Joseph Habersham was a radical leader of the Sons of Liberty who became a member of Georgia's original Council of Safety when it was formed on June 22, 1775. He also attended the pivotal meeting at Tondee's Tavern in Savannah on July_4, 1775, which directly led to Georgia's participation in the American Revolution.
On September_10, 1775, Major Habersham (in command of infantry) and Captain Oliver Bowen (in command of naval forces), advanced to Tybee Island to await the arrival of the brigantine Hinchinbrooke, the sloop Rebecca, and a "prize brig" bring gunpowder to Royalists on the island. On January 18, 1776, Major Habersham personally arrest Royal Governor James Wright.
In 1778 Continental soldiers under Lachlan McIntosh returned to Georgia and assisted in the Third Florida Expedition. Colonel McIntosh led his men on a raid before the Continentals withdrew. He resigned his commission to become a member (and leader) of the Georgia Senate. Selected as one of five Georgia representatives to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Habersham signed the document in 1788.
Under the new government Habersham served as Postmaster General and as president of the Bank of the United States in Georgia. His summer home in Habersham County still stands today.
When Habersham County was originally created from the Cherokee cession of 1817, it contained all of present-day Stephens County and White County, most of Rabun County, and portions of the original Cherokee County ([Lumpkin County]). On December_20, 1828 Rabun County was relocated to (technically, redefined as) the northeast corner of the state and Habersham shifted down.
All of Habersham County belonged to the Cherokee Nation prior to 1817. The Unicoi Turnpike, which linked the Tugaloo River at Travelers Rest to eastern Tennessee was built in 1812. The county's Cherokee Indian legacy is represented in the placenames, including Tallulah Falls, Soque River and Sautee-Nacoochee. The name Chattahoochee, which is frequently attributed to the Cherokee is actually a Creek Indian word.
As Unicoi Turnpike increased in usage travelers would settle in land outside the state of Georgia. On July_8, 1817Andrew Jackson negotiated a cession from the Cherokee, "giving" them land on the Arkansas River in exchange. Additional Cherokee land, ceded on February_27, 1819, was also included in the county.
Although the county had been settled near the Unicoi Turnpike and the rest of the land was distributed in the Georgia Land Lotteries, the county seat was not established until 1823 when the first courthouse was built in Clarkesville (spelled Clarksville at the time). The structure was wooden, and when Habersham County decided it needed a more substantial building in 1832, the original courthouse was moved and became a bank.
Second, gold had been discovered in the county in the vicinity of Loudsville. This meant miners would need a place to stake claims (if they decided to follow this "formality"). In addition to the courthouse, a road connecting Clarkesville to the Old Federal Road was also constructed in 1830. Although mining and agriculture provided most of the work, Habersham County also boasted an iron furnace built and run by Jacob Stroup (sometimes misspelled as Stroop). Stroup later moved west to Cass County, where he built iron furnaces on Stamp Creek.
During the Georgia Gold Rush the Loudsville mine plus others on a second, smaller belt that ran in the eastern section of the county contributed to rapid economic expansion. Clarkesville, served by stage from Athens, served many of the prospectors further west.