Heard County, in west central Georgia on the border with Alabama, is the state's seventy-seventh county. Created in 1830 from 301 square miles of Carroll, Coweta, and Troup counties, it was named for Stephen Heard, an influential patriot of the American Revolution (1775-83), a planter, and a governor of Georgia from 1780 to 1781. The land now encompassed by Heard County was originally held by Creek Indians, who lost it at the Treaty of Indian Springs in 1825. The first white inhabitants arrived soon after the signing of the treaty and acquired most of their property by state-run land lotteries. Most of the new settlers came from other parts of Georgia in the search for better land.
The county seat, Franklin, named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, was an established village by 1770 but not incorporated until 1831. The first courthouse burned down in 1893 and was replaced the
The Heard County Historical Society, organized in 1979, maintains a museum and archive of historical records in the "Old Jail" building in Franklin. Other incorporated communities in the county are Centralhatchee (incorporated in 1903) and Ephesus (incorporated in 1964).
Rocky soil prevented the county's farmers from developing large-scale operations; they were required instead to engage primarily in subsistence farming during the early days of the county's history. Eventually able to grow cotton as well, county residents entered a period of relative prosperity after
A satellite campus of West Georgia Technical College is located in Heard County.
Notable residents of the county include Mayhayley Lancaster, a fortune-teller, lawyer, political activist, schoolteacher, and self-proclaimed "oracle of the ages," who became a west Georgia legend in the first half of the
According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of Heard County is 11,834, a slight increase from the 2000 population of 11,012.
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).
James C. Bonner, A Short History of Heard County, rev. ed. (Milledgeville, Ga.: Georgia College, 1967).
Heard County Historical Society, comp., History of Heard County, Georgia, 1830-1990 (Dallas, Tex.: Curtis Media, 1991).
Elizabeth B. Cooksey, Savannah
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.