Summary History of Cobb County
Links to the Counties of:
Barrow Bartow Cherokee Dawson DeKalb Douglas Forsyth Fulton Gwinnett Hall Paulding
Or link to Atlanta
Note: I am not a historian, but I have great interest in these areas where I sell homes.
The following information is culled from a variety of sources.
Although I can not guarantee accuracy within those sources,
I took care to write the following with as much accuracy as I could achieve.
In 1830 and 1831 the Sixth Georgia Land Lottery and the Georgia Gold Lottery were authorized by the Georgia General Assembly, to give land away to settlers (even though the Assembly did not actually have claim to this land .. it was still part of the Cherokee Indian Nation). 342 lots were drawn for the Land Lottery (each lot around 160 acres each), and 4,360 lots were drawn for the Gold Lottery (around 40 acres each), with lots from both Lotteries being positioned in a variety of North Georgia counties.
On December 3, 1832, Cobb County was one of 10 northwest Georgia counties that was carved-out of the Cherokee Indian lands. It was taken from what was then called Cherokee County (vastly larger than today’s Cherokee County. -- Read my summary about Cherokee County to find out more.). Some documents say Cobb County became the 84th county in Georgia, while some list it as the 81st county. Governor Wilson Lumpkin signed the legislation. (Note: Today there are 159 counties in Georgia..)
The county was named in honor of Thomas Willis Cobb, a former US Representative (serving three terms) and US Senator, plus Superior Court Judge. --- By the way, Marietta GA (which was settled in 1833 and named the county seat in 1834) was named after Thomas Cobb’s wife. The park in Marietta Square is named Glover Park in honor of the first mayor of the city, John Glover.
Cherokee Indian settlements included locations that eventually went by such names as: Noonday Creek (north of Marietta), Buffalo Fish (southeast of Marietta), Sweetwater Town (southwest of Marietta), and Big Shanty (today called Kennesaw). By 1838 the Cherokees had been removed from this area and resettled in western lands; first rounded up and placed into camps such as the one at Ross’s Landing, and then moved to Oklahoma through the infamous Trail of Tears. (Note: Prior to this, in the 1820’s, Creek Indians had already ceded their lands to the federal government, lands south of the Chattahoochee River and all the way west to the Alabama boundary, and beyond.)
In 1857 parts of Cobb, along with parts of Cherokee and Forsyth Counties were taken and combined to create a new county, called Milton County. But in 1932 Milton County along with Campbell County at the southwest side of Atlanta were combined into a new version of Fulton County. Roswell, which had earlier become one of the industrial centers in Cobb was as also ceded to Fulton County as part of the 1932 action. Taking that area of Cobb County, as well as taking some land from Cherokee and Gwinnett Counties, was necessary in order to provide enough land to form a workable juncture between the northern tip of Fulton County and Milton County. Today, these areas north of the original tip of Fulton County are often referred to as North Fulton. This ceding of Campbell, Milton and other areas to Fulton County occurred during the Depression, and was in response to Fulton being financially stronger at that time while Campbell was in bankruptcy and Milton County (whose county seat was Alpharetta) was nearly bankrupt.
In the 1800’s Cobb County was not home to what we typically think of as “southern plantations.” Instead, the agricultural facet of the county’s economy was primarily comprised of small farms that maintained its owners at a subsistence level. In addition to agriculture, though, early in its existence Cobb County became a very important railway center. And with vital railway plus road/stagecoach routes running through the area (plus the Chattahoochee River along its southern edge), this county became a center of commerce.
By 1850 Cobb County (especially Marietta) had also become somewhat of a resort area, for people living along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts who wished during summer months to get away from the hot humidity of the coastal region. Outbreaks of “fever” would plague the coastal areas, so getting away to cooler inland areas was an important summer escape for those who could afford it.
