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Sumter County, Georgia facts for kids

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Sumter County
Sumter County Courthouse in Americus
Sumter County Courthouse in Americus
Map of Georgia highlighting Sumter County
Location within the U.S. state of Georgia
Map of the United States highlighting Georgia
Georgia's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Georgia
Founded December 26, 1831; 191 years ago (1831)
Named for Thomas Sumter
Seat Americus
Largest city Americus
Area
 • Total 493 sq mi (1,280 km2)
 • Land 483 sq mi (1,250 km2)
 • Water 10 sq mi (30 km2)  2.0%%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2018)
29,733
 • Density 68/sq mi (26/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 2nd

Sumter County is a county located in the west-central portion of the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, its population was 32,819. The county seat is Americus. The county was created on December 26, 1831.

Sumter County is part of the Americus micropolitan statistical area.

History

Foundation and antebellum years

Sumter County was established by an act of the state legislature on December 26, 1831, four years after the Creek Indians vacated the region when the state acquired the territory from them in the 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs. Sumter, the state's eightieth county, was created after population increases by a division of Lee County, now situated to its south. The county was named for former General and United States senator Thomas Sumter (1734–1832) of South Carolina. when the county was organized, Sumter was ninety-seven years old and the last surviving general of the American Revolution (1775–83).

Shortly thereafter, a committee chose a central site for the county seat and laid out what would become the town of Americus. Many of the county's earliest white residents acquired their land through an 1827 state land lottery. Like many other white settlers, they quickly developed their property for cotton cultivation. Since the invention of the cotton gin at the end of the 18th century, short-staple cotton was the type of choice throughout the Black Belt of the South.

The rich black soil, combined with ready market access via the Flint River (bordering the county on the east) or the Chattahoochee River (farther west), made Sumter among the state's most prosperous Black Belt counties by the 1840s and 1850s. Cotton agriculture was economically dependent on enslaved African Americans. By the 1850 census, the demographic makeup of the county had become 6,469 whites, 3,835 slaves, and 18 free people of color. By the 1860 census, there were 4,536 whites, 4,890 slaves and 2 free people of color.

Civil War years

During the American Civil War (1861–65), the small village named Andersonville, nine miles (14 km) north of Americus on the county's northern edge, was selected by Confederate authorities as the site for a prisoner-of-war camp. The Andersonville prison was built in neighboring Macon County and became the largest such prison in the South. During the camp's fourteen months of operations, some 45,000 Union prisoners suffered some of the worst conditions and highest casualties of any of the camps. Today the Andersonville National Historic Site serves as a memorial to all American prisoners of war throughout the nation's history. The 495-acre (2.00 km2) park lies in both Macon and Sumter counties and consists of the historic prison site and the National Cemetery, which originally was reserved for the Union dead.

Into modernity

Other areas of the county have attracted national attention in the twentieth century for very different reasons. In 1942 two Baptist ministers chose a farm in the western part of the county as the location for a Christian commune named Koinonia, where black and white workers lived and worked together for nearly fifty years, generating some hostility among local residents during its early years.

Sumter County counts a U.S. president among its native sons. Jimmy Carter was born and raised on a peanut farm in Plains, a small community on the county's western edge. His election to the presidency in 1976 brought the small town considerable attention from journalists and tourists, which it continues to receive as the former president and his wife, and much of their family, still make Plains their home. Carter's birthplace and childhood home has been designated a National Historic Site and is open for tours.

The headquarters of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate homelessness, is located in Americus, the home of its founder, Millard Fuller. In addition to Habitat's socially impactful activities, Koinonia Partners publishes a bimonthly newsletter for the Prison and Jail Project promoting prisoner reform and education. Americus is also home to two colleges: Georgia Southwestern State University, a public four-year institution established in 1906, is part of the University System of Georgia. South Georgia Technical College, which stands near Souther Field, was a training base for American and British aviators during World War I (1917–18). Charles Lindbergh learned to fly here and assembled a military surplus "Jenny" aircraft with the help of mechanics at Souther Field. Downtown Americus boasts two prominent examples of historic restoration: the Windsor Hotel, built in 1892, and the Rylander Theatre, which originally opened in 1921.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 493 square miles (1,280 km2), of which 483 square miles (1,250 km2) is land and 10 square miles (26 km2) (2.0%) is water.

Muckalee Creek flows through Sumter County, which also contains Lake Blackshear and Kinchafoonee Creek.

The western two-thirds of Sumter County, from northeast of Americus to southwest of Leslie, is located in the Kinchafoonee-Muckalee sub-basin of the ACF River Basin (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin). The eastern third of the county is located in the Middle Flint River sub-basin of the same ACF River Basin.

Major highways

  • US 19.svg U.S. Route 19
  • US 280.svg U.S. Route 280
  • Georgia 3.svg State Route 3
  • Georgia 27.svg State Route 27
  • Georgia 30.svg State Route 30
  • Georgia 45.svg State Route 45
  • Georgia 49.svg State Route 49
  • Georgia 118.svg State Route 118
  • Georgia 153.svg State Route 153
  • Georgia 195.svg State Route 195
  • Georgia 228.svg State Route 228
  • Georgia 271.svg State Route 271
  • Georgia 308.svg State Route 308
  • Georgia 377.svg State Route 377

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 5,759
1850 10,322 79.2%
1860 9,428 −8.7%
1870 16,559 75.6%
1880 18,239 10.1%
1890 22,107 21.2%
1900 26,212 18.6%
1910 29,092 11.0%
1920 29,640 1.9%
1930 26,800 −9.6%
1940 24,502 −8.6%
1950 24,208 −1.2%
1960 24,652 1.8%
1970 26,931 9.2%
1980 29,360 9.0%
1990 30,228 3.0%
2000 33,200 9.8%
2010 32,819 −1.1%
2018 (est.) 29,733 −9.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, 32,819 people, 12,123 households, and 8,153 families wereliving in the county. The population density was 68.0 inhabitants per square mile (26.3/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 51.8% African American, 42.2% White, 1.3% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 3.3% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 5.2% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 7.3% were American, 6.6% were English, and 5.8% were Irish.

Of the 12,123 households, 35.0% had children under 18 living with them, 39.4% were married couples living together, 23.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 32.7% were not families, and 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.55, and the average family size was 3.11. The median age was 33.8 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $32,430 and or a family was $41,371. Males had a median income of $33,676 versus $27,247 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,436. About 21.7% of families and 26.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 37.8% of those under age 18 and 14.1% of those age 65 or over.

2020 census

Sumter County racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 11,528 38.92%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 15,051 50.82%
Native American 40 0.14%
Asian 503 1.7%
Pacific Islander 4 0.01%
Other/Mixed 720 2.43%
Hispanic or Latino 1,770 5.98%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 29,616 people, 11,510 households, and 7,256 families residing in the county.

Communities

Economy

Sumter remains largely a rural county. According to USDA/Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service 2001 figures, cotton remains its major crop, with up to 35,000 acres (140 km2) under cultivation, followed by wheat, peanuts, and corn, which when combined, roughly equal the county's acreage in cotton.

Its major employers include Cooper Lighting, Georgia Southwestern State University, Magnolia Manor, Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, and Walmart.

Education

Sumter County School District operates public schools.

Southland Academy is a private school in Americus.

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