When the Georgia Patriots declared their independence of England, they divided the state into eight counties to replace the twelve parishes set up by the Crown. The original Richmond County included all of modern Richmond, Columbia, and McDuffie Counties.
In 1777, the Constitution provided for public buildings - a courthouse and jail - to be erected in each county. The commissioners entered into a contract with Benjamin Few and William Chandler to construct the facilities at Brownsboro. (Reported to be in the vicinity of North Columbia Elementary School at Ray Owens and Yelton Roads.)
However, in 1780, the Assembly, claiming that "the remote situation of Brownsboro rendered it a very unsafe place for a jail and courthouse" ordered the buildings built at Augusta. Years passed with much political debate but no courthouse or jail was constructed, and lawlessness increased. In 1790, when the Legislature established Columbia County (which includes most of modern McDuffie) from Richmond, the tide of prosperity began to rise with tobacco and cotton being the major crops.
The creation of Columbia County apparently did not solve the political turmoil, however. Now Columbia County residents could not agree on the best place for the courthouse. For a short time the county seat was located at Cobham, then it moved to Kioka where the first courthouse was built. Around the turn of the nineteenth century, the seat of justice moved to its present location which became the social center of the area. The present courthouse was built in Appling in 1856 by architect John Trowbridge on part of a five acre tract sold to the county for five shillings by William Appling in 1792. When the Civil War came to an end, Columbia County had lost many of its finest citizens, most of its wealth, and the majority of its national political power. Because Thomson was so far from Columbia County's seat at Appling, the state legislature passed a bill creating McDuffie County from part of Columbia and Warren Counties in 1870. This greatly reduced the area of Columbia County.
Starting in the mid-1950s, the southern part of Columbia County became an ever-expanding bedroom community. Now, forty years later, the availability of water and sewer service, excellent schools, and pleasant climate has attracted tremendous residential and commercial growth.
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