Washington County, named for the nation's first president, dates to 1783. After the Revolutionary War, veterans settled the area, taking advantage of land grants the state offered them. When Creek Indian leader Alexander McGillivray renounced the treaty that gave the state rights to this land, the resultant tensions grew into the Oconee War, a dispute that kept the frontier uneasy for 20 years.
Sandersville, the county seat, is named for a local merchant who donated land for a courthouse. Somewhere in the early recordings, the correct spelling of his name, Saunders, was overlooked.