Pulaski County

Incorporated: December 13, 1808
2010 Population: 12,010
Total Area: 247.4 Square miles

Pulaski County was created in 1808 from what was then Laurens County. Georgia’s 36th county was named for Polish Count Casimir Pulaski who died in Savannah of wounds suffered in the Revolutionary War. The Pulaski area was the capital of the Creek Indian Confederacy. Hawkinsville, the county seat of Pulaski County, was incorporated December 2, 1830. The city, nicknamed “City of Thirteen Highways”, is named after Colonel Benjamin Hawkins, a soldier in the Revolutionary War and U.S. Senator from North Carolina.

Hawkinsville is home to numerous cultural attractions, including one of the largest harness racing training facilities in the country. The town has had a long history of horse racing, and celebrates the Hawkinsville Harness Horse Festival every spring. There are six entries on the National Register of Historic Places from Pulaski County: the Hawkinsville Opera House, the Pulaski County Courthouse, Taylor Hall, Merritt-Ragan House, St. Thomas AME Church and the Hawkinsville Commercial and Industrial Historic District. Among the community’s most distinct features is the Ocmulgee River, which bisects the county and runs through the middle of the City. The Ocmulgee River is a focal point for recreational pursuits in the county, where residents and visitors enjoy boating, floating and fishing all year round.

Several notable people have ties to Pulaski County. Butler Brown, an artist, has had his work displayed in the White House; Mary Culler White was a missionary in China for most of her life; and Charles Johnson, a football player for the Hawkinsville Red Devils, Georgia Bulldogs and Carolina Panthers; and “Salty Sol” Fleischman, a respected sportscaster in the Tampa Bay area, were both born in the county.

* From: http://pulaskicounty.georgia.gov/03/home. Thank you to the Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs.

A Brief History of Pulaski County and the City of Hawkinsville *

Pulaski County was originally the capital of the Creek Indian Confederacy. Attracted by the lush countryside and abundant wildlife, the area was home to the Creeks until the turn of the nineteenth century when treaties declared the land American territory.

Located on the banks of the Ocmulgee River, the town quickly became a thriving trading post for Native Americans who lived to the west. General Andrew Jackson camped here with his army troops on the way to fight the Seminoles in Florida. In memory of the famous general, a large boulder with a bronze tablet bearing the inscription, “General Jackson’s Trail 1818,” can be seen on what is now the corner of Broad and Jackson Streets.

The County came within one vote of being the state capitol’s new site, and disgruntled residents mumbled the town’s loss was due to one man going fishing when he should have been voting.

Pulaski County’s land area began to grow in 1826 when the upper part of Dooly County was added. The General Assembly later granted Pulaski a portion of Houston County, which is currently the City of Hawkinsville.

Conveniently located on the Ocmulgee River, Hawkinsville became an important center for transporting freight. Today, the city is the terminal county seat of highways leading in from seven adjoining capitals- Perry, Cochran, Eastman, Abbeville, Vienna, Cordele and Oglethorpe- earning the city the title of “Hawkinsville, the Highway Hub.”

Hawkinsville is also known as the “Harness Horse Capital of Georgia,” and has been the winter home for harness horse training since the early 1920’s, serving horsemen from Northern and Midwestern states.

An interesting landmark in Pulaski County is the Old Opera House. Listed on the National Register of Historical Places, the Old Opera House was completely renovated in 2001 using local option sales taxes. Build in 1907, the Facility has given top billing to famous entertainers and politicians over the years. Oliver Hardy, part of the comedy duo of Laurel and Hardy, once sang on stage in a quartet during his stay with an aunt in Hawkinsville. Today, the Old Opera House is a popular location for community plays, music and dance recitals and other cultural events.

Also listed on the National Register of Historical Places is Taylor Hall, the oldest house in Pulaski County. The house was first constructed on the Ocmulgee River in 1824 by Robert Newsom, the county’s first physician.

Pulaski County’s rich heritage has been carefully preserved by residents and the Pulaski Historical Commission. Both the Commission and the Chamber of Commerce can provide additional information and direct visitors to points of interest.

* From http://www.hawkinsvillega.net/history.htm. Thank You to Georgia.Gov.

About the County’s Namesake: General Casimir Pulaski (1747-1779) *

After surviving numerous bloody campaigns against Russia, Count Casimir Pulaski retired to France in 1777, bitterly disappointed and deeply depressed at Poland’s failure to defeat her foes.

In Paris Pulaski met Benjamin Franklin, who was recruiting volunteers to fight in America’s War of Independence. Mindful that England had recommended that Poland be partitioned by her hostile neighbors in 1772, Pulaski enthusiastically responded to Franklin’s plea for assistance. In his letter of introduction to Washington, Franklin wrote of Pulaski as “an officer famous throughout Europe for his bravery and conduct in defense of the liberties of his country against … great invading powers”.

While awaiting his formal appointment by Congress, Pulaski was invited by Washington to serve on his staff during the Battle of Brandywine in September, 1777. Pulaski’s performance during this baptism of blood in America earned him a commission as Brigadier General of the entire American cavalry.

In 1779, Pulaski was ordered to join General Lincoln in the South to help recapture Savannah. After French General D’Estaing, leader in the attack on the southern capital, fell wounded, Pulaski is reported to have rushed forward to assume command and raise the soldiers’ spirits by his example and courage, only to be mortally wounded himself. Pulaski was named the “Father of the American Cavalry”, and remains one of the well known figures of the American Revolutionary War. There is hardly a state in America without a county or town, street or square, monument or tablet, school or highway named in grateful memory of General Casimir Pulaski.

* From http://www.polishamericancenter.org/Pulaski.htm