The town had its visionary, W.R. Hendricks. In May 1890 there were only a couple of dwellings scattered around the area that is Claxton. W.R. Hendricks, son of Glenn and Nancy Hendricks, had been given a large tract of land by his parents. The Hendricks' ambition was to secure a railroad station at the site but they met considerable opposition from railroad company officials who maintained that existing stations in the area were sufficient to meet the needs. W.R. Hendricks made a proposition to railroad officials that a well be dug and pump installed free of charge so that trains could stop for water. The deal was made and actual construction began in the latter part of June 1890. The vision of building a town was fully supported by his mother who offered to give a lot to anyone who would erect a building upon it. A number of people accepted her offer so she revised the plan and proposed to sell one lot and give the adjoining parcel to those who desired to build.
With the establishment of a town well underway, efforts were begun to establish a post office at the settlement already widely known as Hendricks. Postal officials in Washington, D.C., upon receiving an application from George E. Wood, declined to approve the name Hendricks because a post office in the state was already operating under that name in Upson County. Two other names were then submitted, Jenny and Claxton. Postal officials agreed to Claxton and the post office opened in 1890.
There is some dispute about the origin of the name. Some local historians contend that the name of a popular actress, Kate Claxton, was the source while others believe it was in honor of Philander Priestly Claxton, a noted educator of the time.
Shortly after the Claxton post office opened, D.C. Newton, one of the partners in a naval stores company, laid out on a sheet of brown wrapping paper what became the original map of Claxton. Newton drew in the streets, laid out lots and later added street names. The whereabouts of the original map is not known; however, it is believed that this first map remained in his possession until his death and was passed down to his son who died in the 1990s. Another map, believed to be similar to the original, was in the possession of R.R. 'Bobby' Tippins, president of Tippins Bank and Trust Company and descendant of the family that founded the bank in Claxton, who died in the early 2000s.
There were 899 households out of which 31.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 23.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.9% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.9% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 17.4% from 45 to 64, and 22.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 77.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 66.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $20,705, and the median income for a family was $26,450. Males had a median income of $30,500 versus $14,718 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,742. About 34.4% of families and 35.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 49.6% of those under age 18 and 27.7% of those age 65 or over.
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