Jones County History
Jones County is rich in history and natural beauty. Originally inhabited by the Creek Indians, Jones County was part of the frontier settlement when it was partitioned from neighboring Baldwin County on December 10, 1807. Named for James Jones, a prominent Savannah attorney, Georgia legislator and United States Congressman, Jones County sat on Georgia’s southwestern border, at that time the Ocmulgee River.
The original county seat of Clinton was one of the fastest growing centers of trade and culture in Georgia. It was a bustling town known for commerce and gracious living and the site of a factory of manufacturing cotton gins.
Although the county prospered into the 1860’s, the Civil War had a profound effect on the county. Many of the county’s sons, homes, churches, schools, and even entire towns were lost to the war effort. Union troops burned the town of Griswoldville to stop the manufacture of Confederate pistols. Blountsville also suffered great losses during the War, and eventually disappeared.
Moving into the twentieth century, the city of Gray became the county seat in 1905, and the city began to thrive with commercial and retail establishments. Gray is supported by excellent rail and highway access. Now a mixture of the old and the new flourish in the county which is dotted with small, quaint communities: Round Oak, Griswoldville, Haddock, Wayside, Bradley, East Juliette, James, and Clinton. Each of these communities is unique and rich in history, offering a glimpse of what life has been like in Georgia over the last two hundred years, and all are important to Jones County’s heritage.
The renovated Jones County Courthouse, which was built in 1905, is located in Gray and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Another of the numerous sites of historic significance is the former Jones County High School facility, which was designed by female architect Ellamae League (1899 – 1991) and constructed in 1936. This facility has been renovated as the Jones County Civic Center, which houses the Jones County/Gray Chamber of Commerce, the Development Authority of Jones County, the Keep Jones Beautiful Commission, the Jones County Boys and Girls Club, Central Georgia Technical College, the Jones County Auditorium, the Family Connection office, and other meeting area for public and civic purposes as determined by the five-member county commission.