Archives of Cobb County

Archives of Cobb County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia

Named in honor of Thomas Willis Cobb, U.S. representative, U.S. senator and Supreme Court judge. The city of Marietta is named after his wife.

When future president Andrew Jackson stands on the banks of the Chattahoochee River and announces that he is here to rid Cherokee land of all encroachers that do not have written permission from Return J. Meigs, he is looking at the future Cobb County. Although the area that becomes Cobb is lightly populated by encroaching whites at the time, by 1830 nearly 2,000 are in the county, most illegally.

The earliest Alabama Road runs further north through Bartow County, but an excellent road that runs across the "Shallow Ford" in the Chattahoochee appears in writings as early 1824, which tends to indicate the path existed for some time previous (see Ferries of Cobb County for complete discussion).

Although Cobb does not participate in the North Georgia gold rush to any great extent, the Second Land Lottery of 1832 parcels out most of Cobb in the smaller gold lot category. Besides Marietta, early towns include Sweet Water Town, Buffalo Fish and Big Shanty.

Growth in the area was slow at first. In 1836 the State of Georgia begins to purchase right-of-way for the railroad it intends to build from the Tennessee River to the Chattahoochee, ending in present day Dekalb County. Development of the rail line continues from 1836 until the early 1840's, in part because of the state's desire to create jobs after the Panic of 1837. By the early 1840's a significant amount of the line had been graded but no track laid. During the next 2 years, for a number of reasons, work on the Western and Atlantic Railroad comes to a standstill. With an improving economic environment, track is laid and trains began to run from Marthasville to Marietta and beyond in 1845. The area that is today known as Kennesaw was a good place to stop for water because of a spring that "ran true" in the area (now a small park behind Kennesaw City Hall). A track maintenance facility was constructed about two miles further down the line at Moon's Station.

Glover Park at the center of Marietta Square
Glover Park
Center of Marietta Square
Just as in the state, growth in the county stops in the late 1830's and does not revive until after 1845, although John Glover, future mayor of Marietta builds a restaurant and warehouse near the tracks when the railway station opens that year. The completion of the railroad from Marthasville (now Atlanta) to Chattanooga in 1850 is important to Cobb. The first through route from the South to the West, this is a high traffic line. Stagecoaches from more remote areas ferry rail passengers to the depot in Marietta and by 1853 the area is booming. Fire destroys a city block in the mid-1850's, including the stagecoach stop where the Louisa and Dix Fletcher greet riders. They purchase Glover's restaurant/warehouse and convert it to a hotel called the Fletcher House. Cole's, another hotel, also serves the railroad patrons. Manufacturing develops and by 1860 Cobb was an important center, boasting many stately manors.

Cobb County plays a major roll in The Civil War. A large training camp in Kennesaw houses many of the Georgia recruits for the Confederacy and Georgia Militia. On April 11, 1862, 23 Union spies spend the night at the Fletcher House and Cole's, planning the theft of "The General," a locomotive on the Western and Atlantic Railroad at the water stop a few miles north of Marietta known as Big Shanty. The following morning James Andrews and his raiders ride the train into history in an event that would be popularized as The Great Locomotive Chase.

The Atlanta Campaign wrecks havoc on the county. A group of battles loosely known as the "Marietta Operations" and the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, just west of Marietta, take a heavy toll on the Federals and Joe Johnston's Army of the Tennessee.

In late 1862 the Union begins to consolidate information about the county in the form of maps that show manufacturing and milling operations. General William Tecumseh Sherman uses these maps to destroy much of the infrastructure in the county toward the middle and end of 1864. And while the burning of Atlanta receives more attention in the contemporary (and current) press, citizens of Cobb County clearly suffered more than Atlanta ever did. Sherman uses Cobb (Kennesaw Mountain) as a base of operations for months before taking Atlanta. Union soldiers repeatedly scour the area for anything that can be used in the war effort. The occupation is brutal and citizens can thank General Thomas and others for maintaining a modest amount of control of troops during the occupation.

Burning the city of Marietta as Sherman leaves, the downtown area is completely destroyed. The Fletcher House loses its top floor and balcony, protected from much of the destruction thanks to a nearby warehouse.

picture of destroyed mill, Acworth, Ga.
Destroyed Mill,
Acworth, Ga.
After the war Cobb starts to attract many influential men. Politicians, who need places closer to the new capitol in Atlanta frequently choose Cobb. Wealthy bankers and industrial leaders also call the county home. By 1880 the area reduces its dependence on farming and begins to concentrate on manufacturing. A railroad expansion also helps the county grow. The turn of the century sees a hustling county that is a center of trade and manufacturing. Only a small portion of the income in the county is derived from agriculture. Cobb instead becomes the mill for cotton grown further north. The "Cotton Bust" that depresses the economy of north Georgia takes a dramatic toll on Cobb. Starting in the early 1920's unemployment skyrockets and for 20 years the area suffers.

The state begins a road building program in 1922 that includes much of the thoroughfare later known as U.S. Highway 41. The program begins for two reasons, first to try to alleviate some of the economic problems created by the "Cotton Bust" and secondly to attract tourists who were puttering around in their newfangled automobile. James V. Carmichael, a Cobb County native, is hit by a car on this road shortly after its completion. As a result of the accident he would use crutches or a cane for the rest of his life.

In spite of his handicap, Carmichael's effect on Cobb County would be dramatic. He attracted the Bell Bomber plant, and later, Lockheed-Martin. Mr. Carmichael was also instrumental in securing a number of other companies to the Cobb area, most notably Scripto.

Cobb today has swollen to a metropolis in its own right, no longer a bedroom community to Atlanta. The trickle of cars on Highway 41, now called Cobb Parkway, has become a flood of cars on the major interstates that bisect the county. Diverse manufacturing and a burgeoning service industry support more employees than the city of Atlanta.

Controversy, however has been a companion to the county. An ordinance the county passes raises the ire of a number of groups who force Atlanta to avoid the county while planning Olympic events. In spite of this, Cobb benefits from the games as every room in the county remains booked for almost 2 months.

In April, 1998, Cobb was one of a number of north Georgia counties to sustain damage from a series of tornadoes.

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