Archives of Paulding County

Archives of Paulding County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
John Paulding was one of the men that captured British spy Major Andre during the American Revolution. The county was named in his honor in 1832. Major Andre was Benedict Arnold's accomplice in the General's betrayal of his country.

One of the 10 counties made up from the first Cherokee County, Paulding County was one of the most remote areas in North Georgia. Only a single, relatively minor east-west route ran through the county at the time. This began at the "Shallow Ford" of the Chattahoochee, ran south of Kennesaw Mountain and due west to Alabama, passing near the present-day town of Dallas.

The area was claimed by both Creek, who dominated the southern portion of the county and Cherokee, who controlled the north. With the removal of the Creek in 1825 after Chief William McIntosh signed the Treaty of Indian Springs only Cherokee remained.

Most of the county was distributed as 160 acre lots in the Lottery of 1832, although a portion in the northeast corner was distributed as the smaller 40 acre gold lots. On December 3, 1832, the county was recognized by the Georgia Legislature. It originally encompassed Van Wert, its first county seat. Van Wert was named for another man involved in the capture of Major Andre. In 1838, remaining Cherokee were removed on the "Trail of Tears."

Agriculture was the early mainstay of the county, although a significant number of grist mills had developed by the outbreak of the Civil War along with saw mills, potteries, and tanyards. When Polk County was formed on December 20, 1851, the county seat of Van Wert was included in Polk and Paulding County moved its seat to Dallas, named for George Mifflim Dallas, Vice-President of the United States under James Polk. On May 14, 1852, Dallas was founded on land deeded from Garrett H. Spinks. The original courthouse was little more than a shack, about three miles north of the present downtown area.

When The Civil War broke out the town boasted a small cotton mill, cotton gins, tanneries, a brick yard and a potash works. Unlike counties further north, Paulding had begun to rely on cotton for some of its revenue. Still, only 129 people, or less than 4% of males over 18 owned slaves.

During the Civil War the county saw large numbers of Rebel and/or Union troops on four occasions. As William Tecumseh Sherman left the Western and Atlantic Railroad near Kingston, Georgia, to avoid a battle at Allatoona Pass he moved to Joseph E. Johnston's left, hoping to outflank him by moving through the thick underbrush that made much of north Paulding County impassable. Once Johnston realized Sherman's plan, he began moving troops to block his way. In a series of three distinct battles that are often confused or merged, even by knowledgeable Civil War historians, Johnston and Sherman tangled for control of the dense forest in late May, 1864.

Sherman chose the tiny Georgia town of Dallas as a good place for battle because of the well-developed network of roads that spread out from its center, not that he intended to use them, but so that he could entice Joe Johnston away from his stronghold at Allatoona Pass.

New Hope Church, Dallas and Pickett's Mill were all fought within the confines of the county. Four months later John Bell Hood moved a large number of troops to the area as a ruse to confuse Sherman, who by that time had successfully taken the city of Atlanta. As Hood began to move north on the disastrous Nashville Campaign, Sherman followed him, passing through the county in the third week of October, 1864. Finally, in March and April of 1865, a large number of Union soldiers moved into the county.

During Reconstruction, the county did not grow. 1882 brought two firsts, the first newspaper, the New Era, and the railroad, which had a much more immediate impact. The East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroads was one of a spate of railways that launched a building program in the late 1870's. By the end of the decade, the town of Dallas, the lines only stop in the county had nearly tripled.

In the latter years of the 19th century a movement spread across the entire south known as the Farmer's Alliance. This quasi-political movement tried to empower farmers, often to the detriment of area merchants. The movement gained popularity in Paulding County. Although the complexity of this movement precludes an in-depth discussion, one result was the formation of the populist party in the 1890's. A People's Party convention was held in the county in 1892, with W. A. (William) Ragsdale serving as chairman.

The most notable political development was that by the turn of the century, unlike most Georgia counties, Paulding was voting Republican. In fact, it voted for the Republican presidential candidate from 1900 until 1924.

On Oct 18, 1903, old 88 jumped the track near the Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle, one of four major railroad accidents to occur in the county. The fireman, J. M. Flagler lost his leg jumping from the train. One car, loaded with Bull Durham smoking tobacco, ended up in the ditch, fifty feet below the track. It is said that every boy in Paulding County learned to smoke as a result of this accident. Disaster again struck in 1910 when the train depot burned.

Today portions of the county are witnessing growth as a bedroom community for Cobb County, and to a lesser extent the city of Atlanta. Agriculture is still a major producer of income. No interstate highway runs through the county.

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