Timeline of African-American History in Newton County


1821. Newton County founded.

1830. US Census: 513 slave owners in Newton County

1841. Miss Kitty, an enslaved woman owned by Bishop James O. Andrew, interviewed by James Longstreet, President of Emory College. Miss Kitty offered the possibility of being transported to Liberia. She refuses and remains in slavery.

1844-45 Methodist Episcopal Church splits over the issue of the ownership of slaves by Bishop James O. Andrew, then residing in Oxford, Newton County.

July 19, 1848. Minutes of Board of Trustees, Emory College. (p. 156) "Resolved that the Faculty be authorized to have made to Trustees of a church for the col’d people a deed ...as may be necessary for building the Church." (Note: It appears that this church was located in the southeast quadrant of the present day Oxford city cemetery.)

1849 Colored Baptist Church, the forerunner of Bethlehem Baptist Church, the oldest African-1851. Rev. Toney Baker becomes pastor of the newly named Bethlehem Baptist Church.

1850. US Census: 5,187 persons held in slavery in Newton County by 647 slave owners.

1860. US Census: 6,460 persons in Newton County held in slavery, by 756 slave owners/

1861-65. Civil War

1863. December term. Susan Ivey, "a free woman of color over 20" petitions the Inferior Court to sell herself into slavery (to Caroline G. Harris) . See History of Newton County, p. 181. Inferior Court records.

1864. July 20-24. Garrard's Calvary (Union Army) raid on Covington.

1864. November 18. Major General W.T. Sherman's Union forces move through Covington and Newton County; enslaved African-Americans are freed. Some African-Americans depart with Sherman's forces joining in the "March to the Sea." Forward elements of the Left Wing of Sherman's forces reach Social Circle.

1865-1870 Freedman's Bureau (Bureau of Refugees, Freedman's and Abandoned Lands) active in Georgia, setting up educational institutions, supervising justice for freed African-Americans, and documenting outrages against African-Americans.

1867. Founding of Rust Chapel (Methodist) in Oxford.

1870. Freedmen's Census. The first US Census listing the names of African-Americans in the county. 6,886 African-Americans: 5,923 listed as "black." 963 listed as "mulatto."

1879. The Springfield Baptist Church (SBC) of Covington-Almon, Georgia, founded and organized by Rev. Joe Sim

1880. US Census: 6,857 African-Americans in Newton County: 6,007 listed as "black"; 850 listed as "mulatto."

c.1883. Washington Street School (Covington) established by Augustus C. Wright of Oxford.

1883. Dinah Watts comes to teach school in Covington (graduate of Atlanta university Normal School.)

1886. Early Hope Baptist Church (Rocky Plain) founded.

1890. Covington Colored Orphans Home established by Dinah Watts.

1921. February. Corpses of drowned African-American men-many chained together in pairs and weighted down with bags of rocks - found in the Yellow, Alcovy, and South Rivers in Jasper County, GA. The case focuses attention on debt peonage in the region. Trial subsquently held in Covington.

1939. Washington Street School (Covington) on Washington Street burns to the ground. Circumstances of fire never determined.

1941. New Washington Street School (Covington) opens on School Street.

1946. July 25. Moore's Ford lynching near Monroe, Georgia (4 young African-Americans killed: George & Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger & Dorothy Malcom.)

1957. Two schools for African-Americans opened: Robert L. Cousins (Grades 1-12) and East Newton (Grades 1-8).

1959. R.L. Cousins High School basketball team goes 19-0, under coach Charles Tinsley, and plays an exhibition game against the Harlem Wizards (Source: Johnny Johnson)

1960. Thomas Sims and father start cutting hair; this becomes the Sims Barber Shop.

1965. R.L. Cousins Wolverines, Runner-ups in State Class A Basketball Tournament in Darien, Georgia. First team in history of school to achieve that status. (Source: Johnny Johnson)

1965. Ossie Lee Hamm starts the Town House Cafe, near Covington Square.

1967 R. L. Cousins High School Football Team scores 102 points in a game against Westside High School of Lincoln Co. Ga. making it the most points ever scored by a High School football team in Georgia the record still stands today (2007)

1968 Oxford College,of Emory University, Oxford Ga. Integrated by John Robert (Ricky) Hammond, Jr.

1968. First civil rights pickets in Newton County, at Harper's 5 & 10 store on Covington Square. Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) affiliate of Newton County founded.

