Early History of Polk County, Georgia - June 12, 1875

Early History of Polk County, Georgia

Multi Part Series From the 1875 and 1876 Cedartown Standard Newspaper

June 12, 1875

Transcribed by Debra Tumlin. We owe her a big thanks for her efforts.



Early History of Polk County



They had counted out a sufficient number of votes to ascertain who was elected, and a very prominent candidate of the Cleantown persuasion, for Judge of the Inferior Court was decided to be elected. He and his friends were rejoicing in a big way when suddenly all was sad -- Slicks are coming. Men commenced running, hiding, and dashing in every direction and in a short time, Captain Cunningham and Lieutenant Mayha charged over the yard fence horseback, with sixty Alabama Slicks, and formed in line before the door of the house in which the election was held, and Captain Cunningham called aloud for this prominent Cleantown candidate to come out of his house. At this time about a hundred guns were cocked and presented. Slicks and all others were in madness. Officers were hollowing “I command the peace, don’t shoot.” Captain Cunningham continued calling for him to come out. Someone told him he was just elected Judge. The Captain replied that he had come over to ___ him, at the same time took a large __ rope from his saddle, and ordered the Judge to cross his lands. The Judge drew his pistol and said the first man who laid hands on him he would shoot a ball through. The Captain followed him up, rope in hand, the Judge backing, until he got in the corner of the fence, and said if he had taken any man’s property he had the money to pay for it. One of the Alabama Slicks said that was what they came for, you or your money, and further said, “when I track my cows and horse to your house, you threatened to shoot me if I didn’t leave, and now, sir, nothing will satisfy me but you or the money.” The matter was finally compromised, the Judge paying fifty dollars, all the money he had, and gave his note and security for the balance. At this time the most of the Cleantown gentry had left or had hid in the bushes. The Slicks retired for camping, and the crowd left, and by dark every thing was still and quiet, except a few who had been drunk and asleep. They retired to some Indian hut for quarters for the night.

Great excitement for some time after the election as to who was responsible or guilty of sending for the Slicks on so important a day as the election, and that some one had to be whipped, hung or shot, or leave the country.

E. R. Forsyth was elected Clerk Superior Court, Elisha Brooks Clerk Inferior Court; Isaiah C. York and Wm. S. Houge Sheriffs, Woodson Hubbard, J. G. Deritt, James Cleghorn, John Lawrence and James Johnson were elected Judges Inferior Court. Cedar Valley got many of the offices, and several prominent men were candidates. This valley at that time possessed more wealth and intelligence than any other portion of the county. A short biographical sketch of some of the prominent citizens at that time would not be out of place here.

Captain John Witcher was one of the most prominent men in the valley; was one of the Justices of the Inferior Court of the Cherokee purchase; had commanded a company at Norfolk, VA in 1812 and a company of Paulding volunteers in 1835 during the war with the Creek Indians, and also a company of State troops in 1838 in the removal of the Cherokee Indians. A man of great courage and resentment; a truly good man to his friends, but thunder and lightning to his enemies. He owned considerable Negro property, land __ and was an old style Virginia gentleman, and a Democrat of the old Clark school.

Lacy Witcher was one among the (missing phrase) Cherokee Purchase--a man of great firmness, integrity and honor and Christian piety. Owned several slaves, land, and other property. A good citizen and an old line Democrat. He had several sons--Henry, John, Daniel, and Lacy--all hardy, robust fellows and made all the other boys in the neighborhood “june” around when they got mad, but good, honest, clever boys to their friends.

John McBride was also a person of note in the valley. He was extremely clever and accommodating to the Slicks and equally so to the Pony Club. They would occasionally stop with him overnight and always had some news from Cleantown, advising certain parties in the valley not to go to Cleantown -- that it would be certain death. He was a good, clever man, but opposed to whipping rogues for stealing. He was also a good judge of corn whiskey and used it freely. He owned several (missing word) Negroes and other property. He was elected to the legislature in 1833 and left this country in 1834 or 1835 was an old line whig, of the Troup school.

Larkin Powell, James Smith, __ Vaughn, Alexander Carroll, John Killian and several other families can’t now recollect, were plain, honest, good citizens living in the valley in 1832 and Ballenger Grayley is perhaps the first settler, and one among the best citizens. It was good old Ballenger 41 years ago, and he still holds his own, and if he lives a thousand years longer, it will continue to be “good old Ballenger.”

Truman Walthall occupied rather a prominent position at that time. Was a one-horse lawyer, had so opposition, and had a good practice. He was a candidate for the senate in 1833, but was defeated; was elected to the senate in 1835 and in 1835 and 1836; he returned to Butts county in 1838, and died __. He was a Clarke Democrat.

Lt. H. Walthall was then a “goslin” boy, too big to play with children and too little to be noticed by men. Had but little practical sense and less experience, was never 50 miles from home til he came to the valley. He very soon attached himself to a Slick company, with A. Witcher, son of Capt. Witcher, who we now call “Uncle Jack.” He was rare bird then, never failing to do his whole duty. They were soon called into active service by the Alabama Slicks and made a dash on Cedartown. They caught one fellow an brought him over to Cedartown and placed a guard over him until next day. He was a jolly, lively fellow. After taking a few drinks of corn whisky, he sang all the Pony Club and Murrel songs he knew. He told of all the horses and cows that had been stolen for years, and said it was perfectly right to steal everything the Cherokee Indians had; that they had no right here--that they should have gone to Arkansas long ago, and that they already had pay for their lands. He said he didn’t think he should be abused for doing what he conceived to be right. Next day was very cold and __. He was taken over to Floyd county on Cedar creek, near where Hanie’s mill now stands. His shirt was taken off and sixty-six lashes laid on his back, on and over some old gashes where he had been whipped before, in East Tennessee, he said, by a drunken crowd, while he was very drunk himself, for no offense. He followed the crowd back to Cedartown and remained until his back got better. I learned he left the country soon afterwards. He claimed to be a Jackson man.

Woodson Hubbard and John Brooks, two good, honest, and respectable citizens, lived near the head of Euharley valley. Hubbard was somewhat of a politician, of the old Whig school, and a very popular man, was elected Judge of the Inferior Court in March, 1833, and to the senate in the fall of the same year, and several times thereafter--in fact he held some important office up to the time of his death.


Faithfully transcribed as printed on July 4, 1999. Debra Tumlin

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