Irwin County in central Georgia, is the state's forty-first county, created in 1818 from land acquired from Creek Indians in 1814 by the Treaty of Fort Jackson. The county, one of seven created by the state legislature in 1818, once encompassed much more territory. Counties carved from it were Lowndes and Thomas (1825), Worth (1853), Coffee (1854), Berrien (1856), Wilcox (1857), Tift and Turner (1905), and Ben Hill (1906). It was named for Jared Irwin, a governor of Georgia most famous for rescinding the fraudulent Yazoo Act.
The county was divided into sixteen land districts, each composed of several hundred lots, in 1818. There were some settlers in the area, most of them from other parts of the South, even before the county was formed. Much of the land was virgin pine forest. Many of the original settlers lived first by subsistence farming and hunting and moved later into cattle ranching after establishing their homesteads. Eventually, settlers produced cotton and fruit, as well as cattle, for the market.
The county's most famous incident occurred during the Civil War (1861-65). Confederate president Jefferson Davis was captured a mile north of Irwinville, by Union forces, in 1865. The spot where he was surrounded is marked in the Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site, a thirteen-acre park that features a museum, hiking trail, and picnic facilities.