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A Brief History of Upson County:
Upson County was created in 1824 from land ceded to Georgia by the Creek Indians at the Treaty of Indian Springs in 1821. The County was named in honor of Stephen Upson, a prominent attorney who lived in Lexington, Georgia, and was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1786. Thomaston was incorporated in June, 1825 and made the county seat of Upson. The town was named for General Jett Thomas, famous in the War of 1812.
There was a large influx of settlers into the area before Upson County was created from Monroe County, a portion of Pike County, and a small section of Crawford County. An even greater number came following the division of the land into lots and distributed among the citizens of Georgia by the Lottery System employed by Georgia to quickly settle the newly acquired lands. The first census of Upson County in 1830 showed a population of 7013. (Thomaston-Upson Sesquicentennial)
In the early days, Upson, like all counties across the state was divided into militia districts, or areas with set boundaries which were supposed to contain at least one hundred men who were subject to military duty. The purpose of these districts was to prepare against the threat of wild animals or Indian raids, as muster days were regularly held for military training. The militia districts were known by the names of locally elected captains, though their official designation was by numbering. The earliest such one was the 470th, also known as Jug District, or “Captain Scroggins” district between the years of 1828-1829. Although parts of the Militia District system were abandoned in 1879, many of the land boundaries as well as their original numbering classifications remained the same. These districts serve as voting precincts today.
Throughout much of the 19th century, Upson’s industry centered on agriculture, and grist as well as textile factories. Like many areas, Upson was hit with heavy destruction during the Civil War, when Gen. James Wilson’s cavalry burned three out of four of the county’s textile factories during their 3-day raid in April of 1865, in an overall attempt to cripple the south’s infrastructure. By the late 1800’s, the mule trading industry also dominated the area, with Upson coined as the “mule capital of the south.” In 1899, Thomaston Cotton Mills was incorporated, and in 1926 the company negotiated what the Atlanta Journal reported as the deal of the century in their contract with B.F. Goodrich to build another textile factory named Martha Mills and supply Goodrich with locally made tire cord. For the majority of the 20th century, the mills served as the driving force in the area’s economy, employing 90% of the workforce during WWII. The period also saw success in the peach industry, where Upson produced more peaches than anywhere else in the state during 1928-1929. The county also contained numerous mica mines in operation during WWI and WWII, as the mineral was used as an insulator for electrical equipment. After the mills’ closure, the community was revived by numerous smaller scale companies such as Quad Graphics, Dart, Ranew, Interfor, to name a few, and retained some textile operations such as Standard Textile and Thomaston Mills (under new ownership).
301 S Center Street
Thomaston, GA 30286
P.O. Box 1137
Thomaston, GA 30286
Jessie ShinkleAsst. Archivist
Lisa SalterResearch Asst.