During the colonial period, Georgia counties were divided into "Militia Districts" for the purpose of organizing a military company to defend the area from Indian raids or other threats. This practice continued after the Revolution, and as new counties were formed, new Militia Districts were created within their boundaries.
Each Georgia Militia District (GMD) was led by an elected Captain, who enrolled the names of every able-bodied male between the ages of 16 and 50 who lived within that District. "Muster Days", originally intended for military drilling, eventually evolved into little more than social events. According to George R. Gilmer in Georgians, many Oglethorpe County residents found these Muster Days "a great bore… and resented the practice of being taken away from their useful employments, to be made to stand in the sun, run about the old fields and get drunk…" District residents often elected a Captain who promised not to hold muster days!
The Militia system was abandoned during the Civil War period, but the district boundaries remain intact and retain their function as political subdivisions. Aside from providing a military company, Militia Districts were used as divisions for census enumeration, voting and taxation (Georgia taxpayers are still divided by GMD today).
Militia Districts were originally identified by the name of their Captain. When a new Captain was elected, the name of the district would change; Captain Smith’s District became Captain Mathew’s District. In 1804, each GMD was assigned a number, and these numbers remain in use today. Eventually, each district was also labeled with a "place name" (Goosepond, Beaverdam), and these names have also remained unchanged. However, the practice of referring to a District by its Captain’s name continued for some time on census and tax rolls… making it a challenge to determine which district is which when studying these records.