As noted above, the railroad had a tremendous impact on Cobb County. In 1836 purchase of the right of way began for a rail line called the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which ran from the Tennessee River in Chattanooga across the Chattahoochee River and into the very center of what would become Atlanta. (Note: at that time Atlanta was little more than a crossroads of old Indian trails, with a Tavern/Inn and a U.S. Postal stop .. that spot of land then being called Whitehall.) Work on the railroad progressed on and off, stopping for a while during the terrible economic depression that followed the panic of 1837. Finally the rail route was fully completed by the mid-late 1840’s, going from Atlanta (which had already changed names to Terminus and then Marthasville) to Chattanooga, Tennessee (which was at the site of an earlier settlement called Ross’s Landing). Marietta became a boom town, due to its close proximity to Atlanta, its proximity to the Chattahoochee River, and its location on the Western and Atlantic Railroad line. Stagecoaches brought people from outlying areas to Marietta to board the train. By 1853 Marietta was a thriving hub. Kennesaw was originally named Big Shanty because it began as shanty housing for railroad workers. And Acworth began as Northcut Station which was a water stop for the railroad.
Not only did this railroad help spur commerce and development. It also was one of the factors that brought lasting “fame” to Cobb County with respect to the Civil War theft of a locomotive by a band of Union Raiders led by James Andrews ---- And this brings me to a brief description of the Fletcher House. … Lauisa and Dix Fletcher had an establishment where they greeted riders from the stage coaches. Fire destroyed that stagecoach stop in the mid-1850’s, and the Fletchers purchased Glover’s restaurant and warehouse and re-worked it into a hotel called the Fletcher House.
That building, in downtown Marietta (later named the Kennesaw House) played an important role in what is called “The Great Locomotive Chase.” Several Union spies spent the night at the Fletcher House as they plotted to steal the Confederate locomotive called “The General.” Other Union raiders spent the night at another railroad-related Hotel named Coles. The next day these Union men boarded the train at the station across from the Fletcher House, making sure to board alone or with no more than two together, so as not to attract attention (sounds like 9-11 terrorists boarding aircraft!). From Marietta the train traveled north to Big Shanty where it made a scheduled breakfast stop. During that twenty minute stop, under the lead of James Andrews, “The Great Locomotive Chase” (as later popularized in a movie) began.
The raid was daring, especially since there was a training center with Confederate troops located at Big Shanty. The goal was to destroy key bridges between Big Shanty and Chattanooga, cut telegraph lines, and disable this facet of Confederate transportation and communication. Between Big Shanty and Moon’s Station (two miles north) there were two stops, one to fix a problem with the locomotive and one to cut telegraph lines. But the raiders could not destroy one of their primary targets after they crossed it, a bridge over the Etowah River. This was just the beginning of a series of difficulties which eventually doomed the mission. As the raiders were chased by different trains, they tried several actions to halt or disable their would-be captors. But the Confederate trains kept coming, including “The Texas” during the last part of the chase. The Texas as it headed south had passed the General, but then gave chase, and had to go in reverse the entire way. Just north of Ringgold Depot The General became disabled and the Union raiders fled west. All were captured. In total seven were hung including Andrews, six would escape from prison, and eight were exchanged for other prisoners. All the men except Andrews were awarded the Medal of Honor. (Note: this paragraph is a summary taken from an account found at the internet address http://ngeorgia.com/history/raiders.html. For a much better account of this entire event, please go to that resource, or to one of the many others which are available.)
Later in the Civil War, Cobb County would be the scene of tremendous fighting. During the march to Atlanta (and subsequently the march to the sea) by General William T. Sherman, Cobb County was the scene of fierce and very bloody fighting, including the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in the summer of 1864. Part of the Union force was eventually able to outflank the Confederate troops, and the Confederate general withdraw south across the Chattahoochee River, to defend Atlanta. Sherman then occupied Marietta and set forth plans for the final conquest of Atlanta. (Note: You can read more about this in my summary of Atlanta history, where I go into more depth concerning Sherman’s approach to Atlanta.) In late 1864 Union forces left Marietta, burning close to 100 buildings as they left. Other communities in Cobb County also received significant destruction.
After a time following the Civil War, the railroad was rebuilt, commerce began to grow, and Cobb County started transitioning from a rural to more of an industrial area. This began with commercial enterprises such as cotton mills replacing agriculture as a primary cornerstone of the economy. With the advent of World War II, in 1942 an aircraft manufacturing plant was built in Marietta at Rickenbacher Field where Bell Aircraft Corporation constructed hundreds of B-29 bombers. After that war the plant was closed, but reopened in 1951 during the Korean War, with Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in control of production. Today these grounds are home to Dobbins Air Base (originally called Marietta Army Airfield), and of course continuing Lockheed-Martin operations.
