Archives of Bartow County


 
Archives of Bartow County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Established in 1832, originally named Cass County in honor of Lewis Cass, then Secretary of War under Andrew Jackson. He also served as governor of the territory of Michigan, United States Senator, Minister to France, Secretary of State (under James Buchanan) and unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States as a Democrat in 1848. Cass was strongly for the removal of the Cherokee and other American Indians. In 1861 the county was renamed, this time in honor of Francis S. Bartow, a Confederate Army general who was killed on July 21, 1861 at Manassas Plains. The name was changed on December 6, 1861.

The story of Bartow County is one of the longest in Georgia, and to a great extent was dependent on the natural history of the state. It is the story of the Etowah River and its flood plain. Here, in a fertile valley, one of the earliest North American civilizations built ceremonial mounds on the river and farmed the surrounding plains. The Moundbuilders flourished from Northeast Georgia to the Great Southwest, and from the Mississippi Delta to Wisconsin.

The Creek, believed to be the descendants of that great culture controlled the area until 1755 when a battle was fought with the Cherokee for control of the land. The loss of the battle forced the Creek south, and a "green zone" was established from the Etowah in the north to the Chattahoochee River in the south where Native Americans from both tribes could trade and travel without threat from the other. The Cherokee controlled the land in Bartow from then until their forced removal on the Trail of Tears in 1838. Sometime around 1800 whites began to travel through Bartow on one of the Alabama Roads. The road, which followed an Indian Trace, passes through present-day Cartersville, which is built on the remains of the Cherokee town of Hightower. Early travelers who were not deterred by occasional theft along the road became settlers as early as 1808 near present-day Euharlee and by 1830 a significant number of whites had built homes on this new frontier. Bartow County attracted Americans from coastal Georgia as well as from Virginia and North Carolina.

Cassville, the county seat before the Civil War, dominated the area as a commercial and cultural center. It housed both a men's and women's college, and by 1850 had become the largest community in North Georgia, taking the title from Ringgold. When the Western and Atlantic Railroad came through in the mid-1840's, Cassville, Kingston and Adairsville were the major stops. Kingston housed a large rail yard and 5 major churches where passengers of most faiths could worship on their trips. The maintenance facility in Adairsville did most of the work on the trains. The city of Birmingham, which also received a depot, changed its name to Cartersville in 1846.

Friendship Monument overlooking the Etowah River ValleyMark Anthony Cooper, former candidate for governor of Georgia, was the driving force behind the city of Etowah, now mostly located in the center of Lake Allatoona. The city, later destroyed by William Tecumseh Sherman, was founded in the 1830's by Jacob Stroup and his son Moses. Cooper joined Moses Stroup shortly after his defeat in the election (1843). Cooper built a new furnace and added equipment to facilitate the manufacturing of iron, lumber and flour. He bought mines in Dade County and helped build the Western and Atlantic Railroad. His dedication to the town resulted in a population of between 2,000 and 4,000 people. The city had a church, post office, bank, school, railroad and (ahem) a bordello. Although the town was never profitable for Cooper, the townspeople loved him. In 1857, when the nation was in the grips of a devastating panic, Cooper considered calling it quits. Near the brink of bankruptcy, 37 people decided to loan Cooper the money he needed to keep his businesses going. Within 2 years he repaid the loan with interest and built this statue, which now stands at a park surrounding the antebellum depot in Cartersville.

During the War of Northern Aggression, many camps were established in the area to train troops. Two of the largest were Camp Felton, near Cartersville, home to Smith's Legion, among others, and Camp Foster at the Etowah River Bridge near Etowah Station. The 1st (Galt's) Regiment are among the troops trained here. The Civil War brought brutal destruction to Bartow County. Thriving communities, such as Cassville and Etowah, were destroyed. Others suffered heavy damage. In general, the only material wealth that remained intact was the railroad and the support industries that General Sherman needed to use it. Some palatial estates in the surrounding country, such as Barnsley's Woodlands were also spared.

After the battle of Allatoona PassAfter losing the city of Atlanta, General John Bell Hood returned to the county briefly. Forces under his command fought a pitched battle at Allatoona Pass in October, 1864.

During the late 1800's a national evangelical revival was centered in the hills of Bartow County. Pastors from the churches of Kingston grew in popularity and fame. In the 1870's, a Cartersville lawyer, Samuel Porter Jones, began a career as an evangelist. The modern evangelical movement owes a debt of gratitude to Bartow for the role the county played in its early development.

After the war cotton gradually became a major crop in the area, with Bartow and Cherokee leaders in production in North Georgia. The cotton bust in the 1920's took a heavy toll on the area. To offset the impact of the boll weevil and falling cotton prices the state of Georgia and federal government undertook a major construction project, the completion of U.S. Highway 41 from Chattanooga to Atlanta.

Proposed in the 1930's and approved in 1941, the dam forming Lake Allatoona was completed in the 1947 and the lake formed from the waters of the Etowah and Little Rivers. A major attraction for the county, the lake offers sports and outdoor enthusiasts a quick getaway from the work-a-day world 40 minutes south in Atlanta. The lake is technically a watershed, managed to control the seasonal floods of the rivers that it blocks. In winter much of the water is drained to make way for the spring runoff, which refills the lake.

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