HISTORY - TROUP COUNTY

The first inhabitants in the area are believed to be Indians who wandered over a land bridge that previously connected America with Asia. Very probably they first left Asia in search of animals for food.

Slowly Indians spread throughout North and South America. For thousands of years they lived by hunting. Gradually, they began to raise corn, beans, potatoes, squash, and other plants. With farming they did not have to hunt as much and, thus, they had time to build more permanent homes and towns and to develop arts and crafts such as basketry, weaving, and pottery. They began to hold regular religious ceremonies and to organize government. As time went on, they developed distinctive ways of life. The Cherokee and Creek Indian Nations settled in the territory that now is Georgia. The Cherokee occupied the highlands and the Creek, the south.

The Creek Indians lived in rectangular houses with thatched roofs and plaster walls. They sometimes built their houses around a central area which included a council house, ball field, and large earth pyramids with temples on top. The people lived by raising crops, hunting, and fishing.

In 1733, only 42 years before the Revolutionary War, James Oglethorpe, with 114 colonists, arrived from England at Yamacraw Bluff (now the present site of Savannah, Georgia) and founded a colony which he named Georgia for King George, II of England. Over a period of time, numbers of colonists were sent to Georgia by King George. More than 1,000 settlers came at their own expense.

In 1733, in the first treaty between the Creek Nation and the United States Government, settlers in Georgia were invited "to make use and possess all those lands which the Nation hath not occasion to use." The Creek Indians were friendly toward the colonists.

After the 1733 treaty, the Creek Nation established its capitol city at Indian Springs, Georgia, and their government consisted of representatives from about fifty Creek towns. The Indian population was as much as forty to fifty thousand.

Over time the Indians of the Creek Nation needed money to purchase arms and tools. They raised their own food and traded pottery and furs for barter; but they had no money. Repeated ceding of Indian territory to the United States Government for the State of Georgia brought the funds but also an increasing dissatisfaction among some of the tribes. Finally, the Creek National Assembly passed an enactment that no further cession of territory would be made except by its unanimous consent, pledging the lives of the chief or chiefs involved as forfeit for the violation of the agreement.

There was another cession, one which gave to the State of Georgia that part of Creek Indian territory which now is Troup County. This treaty cost the president and head chief of the Creek Nation his life.

George Michael Troup was Governor of Georgia from 1823 to 1827. During Governor Troup's administration the treaty with the Creek Nation was negotiated by the United States Government for the cession of the territory of which Troup County now is a part. The treaty was signed at Indian Springs, Georgia, on February 12, 1825, by commissioners on the part of the United States Government and by William McIntosh, President and Head Chief of the Creek Nation. This territory, which included the land between the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers, was purchased for the State of Georgia for $400,000 and other considerations.

After signing the February 12, 1825, treaty, William McIntosh remained at Indian Springs to settle his personal affairs and to accumulate his personal belongings. In August of 1825 he returned to McIntosh Reserve, his home in Carroll County, Georgia. A number of Indian Chiefs awaited him and in accordance with Creek Law, they executed him. Chief McIntosh had violated the enactment that no further cession of territory would be made except by unanimous consent of all members of the Assembly.

After the signing of the 1825 treaty, the State of Georgia under Governor Troup's direction began surveying work to subdivide the territory into land districts and land lots in preparation for the establishment of counties. Five counties were formed, one of which was Troup County.

The original Troup County contained twelve land districts with 3,146 land lots. "That all that land lying between said rivers, and known as the Third Section, shall form one county to be called Troup" is a quote from the Act of the General Assembly of Georgia dated December 11, 1826, which further identifies Troup County. Troup County, which received its name from Governor George Michael Troup, was opened for settlement in 1827.

The land lots were distributed by lottery to the citizens of organized counties of Georgia. The eligibility qualification was three years of residency in the state. Revolutionary soldiers and those who served in the Indian wars, as well as widows of such soldiers, were entitled to an extra free draw in the land lottery of 1827.

Settlers, drawn by stories of the fertile soil and pure water, the virgin forest, the wild game and the friendly Indians, traveled by wagon and on foot into the new territory. Much of the land in Troup County was very rugged and very rich.

The County was rapidly settled, not by poor people, but by well-to-do planters from eastern Georgia who opened large cotton plantations. They came into possession of land by lottery grants or purchases from grantees. Many of the early settlers were people of education and property and brought with them into the wilderness that was Troup County tools, cattle, slaves, and household furnishings.

Almost immediately they began to plan for schools and churches. Soon there were two institutions for the education of women - LaGrange Female College and Southern Female College. No other county in the state gave more attention to education, especially to the education of women. Brownwood was the school for men.

