1828-1860 - Early Settlement and Development of Campbell County
Campbell County was created by an act of the Georgia Legislature on December 20, 1828 (see map on page 6). The new county was named in honor of Duncan G. Campbell (who passed away earlier, in June of that year), a noted lawyer, legislator, advocate for female higher education and commissioner and signer of the 1825 Creek Treaty. It became the 75th county created by the state and was comprised from parts of Carroll (parts of the 7th and 8th district), Coweta (all of the 9Cth district), Fayette (part of the 9Fth and 14Fth districts) and DeKalb counties (a small part was later taken from Cherokee County in 1832 following the land lottery of that year).9 By 1829, establishment of the county government began in earnest with the creation of a judicial system and the appointment of James Black, Jesse Harris, Robert O. Beavers, Thomas Moore and Littleberry Watts as electoral commissioners and county organizers.
Most of the early white settlers of Campbell County came from throughout Georgia, while many others came from parts of Virginia and North Carolina and from the area around Spartanburg, South Carolina. All of the original settlers belonged to Protestant denominations, with Baptists being the largest in number, followed by Methodists and Presbyterians. The 1830 Georgia Census placed the population total of the new county at 3,323 - including 1,426 white males, 1,268 white females, 305 male slaves, 313 female slaves, 4 free black males and 7 free black females. This white / black population ratio of nearly 3:1 (a ratio that would remain somewhat constant throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries), indicates that most white settlers of Campbell County were yeoman farmers who may have owned only one or two slaves (if any at all) to help cultivate and work their small family farms.
A decision on the location site of the county seat provided an early source of controversy among the inhabitants. Judge Walter T. Colquitt, an initial settler in the area and plantation owner along the Chattahoochee, called for it to be located near his property at a small settlement named Pumpkintown. In turn, another county magistrate, Judge Francis Irwin, offered his eighty acres of undeveloped land on the Chattahoochee eight miles to the north with an added incentive of free lots for prospective builders and inhabitants. Backed by Alfred, George and Lang Camp and other prominent Campbell landowners, members of the fledgling county government promptly sided with Irwin and on December 23, 1829 the state legislature issued a charter for the incorporation of the town of Campbellton as the county seat. Greatly angered by the decision, Judge Colquitt later sold his land and moved away. By 1835, streets and lots in Campbellton were surveyed and staked out and construction had begun on a brick courthouse and jail for the county.
As required by state law at the time, the regions of the county were divided into Georgia Militia Districts for the purpose of organizing military companies. The Militia Districts were created once 100 or more males between the ages of 15 and 60 moved into an area and were drawn up by the county Justices of the
Inferior Court. The Militia Districts representing the communities found in the area of study include GMD 733, GMD 1165 and GMD 757. By 1831, the Militia District demarcations also doubled as voting district and census boundaries, school districts and tax districts in Campbell County. Concurrent with the establishment of a functioning government system, county leaders also moved quickly in developing the area’s transportation infrastructure. Early settlement in Campbell County was predominantly located along the Chattahoochee and the social, political and economic activity of the communities revolved around the river. Like the Creek before them, white farmers and plantation owners found the land along the riverbanks to be the most desirable because of its nutrient rich, loamy soil. Many at the time also viewed the Chattahoochee as having the potential of becoming a major transportation and shipping channel in the region.14 Over time however, such commercial promise was never fully realized due to the shallow depth and difficult navigation of the upper portion of the river.
Although no bridges were built to span the Chattahoochee, a number of ferry crossings were established along the river in order to connect the communities of Rivertown, County Line and Campbellton, to towns and settlements located in the western part of the county. Some ferries, such as the Pumpkintown Ferry, may have been a continuation of earlier Indian crossing sites and trails, but most others were put into operation during the rapid settlement of the area following the land lotteries of the 1820s. The Georgia Legislature later authorized a few ferries for service after the formation of the Campbell County
government. With rare exception, the ferries were either privately run by the landowners of the crossing sites or by hired operators.
Above History is from South Fulton Scenic Byways - Historic Context By: Patrick Sullivan & Jessica Lavandier.
South Fulton Scenic Byways - Historic Context By: Patrick Sullivan & Jessica Lavandier
Native American History of Campbell County. From Richard Thorton Collection, AccessGenealogy.com
Legislation to form Campbell County
By: Lisa Cooper
Campbell County Jail
Transcribed by Sidney Brown
Campbellton Town Square
Georgia Land Lotteries