Cherokee County


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county information

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). Named for the Cherokee Indians, the large 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. Beginning in the fall of 1832, Cherokee lands were distributed to whites in two lotteries -- one for land lots and one for gold lots -- but the legislature temporarily prohibited whites from taking possession of lots on which Cherokees still lived.

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 (Ga. Laws 1832, p. 56). The new Cherokee County was formed from the second section of the former Cherokee County and consisted of districts two, three, four, thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen, plus the eastern half of districts twenty-one, twenty-two, and twenty-three (see map).

Despite the 1830, 1831, and 1832 acts of the General Assembly, the state of Georgia still did not have clear title to Cherokee lands in Georgia. The official basis for Georgia claiming these lands did not come until the Treaty of New Echota of Dec. 29, 1835. In this treaty, a faction of the Cherokees agreed to give up all Cherokee claims to land in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina and move west in return for $5 million. Though a majority of Cherokees opposed the treaty and refused to leave, the U.S. and Georgia considered it binding. In 1838, U.S. Army troops rounded up the last of 15,000 Cherokees in Georgia and forced them to march west in what came to be known as the "Trail of Tears."

The actual date of Cherokee County's creation is a matter of debate. A 1983 publication of the State Archives -- Georgia Counties: Their Changing Boundaries -- cites Dec. 21, 1830 . This is the date of the act in which the General Assembly claimed all Cherokee lands in Georgia. However, that legislation created no county nor attempted to set up any form of territorial government. A better case for the date of Cherokee County's establishment is Dec. 26, 1831 -- the date the legislature created and provided for the organization of Cherokee County. Of course, this new county was a huge area consisting of all Cherokee lands in Georgia -- but it was officially designated as a county. Finally, some sources -- including the state historical marker near the county courthouse in Canton -- cite Dec. 3, 1832 . This was the date that the Cherokee County created in 1831 was divided into ten new counties -- including a new and much smaller Cherokee County defined by boundaries associated with those of present-day Cherokee County. However, since the second Cherokee County fell within the original Cherokee County, Dec. 26, 1831 probably should be considered the date Cherokee County was first created -- which would make it Georgia's 79th county.

Later, portions of Cherokee County were used to create Pickens County (1853) and Milton County (1857). Between 1847 and 1869 -- but especially during the 1850s -- the General Assembly transferred land from Cherokee County to neighboring Cass (Bartow), Cobb, Forsyth, and Pickens counties.

 Historical Maps
 
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GeorgiaInfo Cherokee County Page