Watkinsville is the largest town and county seat of Oconee County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town had a total population of 2,832. It served as the seat of Clarke County until 1872 when the county seat of that county was moved to Athens, a move which ultimately led to the creation of Oconee County in 1875. It is included in the Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Oconee County Courthouse in Watkinsville, Georgia
|• Total||3.30 sq mi (8.55 km2)|
|• Land||3.27 sq mi (8.46 km2)|
|• Water||0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)|
|Elevation||719 ft (219 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||899.23/sq mi (347.24/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0333373|
Watkinsville is located at (33.862818, -83.408094).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2), of which 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2) is land and 0.31% is water. Watkinsville is located near the University of Georgia.
Pedestrians and cyclingEdit
The city has limited walkability options available. However, since 2017 plans are being discussed to develop a multi-use trail network. A new sidewalk on VFW Drive (and a few surrounding streets) and a planned sidewalk and pedestrian bridge along Harden Hill Road have changed that perception greatly. Phase I of the construction of the Harden Hill sidewalk was recently contracted and has begun to be finished by Christmas 2019.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,097 people, 827 households, and 578 families residing in the town. The population density was 650.6 people per square mile (251.4/km2). There were 862 housing units at an average density of 267.4 per square mile (103.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 89.08% White, 7.34% African American, 0.05% Native American, 1.62% Asian, 0.48% Pacific Islander, 0.86% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.96% of the population.
There were 827 households, out of which 36.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.1% were non-families. 24.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 26.8% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 33.0% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $45,729, and the median income for a family was $55,170. Males had a median income of $32,295 versus $26,168 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,968. About 3.8% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.9% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.
Named after colonel Robert Watkins, Watkinsville was first named in records in 1791. It was located on the dangerous western frontier of the new United States. The Methodist Church played a prominent role in the city’s early history. The Georgia General Assembly incorporated Watkinsville in 1815.
Watkinsville had previously been in Clarke County. Oconee County was created from the southwestern part of Clarke County in 1875 by the Georgia General Assembly.
On 30 June 1905, Watkinsville saw one of the worse outbreaks of racial violence ever in Georgia. In one instance, 8 men, 7 of whom were black, were pulled from a local jail and lynched. The lynching occurred due to two events. One of which was accusations that Sandy Price, one of the black males, assaulted a white woman named Weldon Dooley at her home in Watkinsville. Secondly, unsupported rumors spread that black males had killed a white couple known as the Holbrooks. This provoked the town people further. Price tried to flee from a crowd of angry locals, who chased and fired at him. He escaped the crowd of people, but was captured by the law and placed in jail. News of Price’s jailing reached the people and they begun planning his killing. People from the surrounding areas gathered together and forcefully retrieved the key to the jail cells from L.H. Alken, the Marshall of the local jail. According to two eyewitnesses, the mob tied the African Americans and one white man to posts outside the jail after retrieving them, then shot them multiple times with pistols, rifles, and shotguns. The only survivor of the killings was Joe Patterson, who was shot in the head and torso, but found still breathing by the crowd. One black male inside the jail, Ed Thrasher, was spared from the lynching. Another incident occurred on 1917 that could have been racially motivated.
Watkinsville is governed by a five-person elected city council, which is led by a separately elected mayor. The current mayor is Bob Smith, and the current city council members are Brian Brodrick, Connie Massey, Marcia Campbell, Christine Tucker, and Daniel Matthews. All three incumbents won re-election in 2018 (Post 3's Campbell, Post 4's Tucker, and Post 5's Matthews). Shearon requalified to run for a second term against former State Rep. Bob Smith, with Smith winning a contentious election by two votes, 402-400. Connie Massey defeated Jonathan Kirkpatrick in the November 2019 municipal election, although Kirkpatrick has agreed to serve on the Planning Commission for the City. The newly appointed chief of police is Shannon Brock. The city clerk is Julie Sanders. The City Manager is Sharyn Dickerson, formerly an Athens-Clarke Commissioner.
The Oconee County School District provides primary and secondary public education services for all residents of Watkinsville. The only public schools within the Watkinsville city limits are Colham Ferry Elementary School, Oconee County Elementary School, Oconee County Primary School, Oconee County Middle School, and Oconee County High School. Watkinsville has one of the best education systems in Georgia as ranked by the Georgia Department of Education. There are also several private schools such as Westminster Christian Academy, Athens Academy, and Prince Avenue Christian School.
Arts and cultureEdit
Watkinsville has the unofficial motto "The Artland of Georgia" on the wall of the Community Center, as designed by the late artist Jim Shearon. The Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation or OCAF is located in Watkinsville in the old high school as part of the 1902 OCAF Center and Gallery near the Board of Education. The Iron Horse sculpture stands in a field approximately twelve miles south of Watkinsville (barely in Greene County).
- Nathan Crawford Barnett, member of the Georgia House of Representatives and Georgia Secretary of State for more than 30 years.
- Alan Busenitz, baseball player
- Ed Crowley, baseball player
- Atticus Haygood, Methodist Bishop and president
- Hank Huckaby, chancellor of University System of Georgia
- Zach Mettenberger, NFL quarterback for Tennessee Titans
- Jeannette Rankin, an American politician and women's rights advocate, she founded the Georgia Peace Society in 1928.
- Tony Taylor, pro football player
- Buck Thrasher, baseball player
- John Wes Townley, retired NASCAR driver, notable for driving Zaxby's car
- Marcus Wiedower - Politician. Member of Georgia House of Representatives. 
- "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- 2010 Census Population Map
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Plans for Oconee County taking shape". Gate House Media LLC. 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Luckett, Robert (February 2006). "Watkinsville". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 2020. Check date values in:
- Thompson, Adam (22 November 2007). "Group to look for lost graves from notorious 1905 lynching". Savannah Morning News. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
- Georgia Board of Education, Retrieved June 24, 2010.
- Matthews Jr., Daniel J (April 28, 2004). "City residents voice concerns over streets | Online Athens". onlineathens.com. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Shearer, Lee (3 June 2015). "Iconic Iron Horse's hooves eaten by rust, but will be repaired". Retrieved 25 June 2016.
- "Representative Marcus Wiedower". legis.ga.gov. Retrieved April 21, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Marcus Wiedower's Biography". Vote Smart. Retrieved April 21, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)