Georgia, U. S. A.
"Where yesterday is not so long ago," is how the Historic Roswell Convention & Visitors Bureau describes this North Fulton city established in 1839. The regal doors of antebellum mansions like Smith Plantation are now open to the public, and the shops at Roswell Mill make this former factory once again a center of commerce. Residents can stroll through Founder's Cemetery, where Roswell's forefather is buried. However, Roswell King was not the first to call these rolling hills and riverbanks home.
|Roswell City Hall|
The Cherokee Indians called it the "Enchanted Land". And for a long time, it was. White man was forbidden on this land along the northern banks of the "River of Painted Rock", or Chattahoochee. But treaties are sometimes broken, and soon the white men came, lured by the discovery of gold in North Georgia in 1828. The Cherokee tried to co-exist peacefully, and even adopted some of the white man's ways, becoming farmers, storekeepers and such, like an Indian leader named Warsaw (Warsaw Road still bears his name), who ran a ferry across the Chattahoochee. But it was to no avail. Eventually, the state of Georgia declared the Cherokee Nation illegal and took possession of their land. It was divided into counties and given to white settlers through a land lottery. The Cherokee tried to protect their rights through the courts, but President Andrew Jackson ignored a mandate from the Supreme Court that said otherwise and approved removal of the Cherokee. In 1838, Roswell's original settlers joined thousands of others on the western journey that would come to be known as "The Trail of Tears."
One of the white men who passed through this area was Roswell King, a former slave taskmaster from the notorious Butler Plantation on the Georgia coast. He saw prosperity in the rushing waters of Vickery Creek. He moved in and invited friends like James Bulloch from coastal Georgia, and a community was formed. His son, Barrington King, founded a mill along Vickery Creek. By 1839, the Roswell Manufacturing Company was in full operation making cotton products and Roswell earned a name as one of the most important manufacturing towns in Georgia. Great homes, mill cottages, a church and school were built. Today's city of Roswell grew up around the mill.
As a Southern town, Roswell was not immune to the major issue of slavery. When Georgia seceded from the Union in January 1861, Roswell residents who could afford to do so packed up as many possessions as possible and headed to safer havens. Then the Civil War blazed a trail through town and left a mark on Roswell that is still visible today. In July 1864, Roswell was occupied by about 36,000 troops, yet the only structures destroyed were the mills along Vickery Creek. Soldiers were ordered to protect private property - the reason many of Roswell's original structures still stand.
Under the leadership of General William Tecumseh Sherman, the Union armies began moving south from Chattanooga to capture Atlanta. General Kenner Garrard's cavalry arrived in Roswell in July 1864. Retreating Confederates burned the covered bridge at the Chattahoochee River, hoping to slow Union advancement. But Union troops crossed the waist-deep waters at the Shallow Ford (near today's river park on Azalea Drive). It is said that this was the first time in history that a rifle was successfully fired under water during armed conflict.
The mill manager - a French citizen -- took desperate measures to save the Ivy Woolen Mill near the river. He flew a French flag over the mill in an attempt to claim neutrality. This worked for two days, until Sherman's army discovered the letters "CSA" on the cloth from the mill. Sherman ordered the mill burned and everyone connected with it to be charged with treason. Four hundred mill workers, mostly women and children, were sent north to prison in Louisville, Kentucky. They were never tried for the crime for which they were accused, and many never returned. Today, a monument honoring the 400 lost mill workers keeps their memory alive in Old Mill Park on Sloan Street.
After the Civil War, families returned to Roswell to rebuild their lives. The mills were reconstructed and the textile industry continued to be a major part of Roswell's economy for another hundred years. Magnificent homes, like the Archibald Smith Plantation and Bulloch Hall, were spared destruction and can still be visited today. Bulloch Hall in particular is interesting, both for its impressive Greek Revival architecture and the fact that it was home to some famous names in American history. Major Bulloch's daughter Mittie's son was Teddy Roosevelt, who became the 26th president of the United States. In 1905, President Roosevelt came to visit his mother's childhood home and gave a speech to the crowd from the bandstand in Roswell the town square. Mittie's granddaughter, Eleanor, married Franklin D. Roosevelt and would change the role of women in the White House as First Lady. Mittie's Cafe & Tea Room on Canton Street is named for this legendary Roswell resident.
The Roswell Railroad Company
In 1879 The Roswell Railroad Company was incorporated in Georgia. Earlier, the Atlanta and Roswell Railroad Company had failed to lay any track. Owned by the Atlanta and Charlotte Air-Line Railroad, the line connected to Chamblee Station (Roswell Junction). This narrow gauge railroad had an engine ("Buck"), one passenger car, and other rolling stock. From 1881 until 1894 the railroad was run by the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company, and from 1894 until 1921 by Southern Railway, which it became part of in 1900.
Today, Roswell is a 38-square-mile suburb of Atlanta. Roswell's historic district boasts 122 acres on the National Register of Historic Places. The city has a thriving arts scene, with cultural attractions that include walking tours of the historic district. Roswell's 80,000 residents still enjoy the Chattahoochee River through its many trails and river parks. Ruins of the mills are still visible to those who walk along Vickery Creek. In an era when growth is constantly battling history, Roswell seems to remember its roots.
|Faces of War|
This monument sits in a small park near city hall
Roswell Hotels hotels
Directions: From Atlanta travel north on I-85 to GA 400, exit at Holcomb Bridge or Mansell Road
Archives of Fulton CountyHistory of the area around Roswell