One of the first buildings was a Methodist church. The Baptist and Presbyterian were strong denominations as early as 1835. By 1830 Troup County had a population of 6,000.

LAGRANGE

LaGrange, the seat of Troup County, is located approximately sixty miles southwest of Atlanta in the foothills of the western Piedmont Plateau. According to the 2000 census, the city's population is about 26,000.

LaGrange's central point, Lafayette Square, was home to The downtown street plan, covering the original 202.5 acres of the town, is basically unaltered from that laid out in 1828 by the county surveyor, Samuel Reid, though the city now encompasses some twenty-nine square miles. The central point, now a public square with a fountain, was home to the county courthouse from 1828 until 1936. The park was named LaFayette Square in 1976 The park in downtown LaGrange was named LaFayette after a statue of the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and American Revolutionary hero, was placed on a pedestal in the fountain. LaGrange was named at the suggestion of Colonel Julius Caesar Alford (known as the "War Horse of Troup" in Congress), who in 1825 overheard Lafayette remark on the similarity between the west Georgia countryside and LaGrange, his wife's estate in France.

Antebellum LaGrange

LaGrange was settled by people largely from eastern Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. Antebellum Troup County was the fourth wealthiest in Georgia and fifth-largest slaveholding county. Slaves—skilled artisans, craftsmen, and engineers—provided the basis of that wealth and the labor to tame the frontier quickly. Many well-to-do planters lived in town and had diversified economic interests. More than 100 Federal and Greek Revival mansions had been built in town by 1860. LaGrange's native son, the historian Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, wrote in Life and Labor in the Old South that such places as Troup County "never knew a rough regime," even when west Georgia was a frontier.

LaGrange became a center of commerce, transportation, and education for west central Georgia. The first school, Troup County Academy for boys, was followed by three female colleges: LaGrange, Southern, and Brownwood. The front part of LaGrange College's Smith Hall The latter became a male university by 1852 but closed in 1861, along with LaGrange's Fannin Military Institute, when war drained them of students. Southern Female College closed in 1919 after a series of disastrous fires. Only LaGrange College, founded in 1831 and bought by the Methodist Church in 1857, has survived. It became coeducational in 1953. Two high schools were opened in the 1860s for black students. Built on land and with materials and money donated by former slave owners, they eventually merged into the public school system.

War and Reconstruction

In the Civil War more than eight companies of men left LaGrange for the various fronts. Militia and state guards also saw duty, some at Chickamauga, others along the Atlanta and West Point railroads, and some in minor battles, such as Philpot's Ferry and Fort Tyler, in Troup County. A company of women, named the Nancy Harts for a Georgia heroine of the American Revolution, formed for home defense. LaGrange was a Confederate hospital zone, refugee center, and magnet for political and military leaders and their families. Confederate president Jefferson Davis was frequently in town. The town was invaded on April 17, 1865, by a Union detachment led, ironically, by a man named Colonel Oscar H. LaGrange. The Federal troops burned most factories and some stores, destroyed the railroad depot and tracks, and cut the telegraph lines.

In May 1865 Union general Emory Upton (whose later works were the basis of U.S. military policy and tactics) came to LaGrange to arrest Benjamin Harvey Hill, a member of the Confederate Senate, at his home, Bellevue. At the same time Upton captured Stephen Mallory, Confederate secretary of the navy. Many prominent figures of the 1800s began or had careers in LaGrange, including A. O. Bacon, Logan Bleckley, Alfred H. Colquitt, Albert H. Cox, William Dougherty, Blount C. Ferrell, John B. Gordon, Daniel N. Speer, Linton Stephens, and W. O. Tuggle.

The 1880s through World War II

In 1888 a six-year-old cottonseed-oil mill became the first cotton manufacturer in LaGrange. The second, Dixie Mills, came in 1895. By 1920 there were nine. Investment was mostly local, led by Cornelius V. and James G. Truitt, Joseph E. and O. A. Dunson, and Fuller E. Callaway. Two new railroads came to LaGrange between 1895 and 1906. Industrialization led to growth and the corresponding need for city services; sewers, water lines, electricity, fire and police departments, paved streets, and public schools came to LaGrange in the two decades prior to 1910.

LaGrange received national acclaim in World War I. In all five Liberty Loan Bond Drives, LaGrange and Troup County were said to be the first in the nation to oversubscribe their quotas, doing so on the first day of each drive.

