Winder, Georgia, (population 14,064) was first occupied hundreds of years ago by Creek Indians, who called the village Snodon. In 1793, when new settlers established homes and farms nearby, the town became known as “The Jug,” and 10 years after that as “Jug Tavern.” At the time, the town had a population of 37 people. A school was soon constructed, as was Fort Yargo, built to protect the town from hostile Indians in the area.
During the Civil War, the town remained largely untouched, though a number of its young men fought in several battles. As the northern armies of General William T. Sherman approached, two important skirmishes took place nearby. First was the fight known as the Battle of Jug Tavern, in July 1864, and during the following month, the Battle of King’s Tanyard.
The city began to achieve prominence with the arrival of railroads, which were constructed, sometimes with a little monetary encouragement from the town, through the center of Jug Tavern. The city was incorporated by the Georgia General Assembly in 1884, and when a second railroad arrived in 1892, became a regular station on the Atlanta and Athens run.
In 1894, Jug Tavern was renamed the city of Winder. Named for the general manager of the Seaboard Railway, John H. Winder, the city’s boundary was enlarged to encompass a one-mile circle extending from the crossing of the railroad and Broad Street. As the 20th century arrived, farming remained the chief occupation of the area’s citizens, though many residents began working in new manufacturing enterprises, including Winder Foundry and Machinery, Bell Overall, Smith Hardware, and Winder Cotton Mill. Retail also grew in the downtown area, which added banks; offices for doctors, attorneys, and real estate operations; churches, a hotel, and a volunteer fire department.
The town of Jug Tavern had originally extended into three different counties, a situation which caused continuous legal and governance problems. Finally, in 1914, the Georgia General Assembly carved territory from Gwinnet, Jackson, and Walton counties to create Barrow County. Winder became the county seat, and a handsome new courthouse, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was completed in 1920.
After World War I, major public investments included paving Broad Street and creating an electric light system and a waterworks. An airport was constructed in 1948, and the Winder-Barrow County Hospital in 1950. Fort Yargo became a Georgia State Park in 1967. During the late 1970s, important investments were made to improve and restore the downtown area, including the restoration of the depot. The Barrow County Jail, built in 1915, now houses the Barrow County Historical Society and Museum.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2010.