Historical Society of Walton County

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Walton County History


 In the late 1700's, settlers began locating to the Creek Territory of Northeast Georgia. Newcomers found fertile soil watered by the Apalachee, Alcovy and Yellow Rivers and soon began farming the land. The future Walton County was laid out by the Lottery Act of 1818 and organized in 1819. The new county was named "Walton" in honor of George Walton, one of Georgia's signers of the Declaration of Independence.

 

Walton's first County Seat was known as Easley's Cowpens (current community of Pannell), named for Rodrick Easley's settlement in Creek Indian territory.  In 1821, there was increasing talk to move the county seat to the center of the county, and the small village 3 miles north of Easley's Cowpens began to be called "Walton Court House," despite the fact that there was no such structure located there...yet.  Land was set aside for county buildings & cemeteries and construction began on the courthouse almost immediately. It was completed in 1823. "Walton Court House"  was renamed "Monroe" shortly after becoming the county seat,   in honor of James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States. Soon the infant county boasted a Broad Street (formerly known as Rogue Road), log and frame buildings, stores and a tavern called Major Humphries Assembly Room which was used for public meetings, dancing and other forms of amusement.

 

The court house which now stands in the center of town was Walton's third courthouse, constructed from 1883-1884  for $24,000 (see below).

 

Monroe was not visited by Sherman's troops during his infamous march to Savannah, but they did travel through Social Circle, Jersey and surrounding communities. The county grew and prospered during the late nineteenth century, and since the Depression it has thrived.

 

The Historical Society of Walton County works to preserve Walton's rich heritage, and as residents recognize the progress of past accomplishments, they also embrace growth and prosperity. They continue to create a unique history while eagerly anticipating expansion for the future.

 

The Historic 1883 Walton County Courthouse
The cornerstone of this beautiful building was laid on February 14, 1883. The building had no lighting and was heated by 12 fireplaces. It was built in the Second Empire Victorian style that was popular during the time. Because it was during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant it was often referred to as "General Grant Style." It was designed by the architectural firm of Bruce and Morgan of Atlanta and constructed by Mr. James Smith of Sparta.

The original clock tower and dome of the courthouse were destroyed in 1885 by a tornado. The courthouse remained with a flat roof until the current tower was constructed in 1907. In 1910 the four clock faces, the bell and the clock motor were added. The bell and motor were made by the E. Howard Clock Company and the 42" solid bronze bell is one of the largest in the state. The motor was weight driven when originally installed but was eventually replaced with electricity.

In 1933 the Works Progress Administration began a $33,000 renovation on the building. Terrazzo was placed in all downstairs halls except at the back of Grand Hall, which had been closed in for an office in the 1920's. The original balcony was removed and replaced with one with larger seating capacity and offices were built below. Red and black asbestos tiles were installed over all heart pine floors in the courtroom and first floor, and all original courtroom railings, benches and porch rails were removed and Neo Classical                 replacements were added.

The courthouse was again remodeled in 1969 as well as in 1995. On June 23, 1996 the restored historic courthouse was rededicated and is used today for county offices.




Moina Michael-ThePoppyLady

Moina Belle Michael was born near Good Hope, Georgia on August 15, 1869

She received a general education at Braswell Academy in Morgan County and later the Martin Institute in Jefferson, where she graduated in 1885 at the age of fifteen. Miss Michael then became a teacher, educating Georgia's youth in county, town, state and church schools. In conjunction with her teaching she was able to attend the Lucy Cobb Institute and State Normal School, both in Athens. She later studied at the prestigious Columbia University in New York.

Miss Michael was author of the book "The Miracle Flower" and a lifelong advocate of disabled veterans. After reading John McCrae's poem, "In Flanders Fields," she wrote her own poem pledging to "keep the faith" for all who died in the war by wearing a red poppy in their remembrance. She began selling red poppies on Armistice Day, and though she started with only a $10 gift check two days before Armistice in 1918, her vision has grown into a multimillion dollar enterprise operating throughout the English speaking world. General John J. Pershing  personally wrote to Miss Michael, congratulating her on the "splendid patriotic service" she rendered through originating and promulgating the Flanders Field Memorial Poppy.

Miss Michael retired from the University of Georgia in 1938 with the title of Emeritus, ending her 54-year career in education. She died on May 10, 1944 and is buried in the Rest Haven Cemetery in Monroe.




Walton County Governors

Walton County has been the home either through birth or short residence of the following Georgia Chief Executives:

Wilson Lumpkin             1831-1835
Howell Cobb                    1851-1853
Alfred Holt Colquitt       1877-1882
James S. Boynton           1883
Henry D. McDaniel        1883-1886
Clifford Walker               1923-1927
Richard B. Russell, Jr.  1931-1933
(pictured)

Two of these illustrious sons, Alfred Holt Colquitt and Richard B. Russell, Jr. went on to become U.S. Senators. Richard B. Hubbard, born on a plantation in Walton County in 1836, later moved to Texas in 1853 and became governor of that state from 1876-1879.

National Register of Historic Places - Walton County

Bank of Jersey
129 Main Street
Jersey


A.J. Boss House

324 Edwards Street
Monroe

Samual H. Broadnax House
Georgia Highway 81
Walnut Grove


Casulon Plantation

Off Highway 186
East Good Hope
William Harris
Family Farmstead
Highway 11 North
Campton

Walter Jones Rock House

Highway 186 NE
Good Hope

McDaniel Street Historic District
S Broad & McDaniel Streets
Monroe

McDaniel-Tichenor House
319 McDaniel Street
Monroe

Walton Hotel
Broad & Court Streets
Monroe (pictured)


Williamson House

925 East Church Street
Monroe


Walton County Jail

203 Milledge Avenue
Monroe
North Broad Street
Historic District
N Broad & Walton Streets
Monroe

Social Circle Hisoric District
Highways 11 & 29
Social Circle

South Broad Historic District

South Broad Street
Monroe


South Madison Avenue -

Pannell Road Historic District
Monroe


James Berrien Upshaw House

Highway 78
Between


Walton County Courthouse

Courthouse Square
Monroe


Monland Place Historic District

Alcova Street & Boulevard
Monroe


Davis-Edwards House
238 N. Broad Street
Monroe


East Church Street

Historic District
Monroe

East Marable Street
Historic District
Monroe


Monroe City Hall

227 S Broad Street
Monroe


Monroe Commercial

Historic District
Spring & Broad Streets
Monroe

Monroe-Walton Mills Historic District
S Broad, S Madison & RR Line
Monroe

Tom Chick House
1102 East Church Street
Monroe





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The Historical Society's Annual Golf Tournament will be held on October 20, 2017. More information will be available at a later date.