1969. Washington Street School (on School street) burns down. Since the schools were still segregated, classes for African-American schoolchildren were held outside.

1969-70. Newton County Voters League founded. Founding members included Eddie L. Baker, Flemmie Pitts, Forrest Sawyer, Sr., Forrest Sawyer, Jr., Rev. Harold Cobb, Janet Goodman, Evelyn Tuggle.

1970. March-April. Civil Rights protest marches and economic boycott throughout the county, leading to mass jailings. By fall 1970, Newton County Hospital and public schools are desegregated.

1972. Washington Street School (Covington) vacated by the public school system.

1976 Newton County, Covington, Georgia. Employs its first African American Firefighter Michael Turner
was hired by the city of Covington making him the first African American Fireman here.

1977 Rev. Harold Cobb, elected to Newton County Board of County Commissoners,The first African American
elected to serve in that position.

1979. Washington Street Community Center established on site of the former Washington Street School on School Street, Covington.

1979-80. First African American elected official in Newton County: Eddie L. Baker elected to Covington City Council.

1983. First African American Woman, elected official in Newton County: Janet Goodman elected to Covington City Council.

1996 The Olympic Torch arrived in Covington,Ga. in route to The Olympic Stadium in Atlanta the Olympic Torch was carried by African American Willie Davis, Captain on the Covington Police Department.

1995 Newton County"s Sheriff's Deputy , Ezell Brown became the first African American to win the Democratic nomination for Sheriff in Newton County,
(Covington Ga.).

2002. First African American Judge, Horace Johnson, Jr. named Superior Court Judge, Alcovy Judicial Circuit (Walton and Newton Counties).

2004. Stretch of Hwy 81 (from Covington City Limits to Hwy 36/Covington Square) designated by Georgia State Legislature as "Forrest Preacher Sawyer Memorial Parkway," for Forrest Sawyer Sr.'s many years of service to the city of Covington, and the state of Georgia. serving on Covington's City Council for ten years, (1983-1993).

2006 R. L. Cousin Wolverine Football Alumni Association, organized. The first meetings having been held at " Rising Son Christian Church" (Covington,Ga.) Petty St. Reverend, James Russell Pastor) Months later , meetings moved to Historic Washington St. Community Center. Former playersForrest Sawyer,jr & Billy (B) Harris ,elected Chairman and Vice Chairman.

2007 (Palm Sunday) Thy Brothers & Sisters Keeper Radio Program does its first show live from the studios of W. G. F. S. Covington, Ga. The first
show broadcasted from two o'clock to two thirty, a few months later it will go to three o'clock one hour, The show is hosted by
Deacon Forrest And Deaconess Sharon Sawyer of The Early Hope baptist Church, Newton County, Ga. The first ever African American talk show
in Covington ,Ga.

2007. June 16 (Juneteenth). Ancestral Walk to re-name Miss Kitty at the site of her slave quarters in Oxford, by members of the First Afrikan Presbyterian Church (Lithonia).

2008, July 26. Dedication of historic plaque and African-American Cemetery in Oxford, 1 pm.

2008, November 4, Newton County, Covington Georgia: First African American Sheriff Elected to four year term Deputy sheriff Lt. Ezell Brown, Sheriff Brown was sworn in December 31, 2008 at the Historic Newton County
Courthouse in Covington, Ga

2009, January: A group of former R.L.Cousin High School student met at The Washington Streeet Community
center to organize an Alumni Association for R. L. Cousin High School , Student representative from most
of all the classes were there, from 1957 thru 1970, The group was chaired by Mr. Chester Benton esq. (1969)
The meeting was a prelude to the election of officers

2009. June. The Newton County African-American History Association's Community History Internship Program begins (funded by the Workforce Investment Act)




2011.July More than three hundred un -marked slave graves are found in Eastside Cemetery in the City of Covington the cemetery
is on City property, the graves were discovered a company the city had hired (Omega Mapping) to see if graves were there
the company was using the latest radar devices to penetrate the ground. African American Historical Association of Newton Co.
President Forrest Sawyer, said three or four marked graves are there all are early eighteen hundreds.


For more information about the African-American Historical Association of Newton County, or to share information about the county's African-American history, please contact the association president Mr. Forrest Sawyer, Jr. (770) 788-0792. forrestsawyer1@gmail.com