Archives of Fulton County

Archives of Fulton County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Established in 1853; name commonly attributed to honor Robert Fulton, inventor, experimented with a submarine boat in France, 1801; built the Clermont, a steamboat, which sailed up the Hudson River, 1807; recent research tends to indicate that the county was actually named for an early railroad official, Hamilton Fulton, who acted as surveyor for the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

Milton County was created on December 18, 1857 from parts of Cherokee, Forsyth, and Cobb counties. It was named for John Milton, Georgia's first secretary of state. During the American Revolution, Milton traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, and New Bern, North Carolina before moving to Maryland with the official records of the state while Georgia was occupied by the English.

Campbell and Milton County merged with Fulton on January 1, 1932. At this time Roswell was ceded from Cobb County.

North of the Chattahoochee River what is now Fulton County is quite different than Atlanta and its environs. Although rapid growth is battling history in an oft repeated scenario, the quiet, aged roads of Milton County sing a song of a different era, when horseless carriages were preceded by horsedrawn ones and you would see your next door neighbor every other week. It was a time when grist mills were the center of a town's social structure.

The Silos
Although relatively modern, these silos are less than a quarter mile from Crabapple and bring back fond memories to longtime residents
Thirty years before Stephen Long placed a stake at the 0 mile post of the Western and Atlantic Railway in the area that today is known as Underground, whites moved into north Fulton County in the area known as Crabapple. The small group of buildings is the oldest town in the area, predating Roswell by some 20 years and Alpharetta by quite a few more. Birmingham, another small town north of Crabapple was also founded about the same time. The two towns sat on a north-south trading path used by the Cherokee. The path followed present-day State Road 372, which runs on a ridgetop between the two villages.

About 20 years after the first settlers moved into Crabapple, a man name Roswell King was traveling in the area and purchased a few large tracts of land. He knew that the abundant waterpower on Vickery Creek was the perfect place to build a cotton mill. This mill would survive various fires, war and weather to produce fabric until the 1970's. King, an overseer at the infamous Butler Plantation, moved west to search for gold during Georgia's Gold Rush.

About the same time that King was exploring the area that would bear his first name, Stephen Long marked the terminus of the Western and Atlantic Railroad on property owned by Hardy Ivy. The area, then technically part of the town of Whitehall, would first become "Marthasville," then Atlanta in 1845 (more).

Creation of Milton County

Milton County
1883 map of the county
Courtesy, Library of Congress
In 1857 portions of Cherokee, Cobb and Gwinnett County were merged to create Milton County. The tiny town of New Prospect was chosen as county seat because of its central location. Before the county was formed, the city was renamed to Alpharetta, a combination of the Greek words for first and city.

North Fulton County housed a significant number of Union soldiers when General William Tecumseh Sherman arrived in here toward the end of the Atlanta Campaign. Men under the command of General Kenner Garrard destroyed Roswell Mill and sent the 400 women millworkers north to Indiana shortly after their arrival in July, 1864. The women and female children may have been assaulted by the Union soldiers near the mill on the morning of July 10, 1864, before their transport to Marietta later in the day.

General Hugh Kirkpatrick, Sherman's "Merchant of Terror" set the entire town of Atlanta on fire shortly before leaving on "The March to the Sea" in November, 1864.

After the Civil War, Milton County depended on the rebuilt Roswell Mills as a major industry, and grew cotton. It was bypassed by the railroads because of the mountains further north.

In Fulton County, Atlanta grew to become the Gateway City of the South. In 1913 the nation's eyes were rivoted on Atlanta during the murder of young Mary Phagan and the prosecution of the man whom alledgedly killed her, Leo Frank (more). In the 1920's Fulton County was among the first in the nation to have an airport (more).

During the Great Depression the counties of Milton and Campbell merged with Fulton, in part to save the expense of running a county government. Land from Cherokee, Cobb, and Gwinnett was incorporated into the deal to create a connected county.

In the late '40's a lake to supply the growing county with water was planned in the area of Roswell. For political reasons Lake Lanier was built further north. Prior to the construction of the Interstate Highway System, high volume roads were being built in Fulton County. Today's "Downtown Connector" is a remnant of this road-building program. In the mid-1960's major league sports came to the area and Fulton County growth continued. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter created the Chattahoocee National Recreation Area along the river that creates some of the county's borders.

Another county?

Fulton County links


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