ACTUAL FACTUAL GEORGIA: Eight counties were first in Georgia

Andy Johnston with Fast Copy News Service wrote this column; Chris J. Starrs contributed. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).

Q: What was Georgia’s first county and when was it created? I assume Chatham or one of the coastal counties was first.

A: Georgia likes its counties, so eight were created by Georgia's first constitution on Feb. 5, 1777.

What else would you expect from our state?

There are 159 counties in Georgia, the most of any state except for Texas, which is quite a bit bigger. (There are 254 counties in Texas, by the way.)

Anyway. Back to the answer.

Georgia’s first eight counties were Burke, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Richmond and Wilkes.

Savannah is in Chatham County, and the rest of the original eight are either on the coast (Camden, Glynn and Liberty) or were influenced by the Savannah River and other rivers.

Seven (all but Liberty) of Georgia’s original counties were named for English men who supported the American colonies, while Liberty was chosen for appropriate reasons considering the Revolution was being fought at that time.

And seven (all but Wilkes) were formed from existing church parishes.

Wilkes, the most northern of the original eight, was formed from land ceded from Native Americans and the county seat of Washington was named for George Washington.

As for the final county formed in Georgia, I’ll save that for another time.

Q: How do natives of McDonough say the name of their town? Is pronouncing it like “Mc-Dunnah” a TV and radio announcer thing, or accurate? I admit it bugs me, but if it’s authentic, I’ll accept it.

—Bill Brockman, Atlanta

A: This bothers a lot of folks, especially McDonough natives.

So when this question came up five years ago, I went to one of them for an answer.

Mayor Billy Copeland is a McDonough native whose family goes back practically to the city’s creation in the early 1820s.

He said he pronounces the city name as Mac-DON-uh. Folks who say Mc-Dunnah or Mick-DUN-a or use other pronunciations aren’t from around those parts, he said.

AJC readers confirmed Copeland’s pronunciation in an article last September, with one writing that “Mick-DUN-a” is “NOT acceptable to those of us who are natives of the city.”