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Hall County, Georgia History
from: The Story of Georgia and the Georgia People 1732 to 1860
by George Gillman Smith, D. D.
Originally published c. 1901

Submitted by K. Torp, ©2007


Hall county was laid off in 1818, and named in honor of Lyman Hall. It was very rapidly settled by a class of worthy but poor people.

The land is not generally fertile, but most of it repaid the tillerís toil, and there are some beautiful and productive farms on the creeks and on the Oconee and Chattahoochee rivers.

It was, like Habersham, famous for the salubrity of its summer climate, and early drew to it a class of wealthy people from the low-country, who fixed their summer homes in Gainesville. The celebrated New Holland springs and the White Sulphur springs were excellent summer resorts near Gainesville, and when the Southern railway was built Gainesville developed into an excellent market for the mountain counties bordering it, and became a place of large trade. The manufacturing of shoes became a leading industry, to which has since been added the man ufacturing of cotton.

It has been an educational center, and the Gainesville Female College has become famous as a school for young women.

Gainesville has now grown into a city of considerable size, populated by a class of enterprising and intelligent people, and has become the leading summer resort of the up-country.

The celebrated Glade mines are in this county. They were owned by Dr. Richard Banks for many years, and while working the mines some beautiful diamonds were found which are still in the family of Dr. Banks. The mines are now owned by a northern company.

Dr. Richard Banks was long a citizen of this county. He was a member of that distinguished family who sprang from Ralph Banks, one of the first settlers of Elbert county, and was long noted for his sterling worth and his tender philanthropy.

The celebrated banker, Richard T. Wilson of New York, began his life in this county as the son of a Scotch tanner, and made his first money as a boy on a Hall county farm.

The religious character of the people has always been good, the Methodists and Baptists being the leading de nominations.

The villages of Flowery Branch and Belton, considerable little hamlets, are in this county.

The city of Gainesville, with its handsome court-house and its neat churches and handsome private residences, as well as its well-built stores, is the most important point of northeast Georgia.

The population of Hall as early as 1830 was nearly twelve thousand, but in 1850 eight thousand seven hundred and thirteen.

The first settlers of this county as given by Mr. White were: W. H. Dickson, E. Dunnegan, Jos. Wilson, John Bates, B. Reynolds, R. Armour, Jos. Gailey, T. Terrell, John Miller, D. Wofford, M. Moore, W. Blake, Jos. Read, R. Young, J. McConnell, R. Wurm, Thos. Wilson, William Cobb, Joseph Johnson, John Barnet, E. Cowen, A. Thomson, Jesse Dobbs, James Abercrombie, Solomon Peake, Richard Banks, Wm. Cotter.

Towns, Hamlets and Villages

Flowery Branch, a town in the southern part of Hall county, is on the Southern railway between Atlanta and Gainesville.  It is the shipping point for a considerable section of the county, and its stores do considerable business.  It contained in 1900 a population of 420 in the corporation, has a money order postoffice with rural free delivery, express and telegraph offices, a bank and a gin and oil company.  The people of the town and vicinity have churches and schools.
[Source: Georgia: Sketches, Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions & People, Vol. 2, Publ. 1906 Transcribed By:  Maggie Coleman]

Gainesville, the county seat of Hall County, was incorporated in 1821 and named in honor of Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, who participated in the Indian wars in Georgia.  In 1872 the charter was amended and Gainesville was made a city.  Upon the completion of the Atlanta & Charlotte Air-line railroad (now the Southern) from Atlanta to the Carolina line, soon after the close of the Civil war, old towns along its line, hitherto without railroad connection, began to take on a rapid growth and new towns sprang into being.  Among the old towns Gainesville soon took a place in the front rank, a position she has ever since maintained.  Situated fifty-three miles from Atlanta, it is far enough from the great center of Georgia enterprise to have some independent territory of its own and has not been slow to profit by this advantage.  The Gainesville, Jefferson & Southern railway by one branch connects the city with Winder, Monroe and Social Circle and by another with Jefferson-all prosperous towns.  Gainesville has express and telegraph offices, a money order postoffice with rural free delivery, a court house valued at $75,000, an electric light plant and water works owned by the city, four banks, good hotels, and many flourishing business houses, all of the stores in the business section being good, substantial brick buildings.  The streets are for the most part macadamized, and there are many handsome residences. Among the many manufacturing establishments are two tanneries, four planing mills, three sash, blind and furniture factories; three wagon, carriage and buggy factories; one ice factory, one furniture and chair factory, one steam laundry, one iron foundry and machine shop, lime works, five brick works, one paper box factory, one pottery, a cotton seed oil mill, three cotton mills, and the shops of the Gainesville, Jefferson & Southern railway.  The cotton factories represent a capital of $2,000,000.  In all these various manufactories are employed between two and three thousand people.  Gainesville handles annually about 20,000 bales of cotton.  The North Georgia Electric Power Company has two plants, one at the Chattahoochee river, the other at the Chestatee river, the latter being fifteen miles from the city and supplying the power for the North Georgia Electric Railway Company, which has a first class system of street railroads on the chief business and residence streets of the city, extending out to New Holland Springs on the north, and to the plant of the electric power company on the Chattahoochee river.  There are in Gainesville ten churches, seven for white people and three for Negroes, representing the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopalian denominations; and an excellent public school system.  In the schools for whites the enrollment is about one thousand, and in those for Negroes something over four hundred.  Gainesville is also the site of Brenau Female College.  In 1905 the population of the city, including its factory suburbs, was about 8,000.
(Source: Georgia Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, VOL II, by Candler & Evans, Publ. 1906. Transcribed by Renae Donaldson)

Gillsville, a town of Hall county, near the Banks county line, was incorporated by act of the legislature Dec. 16, 1901.  It is on the Athens & Lula division of the Southern railroad and in 1900 reported a population of 177.  It has a money order post office, with free rural delivery, an express office, some stores, with good local trade, and does some shipping.
(Georgia: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form. VOL III Publ. 1906. Transcribed by Marilyn Clore)

Lula, an incorporated town in the eastern part of Hall county, is at the junction of two divisions of the Southern railway, and in 1900 reported a population of 217.  It has a money order postoffice, from which a number of free delivery routes supply mail to the surrounding rural districts, express and telegraph offices, mercantile and shipping interests, schools, churches, etc.
(Source: Georgia Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, VOL II, by Candler & Evans, Publ. 1906. Transcribed by Joanne Morgan)

Murrayville, a post-village of Hall county, with a population of 56, is ten miles northwest of Gainesville, which is the most convenient railroad station.
[Source: Georgia Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons,  Vol 2, Publ 1906. Transcribed by Renae Donaldson]

Motan, a post-hamlet in the southeastern part of Hall County, is on the line of the Gainesville, Jefferson & Southern railroad, a short distance north of Bellmont.
(Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, publ. 1906. Transcribed by Tammy Rudder)

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