There are a number of place names in Georgia that are more famously associated with other states. For example, everyone knows Nashville, Tennessee, as the center of the country music world. But there is also a Nashville, Georgia, which is the county seat of Berrien County in south Georgia. While much smaller than Music City, we are sure some folks there can belt out a country tune.
Knoxville, Tennessee, is noted as the home of the University of Tennessee. Knoxville, Georgia, is not the home of a big school, but is the county seat of Crawford County. And fortunately, its citizens do not wear all orange! At least when it’s not hunting season.
Moving north from Tennessee takes one to Lexington, Kentucky – home to another Southeastern Conference school, the University of Kentucky. Once again, our Lexington is not home to a big school, but is important in its own right: as the county seat of Oglethorpe County. Lexington is also home to one of Georgia’s most beautiful courthouses.
The other big city in Kentucky is famous for horse racing: Louisville, home to the Kentucky Derby. While Louisville, Georgia, is not noted for fast horses, it did serve as the state capital in the late 1790s and early 1800s. Today, it is the county seat of Jefferson County. And one other interesting note: here in Georgia we prefer to pronounce the ‘s’ in Louisville!
When one thinks of Greensboro, one normally thinks of North Carolina. But we have a Greensboro of our own right here in Georgia. Aptly named too, as it is the county seat of Greene County. Both city and county were named for Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene.
Greenville is usually associated with the large city in South Carolina. But again, we have a small town of our own named Greenville, the county seat of Meriwether County. Like Greensboro, Greenville was also named in honor of Nathanael Greene.
What do you think of when you hear Jacksonville? Florida, beaches, raucous football games once a year? Well, we do too, but there are actually two places in Georgia where they likely think differently: one in north Georgia’s Towns County and one in south Georgia’s Telfair County. No beaches in our Jacksonvilles, and hopefully not many Gators. There may be a few Bulldogs, though.
A place where one would expect to find a lot of Gators (of the human variety) is Gainesville, Florida: home of the University of Florida. But nestled near Lake Lanier in northeast Georgia is our own version of Gainesville. This Gainesville is the county seat of Hall County. For a relatively small city, it has a noted history: its courthouse square was destroyed by a tornado in 1936. When the courthouse square was rebuilt, it was dedicated by a speech from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
While football Gators reside to the south, to the west lies another football opponent for the University of Georgia: Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. But the Dawgs do not have to cross the state line to find an Auburn: there is a small town by that name just up the road from Athens in Barrow County. We have not seen many Tigers prowling around our Auburn, nor many War Eagles flying overhead. Bulldogs – of the human and canine variety – are common here.
Moving a little further west, one finds Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. While our Jackson here in Georgia is not the state capital, it is the county seat of Butts County. To our knowledge Johnny and June Carter Cash never sang a song about Jackson, Georgia, but we think they would have if they visited!
While Jackson is the capital of Mississippi, the University of Mississippi resides in Oxford. We can match that name here too: there is an Oxford in Newton County. And there is a college there as well, Oxford College of Emory University. Not as large as Oxford, Mississippi, perhaps, but the natives of Oxford are justifiably proud of their small town. And the education offered by Emory is enviable anywhere.
Moving even further west, past Louisiana and into the big state of Texas, finds one of the nation’s largest cities: Dallas. Famed for many things – Cowboys, a TV show, the oil industry – Dallas is unique, right? Well the city perhaps, but not the name. Dallas, Georgia, is the county seat of Paulding County, in west central Georgia. No professional football teams, no villainous J.R. Ewing characters, just southern charm in our Dallas!
From the south, we go north – way north – to New York and their state capital of Albany: a name we can also match. In Georgia, you have to go south – to Dougherty County – to find the county seat and our very own Albany. But don’t head down there pronouncing it like the Yankee city, down here we call it All Benny! Albany, Georgia, is also an important city for understanding the history of the Civil Rights movement in Georgia.
What do you think of when you hear Bean Town, Red Sox, Tea Parties (the original version)? Boston, Massachusetts of course. In deep south Georgia’s Thomas County lies our own Boston – they may grow beans, and play baseball, and we’re sure they love sweet iced tea like all good Southerners. Probably not much in common with Boston, MA, except the name.
Staying in the north, but not quite so far up, we find Cleveland, Ohio, sitting on the shore of Lake Erie. No huge body of water is necessary for our Cleveland: nestled in the north Georgia mountains, it is the county seat of White County. Tourism plays a major role in Cleveland, Georgia, as it is known as the “Gateway to the Moutains.” Also housed here is one of the more unique tourist destinations in the state: Babyland General Hospital, birthplace of the Cabbage Patch Kids!
Hollywood, California: Tinsel Town, home of the stars, origin of the famous Charlie Sheen rants! While the movie industry has been kind to Georgia in recent years, it has not (to our knowledge) reached our own Hollywood: a small town along the Habersham County/Stephens County border. You won’t see giant white letters announcing the town, but we think you can safely walk the streets of Hollywood, Georgia, without fear of paparazzi!
Washington, D.C., is our nation’s capital. Most states also have a city or town named after our first president, and Georgia is no exception. Our Washington is the county seat of Wilkes County. Interestingly, the area where Washington now sits was settled before Washington, D.C., was established. Washington, Georgia, is reputed to be the first city named in honor of George Washington.
You can see many more interesting place names on the Georgia Place Names site, part of GeorgiaInfo. And you can see where they are located by visiting the Historical Atlas of Georgia Counties.