Archives of Polk County

Archives of Polk County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Named for United States President James Polk. Founded in 1851.

The area of Polk County was originally Creek Indian land. Shortly after the American Revolution the Cherokee began to live in the area, although the number of Native Americans that actually lived in the Beaver Dam area of Cedar Creek appears to be small, possibly no more than 75 members. The area was also farmed by the Cherokee, so the estimated number within the present-day political boundaries of Polk County was probably no more than 200. An accurate number is difficult, since many of the Native Americans in the area were Creek.

The settlement marked the furthest south a large settlement of Cherokee lived in modern Georgia. The name Cedar Town was in use as early as the 1820's, by whites who were migrating through the area. A major north-south trading path ran about 5 miles west of the village.

White encroachment began about that time, and by January, 1830, about 18 families lived near the center of town in homes vacated by Cherokee who had moved further west. During the Incident at Cedar Creek, Cherokee under Major Ridge requested that the settlers leave the homes and return to Georgia. Whites did not return to the town until 1832, when land in the area was parceled out as the larger 160 acre farm lots during the first Land Lottery of 1832.

Cherokee were numerous enough that Fort Cedartown, a Cherokee Removal Fort was built near the center of town. This was only briefly used to house local Cherokee prior to their removal on The Trail of Tears

Originally part of Paulding County, Polk County was separated in 1851, about the same time that Cedartown came into existence. At the time throughout North Georgia a movement had begun to reduce travel time to the county government to less than two days. Over the next few years virtually every original county would cede some land to create a new county. Paulding County's county seat of Van Wert was not close enough to the center of the county, so Cedartown became the new seat of government.

After the Battle for Atlanta, Union General James McPherson moved the Army of the Tennessee through the eastern part of the county, following Euharlee Creek. They made camp at Peak Springs near the town of Aragon. Turning east, they march through Van Wert and continued on towards Dallas. The only major Civil War action in the county was towards the end of Civil War when James Kirkpatrick's cavalry burned the original county courthouse and all of Cedartown.

They fledgling county struggled to survive during Reconstruction, but the arrival of the railroad pumped new life into the city and the county. With its arrival the county, unlike many of its neighbors, developed a significant industrial base which remains to this day.

Piedmont Institute was built in 1889-92 in the town of Rockmart. While most of the college burned to the ground in 1915, it is remembered by many as the location where a young writer, Corra Harris, began her career.

on December 23rd, 1926 two trains, the Ponce de Leon and the Royal Palm collided near the town of Rockmart killing about 20 and injuring more than 100. The small town had no ambulances and the most seriously injured were taken by private automobile to Rome, Georgia.

During the 20th century the area around Esom Hill, south and west of Cedartown, became known for lawlessness. Murders and feuds were common, and outsiders were unwelcome in this small, close-knit community. In 1974, when Sheriff Frank Lott, Sr. began to clean-up the county, including Esom Hill, he was found murdered. While no direct connection can be made to the small community, it is widely rumored that the bootleggers in the area had a hand in the murder.

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