Archives of Chattooga County


 
Archives of Chattooga County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Established in 1838. Named for the Chattooga River, which runs along the eastern side of the county (not to be confused with the Chattooga River of Deliverance fame).

One of the possible locations for the birthplace of Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet. Although Sequoyah did live in or near present-day Chattooga, an intense debate still rages as to his place of birth. A large Cherokee village on the Chattooga River was one of six major settlements in the county. Other villages included Island Town, Dirt Town, Whiteoak Town, Broom Town and Raccoon Town.

Itinerant missionaries were common here prior to 1832 as they passed from Brainerd Mission, Tennessee to a branch of that mission established in 1823 near the Coosa River.

In 1838 the Cherokee in Chattooga County were gathered by the Georgia Guard and housed in deplorable conditions at the Cherokee Removal Fort in LaFayette (Fort Cumming) before being moved north to Rattlesnake Springs in Tennessee. In the fall of that year they were removed to Oklahoma in what became known as "The Trail of Tears". Sparsely populated by white settlers before 1832, settlers began to pour into the county after the sixth Georgia Lottery, mostly moving from the eastern part of Georgia.

Then a part of Walker County, travel to Lafayette was difficult for many people living in Chattooga, taking more than 2 days to complete trips for county business. This led the Georgia legislature to create Chattooga as a separate county in 1838. Westward movement of Georgians who worked hard at establishing communities to the east played an important part in the development of Chattooga County. Summerville's founder, John Beavers, helped establish Campbell County to the east. Beavers worked diligently to urge the legislature to create Chattooga. The fledgling county would need a seat of government and Beavers had just the place. He sold 90 acres to create the county seat and later sold additional land to create the city's cemetery.

By 1842 Summerville bragged about it's five homes, however, rocky times were not unknown early in the life of the county, as creditors attempted to collect bills. The county teetered on the edge of bankruptcy on a number of occasions. The path traveled by earlier missionaries grew as settlers moved in and near the area until it was considered a significant road. An early road was also constructed from Summerville to Rome. By the Civil War a surprisingly intricate system of roads had developed in the county although it remained largely agricultural.

Relatively untouched by the War Between the States, the county did send its men to battle as the Chattooga Rangers. Trained at Camp McDonald near Moon's Station, the group was highly regarded by both sides during the war. This group, along with others from the county were included in General John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee as it began the abortive Nashville Campaign in late 1864. The Confederate Army did pass through the county, closely followed by a significantly larger Union Army. While in Summerville, William Tecumseh Sherman wired General Halleck with his plans for the March to the Sea. These would be approved a short time later when Sherman was in Kingston, Georgia.

After the war the northern states attempted to force their will upon the South. Chattooga suffered under the weight of Reconstruction as did much of the South, and watched as powerful men formed a group generally known as the Ku Klux Klan. Suffice to say that the Klan was so powerful in Chattooga that at times conditions were best described as near-anarchy.

View of the Chattooga River Valley from Taylor Ridge.  Lookout Mountain is in the distance.
View of the Chattooga River Basin

Looking west from Taylor Ridge towards Lookout Mountain, the Chattooga River Basin spreads across the valley.
From the 1880's to the early part of the 20th century attempts were made to mine different minerals and rock, yet only the mining of chert was profitable. Mills arose and, for the most part, suffered a similar fate of being only marginally profitable. Struck heavily by the cotton bust of the 1920's(actually Chattooga began to suffer prior to 1920, since the boll weevil spread from the west to the east), only a few farms survived. The county, to this day, remains largely agricultural.

Road building fever struck Georgia shortly after the cotton bust, partly as the politician's way to relieve the pain of massive unemployment, and partly because of the advent of the automobile. U. S. Highway 27 was built, in many places following the old missionary route that first brought whites into the area 170 years ago.

An interesting note-The county did not have a funeral parlor until 1945, Prior to that some burials were handled by the Trion Department Store.

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Chattooga County links

 

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