Gwinnett County - Metro Atlanta Guidebook

A Look At The History Of Gwinnett County Georgia

Gwinnett County Georgia was established in 1818 and was named in honor of Button Gwinnett. With the Chattahoochee River forming its northwest boundary, Gwinnett County was home to both Cherokee and Creek Indians. The earliest settlements started in the vicinity of Hog Mountain where Major Tandy Key built Fort Daniel during the War of 1812 to protect the frontier residents from unwanted Indian intrusions.

The state house and senate in 1818 opted to create three counties in Georgia to honor Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall and George Walton (the three men from the state who signed the Declaration of Independence). When the county was organized, the first court was held in Elisha Winn's home. Winn would later purchase 250 acres in what shortly would be the city of Lawrenceville, Georgia, for the purpose of establishing a county government. A temporary courthouse and jail were quickly constructed, with permanent buildings to be completed two years later.

The county, relatively untouched by the Civil War, prospered in the early 1870's with the building of a railroad from Atlanta to Gainesville and further north. In 1885 the county built a new courthouse in the city of Lawrenceville, the county seat, to replace the courthouse that had been burned in 1871 by a faction of a secret society seeking to destroy papers that were actually housed elsewhere.

When cotton was no longer a viable crop because of falling prices and the boll weevil Gwinnett turned to dairy farming. While dairy cattle had been raised in the area for a number of years, the dramatic growth of Atlanta and the cotton bust combined to make the area one of the largest and fastest growing dairy regions in the United States. Farmers in the area formed a co-op called Atlanta Dairies, selling their goods throughout the northern tier of counties. An expanding poultry market also helped to offset the losses of the cotton bust, although Hall and Cherokee counties were larger producers.

With the creation of Lake Lanier in 1957, recreational tourism became a major industry in the region, and two years later Interstate 85 was completed to Pleasant Hill Road, bisecting the county. During the 1980s the county wrested the title of "Fastest Growing County in the United States" from Orange County, Florida. With the advent of Gwinnett Place Mall in 1984, the county had shifted from the rural, agricultural area to a booming metropolis in its own right with major manufacturing and service employers.

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