The first white settlers set their sites on the Eastern part of Newton County.
They named the town Winton. Lack of adequate water caused the settlers to move
further west and establish Newtonsboro. A settlement known as Brick House caused
the land to briefly serve as the county seat of Newton County. However, the
inferior court selected the new community of Newtonsborough as county seat.
Shortly after, the town’s named changed to Covington after General Leonard
Covington, a hero in the war of 1812. On December 24, 1821, by the act of the
General Assembly Newton County was formed from Jasper, Walton and Henry Counties.
The named derived from John Newton a U.S. Army officer who had served at Fort
Recovery in southwest Georgia in 1794 and was killed during the War of 1812.
Newton County area attracted settlers with its abundance of resources, namely
timber for construction, good soil for cultivation and three major rivers to
power industry and support agriculture. Agriculture was the chief form of economic
development in Newton County until recently. Products included grains, vegetables,
cotton, timber, dairy and livestock. A group of County Leaders organized the
railroad in 1836, to encourage future prosperity through transportation of goods
and people. To support the growth of the community the Methodist Church founded
Emory College and then the City of Oxford in 1838. Union soldiers rode into
Newton County in July 1864 to destroy railroad and wagon bridges over the Yellow
and Alcovy (then called the Ulcofachachee) Rivers. General Sherman and his army
rode through Covington on November 18-19, 1864.
Public Education was not was not viewed as a responsibility of the government.
As a result public education in Newton County or in Georgia was not available
until the 1870s. In 1912, there were 26 schools for whites with 1,890 pupils
and 27 schools for blacks with 1,492 pupils. The state only provided support
through 7 grades. Therefore, a high school was not available. The school systems
joined in 1947. Completion of a rail line from Gordon to Covington encouraged
a group of businessmen to found Mansfield in 1903.
Today, Newton County is governed by an elected Board of Commissioners consisting
of a full-time Chairman who is elected “at large” and five District
Commissioners. Newton County has five municipalities consisting of Covington,
which is the County Seat, Mansfield, Oxford, Porterdale and Newborn. All of
the cities have their own Mayors and City Councils.