|Title:||Tax list for Georgia counties|
|Quantity:||0.025 Linear feet (1 folder housed with minor collections MS 2066-MS 2156)|
|Abstract:||The collection consists of a 77 page listing of taxes for Georgia counties. Pages are missing between 7-18 and 47-54. Counties included are Appling, Baker, bulloch, Carroll, Cherokee, Coweta, Decatur, Dooly, Early, Effingham, Emmanuel, Fayette, Franklin, Habersham, Houston, Irwin, Jackson, Jefferson, Lee, Liberty, Lincoln, Lowndes, Meriwether, Montgomery, Muscogee, Rabun, Screven, Stewart, Sumpter, Tattnall, Telfair, Thomas, Twigg, Walker, Wayne, Ware and Wilkinson.|
When James Oglethorpe founded the colony of Georgia in 1733, he brought no instructions from the Trustees for dividing the new colony into political subdivisions. In reality, there was uncertainty and debate as to the precise boundaries of Georgia. Also, beyond defense and distributing land grants, there were few governmental functions to be performed in Georgia's early years. Still, it seems probable that the Trustees envisioned the creation of counties in Georgia, for a 1735 report on Georgia's Salzburger immigrants includes a map of the Savannah area entitled "A Map of the County of Savannah." The first attempt to form counties in Georgia came in 1741. The Trustees decided to divide Georgia into two colonies - one named Savannah and one named Frederica. Each county would be headed by a president. War with Spain, however, kept Georgia occupied with more pressing matters, and the idea of counties died for the time being. After Georgia became a royal colony, its new legislative assembly made the Church of England the official church of Georgia, and divided the colony into eight parishes. As in England, parishes served as church districts for support of the clergy and other religious expenses. Unlike England, however, Georgia's parishes served as governmental districts for conducting elections, collecting taxes, caring for the poor, keeping roads passable, and recording vital statistics. In 1765, Georgia's colonial assembly divided the land south of the Altamaha River into four additional parishes, giving the colony a total of 12 parishes. Following the Treaty of Augusta in 1773, a large area of Creek and Cherokee lands to the north of Augusta was ceded to Georgia. This land was not designated as a parish, rather becoming known as "Ceded Lands." After the Revolution, thousands of settlers from other states moved to Georgia looking for cheap land. As a result, state officials increasingly pressured Creek and Cherokee Indians to give up more and more of their land. After each Indian land cession, Georgia's legislature would divide the territory into counties. The land was then surveyed and divided into districts and lots. By 1800, Georgia consisted of 24 counties. An explosion in the number soon followed, with 53 new counties creating during the following 27 years. In Dec. 1831, Georgia claimed authority over all Cherokee and Creek lands in Georgia. Twelve months later, the legislature designated all Cherokee lands within the state as "Cherokee County". This was a huge area that never really functioned as a county, so In in Dec. 1832 the legislature created ten counties out of Cherokee County - including a much smaller county by the same name. Georgia now had a total of 89 counties. By 1875, the number of counties had grown to 137, with no end in sight. To stop this explosion, a new state constitution in 1877 prohibited the legislature from creating any more counties in Georgia. For 16 years, the number of counties was frozen at 137. But state lawmakers were pressured for more. In 1904, the General Assembly proposed amending Georgia's constitution to allow 145 counties. Voters approved the change, meaning the 1905 General Assembly would have the chance to create 8 new counties. The House of Representatives created a New County Committee, which was busy the entire session considering 23 petitions to form new counties. Late in the session, legislators approved 8 new counties - the maximum allowed after the 1904 constitutional amendment. But the pressure to create new counties continued. In 1906, lawmakers sought to create a new county - to be named Ben Hill - from portions of Wilcox and Irwin counties. Because an act of the legislature cannot conflict with the state constitution, the only option was to amend the state constitution. The legislature could have proposed an amendment that raised the constitutional limit to 146 counties. For whatever reason, legislative supporters of Ben Hill County chose another approach. Leave the 145-limit in the constitution and simply add an additional provision that said: "Provided, however, That in addition to the counties now provided for by this Constitution there shall be a new county laid out from the counties of Irwin and Wilcox, bounded as follows...." Voters of the state approved the constitutional amendment, and Ben Hill became Georgia's 146th county. Thus began the practice in Georgia of creating new counties by constitutional amendment. By 1924, Georgia had 161 counties - 16 of which had been created by amendments to the state constitution. Brief History of Georgia Counties by Ed Jackson http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/countyhistory.htm (Retrieved April 29, 2009)
Tax list for Georgia counties, MS 2134. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.