Ashley County, the fifth largest county in the state, was formed on November 30, 1848, from part of Drew County with final boundary adjustments made in 1861. Hamburg is the county seat. The Ashley county courthouse is early contemporary in style and has a unique, round, courtroom where all participants in a trial face one another.
The landscape of the county is coastal plain, level to rolling, flat cropland, and pine-forested hills. Two-thirds of Ashley County is hill land, most in pine timber and forest products with the first blocks of forestland being bought up by lumbermen in 1898. The original sawmill was in operation in 1901. Another quarter of the county’s land is devoted to agriculture. The rich sandy loam soil created by the Mississippi and Bayou Bartholomew rivers has been farmed for generations. Although cotton is still king, livestock, poultry and other commercial cash crops are grown. Bayou Bartholomew, the longest bayou in the United States runs through the county. West of the bayou is Overflow National Wildlife Refuge that offers excellent hunting and fishing.
Ashley County has an innovative recycling program that has taken 65% of the waste stream out of their landfill. The county owns equipment to press paper and yard waste into small cubes, which are then sold to Georgia-Pacific for use as fuel. Today Georgia-Pacific owns 45% of the land in the county, supporting the manufacturing of hardwood veneer, plywood, paper and chemicals.