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Warthen Community

Warthen got it's name from a store at the crossroads of local and regional roads. Washington County once covered all the territory from the Cherokee corner to the North, from the Ogeechee to the Oconee and to Liberty in the South. At that time, Warthen was located centrally in Washington County.

In 1783, a small jail was built in Warthen. It was made of hand hewn logs with a roof made of wooden shingles and a roof vent above it's single door. County legend has it that in 1807, Col. Aaron Burr spent one night in the jail. He was under a military guard of U.S. Troops en route from New Orleans to Richmond, Virginia where Burr was to be tried for treason. When the party reached Warthen, Burr was placed in the jail and the troop detailed sentries to stand guard. The rest of the party spent the night in the home of Richard Warthen. This jail is the only log jail still in existence in Georgia.

As with any settlement, a need for order was realized and place in Warthen was chosen to be designated as the area in which Court was to be held. Superior Court Sessions were held in Warthen from 1787 until 1798. Warthen is a town rich in history from the people who settled it to the thriving town that it once was. In 1832, Bethlehem Academy was chartered. The school was begun by Richard Warthen and was one of the earliest schools in the county. The school was maintained by a lottery which was authorized for the purpose of an educational institution. Richard Warthen boarded students in his home which was actually two houses bolted together with no connecting doors. He housed female students on one side of the house and males on the other. The academy burned and was later replaced in 1904. Now the building is used as the Warthen Community Center.

Warthen has had a Baptist church since 1790, the year in which Bethlehem Baptist Church was built. In 1886, Thomas Warthen donated the land and had the Warthen United Methodist Church built so that his wife would have a place to worship.

From 1886 until 1933, the Augusta Southern Railroad had a stop in Warthen. Hooks Dairy shipped milk and butter on the line. The old depot still stands, but has been remodeled into a private residence. By the early 1900s until into the 1920s, Warthen prospered. The town featured a hotel, two banks, a telephone exchange , a blacksmith, a cotton gin and warehouse, three doctors and a drug store. In the early 1920s the appearance of the boll weevil dealt a devastating blow to a community that relied heavily on the economic success of it's cotton. The railroad soon closed and Warthen eventually became a shadow of its former self.

In 1997, Warthen was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This Page was Created July 2008 | Last Modified Sunday, 15-Mar-2015 14:18:04 MDT