As of the census of 2000, there were 25,764 people, 10,477 households, and 7,459 families residing in the county. The population density was 45 people per square mile (17/km²). There were 12,115 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile (8/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 87.11% White, 10.65% Black or African American, 0.76% Native American, 0.12% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.62% from other races, and 0.72% from two or more races. 1.76% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 10,477 households out of which 30.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.40% were married couples living together, 11.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.80% were non-families. 26.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the county the population was spread out with 24.00% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 26.80% from 25 to 44, 25.30% from 45 to 64, and 16.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 94.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.00 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $26,448, and the median income for a family was $32,563. Males had a median income of $26,018 versus $19,341 for females. The per capita income or the county was $14,620. About 15.90% of families and 19.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.20% of those under age 18 and 21.80% of those age 65 or over.