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Newton County was first inhabited by the Creek Indians until 1813 when Governor Thorp negotiated a treaty in which the Creeks gave up their claim to the land. The yielding of Indian lands and the state Land Lotteries of 1805, 1807, 1820 and 1821 were very important in forming Newton County. The Creek Nation ceded the land distribution to the United States in a treaty held November 14, 1805; this resulted in the 1807 land lottery. The last of the Creek Indians were banished to Oklahoma over the "Trail of Tears" after a decade.

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.



 

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