The freshly minted town of Swainsboro was named in recognition of Stephen Swain, the state senator who introduced the bill for the county's creation in 1812; a full 10 years before the formal incorporation. The town's name was changed to Paris at its incorporation on February 18, 1854, but three years later reverted to its current name—Swainsboro.
In addition to Swainsboro, there are seven other incorporated towns in Emanuel County: Adrian, Garfield, Nunez, Oak Park, Stillmore, Summertown, and Twin City with the total population right at 23,000 people. While most of these communities have unusual histories, they are all steeped in family ideals, religious values, and warm southern hospitality.
Before the Civil War (1861-65), transportation through the county was hindered by a lack of roads, and the population remained sparse. The county retained a rural character, chiefly because of the lack of roads and railroads. In fact, the Macon & Brunswick Railroad was not completed until late in 1869; enabling railway traffic between those two cities for the very first time. The first train tracks in Emanuel County were not laid until the 1870s, but when the railroads arrived, an era of large-scale lumber industry began.
Nearly a century later, in the 1960s, a vigorous increase in both population and industrial trends led to Emanuel County becoming a center for financial investment.
Early in its corporate life, much like other rural Georgia towns, Swainsboro depended on railroads for transportation. However, in the 1930s, many of the town's streets and sidewalks were paved, and Swainsboro found itself at the intersection of two major national highways, U.S. 1 and U.S. 80, thus earning its city motto: "Crossroads of the Great South". U.S. 1 was the principal highway from Maine to Key West, and U.S. 80, at that time, ran from Tybee to San Diego.