Thomas County, located in southwest Georgia and bordering Florida, was formed in 1825 by legislation introduced by Thomas J. Johnson, owner-builder of Pebble Hill Plantation. One year later, on December 22, 1826, a location was established for the new county seat, Thomasville. The city and county are believed to have been named for Major General Jett Thomas, a member of the State Militia during the war of 1812.
As the terminus for the railroad, Thomasville was accessible from the north and, during the late 1800s, became known as the “Winter Resort of the South.” In the beginning of this era, Northerners and other visitors came to Thomasville for their health, breathing the pine-scented air as a curative for pulmonary ailments. They were soon joined by friends to enjoy hunting, fishing, and an active social life, including golf, horse racing, and bicycling. Thomasville came to represent the best of Southern hospitality with the lavishness of the resort lifestyle.
Thomasville’s luxurious hotels regularly hosted America’s wealthiest families as their guests. Once discovered that it cost less to purchase land than rent hotel rooms, these wealthy families bought property and built grand Victorian mansions and plantation homes. Many of these plantations are still owned by the families who built them and are visited year round. Many of the “winter cottages” built during the 1880s have been restored through efforts of Thomasville Landmarks Inc., and Thomasville citizens.
Although the grand hotel era ended with the extension of the railroad into southern Florida, Thomasville and Thomas County have continued the area’s long-standing tradition of cultural and economic diversity. There is a rich heritage in Thomas County, and the community works hard to guard and preserve its history and tradition.
In January 2016, Thomasville was officially designated as the state’s “Rose City” during Tourism Day at the Capitol. Georgia Representative Darlene Taylor, Georgia Representative Amy Carter, Georgia Representative Sam Watson and Georgia Senator Dean Burke worked with City of Thomasville staff to establish the designation.