Washington, Georgia

Washington (originally called Heard's Fort) is a city in Wilkes County, Georgia, United States. The population was 4,295 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Wilkes County. The town is often referred to as Washington-Wilkes by locals, distinguishing it from any other Washington in the United States.

Washington has many claims to fame, and is considered one of the most charming and picturesque small towns in Georgia. Restored antebellum, Victorian, and colonial homes shine along the narrow, tree-lined streets. Washington claims to have more antebellum homes, per capita, than any other town its size in Georgia. A vibrant downtown, centered around the town square, adds to the city's charm. The town shows off its history and beauty during the two annual Washington-Wilkes tour-of-homes, which are held the first week in April, and again in December.

Noteworthy sites include the Mary Willis library, a stunning Victorian building, with original Tiffany stained glass windows, and the first free public library in the state. The Robert Toombs State Historic Site, Callaway Plantation and The Washington-Wilkes Historical Museum.

The recent restoration of the Fitzpatrick Hotel, built in 1899, became a catalyst for revitalization of the downtown area, and tourism is now a major player in the city's economy.

Revolutionary Washington

The Battle of Kettle Creek is one of the most important battles of the American Revolutionary War to be fought in Georgia. The battle was fought on February 14, 1779, in Wilkes County about eight miles (13 km) from present day Washington, Georgia. The victory by the American Patriots virtually ended the movement to remain loyal to the Kingdom of Britain, and prevented British occupation of upper Georgia.

Antebellum Washington

Although no major battles of the Civil War were fought in or near Washington, the city has the distinction of being the location where the Confederacy was officially dissolved. On April 3, 1865, with Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant poised to capture Richmond, Jefferson Davis escaped for Danville, Virginia, together with the Confederate cabinet. After leaving Danville, and continuing south, Davis met with his Confederate Cabinet for the last time on May 5, 1865 in Washington, Georgia, and the Confederate Government was officially dissolved. The meeting took place at the Heard house, the Georgia Branch Bank Building, with fourteen officials present. On May 10, he was captured at Irwinville, Georgia, and held as a prisoner for two years in Fort Monroe, Virginia.

Confederate Gold

One of Washington's most lingering and possibly lucrative mysteries is that of the lost Confederate gold As the last recorded location of the remaining confederate gold, Washington, and the surrounding countryside, is thought to be the site where the remaining gold is buried. Worth roughly $100,000 in 1865, when it disappeared, it would be a small fortune in today's dollars--around one million dollars. A DVD documentary of this Washington legend has been produced by A & E, and is available for purchase online.

Washington's List of "Firsts"

The city of Washington claims to be first in many historical events:

  • First city in the nation to be established in the name of George Washington, 1780
  • First Baptist church in upper Georgia at Fishing Creek, 1783. Historical Marker
  • First Methodist church in Georgia was organized at Grant's Meeting House in Wilkes County, 1787. Historical Marker
  • First Presbyterian minister ordained in Georgia was John Springer in Wilkes County, 1790. Historical Marker
  • First Episcopal conference not under the Church of England, 1788
  • First successful cotton gin perfected and set up by Eli Whitney in Wilkes county, 1795.
  • First woman newspaper editor in U.S. was Sarah Hillhouse who became the editor of the Monitor in 1804 (inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement in 2006).
  • First cotton mill in Georgia erected on Upton Creek in Wilkes County, 1811
  • First woman hanged in Georgia occurred in Washington in 1806. She was Polly Barclay.
  • First stamp mill for gold in the world was invented and put into use near Washington by Jeremiah Griffin, 1831-1832.
  • One of the first plastic garments ever cut in the world was in Wilkes County by Margo and Alfred Moses in February 1946.


Washington is located at (33.735394, -82.741420).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.9 square miles (20.4 km²), of which, 7.8 square miles (20.3 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.25%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 4,295 people, 1,778 households, and 1,162 families residing in the city. The population density was 547.5 people per square mile (211.5/km²). There were 1,974 housing units at an average density of 251.6/sq mi (97.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 38.04% White, 60.75% African American, 0.07% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.05% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.47% of the population.

There were 1,778 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.2% were married couples living together, 24.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 79.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,667, and the median income for a family was $32,500. Males had a median income of $27,281 versus $21,230 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,659. About 17.6% of families and 23.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.7% of those under age 18 and 23.2% of those age 65 or over.

As Heard's Fort

Heard's Fort was built as a stockade in 1774, by Stephen Heard. Heard's Fort was designated the Seat of Government for Georgia on February 3, 1780, a position it held until 1781.


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