Muscogee County, located in west central Georgia, was established by the state legislature on June 9, 1825, along with Carroll, Coweta, Lee, and Troup counties (though the counties were not officially named until December 1826). Located on the Chattahoochee River and adjacent to the Alabama state line, the county is home to Columbus, the third largest city in the state.
Muscogee County and the city of Columbus formed the first consolidated government in Georgia in 1971. Located on the fall line between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain, the county's location has been crucial to its development as a center of trade and industry. The population in 2010 was 189,885, an increase from the 2000 population of 186,291.
The original residents of the area were Native American, from which the name Muscogee is derived.
Although there were already white settlers in the area, the Georgia General Assembly was concerned
During the Civil War the manufacturing interests in Columbus produced a variety of wartime goods, including swords, cannons, ironclad ships, paper, and clothing. One of the last military actions of the Civil War took place at Columbus on April 16, 1865, when Union forces under Major General James H. Wilson captured the city and subsequently destroyed many of the city's industries, including the textile mill, sword factory, and paper mill.
Also located partially in Muscogee County is the Fort Benning Military Reservation, named after Confederate general and Columbus resident Henry L. Benning. Established in 1918, Fort Benning at first occupied a small site on Macon Road in Columbus, but federal officials acquired the 1,800-acre Riverside Plantation and 115,000 adjoining acres to create a training school for army infantry. Although the majority of the base is in adjoining Chattahoochee County, it is a major contributor to Muscogee's economy as well.
Muscogee County has a vibrant cultural heritage and has served as home to a number of notable artists, musicians, and writers. Alma Thomas, a native of Columbus, was a well-known twentieth-century painter. Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins, a blind African American piano prodigy, was born into slavery in Harris County and raised in Muscogee; he later became a noted composer and concert performer. Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, known as the "Mother of the Blues," also made her home in Columbus. Both performers were among many to take the stage of the Springer Opera House in Columbus, which opened in 1871 and after extensive restoration was named the State Theatre of Georgia in 1971.
Muscogee County claims a number of notable authors as well. Augusta Jane Evans, who lived most of her adult life in Mobile, Alabama, was born in Muscogee County in 1835. Evans modeled her 1866 novel St. Elmo on the plantation El Dorado, which was renamed St. Elmo in recognition of the novel's success. Carson McCullers, whose works often portray the mill town of Columbus where she grew to adulthood, is perhaps best known for her 1940 work The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Today visitors can tour her Stark Avenue home, which houses the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians.
John S. Lupold, Columbus Georgia, 1828-1978 (Columbus, Ga.: Columbus Sesquicentennial, 1978).
Joseph B. Mahan, Columbus: Georgia's Fall Line Trading Town (Northridge, Calif.: Windsor, 1986).
Margaret L. Whitehead and Barbara Bogart , City of Progress: A History of Columbus, Georgia (Columbus, Ga.: Cosco Press, 1978).
Reagan L. Grimsley, Columbus State University
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