Johnson County was created by a bill introduced by Representative Swain M. Fortner on December 11, 1858. It was taken from Washington, Laurens and Emanuel counties and was 129th in the order of counties created in Georgia. It was named for Herschel Vespasian Johnson who served as Georgia’s Governor from 1853-1857. He was the Vice-Presidential candidate with Stephen A Douglas. He served in the U.S. Senate, Confederate Senate, and considered one of the most powerful orators in the nation.
Five Commissioners were appointed: John B. Wright, Thomas A. Parsons, James Hicks, James M. Tapley and Daniel Tison. They were to pick a suitable county seat. The site chosen was a piney ridge and sage brush field where two wagon roads crossed. Legend has it that the man whose contribution was greatest toward the establishment of the town, the town would bear his name. William P. Hicks gave 78 and 4/10 acres for the town. John B. Wright, the fifth largest slave owner in Georgia and who served twice in the legislature, gave $1000 cash. So the town was named Wrightsville. If land was worth then what it is now, it would have been Hicksville.
The County’s first courthouse was the Cedar Creek Primitive Baptist Church. The second was a rectangular brick structure that lasted until the present Courthouse was built in 1895, at a cost of $20,000. It was renovated in 1938 and again in 1995. It is listed on The National Register of Historic Places.
The beauty of nature blends with the charm of hometown traditions to create a special quality of life in Johnson County. Tree-lined streets and historic structures produce a gracious atmosphere. It is rare to find a community that offers a combination of friendly country living and contemporary services. While enjoying our rural heritage, Johnson County is strategically located within easy driving distance to Macon, Savannah, Augusta and Milledgeville.
Johnson County has produced two Rhodes Scholars, Paul E. Bryan and Walter S. Bryan. J. Eugene Cook served as the state’s longest Attorney General. It is home to Herschel Walker, a Heisman Trophy winner.
Kite was created in the 1890’s and named for Shaderick Kight. The spelling of Kite was to distinguish themselves from the original Kite’s from North Carolina. The Kite Museum, in the former Masonic Lodge, relates the history of Kite. Originally, the 2nd floor was used by the Masons and the 1st floor as a community center.
Adrian, composed of Johnson and Emanuel Counties, was chartered on December 19, 1899, having city limits of five-eighths of a mile. The line separating Emanuel and Johnson Counties runs through Adrian in the shape of a “Z”, making next door neighbors residents of different counties, because over 150 years ago Joe Hutcheson refused to live in the same county as Burel Kea. Each wanted the bridge over the Ohoopee River built on this property, County Commissioner Kea won, so Hutcheson, an influential landowner, persuaded the Legislature in 1857 to change the line putting his property in Johnson County. As a result the late Hardee Thigpen slept in Emanuel County, fed his horses in Treutlen County, and ate in Johnson County, all on his home site.