Hey Folks! I hope this column finds everyone well. In our last journey, we explored Jasper County, the city of Monticello and Seven Islands. There is definitely some interesting stuff there and I’m glad that so many of you enjoyed it. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy this one just as much.
Walton County was one of seven counties created on Dec. 15, 1818 by that year’s Lottery Act. It was named for George Walton—a signer of the Declaration of Independence who also served as a U.S. Senator and Governor of Georgia. Walton could be called the Governor capital of Georgia as it can lay claim seven different men who have served in that capacity in addition to Mr. Walton including Howell Cobb, Wilson Lumpkin, and Richard Russell, Jr. The aforementioned Mr. Lumpkin’s daughter was named Martha and it is widely believed that she was the namesake for the town of Marthasville that was also known as Terminus and would eventually be known as Atlanta. Walton is a beautiful county that is rich with interesting history, people, and places.
The county seat of Walton is the city of Monroe. A lovely city indeed, it was incorporated in 1821. Originally simply called Walton Court House, the town’s name was later changed to honor America’s fifth president, James Monroe. And as a fan of Georgia courthouses, I can tell you that Monroe has one of the best in the state. Originally built in 1883, it is truly a sight to see. In addition to Monroe, Walton County has several other towns including Loganville, Jersey, Between, Good Hope, Walnut Grove, and Social Circle. All of these towns are very interesting and I wish could cover them all but space will not allow it. So with apologies to the towns I miss, here is a write-up of a few:
From Newton County, Social Circle can be found by jumping on Highway 11 and heading north. Founded in 1820, the town was located at the crossroads of two major Indian trails (the Cherokee and the Hightower). These days, Highway 11 pretty much runs the same route as the old Cherokee Rd and the Hightower (Etowah) Trail is still called by that same name. Both of these routes were very important to the Indians and that importance continued for the settlers. The town’s strategic location made it a vital hub and it grew quickly.
Many have wondered about the origin of the town’s name. Although no definitive proof exists, many sources share a similar back-story. The story goes that there was a group of men who would meet at the crossroads on a regular basis. Once, a man befriended this group and was so taken with their fellowship and hospitality that he supposedly said, “this is surely a social circle.” Well, the story stuck and so did the name.
Early in its history, one of the key components of this town was a well that provided water for this fledgling community. A replica of that original well now stands at the same site right near the intersection of Highway 11 and Hightower Trail.
Social Circle was incorporated as a village in 1832, then as a town in 1869, and finally as a city in 1904. Like so many other towns we have covered in these columns, Social Circle was dependent on “King Cotton.” And like every other town in this part of Georgia, the boll weevil and later the Depression would great hurt it; however, it would survive and experience a resurgence after WWII.
Today, people from all over the world come to see the town’s beautiful antebellum homes and historic sites.
Another town in Walton is Between. An unusual name no doubt, it was incorporated in 1908. I found two explanations of the town’s unique name. Some say it was because the town was located in “between” the local towns of Monroe and Loganville. But I also found a reference to the town being right in “between” the major cities of Atlanta and Athens. Both explanations seem to be valid and perhaps both were considered when naming the town.
Never a large city, it mainly served as a stop for travelers going back and forth on the main road (Hwy 78). Today, about 150 people call Between home.
Jersey is a quaint little town in the southwest corner of Walton. Originally called Centerville due to its central location from the towns of Covington, Monroe and Social Circle, the name was changed when it was discovered that another Centerville existed in Georgia. Legend has is it that the town was named after a Jersey bull that had been recently purchased by one the community’s local farmers. It was mainly a farming community and would receive its charter in 1905.