Named for James Madison, fourth president of United States, from 1809 to 1817, Madison County, was organized under act of General Assembly of Georgia, December 11, 1811. It was the 38th county formed in Georgia and began to operate as a county in 1812. Madison County formed from Oglethorpe, Clarke, Jackson, Franklin and Elbert counties.
Early agriculture in Madison County was devoted to food crops and livestock (cattle, hogs and sheep), which was sufficient to feed the population. Just after the Civil War ended, the demand for a cash crop led to a major reliance on cotton. The soils of Madison County were heavily damaged by this cotton culture. From the 1930s on, agriculture became more diverse. Today, agribusiness dominates the local economy, with poultry production particularly important.
Madison and Oglethorpe counties share Watson Mill Bridge State Park, the site of the longest covered bridge in Georgia. The bridge, which is over 100 years old, spans 229 feet of the South Fork of the Broad River. There are also facilities for camping, hiking trails, picnicking and fishing in the park.
The Madison County Courthouse, one of the most ornate in Georgia, was built in 1901 for the sum of $18,314. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. New Hope Presbyterian Church, established in 1788, is the third oldest church in Georgia.
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