Jones County is rich in history and natural beauty. Originally inhabited by the Creek Indians, Jones County was part of the frontier settlement when it was partitioned from neighboring Baldwin County on December 10, 1807. Named for James Jones, a prominent Savannah attorney, Georgia legislator and United States Congressman, Jones County sat on Georgia's western border, at that time the Ocmulgee River. The original county seat of Clinton was one of the fastest growing centers of trade and culture in Georgia. It was a bustling town known for commerce and gracious living and was the site of a factory which manufactured cotton gins.
Although the county prospered into the 1860's, the Civil War had a profound effect on the county. Many of the county's sons, homes, churches, schools, and even entire towns were lost to the war effort. Griswoldville was home to the Confederate Pistol Factory, which produced Colt pattern revolvers, now known as the "brass-frame" Confederate Colt, for the Confederate States Army. Union troops burned the town of Griswoldville to stop the manufacture of Confederate pistols. Blountsville also suffered great losses during the War, and eventually disappeared.
Gray was settled in the 1800's on the property of US Representative James Henderson Blount and was originally called James, for Blount. The city was renamed to honor his favorite son, James Madison Gray, patriarch of Gray's pioneer families.
Moving into the Twentieth Century, the city of Gray became the county seat in 1905, and the city began to thrive with commercial and retail establishments. Gray is supported by excellent rail and highway access. Now a mixture of the old and the new flourish in the county which is dotted with small, quaint communities such as Round Oak, Griswoldville, Haddock, Wayside, Bradley, East Juliette, James, and Clinton. Each of these communities is unique and rich in history, offering a glimpse of what life has been like in Georgia over the last two hundred years, all of which are important to Jones County's heritage.
The renovated Jones County courthouse which was built in 1905 is located in Gray and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Another of the numerous sites of historic significance is the former Jones County High School facility, which was designed by the first female fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Ellamae League (1899-1991) and constructed in 1936. This facility now serves as the W.E. Knox (Jones County) Civic Center has become the home of the Jones County/Gray Chamber of Commerce, the Keep Jones Beautiful Commission, the Jones County Boys and Girls Club, Central Georgia Technical College computer laboratories, the Jones County Auditorium, the Family Connection office, and other agencies for public and civic purposes as determined by the five-member county commission.
The northern part of the county is largely within the Oconee National Forest and the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. The metropolitan influence of Macon touches the southern portion of the county. Thus to the north there is an effective barrier to development, and to the south, a stimulus. A large portion of the county is controlled by woodland companies, and about one-fourth of the county is federally owned. Natural resources in the county include crushed stone, timber, and pulpwood. Although always a residential development area, Jones County is now experiencing an explosion of residents migrating into the county.
Jones County is the home of the late Otis Redding. The Otis Redding mausoleum is located at the Redding 500-acre Big O Ranch in Round Oak, Georgia. The ranch is now the private home of the Redding family and is not open to the public. Other Jones Countians who have become major sports figures include: Walter Morgan, professional golfer, and Willie Green and Rondell White, professional baseball players.