Liberty County gets a New County Seat (1837)


Liberty County Courthouse (1837-1926)

State Senator Charlton Hines, acting on a petition signed by a majority of Liberty County voters, introduced a bill in the state senate in November 1836 to relocate the county seat from "Riceborough to the general parade ground, or Zoucks Old Field, or within one mile thereof." The bill was approved by the General Assembly on December 30, 1836, and named William J. Way, Edwin H. Bacon, Enoch Daniel, John Shaw, and Newman Bradley as commissioners to pur­chase the property, construct public buildings at the new site, and effect the removal of the county seat.


The general parade ground, later used as a horse racing track at the National Guard Armory in Hinesville, had been used by the county militia since 1800 for musters and drills. It was owned by the state. Zoucks Old Field was a part of the John Martin estate. It was 25 acres of land originally owned by David Zoucks.


The commissioners purchased Zoucks Old Field from the John Martin estate, and hired slaves belonging to State Senator Charlton Hines to clear the land. It was on that property that the new county seat of Liberty County was established.


Advertisements of lots for sale in the new county seat appeared in a Savannah Newspaper as early as February 1837, but it was not initially surveyed until March 15, 1837. The first lot cleared was for a two-story wooden courthouse, considerably larger than the one-story wooden courthouse built at Riceboro in 1798. One lot was reserved for a school, which became Hinesville Academy. Another lot was reserved for a house of worship, which became a Methodist church be­cause a majority of the first land owners in the county seat were of the denomination.


First persons to purchase lots in Hinesville were William Hope, Edwin H. Bacon, State Senator Charlton Hines, John Shaw, William J. Way, Robert Hendry Jr., L.B. Daniel, Edward Way, Joseph G. Gannon, Angus Martin, James Brewer, and Andrew Floyd. Makeshift dwellings and a general store were constructed around the county courthouse before the end of 1837.


The first home of note in the area, built just outside the town limits, was constructed by Mary Jane Bacon, a widow, in 1839-1840. It became the property of Simon Alexander Fraser after he married her daughter, Mary William Bacon, in 1842. It has been the property of Frasers ever since. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places when this book was published.


The new county seat was already referred to as Hinesville in county records when the county seat was officially moved from Riceboro to Hinesville on September 12, 1837. It is reasonable to assume that it was named for State Senator Charlton Hines.


From "Sweet Land of Liberty, A History of Liberty County, Georgia" by Robert Long Groover; Page(s); Used by the permission of the Liberty County Commissioners Office