Archives of Murray County

Archives of Murray County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Named for Thomas Murray, legislator and speaker of the house who died after being appointed to Congress but before he began his term.

When this county was formed in 1832 it contained the northwest corner of the state including the entire counties of Dade, Walker, Catoosa, Whitfield, and part of Chattooga. The area was controlled by the Cherokee starting in the middle to late 1600's, until it was stolen from them by the state of Georgia in the Land Lottery of 1832. The state and federal governments conspired to remove the Cherokee in a travesty known as the "Trail of Tears".

As early as the 1790's whites began to use an old Cherokee trading path which crossed the county from the northwest to the southeast. Improvements on this path in the county began as early as 1797. In 1803 the federal government began to improve the road, which was approved by the Cherokee in the Treaty of Telico in 1804. Shortly thereafter the road became known as the Georgia Turnpike because the federal government ran out of money and the state of Georgia complete the road. It branched off the Cumberland Turnpike near the present-day town of Ringgold. Among the influential Cherokee involved in the negotiations was James Vann, whose house at Spring Place sits near the old road in present-day Murray County. After General Andrew Jackson's troops upgraded the road in 1819, it became known as the Federal Highway. Running from Rossville, in the northwestern portion of the state, to Vann's Ferry, on the border of Forsyth and Hall County, now under Lake Lanier. At Ramhurst, the road split, with the Knoxville Road heading north, roughly following the path of present-day U. S. Highway 411.

Missionaries, with the protection of Vann and other Cherokee established an early school in the future Murray County at Spring Place, near the Vann Mansion. With completion of the road settlers began to improve the Cherokee land in the county. Inns developed along the road to the extent that one was found every 15 to 20 miles by 1819. That year President James Monroe spent the night in Vann House along with the entire contingent of White House staff -- 3 men.

When the sixth Georgia Lottery was held in 1832, the highway in Murray County the area had a post office and some businesses. Most were dependent on the Federal Road. One of the first structures built after the lottery was Fort Hoskings, not far from Chief Vann's House. This was one of the infamous Cherokee Removal Forts. Housed here, then moved further north to Rattlesnake Sprints before the forced march, the Cherokee suffered horribly. After "The Trail of Tears", the county saw only modest growth. Even completion of the Western and Atlantic Railroad did not improve conditions, for in 1851 the portion of Murray that had been lucky enough to land the railroad split off and became Whitfield County. The outbreak of the Civil War saw men go to war, and luckily only minor skirmishes were fought in the county, although towards the end of the war a number of guerrillas were centered in Spring Place. On March 20-22, 1865, Union soldiers attempted to suppress this activity.

During Reconstruction the county began to depend on cotton for a major portion of its income. And the railroad construction boom of the 1880's bypassed the county as the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad took a more easterly route through Blue Ridge. It would not be until 1905 that the Louisville and Nashville Railroad would enter the county.

While the county remained economically sound until the "Cotton Bust" in the early 1920's, from 1922 until World War II the financial atmosphere in the area was bleak. At least twice the State of Georgia had to help the county make ends meet. Both times the county did repay the debt. A major road building project funded by the state in the mid-1920's saw completion of portions of the road that would become U.S. Highway 411. In the 1930's the WPA ("Works Project Administration") and the CCC ('Civilian Conservation Corps') both had representation in the county. In Eton was a large CCC camp while the WPA was mainly located in Chatsworth. One major work of the CCC was infrastructure on what would become Fort Mountain State Park.

Tradgedy struck the county on March 28, 2000 when a bus-train crash claimed the lives of 3 children who lived in the county.

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Murray County links


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