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Cass County
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Location, Geography and Name Derivation

When the state of Georgia decided to let settlers "win" their piece of the Cherokee Nation during the Land Lottery of 1832, Cass County was one of ten "original" counties created. The county was named for Lewis Cass, who was Secretary of War under Andrew Jackson in 1832 and strongly supported the right of Georgia to take the Cherokee land.

The seat of Cass County was in Cassville. At one time, Cassville was bigger than Atlanta or Chattanooga and was considered to be a center of higher learning in North Georgia. In addition to a college for men it had one of the most renown female seminaries in the state.

County History

Home to the Etowah River, the county also contained Tumlin Indian Mounds at the confluence of the Etowah River and Pumpkinvine Creek. Today, known as the Etowah Indian Mounds, the three major mounds are part of the Georgia State Park system.

The case of James "Hog" Smith involved Cass County. Smith was a Cherokee accused and convicted of killing James Graves in Walker County. Graves was a popular man and the sheriff, concerned that a mob might overpower his small force, asked Cass County to house the Cherokee. In October, 1834, "Hog" Smith's death sentence was upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court and the Walker County sheriff. He was moved under heavy guard from Cassville Jail to Murray County, where he was executed.

Ferries were the first to span the Etowah River, among them the ferry of Stephen Mays on the Hightower Road. By 1836 this ferry was so successful that Mays decided to build a bridge across the Etowah and charge a toll. Mays also ran a ferry spanning the Coosawattee. Elias Pitner, Lewis Tumlin, and Arnold Milner also ran early ferries across the Etowah, Joseph Wilson ran a ferry across the Oostanaula River, and in 1840 Thomas R. Huson built the second bridge. Milner published his rates in 1839 as: "All road wagons, loaded, 37½ cents, unloaded, 25 cents; all four wheeled pleasure carriages, 25 cents; all two wheeled carriages, ox carts, horse carts or light wagons, 12½ cents; man and horse, 6¼ cents; stock of all kinds, 3 cents per head."

Destroyed by Sherman in 1864, this was once the largest bank in Cass County
One reason for the large number of ferries was because Cass was a booming county in the late 1830's. Mineral wealth attracted a number of people to the area and by 1840 not only was mining a major business, so was the production of pig iron. Neligh Manufacturing Company was incorporated by the state, but there other, smaller operations throughout the county. In 1842 Major Mark Anthony Cooper moved to Cass County and built the town of Etowah, a manufacturing center on the Etowah River around the furnace of Moses Stroup, one of the early independent manufacturers. The town grew to the point that in 1864 it was considered to be a major target of General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign.

Cooper had been an early supporter of the development of the railroads and his choice of land along the Etowah (now inundated by Lake Allatoona) was not only for clean water and power, but because of the coming of the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Work on the railroad began in 1837 but the Panic of 1837 would have a long lasting effect on the county, state and nation. By 1840 Stephen Long (the original engineer building the railroad) was released and the railroad's progress stalled. It would not be until 1846 that the W&ARR would cross the Etowah.

Cooper also gave Cass County its Friendship Monument. During the Panic of 1857 manufacturing was hard hit and the banks could not raise capitol for loans. Cooper turned to a group of friends for a loan and when the panic was over and the friends repaid, Cooper built the Friendship Monument to honor his friends commitment. The monument was moved from downtown in the 1950's but was returned at the start of the 21st century.

On February 13, 1850 the legislature created Gordon County from Cass County and neighboring Floyd County. By 1857 there was a good number of people who were unhappy with the selection of Cassville as county seat. An election authorized by the General Assembly left the city as county seat, however, Cassville's destruction by General Sherman in 1864 would mean its end as the county seat.

With the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Lewis Cass began advocating reinforcing the U. S. forts in the South. Although President James Buchanan refused, Cass alienated the South and the people of Cass County, Georgia with his stand. With the death of Frank Bartow during Manassas, the residents had what they needed: a true Georgia hero after which they could name the county. In November, 1861, voters approved the name change in a general election. A month later Cass County was renamed Bartow County.

County: Cass County
Bartow County

North Georgia Counties

Article Links
Abraham Lincoln
Atlanta Campaign
Cherokee Nation
Etowah Indian Mounds
Floyd County
Frank Bartow
Gordon County
James Buchanan
Panic of 1837
Panic of 1857
Western and Atlantic Railroad
William Tecumseh Sherman

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