Stephens County, Georgia
Stephens County Courthouse in Toccoa
Location within the U.S. state of Georgia
Georgia's location within the U.S.
|Founded||August 18, 1905|
|Named for||Alexander Stephens|
|• Total||184 sq mi (480 km2)|
|• Land||179 sq mi (460 km2)|
|• Water||5.1 sq mi (13 km2) 2.8%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||146/sq mi (56/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Stephens County is a county in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Georgia, in the Piedmont and near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is bounded by the Tugaloo River and Lake Hartwell on the east. As of the 2010 census, the population was 26,175. The county seat is Toccoa.
Stephens County comprises the Toccoa, Georgia Micropolitan Statistical Area.
The county was long inhabited by indigenous peoples. People of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture developed a village and a platform mound on Tugaloo Island about 800 CE. The village and mound, both known as Tugaloo, were later occupied by other peoples until about 1700. Numerous other villages also developed along the river and its tributaries. Descendants of the Mississippians have been identified as the proto-Creek (Muscogee people). Allied with them in historic times were the Yuchi, who occupied the village known as Tugaloo, where they were replaced by the Cherokee.
While Cherokee began to move into this area from Tennessee under pressure by European Americans during and after the Revolutionary War, the Muscogee Creek continued to dominate the southern part of the county until they ceded their land to the United States in a treaty of 1794.
United States era
It was not until after the American Revolutionary War that European Americans began to settle here. The first were veterans who had been given land grants in lieu of pay; they migrated up the Savannah River and the Tugaloo River after the war.
The county was created on August 18, 1905 from parts of Franklin and Habersham counties, and was named for Alexander Stephens, U.S. representative, Vice President of the Confederate States of America, and fifty-third governor of Georgia. In Stephens' Cornerstone Speech of 1861, he expressed racist thought when he said that the Confederacy was founded “upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Stephens was charged with treason against the United States for his role in the American Civil War.
Toccoa was designated as the county seat and was the site of the county's two courthouses. The first courthouse was built in 1908, and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The second was built in 2000. The former courthouse is now used for county offices.
Despite the Great Depression, more industry developed in the county in the 1930s. J&P Coats Company purchased the Capps Cotton Mill in 1937 and operated it for nearly 70 years, before textile manufacturing jobs moved offshore to cheaper labor markets. In 1938 industrialist R.G. LeTourneau opened a manufacturing plant for earth-moving equipment. Later that year the Toccoa Airport was constructed. During World War II, the LeTourneau plant produced equipment for use by the military, employing 2000 people in this effort. In addition the US Army developed Camp Toccoa here, for training paratroopers.
Beginning in 1950, planning began for what was called the Hartwell Project, which envisioned dams on the Savanna and tributary rivers for flood control and hydropower generation. In addition, a large reservoir would be created, known as Lake Hartwell.
Prior to the flooding of this area by Lake Hartwell, produced behind the Hartwell Dam on the Savannah River, archeological studies were conducted in 1958 of known prehistoric and historic sites in the area. Among them, the Tugaloo Mound and village site by a team from the University of Georgia. The mound is still visible above the water, and a historic marker on Highway 123 at the Georgia-South Carolina border helps mark this spot.
On November 6, 1977, the earthen Kelly Barnes Dam collapsed after a period of heavy rainfall. The resulting flood swept through the campus of Toccoa Falls College, where it killed 39 people and caused $2.8 million in damage.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 184 square miles (480 km2), of which 179 square miles (460 km2) is land and 5.1 square miles (13 km2) (2.8%) is water. The county is located mainly within the upper Piedmont region of the state, with western portions of the county having the highest elevations and located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The northern half of Stephens County is located in the Tugaloo River sub-basin of the Savannah River basin. Lake Hartwell was created as a reservoir on the river after the construction of Hartwell Dam on the Savannah, completed in 1962. The southern half of the county is located in the Broad River sub-basin of the same Savannah River basin.
- Oconee County, South Carolina (north)
- Franklin County (south)
- Banks County (southwest)
- Habersham County (west)
National protected area
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 26,175 people, 10,289 households, and 7,236 families residing in the county. The population density was 146.1 inhabitants per square mile (56.4/km2). There were 12,662 housing units at an average density of 70.7 per square mile (27.3/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 85.1% white, 10.9% black or African American, 0.7% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 1.0% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 2.4% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 14.7% were American, 9.1% were Irish, 8.1% were German, and 7.4% were English.
Of the 10,289 households, 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.8% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 29.7% were non-families, and 25.7% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.96. The median age was 40.7 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $34,938 and the median income for a family was $41,768. Males had a median income of $35,814 versus $24,834 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,285. About 12.3% of families and 18.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.9% of those under age 18 and 16.0% of those age 65 or over.
- Cooksey, Elizabeth B. "Stephens County." New Georgia Encyclopedia. October 14, 2014. Web. May 18, 2016.
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Stephens County, Georgia
- North Georgia Technical College
- Toccoa Falls College
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- Hellmann, Paul T. (May 13, 2013). Historical Gazetteer of the United States. Routledge. p. 250. ISBN 978-1135948597. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
- "History (Stephens County)". Stephens County, GA. n.d. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
- "TFC Remembers the Flood | Toccoa Falls College". January 8, 2016. Archived from the original on January 8, 2016. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
- USGS, Brian McCallum. "USGS South Atlantic Water Science Center - The 1977 Toccoa Flood, Report of Failure of Kelly Barnes Dam Flood and Findings". www2.usgs.gov. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
- "Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission Interactive Mapping Experience". Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved July 31, 2019.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
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- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
- "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
- "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
- "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
- "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
- Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
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