In the 1920’s Georgia began a major road building program including Georgia’s first four-lane highway, with Route 41 running through Cobb County. Part of the reason for initiating this road development program was to alleviate some of the financial hardships caused by the “cotton bust” as well as the Great Depression. Of interest, James Carmichael was hit by a car on this road (Route 41), shortly after its completion. And this is of interest because Mr. Carmichael, a Cobb County native, was instrumental in bringing the Bell Aircraft plant to Cobb County, and served as its General Manager. He also brought the Scripto company to Cobb County.
Of great impact for all metro-Atlanta commuters today, General Lucius D. Clay of Marietta is credited as being the primary architect of the United States Interstate Highway system. General Clay, who managed the Berlin Airlift and presided over the rebuilding of Germany, was appointed by President Eisenhower in 1954 to chair the committee mapping the interstate system for this country. Perhaps it is no surprise that Interstates 75, 85, and 20 all flow-through the heart of Atlanta and make this community (along with its airport) a primary hub for the Southeast and beyond. (Of interest, the last portion of I-75 to be completed was a stretch of highway four miles north of Marietta, in the Lake Allatoona area.)
Cities in Cobb County today include: Marietta, Kennesaw, and Acworth, all mentioned previously. Powder Springs was established in the 1830’s as Springville. The name was changed to Powder Springs in 1859, with the name being derived from the seven springs within the city. Smyrna was a famous religious encampment in the early 1830’s called Smyrna Camp Ground, and by the 1840’s became another Cobb County stop on the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Other names for Smyrna have been Ruffs Siding and Varners Station. And Austell was earlier known as Salt Springs. Among other attractions, it was a well respected health resort due to its lithia springs.
From The U.S. Census Bureau
ESTIMATED 2006 Population:
Population change (April 1, 2000 to
July 1, 2006):
Median Household Income 2004:
Housing Units 2005:
Home Ownership Rate 2000:
Persons per Household 2000:
2000 Land Area (sq miles):
2000 Persons per Sq Mile:
Our Georgia History website, Cobb County page at: http://ourgeorgiahistory.com/ogh/Cobb_County,_Georgia
Roadside Georgia, Archives of Cobb County page at: http://roadsidegeorgia.com/county/cobb.html
Cobb Sheriff.org website, History of Cobb page: http://www.cobbsheriff.org/CobbHistory.htm
Cobb County Snapshots website, Cobb County Community Profile: http://www.dca.state.ga.us/CountySnapshotsNet/countysnapshot.aspx?cicoid=1033033
Our Georgia History website, Cobb County, Georgia page: http://ourgeorgiahistory.com/ogh/Cobb_County,_Georgia
About Cobb County GAGenWeb Project website, founding of Cobb County and Marietta page: http://www.rootsweb.com/~gacobb/cobb.html
Cobb County, GA Official GAGenWen site, History and Geography of Cobb County page: http://www.rootsweb.com/~gacobb2/history/history.htm
Carl Vinson Institute of Government website, Cobb County page: http://www.cviog.uga.edu/Projects/gainfo/histcountymaps/cobbhistmaps.htm
“About North Georgia” website: page titled The Great Locomotive Chase (the story of Andrew’s Raiders): http://ngeorgia.com/history/raiders.html
Carl Vinson Institute of Government website, The Great Locomotive Chase page: http://www.cviog.uga.edu/Projects/gainfo/locochase.htm
City of Austell website, History of Austell page: http://www.austell.org/other/history.htm
The City of Smyrna website, History and Points of Interest page: http://www.ci.smyrna.ga.us/index.php?pr=History
Powder Springs website, History page: http://www.cityofpowdersprings.org/index.asp?nid=203
The City of Kennesaw website, Georgia website, History page: http://www.kennesaw.ga.us/index.asp?nid=36
City of Marietta website, History of Marietta page: http://www.mariettaga.gov/community/history.aspx
U.S. Census Bureau website, Cobb County, Georgia page: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13/13067.html