About Peach County

Our Rich History and Cherished Heritage

In the 1820s, James Abbington Everett from North Carolina set up a trading post where two Indian trails crossed. He was soon joined by a few other settlers and the area destined to become Peach County was established. Everett became wealthy and used part of his wealth for education for fellow Georgians, and his influence to secure a railroad through his new town. Unfortunately, he died before the first train arrived at Fort Valley in 1852.

Image of the Peach County Courthouse
Peach County Courthouse

Fort Valley, the county seat of Peach County, was chartered on March 3, 1856. No one is sure how the town got its name. Some say that Everett named it "Fox Valley" but his handwriting was so bad that post office officials in Washington, D.C., thought it was "Fort Valley." Others said that Everett named the town after his friend Arthur Fort, a Revolutionary War (1755-1838) hero. It doesn’t matter how many stories you hear about it, all agree that it was never a fort. Although the roots of town go back to the 1820, it is located in the last county created in Georgia. Peach County, named for the delicious fruit grown here, was created from Houston and Macon Counties in 1924.

Image of a Peach Orchard
Peach Orchard

In 1884, Samuel Henry Rumph developed one of the most popular peaches of all time. He named the peach after his wife, Elberta. The Elberta peach, and rail connections to transport the fruit, made Fort Valley the peach-growing center of Georgia. Once there were more than 50 packing sheds providing thousands of jobs. Today, only two large and ultra modern facilities ship peaches May through August.

Image of Lane Facilities
Lane Southern Orchards

A business known all around the world was established here in 1927. When a friend of Albert L. Luce Sr. asked for a bus to transport his workers, the first Blue Bird school bus was created. This successful corporation still calls Fort Valley "home" and the words "Fort Valley, Ga., USA" have been taken to every corner of the world by the familiar yellow buses with the stylized bird above their windows.

Image of Blue Bird Corporation
Blue Bird Corporation
Image of Blue Bird Buses
Blue Bird Buses

One of the world's finest collections of camellias fills nine acres at Peach County’s Massee Lane Garden, the home of the American Camellia Society. The garden was born in the 1930s as the private garden of farmer David C. Strother. He surrounded his farmhouse with camellias and added more varieties year after year. Mr. Strother donated this land to the American Camellia Society for its headquarters in 1966. More than a thousand varieties of camellias are grown at Massee Lane along with many other fragrant blossoms.

Image of Massee Lane Signage
Massee Lane Gardens

The Fort Valley High and Industrial School, chartered in 1895, and the State Teachers and Agricultural College of Forsyth, founded in 1902, were consolidated in 1939 to form Fort Valley State College. It became Fort Valley State University in June 1996 and remains the only 1890 land grant school in Georgia. Its 1,365-acre campus is the second largest (in acreage) public university in the state, offering bachelor's degrees in more than 50 categories as well as master's degrees in education and counseling as well as an education specialist degree. The University’s Cooperative Developmental Energy Program (CDEP) is the only one of its kind in the nation, preparing students for energy-industry careers in science and geology.

Image of the Fort Valley State University Entrance
Fort Valley State University

Between 1922-26, Peach County greeted the first peach blossoms in annual festivals of dance, song, elaborate pageants, and delicious barbecue. Soon thousands from all over the world made their way to Fort Valley each March. It has been reported that as many as 40,000 people descended on the town during the festival, which was ended in 1926 because it was too successful. In 1986, the festival was revived and is now in its 20th year.

Image of Blossoms in the Valley Signage
Blossoms in the Valley