Thursday, January 24, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Johnson County, Georgia

 What can I say about Johnson County?  It is the cradle of my family.  It was home to my father and 3-4 generations before him.  It is my heritage.  It is where I come from.  It is where all the funny, sad, and poignant family stories start.  As a matter of fact, there really aren't many conversations about the Tapley family that do not include some mention of Johnson County, Georgia.

Johnson County was created by the Georgia legislature December 11, 1858 from parts of Emanuel, Laurens and Washington counties. It was the 129th county formed in Georgia.  Johnson County was named for Georgia governor, senator, and unsuccessful U.S. vice-presidential candidate Herschel Vespasian Johnson.  The county seat is Wrightsville.  The county also has the towns of Kite and Adrian (which is actually partly in Johnson and partly in Emanuel County). 

County Courthouse, 1923
County Courthouse, 2010
My second great-grand uncle, James M. Tapley, was one of the founders of Johnson County, helped pick the location of the county seat, and was a representative in the Georgia Legislature when the county was first formed, 1859-1860.  Most of the family were farmers, but many of them took time out to serve the county.  My second great-grandfather, George Washington Tapley, was a Magistrate and Justice of the Peace.  Another second great-grandfather, George Schwalls, served as the county's coroner.  My grand uncle, Jim Tapley, was a deputy sheriff with the county.  Several members of the family served on juries.  My great-grand uncle, Francis Tapley, my great-grandfather Jim Tapley, and my great-grandfather, George Schwalls all represented the county as CSA soldiers in the Johnson County Battleground Guards, 48th Regiment. 

Most of my ancestors are buried in Johnson County.  My great-grandparents and many other family members are buried at Oaky Grove.  Other great-grandparents are buried at Minton's Chapel.  My Drake ancestors are buried at Popular Springs.  One set of grandparents and uncles are buried at Powell's Chapel.  My other grandparents and my father are buried at Gumlog.  Other various family members are buried at several different cemeteries throughout the county.  

I still have family members living in Johnson County.  My cousin, Bennett Wesley Tapley, Jr., who is my go-to person for Tapley family history, still lives there, and I try to visit him whenever I'm there. 

It is a relatively small county with a population of less than 10,000 people.  There is not much industry there - most folks are farmers - so the population has gone down due to the lack of jobs, I imagine. 

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 2,919
1870 2,964
1880 4,800
1890 6,129
1900 11,409
1910 12,897
1920 13,546
1930 12,681
1940 12,953
1950 9,893
1960 8,048
1970 7,727
1980 8,660
1990 8,329
2000 8,560
2010 9,980

However, if someone was looking for country, quiet, peaceful living, Johnson County, Georgia would be a good place to go!  Maybe that's why the population increased between 2000 and 2010!

I will continue to go back there... to visit my family and learn about my roots. 

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