From its county population in 2000 of 10677 to its current population estimate of 9940, the county has experienced a growth change of -737.
Wilkes County was created in 1777. The state's first county, it was originally far larger than its current 471 square miles. The area that became the original Wilkes County was called the New Purchase or Ceded Lands, referring to the land lying between the Broad River and the Savannah River, which today includes Elbert and Lincoln counties, as well as parts of Oglethorpe, Taliaferro, and Warren counties.
Wilkes County is named for John Wilkes, a colorful member of British Parliament who opposed some of the British policies that eventually led to the American Revolution (1775-83).
The eventual county seat, Washington, was settled in 1773 by Stephen Heard, a one-term governor of Georgia. He established a fort known initially as Heard's Fort and later as Fort Washington, honoring his former neighbor, George Washington, the first town in the United States named for him.
Washington is the site of the Heard House where Jefferson Davis formally dissolved the Confederacy on May 5, 1865.