Early History of Calhoun County Georgia

Lottery

The land of Calhoun County, located in Southwest Georgia, was first established by the lottery of 1820, which opened up present day Calhoun. The lottery was available to all ordinary citizens and especially recognized Revolutionary soldiers. Even if a Revolutionary soldier had already drawn a lucky lot as an ordinary citizen in 1805 or 1807, he was allowed another draw in the lottery of 1820. If the soldier had not taken an extra draw, they were allowed two in this lottery. Surveyors continued surveying until the first Monday in May 1827 when it was completed.   

Even after the land had been ceded to the "Georgians" by lottery, the Creek Indians continued to raid and antagonize the settlers. Many legends and family stories have filtered down through the ages concerning these anxious times. Local forts or stockades dotted the contryside. Gradually the Lower Creeks were pushed out of the area and relinquished their title to lands in Georgia. And finally, the last Cherokees were moved out of North Georgia in 1832 on the Trail of Tears, leaving Georgia completely to the European settlers.

As quoted in the Georgia Jornal of May 22 that year: "What had been a savage wilderness is now becoming a garden."

Pre-Calhoun

Meanwhile, two general areas had been developing in what would become Calhoun County. One area was called Concord, located west of present-day Leary. The other area, known then as Whitney, located east of present-day Edison, had been settled by a group of pioneers from South Carolina. Whitney was later renamed Dickey after the 1848 founders. This town site was chosen for its rich soil. All travel in the area was done on horseback. The South Carolinians were devout Presbyterians and Methodists. Whitney had one of the best schools in South Georgia by 1854.

Creation Of Calhoun County

Finally on February 20, 1854, Calhoun County was created by the legislature from parts of Baker and Early Counties. Our county, the 111th, was named for the prominent South Carolinian statesman, John Caldwell Calhoun who had resigned as Vice President of the U.S. in 1832 so that he could return to the Senate to debate Daniel Webster on state rights. The new county contained 284 square miles. Dougherty Co., which had just been created in 1853, became the eastern boundary.

A Unique Proposal

Concord, a growing community west of Leary, was a voting precinct when District 3 belonged to Baker County. Naturally, the settlers there wished to build a courthouse at Concord. The South Carolina settlers at Whitney disagreed. This disagreement created a unique proposal that became a part of Calhoun County history.

The leaders of both colonies agreed to "split the difference" on the location of the new county seat. They tied a cloth to the rim of the front wheel of a buggy. They both took seats in the buggy at Concord and drove to Whitney, counting revolutions of the flagged buggy wheel. At Whitney they divided the number of revolutions by two and turning about, then drove in the direction of the starting place. When the wheel had made the half number of revolutions, the two self-made arbiters got out of the buggy and set a stake where the Calhoun County courthouse now stands, and Jasper, now Morgan, Georgia was born.

The spot, of course, was called Jasper for a few weeks until it was learned that there already was a Georgia town by that name. But "that spot" was renamed Morgan and has been the site of the court house from that day until this. The courthouse has burned down twice in Calhoun County, once in 1888 and again in 1920.