Monticello was designated county seat of Randolph County on December 10, 1808. Randolph County was renamed Jasper County on December 12, 1812 in honor of a Revolutionary War hero, Sergeant William Jasper. This county was part of Baldwin County until 1807. Prior to 1805, all of the Baldwin County area was Creek Indian hunting ground. The County Commissioners bought land that is now Monticello from Issac Weldon who had drawn it in the land lottery of 1807. The sight was selected because of its hill top setting and an abundance of spring water. The early settlers chose to name the town Monticello in honor of President Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia estate. The city used a grid iron plan and laid out in a circle with a one and one-half mile diameter centered on the middle of the Courthouse square, resulting in approximately 1,200 acres within the city limits.
Cotton was king in Monticello before the Civil War. Jasper County was one of the three largest producers in the state. When the railroad came through in 1887, manufacturing and warehouse buildings were constructed along the line to meet growing commercial demands. By 1820, Jasper County was fifth in the state in the manufacturing industry. In the early 1900’s Jasper County was part of the “Peach Boom”. While agriculture has always played an important role in the economy, many of the original farms were sold to the U.S. Government and now make up much of the Oconee National Forest. New industries moved to this area during the post World War II Economic boom, many related to the timber industry. (information taken from The History of Jasper County complied by the Jasper County Historical Society)
History of Jasper County
Jasper County history is recorded as far back as 1632, when traders listed the Seven Islands Crossing on the Ocmulgee River as the place they first traded with the Creek Indians. After the Indians, the first settler was a deer hunter named Newby, who lived in a cabin near the present community of Hillsboro, as early as 1790. In 1790, George Washington met in upstate New York with the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi. Treaties were signed, one bringing the establishment of a stage and mail run across Georgia. This road from Greensboro to Columbus was called the Seven Islands Road. Two of the stage coach stations on this road were in the present territory of Jasper County.
Jasper County was split out of Baldwin County by an act of the Legislature in 1807 and originally named Randolph by the General Assembly. Monticello was laid out and made the county seat in December, 1808. Monticello was named after President Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virginia. In December, 1812, the name of the county was changed to Jasper.This was to honor Sergeant William Jasper, a Revolutionary War hero who risked his life to save his country’s flag from the British. He was killed in the attempt during the seige of Savannah.
The land in the country was found to be well adapted to the growth of cotton and corn and rural development was rapid. By 1820, the population had grown to 14,614, and in the 1830s, the county was entitled to one senator and four representatives, and no other county in the state had more.
The county furnished men and materials to the Confederate States Army during the Civil War. The Glover Guards and the Jasper Volunteers were two of the major groups. Portions of General Sherman’s Army passed through Jasper County on its march to the sea. Veterans returned to farm and the demand for cotton overseas made it an economic mainstay of the county. By 1910, Jasper County was producing as much as 35,000 bales of cotton per year. The population increased to its highest level in 1910 when the annual census recorded 16,552 inhabitants. But the boll weevil put a halt to the major agriculture product and the population declined.
Information taken from JASPER COUNTY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT STUDY by the Business Outreach Services of The University of Georgia – July 1997