Conyers is the only city in Rockdale County, Georgia, United States. It is twenty-four miles east of Atlanta. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 10,689. Census estimates of 2005 indicate a population of 12,205. The city is the county seat of Rockdale County. By 2009, the reported population was 13,941. The formerly separate town of Milstead is now part of Conyers. Conyers is the self-proclaimed "Crepe Myrtle Capital of the World."
Before European settlement, the area which is now Conyers, along with the surrounding county of Rockdale, was occupied by mound-building Native Americans. As time progressed, the Muscogee (or Creek) and Cherokee natives shared a common border here. This border was known as the "Great Indian Road," and is known now as the "Hightower Trail". This trail was used by white settlers following the American Revolution.
Between 1816 and 1821, the area known as Rockdale was open for settlement. John Holcomb, a blacksmith, was the first settler in what is now Conyers. He settled where the current Rockdale County Courthouse is located, in the middle of Conyers on Main Street.
Eventually, there was pressure for a railroad to cross Georgia; the railroad was intended to run from Augusta, through neighboring Covington to Marthasville (now known as Atlanta). John Holcomb was against the railroad and refused to sell his land, and threatened to shoot anyone from the railroad who came onto his property.
Dr. W. D. Conyers, a banker from Covington, eventually persuaded John Holcomb into selling his land for $700. Dr. Conyers then sold the land to the Georgia Railroad. What is now Conyers began as a watering post along this line, named after Dr. Conyers. By 1845, the railroad was in full operation. By 1854, nearly 400 residents lived around the watering post, and Conyers was incorporated.
Conyers has been nearly destroyed several times by fire. It is said that it survived Sherman's March to the Sea thanks to a friend of Sherman's who lived in the area between Conyers and Covington. The story goes that the houses were spared because Sherman was uncertain where his friend lived.
In 1870, the surrounding area was incorporated into Rockdale County out of Newton County, Georgia, and Conyers became the county seat.
Over the next decade, Conyers grew into a wild town. It had twelve saloons and five brothels. The more reputable side of the town had 40 stores, Conyers College, a hotel, a carriage manufacturer and good schools.
Conyers was also home to "sidewalk churches". Along Main Street grew First Methodist, Conyers Presbyterian, and First Baptist. It is said that at some point the congregants persuaded the brothels and saloons to close and leave Conyers for Covington, having persuaded them with a mob. This rose out of revivals began in 1878 with the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. First Baptist Church of Conyers moved out of downtown in late 2000, moving about two miles or three kilometers south of the Georgia International Horse Park to their current location.
Tightly connected to Conyers is Milstead, a mill town now incorporated into Conyers. At its peak, Milstead and Conyers had a private railroad which delivered products, such as cotton, from the mill to Conyers for shipping to the textile mills. In the 1960s, the mill closed.
In 1944, a Trappist monastery (a Catholic order), Abbey of the Holy Spirit, was established south of the city by Dom Frederic Dunne. The Protestant community of Rockdale County helped with the completing of the current structure. M. Basil Pennington, one of the founders of the Centering Prayer movement, was abbot of the monastery from 2000 to 2002.
In the 1960s, Interstate 20 was built through the county. Gus Barksdale, Clarence Vaughn, Roland Reagan, and Harry Downs helped establish the community for the future by pushing for business expansion.
In the 1970s, parts of the first five episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard were filmed in the town.
In the 1980s, Conyers became known for "White Road", where resident Nancy Fowler claimed to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Conyers played host to pilgrims.
In the early 90's, several scenes of "In the Heat of the Night" were filmed around the Conyers Depot. Alan Autry who played the character of Captain Bubba Skinner was seen as a regular around Conyers during the filming. He was a member of a popular fitness club named Fitness International, Inc.
On May 20, 1999 a school shooting took place known as the Heritage High School shooting. Six students were injured before the 15-year-old gunman surrendered to the police.
In October 1999 Rockdale county, and by extension the county seat of Conyers gained substantial notoriety when the Public Broadcasting Service series FRONTLINE aired a nationwide documentary entitled The Lost Children of Rockdale County detailing a syphilis outbreak among middle and high school aged teenagers within the county. The documentary was well received outside of Conyers, with rave reviews from such outlets as the Wall Street Journal and Entertainment Weekly; Interviewed by Oprah Winfrey.