Winder is a mid-size rural town located between Athens, GA and Lawrenceville, GA.
Winder has a long and fascinating history. From the discovery of the native village of Snodon in the years following the Revolutionary war to the incorporation of the Town of Jug Tavern, and on to becoming Winder in 1893, the City of Winder has developed from a small settlers outpost to a city at the crossroads of Northeast Georgia.
Winder has a long and rich history. It was a place for early settlement, being first occupied hundreds of years ago by Creek Indians, who called it Snodon. Activities centered around what are now Athens and Church streets. When white settlers established homes and farms near that village in 1793, the town was renamed, becoming The Jug, and, ten years later; Jug Tavern. At that time, the town had a population of 37 persons. The first school was built on 11.5 acres, known as the Academy Lot, located at the intersection of West Athens and Church streets. An historic marker now commemorates the site. For protection from hostile Indians, Fort Yargo was constructed, one of four such forts built in the area by the Humphrey brothers.
Jug Tavern grew slowly during the decades before the Civil War. The town, at the time of its origin, extended from the railroad crossing of Broad Street (then known as Jefferson Road) for one-half mile into three counties: Jackson, Walton and Gwinnett. In 1884, Jug Tavern was incorporated by the Georgia General Assembly. It was first governed by a mayor and four aldermen who were elected annually. The first mayor, N. J. Kelly, took the oath of office on January 8, 1885.
During the Civil War, Jug Tavern was largely untouched, though a number of its young men fought in several battles. Towards the end of that conflict, however, as the northern armies of General William T. Sherman approached, two important skirmishes took place nearby; first in the fight known as the Battle of Jug Tavern in July of 1864, and, during the following month, the Battle of King's Tanyard. Ten years after the arrival of the first Georgia, Carolina and North Railroad Passenger Train, Jug Tavern was again renamed to the City of Winder.
While farming remained the chief occupation of most of the area's citizens, many residents began working in newly forming manufacturing enterprises, including Winder Foundry and Machinery, Bell Overall, Smith Hardware and Winder Cotton Mill (later the Winder Rug Mill). Retailing also grew in downtown which included general merchandisers, drugstores, dry goods, sundries and bakeries. Four churches were constituted, a hotel was built, and a volunteer fire department was formed. Increasingly, Winder became an important trade center in Eastern Georgia.
Being situated in three counties caused continuous legal problems and governance confusion for the residents and businesses of Winder. It required almost 75 years, and followed many aborted efforts, for Barrow County to be established. Finally, on July 7, 1914, the Georgia General Assembly carved territory from Gwinnett, Jackson and Walton Counties to create the new county, Barrow, with Winder as the county seat. Each of these counties utilized a river as the line which would separate the donated land in the former counties from the future Barrow County. The new county was named for the Chancellor of the University of Georgia, David Crenshaw Barrow. A handsome new courthouse designed by James J. Baldwin was completed in 1920 at a cost of $133,400.00. The court house is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other towns brought in with the establishment of Barrow County included Auburn, Bethlehem, Carl and Statham.
Many important events helped to modernize Winder after World War II. In 1990, Winder's population was 7,373 residents.
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