According to the 1832 legislation creating Paulding County, county
elections and court sessions were to be held at the house of
John Witcher until the county's inferior court should designate
a county seat and provide for construction of a courthouse. At
some point thereafter, a courthouse was built in the county seat
of Van Wert -- but reportedly this structure later burned. Presumably,
a second courthouse was built in Van Wert. Dallas became the
new county seat in late Dec. 1851 or early 1852. Sometime between
1852 and 1855, Paulding County officials borrowed the money to
build a new courthouse, as evidenced by an act of Feb. 16, 1856,
authorizing the county to levy a special tax to pay off the courthouse
debt (Ga. Laws 1855-56, p. 545). The present courthouse was built
in 1892. (see
early photo). The building was renovated 1956, 1984-85, and
1991. A new three-story, red brick courthouse annex was completed
in 1990. In March 2001, the 1892 courthouse was the target of
arson. Although the building survived, the district attorney's
office was destroyed. As a result of the fire, Paulding County
courts were forced to find meeting space outside the courthouse.
County Courthouse Historical
Paulding County was created from Cherokee County on Dec. 3, 1832
by an act of the General Assembly (Ga. Laws 1832, p. 56). [Click
for complete text of legislation.] According to the 1832 act
. . . so much of the first, second and third districts of
the third section, as lies west of the line herein-before designated,
and eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, twenty-first districts
of the third section, and the first, second and seventeenth
districts of the fourth section, shall form and become one
county, to be called Paulding.
In way of background, by 1830, the Cherokee Nation consisted
of most of northwest Georgia (see
map), plus adjoining areas in Alabama, Tennessee, and North
Carolina. Even while Cherokee Indians remained on their homeland
in Georgia, the General Assembly on Dec. 21, 1830 enacted legislation
claiming "all the Territory within the limits of Georgia,
and now in the occupancy of the Cherokee tribe of Indians; and
all other unlocated lands within the limits of this State, claimed
as Creek land" (Ga. Laws 1830, p. 127). The act also provided
for surveying the Cherokee lands in Georgia; dividing them into
sections, districts, and land lots; and authorizing a lottery
to distribute the land. On Dec. 26, 1831, the legislature designated
all land in Georgia that lay west of the Chattahoochee River
and north of Carroll county as "Cherokee County" (see
map) and provided for its organization (Ga. Laws 1831, p.
74). However, the new county was not able to function as a county
because of its size and the fact that Cherokee Indians still
occupied portions of the land. On Dec. 3, 1832, the legislature
added areas of Habersham and Hall counties to Cherokee County,
and then divided the entire area into nine new counties -- Cass
(later renamed Bartow), Cobb, Floyd, Forsyth, Gilmer, Lumpkin,
Murray, Paulding, and Union -- plus a reconstituted and much
smaller Cherokee County.
Georgia's 89th county was named for John Paulding (1759-1818),
who was a hero of the American Revolution. In 1780, Paulding
assisted in the capture of Major John André, a British
spy planning the seizure of West Point.
In 1851, part of Paulding County was used to help create Polk
County. Also, between 1832 and 1874 -- but particularly during
the 1850s -- portions of Paulding County were annexed to Bartow,
Campbell, Carroll, Cobb, Douglas, Haralson, and Polk counties.
Between 1850 and 1874, parts of Carroll, Cobb, Douglas, and Polk
counties were annexed to Paulding County.
The legislation creating Paulding County provided that on the
first Monday in March 1833, election of county officials take
place at the residence of John Witcher. Following that election,
the new justices of county's inferior court were empowered to
select a site for the county seat and provide for erection of
a courthouse and other public buildings. The act further provided
that until a courthouse was built, Paulding County superior and
inferior courts were to hold sessions at John Witcher's house.
In 1833, the inferior court selected a site for the county
seat -- but many citizens complained about the location. On Dec.
23, 1833, the legislature authorized the inferior court to call
a referendum in Jan. 1834 to allow voters of Paulding County
to indicate their choice for county seat (Ga. Laws 1833, p. 54).
The referendum, however, was never held.
Presumably, the site designated as county seat in 1833 grew
into a town that became known as Van Wert (named for Isaac Van
Wert, who had assisted John Paulding in the capture of Major
André in 1780.) On Dec. 27, 1838, the legislature designated
Van Wert as permanent county seat and incorporated it as a town
(Ga. Laws 1838, p. 75).
On Dec. 20, 1851, the legislature created Polk County from
portions of Paulding and Floyd counties (Ga. Laws 1851-52, p.
52). Because Van Wert was located in the section of Paulding
transferred to Polk, the legislation authorized the Paulding
County inferior court to select a new county seat and provide
for erection of a courthouse. On May 14, 1852, the inferior court
accepted land deeded by Garrett Spinks for a new county seat
and designated the site as Dallas. Incorporated by an act of
Feb. 8, 1854 (Ga. Laws 1853-54, p. 232), Paulding County's seat
was named for George
Dallas (1792-1864), who was Vice President of the United
States during the administration of James Polk (1845-49).
Size of County (Total
Area): 315.1 square miles
County Rank in Total
Area: 94th out of 159
City of Dallas