With Columbus Day celebrated Monday, The News-Times asked some Columbia County residents whether they knew where the county got its name. Here are some answers:
Columbia County was named after one of the world's more famous explorers, Christopher Columbus.
At least, that is what county historians believe.
"There is no official record of the reason for the name, except for 200 years of tradition and the absence of any other fact-based account of an alternative name," said Barbara Seaborn, a county historian who is researching and writing a book about the county's history.
"After all, considering all the other American cities, counties and communities named 'Columbia' or 'Columbus' - who else would they be named for?" she asked.
Columbia County was formed Dec. 10, 1790, by an "Act to Divide the County of Richmond," as listed in the Feb. 26, 1971, edition of The Augusta Chronicle and Gazette of the State.
About 190 square miles sectioned off from Richmond County formed the new county.
That newspaper article, printed less than three months after the formation of Columbia County, gives no indication of how the county's name came to be.
The fact that the navigator, famous for his 1492 voyage from Europe to the Caribbean, is the county's namesake is merely conjecture and tradition. That commonly held assumption regarding Columbus has worked its way to fact through the years, being listed in nearly every account of Columbia County's history, even one published by the county government.
Columbus and his "discovery" of the New World, though he never set foot on the North American continent, is honored nationally on the second Monday in October - Columbus Day.
Charles Lord, a county historian who contributed to Gerald J. Smith's book To Seek a Newer World: A History of Columbia County, Georgia, said that he believes the assumption that Columbia County is named for the explorer and navigator is true. The theory makes sense, he said, despite a lack of concrete evidence to prove it.
"Columbia County was not named for a war hero because of the Quaker influence; it was named for an influential leader, like Christopher Columbus," Lord said.
"That is the general assumption because the Quakers had an early influence in Columbia County and they shied away from anything to do with war or fighting."
Columbia County Probate Judge Pat Hardaway, who also is a member of the Columbia County Historical Society, said she believes the county was named after Columbus based on a historical marker in front of the Appling Courthouse.
The marker, erected in 1956 by the Georgia Historical Commission, states that the county was named for Columbus and that it was settled by Quakers before the American Revolution.
Seaborn agrees that the Quaker anti-war influence could have led to the county's name.
"Or perhaps it was the adventurous spirit shared by Christopher Columbus and the Georgia pioneers who adopted the explorer's name as their own," Seaborn said.
An absence of concrete, contemporary evidence hasn't kept the story of the name's origin from being cemented in place.
Lynette Stoudt, a senior archivist with the Georgia Historical Society library in Savannah, said a reference book called Georgia Place Names, written by Kenneth K. Krakow, also lists Columbus as Columbia County's namesake - without further explanation of where the name originated.
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