Georgia's McDuffie County was created from Columbia and Warren counties during the post-civil war reconstruction period on Oct. 18, 1870, by an act of the General Assembly. Georgia’s 132nd county was named after George McDuffie, who was born in the family home in McDuffie.
What began as a small settlement in Columbia County became a train stop on the Georgia Railroad in the 1830s. In 1853, the small town was named in honor of J. Edgar Thomson, who surveyed the route of the Georgia Railroad through the settlement 20 years earlier. In 1854, the legislature incorporated Thomson.
The act creating McDuffie County designated Thomson as its county seat, though leaving it to the probate judge to select the actual site for location of the courthouse and jail. When the ordinary declined to choose a site, the county's grand jury in 1871 appointed a committee to designate the land lot on which to build the courthouse. Until a courthouse could be built, county officials rented the first two floors of the Masonic building for holding court.
In August of 1872, the legislature authorized the ordinary to issue bonds up to $15,000 to finance construction of a courthouse and jail, with the county to levy a special tax to repay the bondholders. Subsequently, a courthouse was erected. It remains in use today. Wings were added and the courtroom was enlarged in 1934. Elevators and stairs were part of a major renovation in 1970.
McDuffie County was originally divided into five militia districts: Republican, Wrightsboro, Thomson, Dearing and Mt. Auburn. Also of interest is Wrightsboro, a community founded by Quakers in 1768. The Quakers all departed by the early 1800s because of their opposition to slavery and the town gradually declined after residents refused the railroad a right-of-way.
Gold was discovered near Thomson in 1823, although local gold mines only produced a total of $80,000 in gold bullion.