Clayton County - Metro Atlanta Guidebook

A Look At The History Of Clayton County Georgia

The 125th county created in Georgia, Clayton County Georgia was formed from parts of Fayette and Henry Counties on November 30th, 1858. It was named in honor of Augustine Smith Clayton (1783-1839), a judge and member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Before the county was officially formed, it was home to many Creek Indians. Being situated along the Flint River offered them ideal living conditions and remnants of their farming culture can still be found here today.

Leaksville (later named Jonesboro) was founded in 1823 and became a major stop on the railroad running from Macon to Terminus (later named Atlanta) which connected the southeast to the port city of Savannah. The name was changed to Jonesboro (the County seat) in honor of the resident and popular engineer Colonel Samuel Goode Jones who was in charge of the early railroad construction.

In 1845, the railroad construction was brought to an abrupt halt by a bankruptcy company. Building of the railroad continued in 1846 and, when completed, extended the rail corridor into Atlanta to the spot where the old Union Station stood prior to its demolition in the early 1970's. This spawned the establishment of other train stops along its route: Morrow’s Station, Quick Station and Rough and Ready Station. The Cities of Morrow and Forest Park as well as the area of Mountain View stand in their place today.

With the completion of this railroad, Clayton County now had a link to the Pacific and the rail corridor permitted local farmers to ship their cotton in all directions. This was this same rail corridor that brought the Battle of Atlanta to its climax during the Civil War. When Union soldiers severed the railroad line at Jonesboro, the Confederates lost their supply line and Atlanta fell into Yankee hands.
The convenience of this famous railroad made Clayton County a thriving ‘commuter community’ in the 20th century. Atlanta businessmen were now leaving their country estates each morning and returning in the evening on the train affectionately referred to for some long-obscured reason as "The Dummy”.

Clayton County Georgia was the site of heavy fighting during the Civil War. After the battles of Rough and Ready and Jonesboro, the Confederate armies were forced to evacuate the area. General Sherman then began his "March to the Sea" in late 1864.

Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With The Wind," placed Scarlett O’Hara’s beloved Tara and other settings at a fictional location in Clayton County. Much of the action of her work is based on historical events which she found on record at the old Clayton County Courthouse in Jonesboro. Her grandfather was an early settler here and she often visited as a child.

Historic places include the Antique Funeral Museum, Ashley Oaks Mansion and the Stately Oaks Plantation.

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