Health services were first provided by Dr. Henry R. Slack's private sanitarium (1902) and then Good Shepherd Hospital, built jointly by Truitt-Callaway Mills and the Episcopal church (1913). Joseph E. Dunson gave LaGrange the funds to open its first public hospital in 1916, to serve black and white citizens. In 1937 Dunson Hospital expanded to new facilities and was renamed City-County Hospital. It became West Georgia Medical Center, largely through the support of the Callaway Foundation. It is now a division of West Georgia Health System along with Florence Hand Nursing Home, Coleman Community Health Center, West Georgia Dialysis, a retirement community (Vernon Woods), a hospice, and a home care unit. Adjoining it are the Enoch Callaway Cancer Clinic, Georgia Heart Clinic, several clinics in Medical Park, Southern Therapy Services, and the Clark-Holder Clinic, which has been serving the citizens of LaGrange since 1935.

Post World War II

After World War II, which found LaGrange citizens in every theater of the war, growth began again. Industrial diversification, beginning about 1968, was one factor. Fourteen Fortune 1000 firms maintain substantial facilities in LaGrange. Another factor has been contributions made by the Callaway Foundation, created by Fuller E. Callaway Jr. and Alice H. Callaway in 1943, which enhance the city's quality of life. LaGrange has amenities not found in similar-sized towns: two art galleries, a symphony orchestra, a ballet company, an opera company, an airport, a television station, an archives, two colleges, and thirteen recreational centers with facilities for every sport. Awards in the year 2000 include the Intelligent City of the Year award of the World Teleport Association, Georgia City of Excellence, and Government Technology Leadership Award. Every home has free Internet access provided by the city.

Historic venues in LaGrange include several National Register districts and homes, including the boyhood home of renowned artist Lamar Dodd. Bellevue, former home of Benjamin Harvey Hill and now home of the LaGrange Woman's Club, is the city's only National Historic Landmark structure. Hills and Dales, designed by Neel Reid in 1914, The Callaway House, also called Hills and Dales was home to four generations of the Callaway family and is set in Ferrell Gardens, which were established in 1832. The house and garden are now operated by the Fuller E. Callaway Jr. Foundation for public and educational benefit.

LaGrange is home to several annual festivals and events. The nationally acclaimed, award-winning Azalea Storytelling Festival is held in early spring, while the Hydrangea Festival occurs in May or June. The city celebrates Independence Day each year with its Sweet Land of Liberty parade.

LaGrange also works to help establish friendship and understanding between the United States and other nations through its three sister cities: Aso, Kumamoto, Japan; Poti, Republic of Georgia; and Craigavon, Northern Ireland.

Suggested Reading

Forrest C. Johnson III, Histories of LaGrange and Troup County, Georgia,  vols. 1, 3, 5, and 7 (LaGrange, Ga.: Sutherland–St. Dunston Press, 1987-96).

Glenda Major and Forrest C. Johnson III, Treasures of Troup County: A Pictorial History  (LaGrange, Ga.: Troup County Historical Society, 1993).

 Travels through Troup County: A Guide to Its Architecture and History (LaGrange, Ga.: Troup County Historical Society, 1996).

Forrest Clark Johnson III, Troup County

WEST POINT

West Point was settled 1828-29 and was first an Indian trading post called Franklin, incorporated 1831. The name was changed to West Point in 1832 when it became the western terminus of a railroad.

Traders, travelers, and settlers moving into East Alabama and westward found West Point an important Chattahoochee River crossing. West Point is only a few miles down river from the Oakfuskee Trading Path on which the ancient Creek towns of Ocfuskoochee and Ocfuskeenene were located. The latter town is known historically as the Burnt Village, destroyed by whites in 1793 .

HOGANSVILLE

Hogansville received its name from William Hogan who at one time owned a large part of the site of the town. Early history records Hogansville as a community built around the churches, schools, and a mill on Yellow Jacket Creek.

The town was incorporated on October 12, 1870, long after it was recognized as a business center.

MOUNTVILLE

Mountville was so named because it is the most elevated spot in Troup County- a little city set upon a hill.

Many believe Mountville to be the oldest settlement in Troup County, although it was not incorporated as a town until November 28, 1897.

Troup County had its beginning in a fierce contest between the United States Government and the Creek Nation. Much blood was shed, and many settlers and Indians lost their lives in the day-by-day struggles between the red and white man over the possession of the land in Georgia.

In the almost 100 years from 1733, when James Oglethorpe came to Georgia , to 1827, the powerful Creek Indian Nation had ceded the last acre held by them in Georgia and withdrawn from the State under the pressures of the government and the planters and farmers who moved onto the land.