The land later known as Cherokee County was long as island inhabited by Indians surrounded by whites. To the west lay developing Alabama, to the north Tennessee whose white settlement began before the Revolution, to the east the Carolinas and to the south across the Chattahoochee was Georgia. As early as 1750, paths of traders from Charleston and Augusta on the east and from Fort Toulouse near Wetumpka, Alabama on the west criss-crossed the land. During the Revolution British-led Indians fought American-led Indians a site where the Cherokees had a pony race track.

The white man began moving into Northwest Georgia early in the 1800's; but by 1825 there were still only 220 white men, women and children living among the 13,000 Indians and their 1277 slaves. This part of North Georgia along with the extreme northeastern section of Alabama, southeastern Tennessee, and southwestern North Carolina was the ancestral homeland of the Cherokees, and was known as the Cherokee Nation.

The Cherokees considered themselves a sovereign nation and declared their nation completely beyond the control of the State of Georgia or the Untied States governments. In 1827 the Cherokee Nation agreed upon and adopted a written constitution and a code of laws in which they denied the jurisdiction of the State over the land, and proclaimed themselves to be on of the distinct, autonomous nations of the world. They also adopted a law which prohibited any person from living in the Cherokee Nation without first having obtained a permit from them. This proved to be a very serious mistake and chilled relations with the State Federal Governments, and eventually let to their forced move to the Western Territory.

But before the removal and in an effort to maintain control over the Indian Territory, the Georgia legislature in 1827 passed an Act "extending the State's authority over the Cherokee Territory and placing it under the jurisdiction of the courts of Carroll and DeKalb Counties." Interestingly enough this legislation did not annex the Cherokee Nation to Carroll and DeKalb counties but only extended their legal jurisdiction over the Cherokee Nation. This was done, no doubt, in direct response to the declaration of sovereignty by the Cherokees and as a means of controlling the territory and affording protection to lives and property.

The next year, 1828, the legislature did add the Cherokee Nation to the counties of Carroll, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Hall, and Habersham and this curious and unclear legal existence continued for three years. The discovery of gold in the territory brought hordes of people and it soon became apparent that a legal survey and lottery of the lands was imperative. At the time the residents of the territory, Indian and settler alike, found themselves in a precarious legal predicament. The Indians claimed ownership of the land; the State had annexed the Indian land; the United States laws forbade anyone settling or trading on Indian Territory without a proper license from the U. S. government; the State of Georgia had extended its jurisdiction, legally or not, over all the Cherokee lands applying them as of June 1, 1830, to Indians as well as settlers. The Cherokee laws provided that no one could settle or trade on their land without a permit from their officials.

This uncertain state of affairs continued until 1832 when the first lottery was held. But by this time one thing had become certain; like the Creek Nation before them, the Cherokee Nation would soon become politically overpowered by the State and Federal governments and these proud people would be moved away to make room for the settlers who came in increasing numbers in search of gold.

In December 1831 the legislature passed an Act creating "Cherokee County" describing the boundary as being "all the territory lying west of the Chattahoochee River and North of Carroll County ---- to be called Cherokee". This new county comprised 6,900 square miles, an area almost six times the size of the State of Rhode Island and containing all the Cherokee Indians occupied land remaining in Georgia.

The bill also provided that on the 1st Monday in February 1832 all persons entitled to vote were to assemble at the house of Ambrose Harnage to elect five justices of the Inferior Court, a Clerk of the Superior Court, a Clerk of the Inferior Court, Sheriff, Corner, Tax Receiver, Tax Collector, and a County Surveyor. This legislation also provided for division of the county into Captain's districts, erection of public buildings, authorized the Justices of the Inferior Court to select grand and petit jurors and fixed the time for holding Superior Court and Inferior Court.

It was provided that the new county would become a part of the Western Judicial Circuit and a part of the 1st brigade, 7th Division of the Georgia Militia.

In December, 1832, Senate Bill 23 divided Cherokee into 10 smaller counties. Besides our present Cherokee County, the others became Forsyth, Lumpkin, Union, Cobb, Gilmer, Murray, Cass (now Bartow), Floyd, and Paulding. The provisions of the Act were essentially the same as the 1831 Act, providing for election of officers and placed all 10 counties in the Cherokee Judicial Circuit. It also fixed the place of holding an election in the following March "at the place where John Lay now lives." This was near Canton (then Etowah).

Elected were the following:

Reuben F. Daniel as Clerk of Superior Court.

William Grisham as Clerk of Inferior Court.

John P. Brooke as Sheriff.

Roger Green as Surveyor.

Lewis S. Langston as Corner.

John McConnell, Randal McDonald, Elias Putnam, William Lay, and William Baker were elected as Justices of Inferior Court.

These early settlers led the way to what we know today as Cherokee County Georgia, one of the fastest growing counties in the United States.


The following is taken from the book "Glimpses of Cherokee County" published by the Cherokee County Historical Society in December 1981, and used here with their permission.

Editing:  (WT-Corrections BP)