory to the Crown. This cession treaty also clarified the right to white settlement in all of St. George's Parish. Famous men who spent time in Burke County are Dr Lyman Hall, signer of the Declaration of Independence who is buried here. George Washington was to have spent the night in Waynesborough in 17 May 1791, Eli Whitney had 3 cotton gins here and also the massive Union Troops which marched through here on the way to the coast. It has been said they burned the courthouse but as you can see from the dates this is not true.

A chronology of documented historic events:

1759 - Some Salzburgers moved up from Ebenezer into St George's  Parish and established New Goettingen, now a dead town.

1763 - The first Courthouse in St George's was erected.

1765 - John Bartram, a British scientist, with his son, visited Shell Bluff to study the fascinating large oyster shell formations, which come to be known as "Ostrea georgiana."

Following the Revolutionary War, a substantial migration flowed from such states as Maryland,Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Many new settlers took up land in Burke and lived out there time in Burke County, but the next generation moved westward. Counties taken from Burke are Screven in 1793; Jefferson in 1796 and Jenkins in 1905.


Additional Historical material

 Provided by
Linda B. Barton

Historical Collections of Georgia:

Compiled From Original Records and Official Documents.
Illustrated by Nearly One Hundred Engravings of Public Buildings,
Relics of Antiquity, Historic Localities, Natural Scenery, Portraits of  Distinguished Men, Etc., Etc.

By The Rev. George White, M. A., Author of the "Statistics of  Georgia.
 New-York: Pudney & Russell. Publishers.  No. 79 John Street.
 Pg. 282


This county was laid out as St. George's Parish in 1758, and the name changed to Burke, in honour of Edmund Burke, the great champion of American liberty, in 1777. In 1793, a part was added to Screven; and  in 1798, a part to Jefferson. Length, 32 1/2 miles; breadth, 32 miles. Area, square miles, 1,040.

The Savannah separates this county from South Carolina, and the Ogeechee from Emanuel. Briar Creek flows through its whole length, and is celebrated for the rich lands upon its borders.

The soil is generally very productive, peculiarly adapted to cotton, corn, & c.

Extract from the Census of 1850: --1,017 dwellings, 1,017 families, 2,757 white males, 2,359 white females; 80 free coloured males, 72  free coloured females. Total free population, 5,268. Slaves, 10,832. Deaths, 326. Farms, 712. Manufacturing establishments, 41.

Waynesborough is the seat of justice. It is 80 miles east of Milledgeville. Incorporated in 1812.

Alexander is a village of recent date, on the road from Waynesborough to Savannah 

Burke Jail is noted for a battle which took place in 1779, between the British, commanded by Colonels Brown and McGirth, and the Americans, under the command of Colonels Twiggs and Few, in which the latter were victorious. In this engagement, Captain Joshua Inman, of the Americans, killed three of the enemy with his own hand.



A house of worship now owned by the Methodists, called the Old Church, is six miles southeast of Waynesborough, on the old Quaker road leading to Savannah. It was formerly an Episcopal Church, and had a glebe of forty-seven acres.

In 1770 and 1772, Rev. Alexander Findlay was rector of this Church.
In 1773, Mr. Findlay, finding the church and parsonage not finished, left St. George's and went to North Carolina.
In 1774, Rev. Mr. Seymour and Rev. John Holmes had charge of St. George's Church.
In 1776, 1777, 1778, Rev. Mr. Holmes, rector.
In 1780, Rev. Mr. James Brown, rector. * (From the Minutes of the Society for the Propagation of Religion in Foreign Parts.)

It is said that, after the location of Waynesborough for the county site, the Justices of the Inferior Court passed an order that the Old Church building should be torn down, removed to Waynesborough, and converted into a court-house; and that this would have been done, but for a lawyer by the name of Allen, who said that the passage of Scripture would be fulfilled, which says --"My house shall be called an House of Prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves." Pg. 283

Revolutionary Paper Connected With The History of Burke County.

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 1774.

