History of Paulding County, Georgia

From the Digital Library of Georgia -

According to the 1832 legislation creating Paulding County, county elections and court sessions were to be held at the house of John Witcher until the county's inferior court should designate a county seat and provide for construction of a courthouse. At some point thereafter, a courthouse was built in the county seat of Van Wert -- but reportedly this structure later burned. Presumably, a second courthouse was built in Van Wert. Dallas became the new county seat in late Dec. 1851 or early 1852. Sometime between 1852 and 1855, Paulding County officials borrowed the money to build a new courthouse, as evidenced by an act of Feb. 16, 1856, authorizing the county to levy a special tax to pay off the courthouse debt (Ga. Laws 1855-56, p. 545). The present old courthouse was built in 1892. The building was renovated 1956, 1984-85, and 1991. A new three-story, red brick courthouse annex was completed in 1990. In March 2001, the 1892 courthouse was the target of arson. Although the building survived, the district attorney's office was destroyed. As a result of the fire, Paulding County courts were forced to find meeting space outside the courthouse.

County History: Paulding County was created from Cherokee County on Dec. 3, 1832 by an act of the General Assembly (Ga. Laws 1832, p. 56). According to the 1832 act :

. . . so much of the first, second and third districts of the third section, as lies west of the line herein-before designated, and eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, twenty-first districts of the third section, and the first, second and seventeenth districts of the fourth section, shall form and become one county, to be called Paulding.

In way of background, by 1830, the Cherokee Nation consisted of most of northwest Georgia, plus adjoining areas in Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Even while Cherokee Indians remained on their homeland in Georgia, the General Assembly on Dec. 21, 1830 enacted legislation claiming "all the Territory within the limits of Georgia, and now in the occupancy of the Cherokee tribe of Indians; and all other unlocated lands within the limits of this State, claimed as Creek land" (Ga. Laws 1830, p. 127). The act also provided for surveying the Cherokee lands in Georgia; dividing them into sections, districts, and land lots; and authorizing a lottery to distribute the land. On Dec. 26, 1831, the legislature designated all land in Georgia that lay west of the Chattahoochee River and north of Carroll county as "Cherokee County" (see map) and provided for its organization (Ga. Laws 1831, p. 74). However, the new county was not able to function as a county because of its size and the fact that Cherokee Indians still occupied portions of the land. On Dec. 3, 1832, the legislature added areas of Habersham and Hall counties to Cherokee County, and then divided the entire area into nine new counties -- Cass (later renamed Bartow), Cobb, Floyd, Forsyth, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding, and Union -- plus a reconstituted and much smaller Cherokee County.

Georgia's 89th county was named for John Paulding (1759-1818), who was a hero of the American Revolution. In 1780, Paulding assisted in the capture of Major John André, a British spy planning the seizure of West Point.

In 1851, part of Paulding County was used to help create Polk County. Also, between 1832 and 1874 -- but particularly during the 1850s -- portions of Paulding County were annexed to Bartow, Campbell, Carroll, Cobb, Douglas, Haralson, and Polk counties. Between 1850 and 1874, parts of Carroll, Cobb, Douglas, and Polk counties were annexed to Paulding County.

County Seat: The legislation creating Paulding County provided that on the first Monday in March 1833, election of county officials take place at the residence of John Witcher. Following that election, the new justices of county's inferior court were empowered to select a site for the county seat and provide for erection of a courthouse and other public buildings. The act further provided that until a courthouse was built, Paulding County superior and inferior courts were to hold sessions at John Witcher's house.

In 1833, the inferior court selected a site for the county seat -- but many citizens complained about the location. On Dec. 23, 1833, the legislature authorized the inferior court to call a referendum in Jan. 1834 to allow voters of Paulding County to indicate their choice for county seat (Ga. Laws 1833, p. 54). The referendum, however, was never held.

Presumably, the site designated as county seat in 1833 grew into a town that became known as Van Wert (named for Isaac Van Wert, who had assisted John Paulding in the capture of Major André in 1780.) On Dec. 27, 1838, the legislature designated Van Wert as permanent county seat and incorporated it as a town (Ga. Laws 1838, p. 75).

On Dec. 20, 1851, the legislature created Polk County from portions of Paulding and Floyd counties (Ga. Laws 1851-52, p. 52). Because Van Wert was located in the section of Paulding transferred to Polk, the legislation authorized the Paulding County inferior court to select a new county seat and provide for erection of a courthouse. On May 14, 1852, the inferior court accepted land deeded by Garrett Spinks for a new county seat and designated the site as Dallas. Incorporated by an act of Feb. 8, 1854 (Ga. Laws 1853-54, p. 232), Paulding County's seat was named for George Dallas (1792-1864), who was Vice President of the United States during the administration of James Polk (1845-49).

Size of County (Total Area): 315.1 square miles

County Rank in Total Area: 94th out of 159