This study comprising a survey of the history of Darien, the principal town and county seat of McIntosh County, Georgia, is largely extrapolated from my most recent research from 2016 to 2019 contained in a revised and expanded edition of my county history, Early Days on the Georgia Tidewater.
Darien is the second oldest settled municipality in Georgia with a history and culture as diverse as any in the state. Its origins lay in its founding by Highland Scots, and that Scottish legacy has transcended almost three centuries. Darien's history is unique in that it experienced a series of devastating economic downturns in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, yet made remarkable recoveries each time to become an even more prosperous community. In addition, Darien suffered the travails of war—it was burned to the ground by federal forces in 1863, yet rebuilt and prospered economically for the next forty years as one of the leading exporters of raw timber and processed lumber in the United States, exemplifying a new industrial economy that succeeded its former antebellum agricultural economy, and reflecting the changing dynamics of a "new South" in the postbellum era. In essence, Darien was the "big little town" in its timber prosperity.
The focus of this study is economic, rather than social, cultural, or political, and the preponderance of its attention is to the century and a half from 1800 to about 1960. Additionally, I have taken the liberty of incorporating within the text certain aspects of the history of other areas of McIntosh County as they affected Darien.