Terrell County was created from Randolph and Lee counties in 1856. It is named for Dr. William Terrell of Sparta who served in both the state legislature and the Congress. Dawson, the county seat, is named for another legislator and jurist, William C. Dawson. Near the close of the Civil War, Governor Joseph Brown arranged organization of "Exile Camp" near Dawson to shelter some 300 refugees from Atlanta. A short time later, Union troops, kind to both the refugees and local citizens, quartered in the area.