Archives of Banks County


 
Archives of Banks County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Established in 1858 and named in honor of Richard Banks, a physician most noted for his work with the Cherokee Indians and for loaning money to Mark Anthony Cooper to keep the city of Etowah (Bartow County) a going concern. Cooper eventually built the Friendship Monument in honor of the men who help him overcome his financial problems. Banks is one of the names on the monument.

Collage of Banks County
Banks County History
Three of Banks County's landmarks are within the same block. Top: Banks County Courthouse. Below left: Old courthouse. Below right: Portion of the Augusta-Nashville Road.
The land that comprises Banks County is part of the earliest of the Indian land cessions in North Georgia. Settlers had begun entering this land before the American Revolution. A minor battle in that war was fought in the county at Broad River. American forces under the command of Elijah Clarke, who would later lead the Transoconee Expedition, defeated the numerically superior British and Indian troops. The Long Swamp Treaty (October, 1782) that surrendered most of present-day Banks County was the first the Cherokee signed in Georgia. It required a cleared twenty-foot buffer between Cherokee and settlers. However, this buffer did not stop continued White encroachment.

The Wofford Settlement, on Nancytown Creek, was in Indian Territory. Records exist of at least one church not in the settlement on Cherokee land. In 1804, James Vann, acting as an "agent" for the Cherokee tribe sold the land to General William Wofford. From 1804 until 1818 this piece of land formed the boundary between Georgia and the Cherokee. It is often referred to as the Hawkins Line, Four Mile Line, or simply the Wofford Tract, however it, too, failed to stop settlers from encroaching on the Cherokee's "Enchanted Land."

The city of Homer developed at the junction of early roads built to support trade in the area. One of these roads, the Old Federal Highway, connected Nashville, Tennessee with Augusta, Georgia. The county was carved from Franklin and Habersham Counties in 1859, at a time when the Georgia legislature was concerned with the number of days it took to travel to the county seat. By reducing the size of the other counties and creating Banks with Homer as its centrally located county seat the legislature effectively reduced the amount of time farmers would have to travel to transact county business.

With the creation of the new county, a courthouse was completed in 1863, and paid for with 6600 dollars of Confederate money. At least one minor skirmish was fought in the county.

After the Civil War the economy revolved around cotton, and the boom-bust cycle of a single crop economy repeatedly devastated the county, as it did with most of its neighbors. The cotton bust of the 1920's, which was caused by two factors, the boll weevil and an extensive drought in 1925, all but destroyed cotton production. During this time many farmers turned to beef and poultry production. In spite of this change the county remained in hard economic times from the 1920's until the mid-1940's.

Today, Banks County is benefitting from rapid growth along the I-85 corridor, and its county seat, Homer, is renown as the home of the 'World's Largest Easter Egg Hunt.'

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