County courthouse in Hamilton
Location within the U.S. state of Georgia
Georgia's location within the U.S.
|Founded||December 14, 1827|
|Named for||Charles Harris|
|Largest city||West Point|
|• Total||473 sq mi (1,230 km2)|
|• Land||464 sq mi (1,200 km2)|
|• Water||9.1 sq mi (24 km2) 1.9%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||73/sq mi (28/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Harris County is a county located in the west-central portion of the U.S. state of Georgia; its western border with the state of Alabama is formed by the Chattahoochee River. As of the 2010 census, the population was 32,024. The county seat is Hamilton. The largest city in the county is Pine Mountain, a resort town that is home to the world-famous Callaway Gardens Resort and Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park (the largest state park in Georgia). Harris County was created on December 14, 1827, and named for Charles Harris, a Georgia judge and attorney.
Harris County is part of the Columbus, GA-AL Metropolitan Statistical Area. In the antebellum era, it was considered part of the Black Belt in the southern United States, an upland area developed for cotton plantations in the 19th century before the American Civil War. Muscogee County, to the south, was more heavily developed for cotton.
The county was settled by European Americans largely after the federal government had forcibly removed the indigenous Creek people (Muscogee), who were relocated to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. In the antebellum era, parts of the county were developed for cotton plantations, the premier commodity crop. Planters imported numerous slaves as workers from the Upper South through the domestic slave trade.
By the late 19th century, there were 200 years of families, black, white and mixed-race, with many interconnections among them; justice and injustice was nearly always meted out to kin. Moonshiners were active in the mountain areas of the county in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; both whites and blacks took part in this and were drinking customers.
On January 22, 1912, a black woman and three black men were lynched in Hamilton, the county seat, allegedly for the murder of young local white landowner Norman Hadley. He was described by journalist Karen Branan in her 2016 book about these events as a white "near penniless plowboy-playboy" and "notorious predator of black women."
Of this group, Dusky Crutchfield was the first woman lynched in Georgia, and the lynching case attracted attention of national northern newspapers. Also murdered by the lynch mob were Eugene Harrington, Burrell Hardaway, and Johnie Moore. (Note: There was confusion about the names of victims at the time, and variations in spelling have been published.)
The four had been taken in for questioning about Hadley's murder by Sheriff Marion Madison "Buddie" Hadley, but never arrested. Lynched as scapegoats by a white mob of 100 men, they were later shown to have been utterly innocent. As an example of the complex relationships in the town and county, Johnie Moore was a mixed-race cousin of the sheriff; Norman Hadley was the sheriff's nephew.
In 1947, prosperous farmer Henry "Peg" Gilbert, a married African-American man who owned and farmed 100 acres in Troup County, Georgia, was arrested by officials from neighboring Harris County and charged with harboring a fugitive. The 47-year-old father was accused in the case of Gus Davidson, an African-American man accused of fatally shooting a white man in Harris County. Davidson had disappeared. Four days later Gilbert was dead, shot while held in jail by the Harris County Sheriff, who said it was self-defense. No charges were filed against him. In 2016 the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project of Northeastern University reported on this death in custody. They had found that Gilbert had been beaten severely before his death, and shot five times. They asserted he had been detained and killed because whites resented his success as a farmer.
The county is now part of the Columbus, Georgia, metropolitan area, which has become industrialized and developed a more varied economy. By per capita income, the county is the sixth-wealthiest in Georgia, and the wealthiest county in the state outside of Metro Atlanta.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 473 square miles (1,230 km2), of which 464 square miles (1,200 km2) are land and 9.1 square miles (24 km2) (1.9%) are covered by water.
The majority of Harris County is located in the Middle Chattahoochee River-Lake Harding subbasin of the ACF River Basin (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin), with the exception of the county's southeastern border area, south of Ellerslie, which is located in the Middle Chattahoochee River-Walter F. George Lake subbasin of the same ACF River Basin.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
1990-2000 2010-2013 2017
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 32,024 people, 11,823 households, and 9,268 families residing in the county. The population density was 69.0 inhabitants per square mile (26.6/km2). There were 13,397 housing units at an average density of 28.9 per square mile (11.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 79.3% white, 17.2% black or African American, 0.9% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 0.7% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 2.7% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 17.2% identified as having African ancestry; 13.5% were German, 13.4% were Irish, 11.5% were English, and 10.5% identified as having American ancestry.
Of the 11,823 households, 35.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.0% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 21.6% were non-families, and 18.5% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.04. The median age was 42.0 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $67,018 and the median income for a family was $74,457. Males had a median income of $49,844 versus $37,103 for females. The per capita income for the county was $31,073. About 6.0% of families and 9.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.3% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.
The Harris County School District holds preschool to grade 12, and consists of four elementary schools, an intermediate school, a middle school, and a high school. The district headquarters is located in Hamilton, and has 274 full-time teachers and over 4,411 students spread out over seven schools.
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