Ben Hill County took its territory from parts of Irwin and Wilcox counties in 1906 and took its name from a staunch Reconstruction leader, Benjamin Harvey Hill. Hill served in both the U.S. and Confederate congresses. Fitzgerald, the county seat, grew with the prompting of its namesake Philander Fitzgerald, noted veterans' affairs advocate and *American Tribune* publisher. In the midst of troubled times during Reconstruction, the city came to symbolize the compromise and reconciliation of Union and Confederate veterans. In 1897, the Fitzgerald school system also launched ahead in state public education efforts by providing textbooks free of charge to incoming students.