Pearson was incorporated in December 1890, and the county courthouse was built there in 1920. The courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Other towns in the county are Axson, Kirkland, and Willacoochee. Axson, called McDonald's Mill before the creation of Atkinson County, was renamed in honor of U.S. president Woodrow Wilson's first wife, Ellen Louise Axson, when the new county was created. Willacoochee, an Indian name believed to mean "home of the wildcat," founded in 1889, was the first chartered town in the county. The town has one building, McCranie's Turpentine Still, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The still was active in Willacoochee from 1925 to 1949.
Atkinson County is transportation blessed. Pearson is located at the intersection of two major 4 lane highways, US 82 and US 441. We have two railheads. The St. Marys West Railway in Pearson leads East into CSX's Rice Yard in Waycross, Ga. The railway in Willacoochee, owned by Georgia Department of Transportation leads South toward Valdosta, Ga and connects to Norfolk Southern. We also have the Douglas Municipal Airport 15 minutes drive North of Pearson and Willacoochee.
Among the points of interest are the Columbus Salt Road, the Kinnaird Trail, the 1. Alapaha River, McCranie's Turpentine Still, Guest Mill Pond, Kirkland Mill Pond, the Round-a-bout Swamp, abundant wildlife, early 1900s era homes along Willacoochee's Main St, and the Minnie F. Corbitt Memorial Museum, established in 1955 and located in the first house in Pearson, built in 1873. It is dedicated to the memory of South Georgia pioneers and their way of life. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Pearson was known as the "Chess Capital" of the state. The town hosted four consecutive championship, and Pearson residents made up one-fourth of the membership of the Georgia Chess Association.
According to the 2000 U.S. census, the county population was 7,609. The population showed a 22.5 percent increase between 1990 and 2000, largely because of the number of Hispanics who moved into the county to work in the mobile home industry and in agriculture.
Early industry in Atkinson County depended on the pine forests covering much of the land. Logging operations used the Satilla River to float timber to the coast. Later, farming (tobacco, corn, and poultry) displaced logging as the central economic activity, and more than half of the employment in Atkinson County now comes from the manufacturing sector, followed by service jobs and retailing. Poultry continues to be an important industry, and the main agricultural crops are peanuts, cotton, corn, and tobacco.
Chairman Tommy Guthrie