Screven began its existence as a railroad town around 1847 but incorporated for the first time only later in 1907.
In the late 1800s, the family of Captain Christopher Columbus Grace contributed greatly to the town's economic development. From opening turpentine production operations to running trade stores, the Graces invested heavily in the local economy and continued to do so late into the 1900s.
At the beginning of the 1900s, Screven officials fought - somewhat fruitlessly - the illegal sale of alcohol. Although city residents repealed the prohibition on alcohol sales in 1907, the local liquor license fee could be set as high as $10,000. In 1915, Screven continued its push to curb liquor sales when it passed a law that allowed detectives to gather incriminating evidence about alcohol merchants.
Screven is home to the bike route, the Southern Pride Agriculture Ride, and to the Screven Ghost Light, an oscillation of glowing light seen at the railroad crossing on Bennett Road. Witnesses of the light say it appears after a rain or after a train has passed.