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Oconee Community

Oconee was the name of one of the tribes of Creek Indians that inhabited early Washington County. The Creek Indians lived along the rivers and streams in the piedmont and coastal plains of Georgia. This particular tribe lent it's name to the Oconee River and the town around it. The earliest communities of the area developed around the Ohoopee Baptist Church.

Georgia Governor Jared Irwin built Fort Irwin and his home "Union Hill" near here in I 786. Other early settlers include the following families: Cox, Raines, Dean, Hodges, King, Wood, Smith, Thompson, Martin, Lawson, Cason, Adkins and Fish.

The single most important factor in the development in the town of Oconee was the railroad. In 1840, the engineers that designed the railroad decided to follow the shoulder of Sand Hill Creek from Tennille to the Oconee River. Oconee developed in 1843 around the railroad. The railroad caused Oconee to prosper as farmers and merchants came to the area to buy and sell the products transported by the railroad.

During the Civil War, several skirmishes were fought in the area as Wheeler's Calvary tried hard to fight off Sherman's troops on their March to the Sea. Sherman burned two trainloads of food here; food intended for Federal prisoners at Andersonville. After the war, Oconee was still an important stop on the railroad. The Snell House, a hotel provided food and lodging for train passengers until it burned in the 1920s.

On February 28, 1876, Oconee received it's first charter, however it's government became inactive around the turn of the century and a new charter of incorporation wasn't granted until 1963.

During the early 1900s, Oconee had several schools. Later, Oconee Consolidated School replaced the three smaller academies; Oconee Academy, Bay Springs Academy, and Elkins School. The Consolidated School closed in tile mid 1950s. Cleveland-Oconee Lumber Company was established in Oconee in 1910 and at this time was the largest industry in the county providing jobs for 300 employees. The 1920 census showed Oconee with a population of 550 the forth largest town in the county at that time. In 1921 a tornado came through Oconee taking 20 lives and causing substantial damage. In 1967 a city water system was completed. A fire engine had been purchased two years earlier and by 1975, both a new city hall and a tennis court had been built. In 1986 Oconee celebrated it's 110 Anniversary

Oconee has seen it's share of businesses come and go through the years. It has been home to several groceries, service stations, restaurants, general stores, a bait & tackle and even a health care center

This Page was Created July 2008 | Last Modified Saturday, 26-Jul-2014 12:49:19 MDT