Archives of Habersham County


 
Archives of Habersham County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Established in 1818. Named in honor of Joseph Habersham , Served as officer of the First Georgia Regiment, 1776. Continental Congress, 1785-86; postmaster general, 1795-1801.

Out of the hills of Habersham,
Down the valleys of Hall...

Habersham Courthouse
Habersham County
Courthouse
Poet Sidney Lanier waxed about the county in The Song of the Chattahoochee more than a hundred years earlier and for good reason. The river forms the southwest border of the county and even today is one of the most beautiful sections still visible. With a portion of the waterway in White County, just south of Helen, it is the longest remaining stretch of wilderness along the river, according to noted writer and riverman Fred Brown.

From the first written words about the area in 1790 to the flowing praised heaped on Clarkesville by the Georgia Gazetteer in 1827 the county went through a remarkable transformation. In 1790 a Methodist bishop told of the fierce Chickamauga and the few white encroachers who were described as ...poor creatures; they are but one remove from savages themselves, while forty years later Habersham County was ...healthy and pleasant for visitors. In between Habersham himself became a summer resident, the county had been formed, and the Cherokee were removed, mostly to Arkansas. The Unicoi Turnpike contributed heavily to the early, rapid development in the area. Only one short, albeit fierce, battle was fought in the county during the Civil War. During the war a number of Georgia units used the area for training. Centered at Camp Bartow, near Clarkesville, the camp housed a succession of Rebels including the Independent Volunteers, Thomas Guards, White Marksmen, Hiawassee Volunteers and the McMillan Guards.

As early as 1835 a railroad had been proposed through Habersham to Franklin, N. C. Delayed by panic and recession, a war, and Reconstruction, work began in earnest in the 1880's. The county's dependence on income from "moonshine" waned with the railroad, although it remained an important source of revenue for the farmers in the county until after the turn of the century.

One of the latest towns formed in Habersham was Demorest, named for the famed prohibition speaker W. Jennings Demorest. Begun in 1890 by northern real estate promoters under the name Demorest Home Mining and Improvement Co., the town was heavily promoted not only for it's beauty and lake(Lake Demorest was much larger then), but also it's location near the attractions of North Georgia such as the Tallulah Gorge. The lake had a ferry and the town had manufacturing including the Demorest Foundry and Machine Works which produced furniture and wagons from 1890 to 1930 and Demorest Engraving Works, which produced a wide variety of items including photographic equipment and Dental Chairs.

The story of Habersham is the story of two rivers. To the northeast lay Tallulah River and a namesake gorge, creating the border with Rabun County. One of the largest gorges east of the Mississippi, Tallulah Gorge quickly became a popular tourist destination. A remarkable drop in elevation and hard-rock gorges made it attractive to Georgia Power. Early environmentalist and widow of James Longstreet, Helen Dortches Longstreet waged the first large-scale environmental battle in the United States to save the gorge. Although she lost the battle, today the gorge still stands visible, but the flow of water and tourists became a trickle. The gorge and the surrounding land were donated to the state, and the only path into the ancient depth begins on the Habersham side.

Cornelia's Big Red AppleAfter World War I a substantial apple growing community developed to offset the losses from the cotton bust of the 1920's, possibly because of the success of the industry that was being experienced further west in Gilmer County. In Cornelia the famous "big red apple" was constructed to celebrate the industry's success in Habersham County.

After World War I the state of Georgia embarked on a road building program to accommodate the rapid expansion of the automobile. Completion of U. S. Highway 441 rekindled the tourism industry in the county. The highway remains a major north-south highway to this day.

Watercolor of the Soquee RiverThe watercolor to the left is a reproduction of a famous photograph of the Soquee River in Habersham County. The building to the left is a commercial pottery known as "Mark of the Potter." Clay from the Georgia soil, it's largest extracted mineral, is used in a number of pottery communities for a source of income, especially in northeast Georgia.

The county was in the national spotlight in 1996. Richard Jewell, the Olympic security guard falsely accused of planting a bomb, had been a member of the Habersham County Sheriff's Department for more than 18 months.

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Habersham County links

 

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