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Fitzgerald, Georgia
Fitzgerald City Hall
Fitzgerald City Hall
Motto(s): 
"History, Harmony, Heritage"
Location in Ben Hill County and the state of Georgia
Location in Ben Hill County and the state of Georgia
Country United States
State Georgia
Counties Ben Hill, Irwin
Area
 • Total 9.10 sq mi (23.57 km2)
 • Land 8.95 sq mi (23.19 km2)
 • Water 0.15 sq mi (0.38 km2)
Elevation
361 ft (110 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 9,053
 • Estimate 
(2019)
8,662
 • Density 967.61/sq mi (373.59/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
31750
Area code 229
FIPS code 13-29528
GNIS feature ID 0355809

The city of Fitzgerald is the county seat of Ben Hill County in the south central portion of the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 9,053. It is the principal city of the Fitzgerald Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Ben Hill and Irwin counties.

History

Fitzgerald was developed in 1895 by Philander H. Fitzgerald, an Indianapolis newspaper editor and a former drummer boy in the Union Army, who founded it as a community for Civil War veterans – both from the Union and from the Confederacy. The majority of the first citizens (some 2700) were Union veterans. It was incorporated on December 2, 1896. The town is located less than 15 miles (24 km) from the site of the capture of Confederate president Jefferson Davis on May 10, 1865.

Fitzgerald is one of the few truly planned cities in the United States. The city was laid out as a square, with intersecting streets dividing it into four wards. Each of the wards was divided into four blocks and each block had sixteen squares. Streets running North/South on the east side of the city were named after Confederate ships and generals, whereas the ones on the west side were named after Union ships and generals.

After about a year, the citizens planned a Thanksgiving harvest parade. Separate Union and Confederate parades were planned. However, when the band struck up to play, the Confederates joined the Union veterans to march as one beneath the US flag.

In recent years, the unofficial, and sometimes controversial, mascot of the city has become the red junglefowl, a wild chicken native to the Indian subcontinent. In the late 1960s, a small number were released into the woods surrounding the city and have thrived to this day.

Historical sites

The Ben Hill County Courthouse and Ben Hill County Jail in Fitzgerald are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Fitzgerald Commercial Historic District was listed on the Register on April 28, 1992. It is generally bounded by Ocmulgee, Thomas, Magnolia and Lee Streets. The South Main-South Lee Streets Historic District was listed in April 13, 1989 and is generally bounded by Magnolia Street, S. Main Street, Roanoke Drive, and S. Lee Street. The Dorminy-Massee House at 516 W. Central Avenue, the Holtzendorf Apartments at 105 W. Pine Street, and the Miles V. Wilsey House at 137 Hudson Road are also listed on the register.

Geography

Fitzgerald is located in south central Georgia at 31°42′56″N 83°15′23″W / 31.71556°N 83.25639°W / 31.71556; -83.25639 (31.715432, -83.256464). U.S. Route 129 passes through the center of the city, leading north to Abbeville, Hawkinsville, and eventually Macon, and south to Ocilla, Nashville, and Lakeland. U.S. Route 319 also passes through Fitzgerald, leading northeast to McRae and Dublin and southwest to Tifton.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.0 square miles (23.3 km2), of which 8.8 square miles (22.9 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 1.64%, is water.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 1,817
1910 5,795 218.9%
1920 6,870 18.6%
1930 6,412 −6.7%
1940 7,388 15.2%
1950 8,130 10.0%
1960 8,781 8.0%
1970 8,187 −6.8%
1980 10,187 24.4%
1990 8,612 −15.5%
2000 8,758 1.7%
2010 9,053 3.4%
2019 (est.) 8,662 −4.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 9,053 people living in the city. 51.2% were African American, 42.1% White, 0.3% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from some other race and 1.1% from two or more races. 4.3% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 2000, there were 8,758 people, 3,448 households, and 2,210 families living in the city. The population density was 1,208.8 people per square mile (466.4/km2). There were 3,968 housing units at an average density of 547.7 per square mile (211.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 49.27% African American, 47.27% White, 0.18% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 2.28% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.43% of the population.

There were 3,448 households, out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.3% were married couples living together, 23.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.12.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 28.3% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 83.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $20,805, and the median income for a family was $26,577. Males had a median income of $26,674 versus $17,211 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,775. About 26.7% of families and 31.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 45.8% of those under age 18 and 22.1% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Fitzgerald is home to the Dorminy-Massee House, now a bed and breakfast. Built in 1915 by J. J. (Captain Jack) Dorminy for his family, this two-story, colonial-style home is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Education

Ben Hill County Board of Education
Ben Hill County School District headquarters
Fitzgerald High School
Fitzgerald High School

The Ben Hill County School District conducts pre-school to grade twelve, and consists of one pre-school, one primary school, an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. The district has 217 full-time teachers and over 3,395 students.

  • Ben Hill County PreK
  • Ben Hill County Primary School
  • Ben Hill County Elementary School
  • Ben Hill County Even Start
  • Ben Hill County Middle School
  • Fitzgerald High School College and Career Academy

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College – Ben Hill-Irwin Campus is located on the southern end of the county.

Notable people

  • Morris B. Abram, president of Brandeis University and civil rights leader
  • Brainard Cheney, author
  • Neal Colzie, NFL defensive back
  • General Raymond G. Davis, USMC, World War II hero, Korean War Medal of Honor recipient, Commander of the 3rd Marine Division in 1968–69 in Vietnam, and Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps 1971-72
  • Abner Jay, blues musician
  • Frances Mayes, author
  • Charlie Paulk, seventh pick of 1968 NBA draft
  • Joe Reliford, youngest professional baseball player
  • Forrest Towns, 1936 Summer Olympics track star
  • Jemea Thomas, former NFL cornerback
  • Leah Robyn Masee, Miss Georgia 2007, Miss America contestant 2008
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