We, the subscribers, inhabitants of the Parish of St. George, in the Province of Georgia, do hereby publicly declare that we entirely disagree to the paper containing certain resolutions which were drawn up in the city of Savannah, by some persons met there on the 10th of August, 1774; because, although many of us gave votes that Mr. Jones  and Mr. Lord should go to the said meeting, yet it was because we were told that unless we did send some persons there, we would have the Stamp Act put in force. By these and such like arguments, we were prevailed upon to do what we did; but as we find we were deceived, and that the said meeting was intended to draw up a paper that we think reflects very improperly upon our King and the Parliament, and may be of bad consequence to this Province, and can serve no good purpose, we therefore declare that we do not approve of the said paper; and we give our dissent in this public manner.



            George Wells

            Peter Shand

            James Dayle

            Shadrach Barrow

            Daniel Thomas

            Gideon Thomas

            John Thomas

            Robert Henderson

            Francis Lewis Feyer

            John Red

            James Warren

            James Williams

            Samuel Red

            Alexander Berryhill

            Edmund Hill

            Charles Williams

            Thomas Pennington

            John Rogers

            John Anderson

            John Catlett

            David Greene

            John Pettygrew

            William Callett

            John Ratten

            John Frier

            James Davis

            William Milner

            Elijah Dix

            Samuel Berryhill

            Thomas Red

            John Bledsoe

            James Rae

            Joseph Gresham

            William Dayle

            Joseph Tilley

            Jos Thomas

            Drury Roberts

            Joel Walker

            James Red

            William M. Norell

            John Kennedy

            Frances Stringer

            Paul McCormick

            Humphrey Williams

            John Greenway

            Robert Blaishard

            Hugh Irwin

            Thomas Carter

            James Brantley

            William Whethers

            William Moore

            William Godbe

            Richard Curton

            William Curtox

            Philip Helvrston

            Elias Daniel

            Ephraim Odom

            Benjamin Brantley

            Thomas Grey

            Jeremiah Brantley

            John Greene

            John Burnsides

            Starling Jordan

            Patrick Dickey

            Zechariah Wimberly

            Stephen Lamb

            Benjamin Warren

            Solomon Davis

            John Gray

            Francis Hancock

            Pleasant Goodall

            Wade Kitts

            Daniel Logan

            Myrick Davis

            John Roberts

            Robert Douglass, Sen.

            Jesse Scruggs

            Henry Mills

            Joseph Moore

            Amos Whitehead

            John Robinson

            Ezekiel Brumfield

            Jacob Sharpe

            Clement Yarborough

            James Hunt

            Barnaby Lamb

            Seth Slockumb

            Lewis Hobbs

            John Forth

            Nathan Williams

            Edward Watters

            John Stephens

            Frederick Francis

            Moses Davis

            Arthur Walker

            Amos Davis

            Jacob Lamb

            Allen Brown

            Joseph Allday

            James Douglis

            Landman Ashbury

            Charles Golightly

            John Howell

            Bud Cade

            James Moore

            John Whitehead

            John Sharpe

            Thomas Odom

            William Hobbs

            John Thomas, Sen.

            William Young

            John Tillman

            Caleb Whitehead

            Robert Cade

Among some papers loaned us by the late Major Twiggs, we found the following, the insertion of which we believe will be interesting to  our friends in Burke: --

 A Return of the First Battalion of Burke County Militia, agreeable to order, with its present situation and rank, with the number of   effective men in each Company, and the number of arms, shot-bags, and powder-horns, for the year 1792.

            Captains 1st Lieut. 2d Lieut.

            No of Men. No. of Arms. Shot-Bags, & c..

            Samuel White Hopkin Dye John McGomery 44 23 23

            Willis Watson Lark Robinson Martin Martin 68 50 30

            Dill Sapp Wills Davies Henry Bryant 48 30 30

            Daniel Evans Wm. Martin Basil Gray 38 20 20

            Chas. Kilbee Lemuel Lasiter John Tredwell 48 27 27

            John Buford Nich. Stregles John McCarroll 92  68 68

            Wm. Edwards John Roberts John Wright 55  15 15

            Wm. Coursey Wm. Parrimore John Salter 34 20 20

            Laban Thompson Elihu Thompson Wm. Dunn 37 15 15

            Benj. Matthews John Fryar Mich'l McCormick 82 41 41

            Noah Williams James Rawles Aaron Justice 43 21 21

            Tho. Lewis.

Return to Home Page

Compilation Copyright 1998-Present by The GAGenWeb Project