Archives of Hall County

Archives of Hall County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Established in 1818. Named for Lyman Hall, 9th governor of Georgia Provisional Council, 1774-75; signer of the Declaration of Independence, 1776;physician; governor of Georgia, 1783.

The area that is now called Hall County is split in two by the Chattahoochee River and Lake Lanier. The area south of the lake was part of a "safe" zone established by the Cherokee after defeating the Creek in the battle of Taliwa in present-day Cherokee County near Ballground. Members of both tribes could travel the area without fear of reprisal. As whites began to cross the 20 foot clear buffer zone established in the Treaty of Augusta in 1783 and reaffirmed in the Hopewell Treaty of 1785, the area of Hall was the scene of bloody conflicts between the Cherokee natives and the white settlers.

In 1804 a portion of the county was ceded by the Cherokee and a border that would last until 1817 was established. North of the border the old Federal Highway ran through the Cherokee Nation, crossed the Chattahoochee River at Vann's Ferry and continued on through Flowery Branch to its end at Augusta.

Andrew Jackson was in the county in 1818. The first settlement was known as Limestone Springs. The second town, Mule Camp Springs, would be renamed to Gainesville in honor of Edmund Pendleton Gaines, a general in The War of 1812. By 1830 the county had witnessed dramatic growth, in part because of it location, near the productive gold fields in Lumpkin County. That year Templeton Reid, a Milledgeville silversmith opened the first private mint in the United States here in Gainesville. The coins he minted are extremely rare and among the most valuable American made money because within a year the mint closed.

Also in 1830 a Cherokee, George Tassel, was tried and convicted in Hall and sentenced to hang for the murder of a white man on Indian land. Since the Cherokee Nation was sovereign, Tassel deserved to be tried in a Cherokee court. First in a series of legal attempts to halt the wholesale encroachment of whites, the Cherokee Nation won a stay of execution from the United States Supreme Court. The State of Georgia ignored the stay and murdered Tassel. The encroachment of the whites ended eight years later with the forced removal of the Cherokee in the "Trail of Tears."

All that remains of
Piedmont Hotel
The city of New Holland, which would become famous as both a cotton mill and resort town. Although the location of the city is still disputed, it is accepted to be near Gainesville.

At the Redwine Church in Gainesville the Seventeenth Georgia was formed in 1861. Part of Colquitt's Brigade this fighting force was among the most famous of the Civil War. They fought in virtually every campaign in which the Army of North Virginia was engaged. They served with distinction at Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Seven Days Battles, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. At Olustee, Florida, they repelled Union forces on February 20, 1864 and were with General Joseph E. Johnston when he surrendered his troops in North Carolina on April 26, 1865.

When the railroad and General James Longstreet arrived in 1874 Gainesville began unprecedented growth. Although already a major distribution center for farm goods from Union County that headed south across Tesnatee Gap on Major Logan's Turnpike, Gainesville became a regional center because of the rail service and the presence of the Piedmont Hotel, which Longstreet ran. Hall became a center for poultry production filling the hungry mouths of Atlanta with chicken and eggs, and much of the wood used to build homes in the Midwest and eastern U.S. from 1900 to 1920 was shipped from Gainesville.

During the early part of the 20th century, Gainesville was shipping hundreds of thousands of board feet of lumber through it's station from the mountains further north. The station to the right was built in 1913 to handle the passenger traffic. Recently restored and now housing civic organizations, the brick building replaced an earlier wooden structure. The expanse in front of the building was a fairly complicated switching facility.

North of Gainesville the town of White Sulphur Springs grew in popularity as a health resort. Written ads date back to 1846, but the community really hit its stride after 1880. When Bill Minor("The Grey Fox") robbed his last train it was near this Hall County community. On Feb. 18, 1911, Minor and accomplices stopped Southern Railway's #36. The Atlanta Constitution gave the event 2 pages and he was captured near . While in the prison in Milledgeville, Minor escaped, leaving his arm and leg iron firmly attached to the prison bed. Caught three days later, he died in a Georgia prison.

Sailing on Lake Lanier
Winds gust on
Courtesy U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
The community of White Sulphur Springs did not fare much better than Bill, although it did live about 20 years longer. Purchased by J. W. Oglesby, the hotel that was the major attraction drew thousands each summer. But J. W. liked to play the market and was fully invested that fateful October, 1929. The crash cost him millions and he could no longer afford the upkeep. A fire destroyed the hotel in 1933. Today little remains of the town except occasional lampposts and building foundations.

Because of the development of the poultry industry Hall suffered less than other North Georgia counties in the Cotton Bust of the 1920's.

After World War II and the successful completion of Lake Allatoona work began on Lake Lanier, although for an entirely different purpose. While Allatoona was built to control the frequent flooding of the Etowah River Valley, Lanier was built as a multi-purpose lake, serving Atlanta and surrounding communities with power, water, and recreation. Much of the county near the Chattahoochee River was flooded to form the lake starting in 1953.

On March 20th, 1998, a tornado destroyed portions of two schools and 150 homes. The storm, which killed 12 people and contributed to other deaths including a sheriff who had stepped out of her car to aid citizens, was actually the third worst in the county. On April 6, 1936 the United States' third worst tornado (in terms of number of deaths) struck Gainesville. Some 186 people died immediately. Official death tolls were later revised to 203 after rural areas of Hall County were included. The same system had produced a more deadly tornado in Tupelo, MS. the day before, with 216 deaths. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt paid two visits to Gainesville, a brief one three days after the tragedy (text of speech) and one two years later (text of speech). 104 people in Hall died on June 1, 1903 when a tornado ripped through a Gainesville cotton mill. The tornado strengthened and widened near the end of its four mile path, killing 40 persons at New Holland GA.

Additional pages:

Woodrow Wilson's daughters

Another county?

Hall County links


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