Early County Courthouse in Blakely
Location within the U.S. state of Georgia
Georgia's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Peter Early|
|• Total||516 sq mi (1,340 km2)|
|• Land||513 sq mi (1,330 km2)|
|• Water||3.8 sq mi (10 km2) 0.7%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||21/sq mi (8/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Early County is a county located on the southwest border of the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 11,008. The county seat is Blakely, where the Early County Courthouse is located. Created on December 15, 1818, it was named for Peter Early, 28th Governor of Georgia. The county is bordered on the west by the Chattahoochee River, forming the border with Alabama.
Prehistoric and nineteenth-century history has been preserved in some of Early County's attractions. It is the site of the Kolomoki Mounds, a park preserving major earthworks built by indigenous peoples of the Woodland culture more than 1700 years ago, from 350 CE to 600 CE. This is one of the largest mound complexes in the United States and the largest in Georgia; it includes burial and ceremonial mounds. The siting of the mounds expresses the ancient people's cosmology, as mounds are aligned with the sun at the spring equinox and summer solstice.
The county area was long territory of the historic Creek Indian peoples of the Southeast, particularly along the Chattahoochee River. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, European-American settlers began to encroach on this territory, pushing the Muscogee out during Indian Removal in the 1830s. The Muscogee were forced to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.
This area was developed by European-American settlers and their African-American enslaved workers for cotton plantations. Agriculture was critical to the economy into the 20th century. The Cohelee Creek Bridge in the county is the southernmost covered bridge still standing. One of the last wooden flagpoles from the American Civil War era is located at the historic courthouse in downtown Blakely.
According to the Equal Justice Initiative, in the period from 1877 to 1950, Early County had 24 documented lynchings of African Americans, the second-highest total in the state after the more densely populated Fulton County. Most were committed around the turn of the 20th century, in the period of Jim Crow conditions and suppression of black voting. This was still a largely agricultural area, and some disputes arose from confrontations between black sharecroppers or tenant farmers and white landowners, particularly at times to settle accounts.
Among these cases were five African-American men lynched by whites in less than a month in the summer of 1899: three on July 23, one on July 25 (all reportedly for rape and robbery), and one on August 3 for attempted rape. Black men were frequently identified as suspects in such cases and lynched before any trial took place; further investigations have sometimes revealed consensual sex or other persons having committed the crime. A mass lynching took place in the county on December 30, 1915, when seven black men were lynched, allegedly as suspects in a murder.
The northeastern and eastern portions of Early County, east of Blakely, and extending south to a line east of Jakin, are located in the Spring Creek sub-basin of the ACF River Basin (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin). The western portion of the county is located in the Lower Chattahoochee River sub-basin of the same ACF River Basin.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,354 people, 4,695 households, and 3,295 families residing in the county. The population density was 24 people per square mile (9/km²). There were 5,338 housing units at an average density of 10 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 50.3% White, 48.1% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.4% from other races, and 0.8% from two or more races. 1.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 4,695 households out of which 32.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.00% were married couples living together, 20.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.80% were non-families. 26.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the county, the population was spread out with 28.70% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 25.90% from 25 to 44, 21.90% from 45 to 64, and 15.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 87.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $25,629, and the median income for a family was $31,215. Males had a median income of $36,458 versus $27,277 for females. The mean income for the county was $147,364. The per capita income for the county was $14,936. About 22.20% of families and 25.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 37.20% of those under age 18 and 20.10% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 11,008 people, 4,228 households, and 2,924 families residing in the county. The population density was 21.5 inhabitants per square mile (8.3/km2). There were 4,975 housing units at an average density of 9.7 per square mile (3.7/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 49.6% black or African American, 48.4% white, 0.4% American Indian, 0.3% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 0.8% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.6% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 8.2% were American, 6.1% were Irish, and 5.5% were German.
Of the 4,228 households, 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were married couples living together, 21.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 30.8% were non-families, and 27.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.12. The median age was 39.3 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $26,928 and the median income for a family was $40,238. Males had a median income of $36,250 versus $28,401 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,330. About 22.9% of families and 28.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 46.4% of those under age 18 and 15.2% of those age 65 or over.
The Early County School District holds grades pre-school to grade twelve, and consists of one elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. The district has 156 full-time teachers and over 2,764 students.