Willacoochee was the first town chartered in the area that was to be known later as Atkinson County. An act of the legislature on November 12, 1889, set the limits of the town as “one-half mile each way from the Brunswick and Western Railroad depot in said town.”
Willacoochee is an Indian name generally believed to mean “Home of the Wildcat.” Prior to being known as Willacoochee, the town was named Danielsville after a family residing there.
The first known Mayor was Dr. Jefferson Wilcox in 1891. Jefferson Wilcox was the first native Coffee Countian to receive a degree of Doctor of Medicine. (At this time, Willacoochee was still located in Coffee County.) He graduated from the Southern Medical College in Atlanta in 1883, second in a class of thirty-seven. On December 1, 1888, he located in Willacoochee and began practicing medicine. During the Spanish-American War, Dr. Wilcox formed a company of volunteers to fight Cuba; he served as Captain of the group.
The first permanent settlers in Willacoochee included the families of Elijah Paulk, D.E. Gaskins, Aaron Moore, Henry Peterson, and B.F. Summerlin. B.F. Summerlin constructed a large, wooden two-story hotel and served meals for .25 cents. He maintained a stable of good horses, with buggies and drivers that were available for hire by the traveling public.
The first three-story brick building in the county (at that time it was still Coffee County) was built about 1905-06 in Willacoochee by B.B. Gray as an office building. The top floor was utilized as the Masonic Lodge and the other two floors were available for rent as office space.
The Willacoochee Times, a local newspaper edited by a Mr. Garrett, was started about 1910 and it operated under various other names before publication was ceased in the 1930s.
During the 1930s, sand was mined from the banks of the Alapaha River located about two miles south of Willacoochee. The sand was shipped throughout Georgia and Florida to be used at various construction sites in these states.
In the 1960s, the largest industry in Atkinson County was McCranie Brothers Wood Preserving located on the east side of Willacoochee along highway 82. The original plant started in 1947 as a small operation for the treating of posts and poles with creosote by the vat method. The plant was expanded in 1958 to a pressure treating creosote plant and pulpwood purchasing yard. The operation supplied over a million dollars in yearly income to this area.
With the Alapaha River bordering the south side of the City and the Willacoochee River on the west side, Willacoochee has always been a prime area for hunting and fishing.Agriculture and agri-business was the primary industry in Willacoochee until the 1990s. The four-laning of U.S. Highway 82, which bisects the City of Willacoochee, transformed this corridor into a major connection between Interstates 75 and 95 thus jump-starting the City’s industrial development. Over the past decade, Willacoochee has experienced tremendous growth in industry.