Located in the Piney Woods region of southeastern Mississippi, George County is bounded to the east by the Alabama state line. The Chickasawhay and Leaf Rivers flow into the Pascagoula River near George’s northern boundary, while the Escatawpa River traverses the county’s southeastern corner. George was established on 16 March 1910 from lands formerly included in Jackson and Greene Counties. The county is named for James Z. George, a US senator from Mississippi. Lucedale, the county seat, takes its name from Gregory Luce, a lumber entrepreneur who moved to the area in the late nineteenth century, and is the hometown of mystery author Carolyn Haines and football star Eric Moulds, who played receiver for Mississippi State University and the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.
In the 1910 census, George County had a total of 6,599 residents, of whom 72 percent were white and 28 percent were African American. Among the county’s agricultural workforce, 96 percent owned their land, the highest percentage in the state.
George County experienced little overall population growth over the next two decades, with only 7,523 people in 1930. However, whites accounted for 87 percent of that total. George County had no cities and one of the state’s lowest population densities. Landownership rates remained high.
George County’s population topped eleven thousand in 1960 and fifteen thousand two decades later, when 88 percent of residents were white. George developed a small but significant manufacturing industry that produced transportation equipment. Although public administration was George’s largest employer, a significant portion of the county’s laborers also worked in retail. Agriculture, which employed 14 percent of George’s workforce, was concentrated on soybeans and hogs.
In 2010, George, like many southeastern Mississippi counties, remained predominantly white, included a small but significant Hispanic/Latino minority, and had experienced continued population increases, surpassing twenty-two thousand.
- George County, Mississippi Genealogy and History Network website, http://George.msghn.org
- Mississippi State Planning Commission, Progress Report on State Planning in Mississippi (1938)
- Mississippi Statistical Abstract, Mississippi State University (1952–2010)
- Charles Sydnor and Claude Bennett, Mississippi History (1939)
- University of Virginia Library, Historical Census Browser website, http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu
- E. Nolan Waller and Dani A. Smith, Growth Profiles of Mississippi’s Counties, 1960–1980 (1985)