Wilkes County was the first county established in Georgia with the formation of their 1777 Constitution. The county seat, Washington, was incorporated three years later. Wilkes County and the town of Washington have played a significant role in Georgia’s history and culture.
Wilkes County was named after John Wilkes (not to be confused with John Wilkes Booth), a member of the British Parliament, a supporter of parliamentary reform, and American Independence. The city of Washington was of course named after George Washington.
The battle of Kettle Creek, in the American Revolution, was fought in Washington-Wilkes, and drove the British out of northeastern Georgia. Again in the American Civil War, Washington-Wilkes played an instrumental role. The last cabinet meeting of the Confederacy, which was attended by Jefferson Davis, was held in the Bank of Georgia building (also known as the Heard House).
- Wilkes County had the first cotton gin in the United States.
- Georgia’s first free public library, the Mary Willis Library, was built here.
- The Confederacy’s first Secretary of State and father of Georgia’s 1877 Constitution, Robert Augustus Toombs, was born in Washington-Wilkes.
- Washington has more historic buildings per capita than any other place in Georgia.
- Sarah Porter Hillhouse, who lived in Washington, was Georgia’s first female newspaper editor.
- The Washington Little Theater has quarterly performances and other special events.
- Read a good book at the Mary Willis Library, a part of the Bartram Trail Library system.
- Take the Washington-Wilkes Spring Tour of Homes, and see several of the town’s most lovely buildings.
- Worship at one of the dozens of churches in Wilkes County.
- See the artwork of Laura Connely.
- Check out some of Washington-Wilkes’ festivals, celebrations, and car shows.
- Enjoy racing at the Aonia Pass Motocross Park.
- Go camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, archery, and a whole lot more at the Elijah Clark State Park.
- See the beautiful house and grounds at the Robert Toombs Historic Site ($5 admission).
- Learn all about Wilkes County & Washington at the Washington Historical Museum ($3 admission).
- Visiting the Callaway Plantation will give you a taste of what plantation life in Wilkes County was like 200 years ago.
- Enjoy local produce and baked goods every Saturday at the local Farmers’ Market.
- Go Shopping!
- Washington has a wide variety of excellent dining locations.
- For more, check out the Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce Website.