From Treaties to a Georgia Powerhouse
The History of South Fulton
During the historic era, the Creek and the Cherokee lived in what is now Fulton County. Their boundary, along the Chattahoochee River, was a cause of dispute. The Creeks, a confederation of tribes which had occupied most of Georgia from 1715 to 1821, lost their territory through a series of treaties. The Creek Red Stick group advocated for war against Europeans and Americans to preserve their culture. When other Creek tribes opposed this idea, the Creek Wars resulted.
The Hillabee tribe of the Creeks moved into the Chattahoochee River basin to avoid involvement with the Red Stick uprising. Their occupation in what is now Fulton County lasted from 1814 to 1821. The two major Creek towns along the Chattahoochee River were Standing Peachtree, located at confluence of Peachtree Creek and the Chattahoochee River, and Sandtown, located south of Utoy Springs, near Buzzards Roost (Sulecauga), an island in the Chattahoochee. Sandtown was occupied by Creeks who had moved, after the Creek War of 1813-1814, from the town of Oktahasasi (Sandtown) on the Tallapoosa River, on the Georgia-Alabama border. Both towns were trading centers between the Creek, Cherokee and the white settlers. Several Indian trading routes crossed through Fulton County. The Sandtown trail ran from the Hightower trail, crossed Buzzard Roost island in the Chattahoochee, and then continued west. The discovery of gold in north Georgia and the need for new lands, led the federal and state governments to negotiate treaties with the Creeks and Cherokees for their lands. The land that is now Fulton County became part of the state of Georgia under several different treaties between the United States and the Creek and Cherokee Nations.
The 1825 Treaty at Indian Springs was negotiated by James Meriwether and Duncan Campbell, as commissioners for the US, with Chief McIntosh. In this treaty, the Creeks ceded all of the land between the Flint River and the treaty line to the east and the Alabama state line to the west and the Chattahoochee river. Out of this land Carroll and Coweta Counties were created. Campbell County was later settled on this land.
Source: Fulton County Department of Environment & Community Development
Old Campbell County
Much of South Fulton consists of the former Campbell County, which joined with Fulton County and Milton County on January 1, 1932 to create Fulton County’s current borders.
Campbell County was created on Dec. 20, 1828 by an act of the Georgia General Assembly (Ga. Laws 1828, p. 56) from portions of Carroll, Coweta, DeKalb, and Fayette counties.
The new county was named for Col. Douglas Campbell, who negotiated with the Creek Nation for the Treaty of Indian Springs. The lands ceded by the Creeks included those that later became Campbell County.
The original Campbell County seat, a settlement known as Campbellton, was situated on the banks of the Chatthoochee River. The Atlanta & LaGrange Railroad bypassed Campbellton and went through a town called Barryville instead. Barryville later became Fairburn and was eventually named the seat of Campbell County. It remained so until Campbell County was merged with Fulton County during the Great Depression.
The Old Campbell County Courthouse still stands in Fairburn. The brick structure, completed in 1872, was the County’s third courthouse. Two older facilities were built in the town of Campbellton, but were later abandoned.
According to the 1930 Census, the last taken before its merger with Fulton County, Campbell County had a population of 9,903, which is smaller than the town of Fairburn today.
Source: Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia
South Fulton is the home of Hartsfiled-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In1909, prior to becoming an airport, it was a large oval track for auto racing named Candler Field, after Asa Candler, the founder of Coca-Cola. By 1923 the racetrack was abandoned. The newly elected alderman, William B. Hartsfield was assigned the task of finding a place to build a new airport proposed by Mayor Walter Sims. The 287-acre Candler Field was perfect. In 1925 the city leases Candler Field, rent free for five years, for air mail service then being given out by the United States Postal Service.
On September 15, 1926, Atlanta aviation history was made when the first air mail flight took off from the city. Passenger service from Atlanta was inaugurated on October 15, 1930 with service to Dallas and Los Angeles by American Airlines. On December 10th a flight to New York was added and on January 1, 1931 service to Florida began.
According to the Geneva-based Airports Council International, the William B. Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport is now (1999) the busiest airport in the world.
That President Franklin Delano Roosevelt traveled along what is now Roosevelt Highway on his way between Atlanta and his home in Warm Spring.
Common crops in what is now South Fulton included cotton, watermelons, corn, apples, peaches, wheat, oats, barley and rye.
The Palmetto Cotton Mills was one of the largest employers in Palmetto, and operated from 1880 until 1950.
Fairburn had telephone service in 1905, and electric service starting in 1912.
Almost all of South Fulton had electricity by the 1940s, and running water and telephone service in the 1950s.
In 1941, paved roads in South Fulton included Campbellton Road, Stonewall-Tell Road, Rivertown Road, Roosevelt Hwy. (formerly Jefferson Davis Hwy.), Old National Hwy., Welcome All and part of Hutcheson Ferry Road.
Prior to the construction of railroads and bridges in South Fulton, eleven ferries operated along Campbellton-Redwine Road, including Widow Varner, Campbellton and Pumpkinton ferries.
The site of Cochran Mill Park was used by B.W. Cochran in 1909 to operate Palmetto’s first electric light system (the mill belonged to his father).
Fairburn once operated its own 10-mile streetcar line from 1911 to 1927, connecting residents between Fairburn and College Park with the Atlanta Railway and Electric Co.
Source: Fulton County Department of Environment & Community Development
Fulton County was created from the western half of DeKalb County in 1853. This occurred when, during the 1840s, that county’s seat of Decatur refused to allow a railroad terminal to be built due to noise concerns. A new point was selected a few miles west, and was later incorporated as Terminus. The town was renamed twice; first as Marthasville, and finally as Atlanta.
The name is often assumed to be in honor of inventor Robert Fulton, who (among many other inventions) built a steamboat in 1807. This assumption is likely because this steam engine was the predecessor to the steam locomotives which built Atlanta. However, some research now indicates that it may have been in honor of Hamilton Fulton, a surveyor for the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Nonetheless the County itself claims to be named after Robert Fulton.
At the beginning of 1932, Milton County to the north and Campbell County to the southwest became part of Fulton County, to save money during the Great Depression. This gave the county its current awkward and long shape along 70 miles or 113 kilometers of the Chattahoochee River.