Formed in 1870 during Reconstruction after the US Civil War, Douglas County was originally named by the reconstruction legislature after Frederick Douglass, the Civil War-era abolitionist. However, at the end of Reconstruction, the second "s" was quietly dropped and the designated honoree was changed to Stephen A. Douglas, an Illinois senator and the Democratic opponent of Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860.
The Oct. 17, 1870 act creating Douglas County provided that on the first Monday in November 1870, voters of the new county would elect county officers, and also by ballot would select the site of the county seat. In the election, some voters chose a site near the center of the county, but a larger number voted for several different named sites (which may have been different names for the settlement known as "Skinned Chestnut" or "Skin(t) Chestnut"--the early name of Douglasville). Thinking that the majority of voters had intended Skinned Chestnut, the courthouse commissioners chose this site as county seat and proceeded to sell lots and build a courthouse.
However, a group of citizens filed suit against the commissioners. The case ultimately went to the Supreme Court of Georgia, which ruled against the commissioners. However, both sides agreed to postpone further action until the route of the Georgia Western Railroad through Douglas County was determined. To clear up the matter, the General Assembly enacted legislation on Feb. 28, 1874, directing that an election be held on Apr. 7, 1874, to determine the location of the county seat—but with the provision that the site be located on the Georgia Western Railroad. In the election, voters confirmed Douglasville as the county seat. On Feb. 25, 1875, the General Assembly incorporated Douglasville.